July 18, 2012

Commercial & Residential Landlord-Tenant Law Seminar

On September 27, 2012, Christopher Slottee, a partner with Atkinson Conway & Gagnon, will be participating in a seminar on Commercial & Residential Landlord-Tenant Law. Mr. Slottee will be presenting information and materials on Alaska law regarding residential leases and the obligations of landlords and tenants. Other topics that will be addressed at the seminar include commercial lease issues, the eviction process, and when a tenant or landlord file for bankruptcy.

The seminar is being organized by Sterling Education Services. You can register for the seminar at this link.

July 2, 2012

Atkinson Conway & Gagnon Attorneys Contribute To Legal Publication On Attorney Malpractice

Atkinson Conway & Gagnon is pleased to announce that Bruce E. Gagnon and Christopher J. Slottee have contributed to a new publication, The Law of Lawyers Liability, a collection of articles discussing the state of legal malpractice law in all fifty-states. The Law of Lawyers Liability was produced by the Professional Liability Committee of the American Bar Association, and edited by Merri A. Baldwin, Scott F. Bertschi, and Dylan C. Black. Mr. Gagnon and Mr. Slottee authored the section of the book addressing legal malpractice law in Alaska, including the unique considerations that arise as a result of Alaska’s attorney’s fee law, Alaska Civil Rule 82.

July 7, 2011

Office Manager Is Certifiable

Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon is pleased to announce that Office Manager Jodi L. Walton has achieved the certification of CLM.

Lest the uninformed mistakenly believe that “CLM” is being used in the Urban Dictionary sense of "Career Limiting Move"e.g., chuckling at the Managing Partner’s bad comb over -- we assure that this is not the case. Rather, “CLM” as we use it here is a career improving move. The acronym actually stands for “Certified Legal Manager.”

Walton.jpgThe CLM certification is issued by the Association of Legal Administrators (“ALA”). To earn this distinction, a person must be employed full-time in managing a legal organization, must have at least three years experience in the management position, must complete a course of study in areas key to legal organization management, must pass an examination on those areas, must adhere to a code of ethics, and must commit to fulfilling continuing education requirements.

As the ALA explains, the CLM designation demonstrates that a legal administrator has “mastered the knowledge, skills and abilities to operate at a high level of expertise in the field of legal management.”

We could add that the achievement is a rare feat in the Alaska legal community, but we won’t bring that up because it might be perceived as just bragging.

Congratulations, Jodi L. Walton, CLM!

January 14, 2011

Pro Bono Legal Assistance

The Alaska and American Bar Associations encourage all attorneys to provide pro bono legal services to the community and people in need. Atkinson Conway & Gagnon has made a concerted effort to fulfill its obligation to the community by partnering for the last five years with the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault and provide pro bono legal representation to victims of domestic assault who are seeking long term protective orders. In 2010, Atkinson Conway & Gagnon donated over 90 hours of legal assistance in the course of representing victims of domestic violence. Over the past five years, Atkinson Conway & Gagnon has donated over 294 hours in representing these victims.

The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence is an invaluable resource to the community. Made up of 17 programs, the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence provides services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, including emergency shelter, 24-hour crisis hotlines, food, clothing, transportation, legal assistance, counseling, and community education. The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence’s website contains valuable information for victims of domestic violence, including many links to additional information available on the web.

The Alaska Court System also provides helpful information to individuals seeking protective orders at its Family Law Self-Help Center. The Family Law Self-Help Center provides links to the forms needed to obtain a protective order as well as a good description of the process.

November 17, 2010

Sarah Marsey Joins The Firm

Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon is pleased to announce that Sarah A. Marsey has joined the firm as an associate attorney.

Ms. Marsey is a 2010 graduate of Rutgers School of Law. She also holds a B.A. degree in political science from San Francisco State University.

DSC_0018-1.jpgAt Rutgers, Ms. Marsey competed in moot court and appellate advocacy. She received the school's Nathan N. Schildkraut Award for excelling in appellate advocacy, taking first place in the David Cohn Appellate Advocacy Competition. She was a member of the Rutgers National Appellate Advocacy Competition team. Ms. Marsey was also an editor of the Rutgers Business Law Journal.

During her law school career, Sarah Marsey worked in the New York County District Attorney’s Office and was a judicial intern to the U.S. District Court in New Jersey. She also worked in the offices of a large national law firm.

Ms. Marsey will be part of Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon’s civil litigation practice.

October 26, 2010

Bruce Gagnon Named "Lawyer of the Year"

Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon is pleased to announce that Bruce E. Gagnon has been named as the “Anchorage Best Lawyers Bet-the-Company Litigator of the Year” for 2011.

The honor was conferred by The Best Lawyers in America, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. After more than a quarter of a century in publication, Best Lawyers is designating “Lawyers of the Year” in high-profile legal specialties in large legal communities. Only a single lawyer in each specialty in each community is being honored as the “Lawyer of the Year.”

The lawyers being honored as “Lawyers of the Year” have received particularly high ratings in surveys by earning a high level of respect among their peers for their abilities, professionalism, and integrity.

Best Lawyers compiles its lists of outstanding attorneys by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. The current, 17th edition of The Best Lawyers in America (2011) is based on more than 3.1 million detailed evaluations of lawyers by other lawyers.

Steven Naifeh, President of Best Lawyers, issued the following statement about Mr. Gagnon's honor: “We continue to believe – as we have believed for more than 25 years – that recognition by one’s peers is the most meaningful form of praise in the legal profession. We would like to congratulate Bruce E. Gagnon on being selected as the ‘Anchorage Best Lawyers Bet-the-Company Litigator of the Year’ for 2011.”


October 18, 2010

Dickson Elected As Alliance Director

ACG lawyer Robert J. Dickson has been elected as a director of The Alaska Support Industry Alliance. The election took place at the group's annual meeting held in Anchorage on October 7.

The Alliance is a trade organization that represents nearly 500 companies and some 40,000 Alaskan workers providing goods and services to the oil, gas and mining industries. The Allliance was founded in 1979 and works for responsible oil, gas and mining development in the state.

robert_dickson.jpg
Bob Dickson will serve a three year term as Director of The Alliance. He is one of 21 directors of the organization. Mr. Dickson has previously served as a director for the entity.

A member of Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon since 1972, Mr. Dickson handles complex litigation matters primarily involving the areas of construction litigation, including design professional malpractice defense, and health care law, including medical malpractice defense. He holds an “AV” peer review rating in Martindale-Hubbell. Bob Dickson has been listed in the Best Lawyers in America since 1995, and in 2007 was named an Alaska Super Lawyer by Washington Law and Politics magazine.

Mr. Dickson received his B.A. degree in 1969 from the Northwestern University. He received his Juris Doctorate in 1972 from the University of Illinois.

September 15, 2010

ACG Named To "Best Law Firms" List

U.S. News & World Report has released its listing of the “Best Law Firms.” Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon was listed as a “Best Law Firm” in Alaska in 10 different categories.

For years, U.S News & World Report has famously published rankings of U.S. law schools. The magazine has now expanded into ranking law firms. The rankings were developed in collaberation with Best Lawyers in America and were derived from surveys sent out to thousands of law firm clients, lawyers, marketing officers and recruiting officers. The surveys asked each person what "factors were considered vital for clients hiring law firms, for lawyers choosing a firm to refer a legal matter to, and for lawyers seeking employment."

images.jpgAtkinson, Conway & Gagnon was listed as Tier 1 – the highest possible ranking – in the categories of (1) alternative dispute resolution; (2) bankruptcy and creditor debtor rights/insolvency and reorganization law; (3) corporate law; (4) health care law; (5) personal injury litigation – plaintiffs; (6) product liability litigation – defendants; (7) product liability litigation – plaintiffs; (8) professional malpractice law – defendants; and (9) securities/capital markets law. In some of these categories, Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon is the only ranked Alaska law firm.

The firm was also listed as Tier 2 in the category of general commercial litigation.

August 27, 2010

It’s Official: Firm Lawyer Is A “Bad Writer”

The news will come as no surprise to regular readers of the Alaska Law Blog (either one of you). Atkinson Conway & Gagnon lawyer Jerome Juday is now officially an award-winning bad writer. Juday was the winner in the second annual 49 Writers.com Ode To A Dead Salmon bad writing contest.

Dead%20Salmon.jpg49 Writers.com is the project of Alaska based professional writers. Their Ode To A Dead Salmon contest is a tongue-in-cheek endeavor to celebrate Alaska-centric writing. Their website explains that the contest stemmed from a comment that Alaska writer Nancy Lord made about not wanting her writing to “mine the same Alaska myths” by continuing to pen “odes to dead salmon.” So 49 Writers.com set up a contest for bad writing about Alaska.

Juday’s winning entry was entitled Russian River Campground, 5:15 a.m. It was based on the eternal love triangle of a man, a woman and fish.

“I’m honored to be declared the winner,” Juday told Alaska Law Blog editors. “It’s not easy to explain, however. I’m not sure everyone believes me when I say that I had to work hard at writing that badly.”

For his efforts, Juday won a Ray Troll T-shirt. Since Juday’s legal training obviously contributed to his bad writing skills, the firm Management Committee has declared the T-shirt to be the spoils of the legal profession. As such, it will be rotated on a weekly basis amongst all the firm’s shareholders. Each shareholder is expected to honor the fiduciary duty owed to fellow shareholders by laundering the T-shirt before passing it to the next person.

August 17, 2010

ACG Attorneys Named To 2011 Best Lawyers In America

Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon is pleased to announce that several of the attorneys of the firm have once again been named for listing in the upcoming edition of Best Lawyers In America.

Bruce E. Gagnon has been listed as a Best Lawyer since 1983. For the 2011 edition, Mr. Gagnon is listed in the categories of alternative dispute resolution, bet-the-company litigation, commercial litigation, corporate law, professional malpractice law, real estate law, and securities law.

Robert J. Dickson is once again listed as a Best Lawyer in the category of health care law. Mr. Dickson has been listed as a Best Lawyer since 1995.

Patrick B. Gilmore is listed in the categories of appellate law, bankruptcy and creditor-debtor rights law, bet-the-company litigation,and commercial litigation. Mr. Gilmore has held the Best Lawyer designation since 2005.

Jerome H. Juday has been listed as a Best Lawyer in the category of corporate law since 2007.

According to Steven Naifeh, Editor-In-Chief, "selection to Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review survey comprising more than 3.1 million confidential evaluations by the top attorneys in the country. Because no fee or purchase is required, being listed in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Our annual advertisement-free publication has been described by The American Lawyer as 'the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.'"

July 6, 2010

Alaska Super Lawyers

Several attorneys at Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon have been again selected for listing as Alaska "Super Lawyers." The listing was in the fall 2009 edition of Washington Law & Politics magazine.

Bruce E. Gagnon was once again given the distinction of being named as one of the Top 10 lawyers in the state. He was also individually listed as a Super Lawyer in the category of general litigation. Mr. Gagnon has practiced law with the firm since 1970. He has long been recognized as a leading attorney in Alaska on business transactions and commercial litigation. Mr. Gagnon was the first Alaska lawyer to be elected to the prestigious American Law Institute.

Robert J. Dickson was listed in as an Alaska Super Lawyer in the category of general litigation. Mr. Dickson has practiced law with the firm for more than 38 years. His practice includes construction law and health care law, with an emphasis on medical malpractice defense. Mr. Dickson has written extensively on construction law issues and often has been a speaker at construction law seminars.

Patrick B. Gilmore was selected for listing as an Alaska Super Lawyer in general litigation. Mr. Gilmore -- who was the recipient of the Alaska Bar Association's Professionalism Award in 2008 -- has practiced law for 33 years. His practice includes banking, creditor's rights, lender liability, professional liability and general commercial litigation.

Jerome H. Juday was listed as an Alaska Super Lawyer for the second time in the areas of business/corporate law. Mr. Juday has been a member of the Alaska bar since 1982. His practice emphasizes business transactions, commercial litigation and professional liability defense. He currently serves as the chair of the Alaska Bar Association's Committee on the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The merit-based process used for the selection of Super Lawyers involves peer nominations, a blue ribbon panel review, and independent research of candidates. The lawyers achieving the Super Lawyer designation are limited to only five percent of all attorneys in Alaska.

August 26, 2009

ACG Lawyers Selected For 2010 Best Lawyers In America

Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon, Inc. is pleased to announce that seven of its attorneys have been named to the 2010 edition of Best Lawyers In America. Best Lawyers In America is the oldest peer-reviewed publication in the legal profession.

Bruce E. Gagnon was named as a Best Lawyer in the areas of alternative dispute resolution, bet-the-company litigation, commercial litigation, corporate law, professional malpractice law, real estate law, and securities law. Mr. Gagnon has been listed as a Best Lawyer since 1983.

Robert J. Dickson was named as a Best Lawyer in the area of health care law. Mr. Dickson is among only a very small handful of Alaska lawyers (three, to be exact) who are named in this area. He has been on the Best Lawyer list since 1995.

Patrick B. Gilmore was named as a Best Lawyer in the areas of appellate law, bankruptcy and creditor-debtor rights law, bet-the-company litigation, and commercial litigation. Mr. Gilmore has been named as a Best Lawyer since 2005.

Jerome H. Juday was named as a Best Lawyer in the area of corporate law. He has been a Best Lawyer since 2007.

In the area of personal injury law, W. Michael Moody, Richard E. Vollertsen, and Neil T. O'Donnell were all named as Best Lawyers. Mr. Moody also was designated as a Best Lawyer in the area of product liability litigation.

Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon is tied for first among Alaska and Anchorage law firms for having the most lawyers (7) on the Best Lawyers list. For full details on the Best Lawyers listings, go to the Best Lawyers website or the book itself.

Best Lawyers In America was first published in 1983. The listings in Best Lawyers are based on an annual peer-review survey. According to Best Lawyers itself, inclusion in the listing is considered "a singular honor" because of the rigorous and transparent methodology used and because lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed.

April 2, 2009

John M. Conway (1936-2009)

It is with heavy hearts that we report the death of John M. Conway, one of this firm’s founding members and its guiding hand for many decades.

John suffered a stroke while at his second home on the island of Molokai in Hawaii. He was taken to the hospital where he passed away on March 31. John was 72 years old.

John Conway was born in Juneau, Alaska in 1936. He grew up in Sitka where his father, J. J. Conway, ran a commercial dock and other business enterprises. John received an undergraduate degree from the University of Washington in 1958, and a law degree from the same university in 1961.

After law school, John came to Anchorage and started practicing law, initially as an associate in the office of John Hellenthal. Shortly thereafter, in 1962, John joined with Jerry Wade to form the law firm of Wade & Conway, which became Atkinson, Wade & Conway once Ken Atkinson joined them in 1965. The firm prospered and grew and is today Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon, Inc. John served as the firm’s de facto managing partner from the beginning through the 1990s.

Starting out on everything from divorce cases to admiralty claims, John established himself as a gifted trial attorney. He had a true talent for getting right to the heart of any dispute. John’s no-nonsense approach and frankness gave him a real courtroom presence and won him the respect of the judges and jurors before whom he tried cases.

As his reputation grew, John was sought out by many of the biggest clients to handle many of the biggest civil cases in Alaska. He represented Providence Hospital for decades and served on its advisory board. He handled many litigation matters for the National Bank of Alaska. Perhaps John’s most famous case was the impeachment trial of his friend and client, Governor Bill Sheffield. John organized the Governor’s defense and handled the impeachment hearing as co-counsel with Philip Lacovara. The Governor, of course, was acquitted.

In later years, John focused his legal efforts on defending complex products liability cases, including cases involving firearms. He won some remarkable defense verdicts for his clients in these cases, proving yet again his great talent as a trial advocate.

John was preceded in death by his wife, Sally. He is survived by his longtime companion, Ruthann Hansen, and by his four daughters, Shannon, Lael, Maribeth and Molly, sons-in-law, and a fine future jury pool of grandchildren.

February 23, 2009

Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon Earns Top Rankings

Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon is pleased to announce that Best Lawyers in America has ranked it as number 1 for 2009 in several categories.

Out of the law firms in the entire State of Alaska and those in Anchorage, Best Lawyers has ranked Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon #1 in the areas of Health Care Law, Product Liability Litigation, Professional Malpractice Law and Securities Law.

A separate rating service, Benchmark: Litigation, has also released its litigation law firm recommendations for 2009. Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon earned Benchmark's highest possible ranking: "Highly Recommended."

Both Best Lawyers in America and Benchmark: Litigation utilize peer review surveys to determine the rankings. These surveys establish which firms are regarded by their peers as performing exceptional legal work.

February 17, 2009

Lawyers Of The Year

Bruce E. Gagnon, one of the attorneys at Atkinson, Conway and Gagnon, Inc., has just been selected as a "Lawyer Of The Year" by Best Lawyers in America. Mr. Gagnon is one of three lawyers to be recognized from Alaska, and the only Alaska lawyer recognized in the specialty practice of Corporate Law.

Another lawyer from the firm, Richard E. Vollertsen, was also selected by Best Lawyers in America as a "Lawyer Of The Year" in the specialty practice of Personal Injury Litigation.

Best Lawyers in America is one of the oldest publications rating lawyers in the United States, and is the gold standard for accuracy and integrity. Best Lawyers in America compiles its lists of outstanding attorneys by conducting exhaustive peer-review surveys in which thousands of leading lawyers confidentially evaluate their professional peers. The lawyers being honored as "Lawyer Of The Year" received particularly high ratings in their surveys by earning a high level of respect among their peers for their abilities, professionalism, and integrity.

Steven Naifeh, Managing Editor of Best Lawyers, says, “We continue to believe – as we have believed for more than 25 years – that recognition by one’s peers is the most meaningful form of praise in the legal profession. We would like to congratulate Bruce E. Gagnon on being selected as the ‘Alaska Best Lawyers Corporate Lawyer of the Year’ for 2009.”

December 5, 2008

Shameless Self-Promotion

To tell the truth, I don’t want to do this. I’m being forced into it against my will. The duress I’m under is not quite as bad as the classic National Lampoon cover where they threatened to kill the dog if you didn’t buy the magazine (I bought one). But it’s along the same lines.

Lampoon.jpgYou see, I’ve gotten this directive from the Virtual Managing Editor of the Alaska Law Blog that I need to post an entry of shameless self-promotion. Honestly, this cuts against the grain for me, what with my humble, Opie-Andy-Aunt Bee Midwestern upbringing and all that. But a directive from the Big Desk is not to be ignored.

(This puts me in mind of the time when I was a cub reporter on the Indianapolis Star, way, way back in the Plasticine Era. I was brand new, learning the ropes on the City Desk. One day the police were in a stand off with some stressed-out citizen with a gun. The City Editor had me run out to the scene and pick up exposed film from one of the photographers there. I had just got back to the City Desk from this errand when it came up on 6 p.m., the normal quitting time. The City Editor, who was an urbane, educated man and generally very calm fellow, looked at me with a slight grin on his face and said, “Well, you had better get back out there.” All the assistant city editors, who never seemed to like me much, looked up from what they were doing with what I took to be some sort of anticipation.

I thought it was a joke, a ritual hazing of the new kid. So I said: “Ha, Ha! Right! I’ll see you all tomorrow.” I picked up my jacket to leave. The City Editor fired back a look at me that let me know he was not kidding around. This was breaking news and -- By God! – you, mere pipsqueak youth, shall do my bidding no matter what hour of the day or night it might be! It was a classic City Editor sort of thing, the kind of look you’d expect from J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle. I mean, his gaze was so searing that I just about spontaneously combusted. “OK, then,” I stammered. “I’ll just get back out there.”

So, I learned to heed any directives from the Big Desk, and this has stuck with me ever since the Piezoelectric Epoch.)

Anyway, what I need to say is that the Alaska Law Blog has received its first notice in the mainstream media. Well, perhaps mainstream media is too strong a term, since what I’m actually talking about is the Anchorage Press. But it’s still Old World media, printed on actual newsprint and available in news boxes around town.

And, of course, the “notice” the blog received did not really have anything to do with the law. Rather, the Press piece was on the ghost bike in Anchorage that I wrote about a couple of weeks back. Nevertheless, there is a mention of the Alaska Law Blog in the article so we’re going to claim this as a full 10 seconds of the 15 minutes of fame to which we are entitled. (Along these same lines, we are hopeful of garnering a mention of the blog next month in the PennySaver.)

You can read the Anchorage Press piece here. My favorite part of the article is where the reporter notes that “Jerome Juday . . usually writes in relatively plain English” about law-related topics. I’m practically blushing about this “plain English” compliment since I don’t think there’s higher praise than this for a humble business lawyer. You know, that is, relatively speaking.

(I also have to confess that when the reporter called me up about the story, I was leery. I thought he wanted to try to sell me a subscription to the paper. It took some minutes before I remembered that the Anchorage Press is free.)

Oh, and one more item of shameless self-promotion that I am compelled to slip in here. Your humble servant has once again been named in the Best Lawyers in America in the category of Corporate Law. The letter I got says:

For over a quarter of a century, Best Lawyers has been regarded – by both the profession and the public – as the definitive guide to legal excellence in the United States. Selection to Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review survey comprising more than 2.5 million confidential evaluations by the top attorneys in the country. Because no fee or purchase is required, being listed in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor.

Gaaw-aaw-ly, Sheriff Taylor, that’s heady stuff! I’m not sure how all this fits with just being a Regular Joe who writes blog posts using phrases like “federal gummint” or “Nanny-Nanny-Boo-Boo.” But there you have it.

July 7, 2008

Weekly Summary of Alaska Supreme Court Opinions

Well, after a few months of having other things to occupy my time, namely these darling three month olds (Isaac & Aaden), IMG_0527.jpg it is time for me to renew Atkinson Conway & Gagnon’s attempt to, ahem, timely summarize the Alaska Supreme Court decisions of the week.

First up is Pebble Limited Partnership v. Parnell, S-13059/S-13060, in which the Alaska Supreme Court rejected an attempt to remove an initiative from the November ballot that will impose new requirements on mining in Alaska. The opinion has no real reasoning, as it’s actually an order with an opinion to follow, issued so that the State has time to print ballots for the election this fall. I won’t go into the arguments regarding the merits of the underlying mining initiative, but if you listen to the radio or watch TV for five minutes, you are almost sure to see ads from both sides of the issue.

The only other opinion of real interest is Edenshaw v. Safeway, Inc., S-12583, in which the Alaska Supreme Court held that to prevail on a premises liability claim in Alaska, a plaintiff does not need to show that the business owner had actual or constructive knowledge of the dangerous condition. Instead, the Court held there was only a basic reasonableness test, in which the business owner’s notice of a dangerous condition was a factor to consider, but not a dispositive or required one. This case is a departure from prior cases in which the Alaska Supreme Court held that the State of Alaska had to have actual or constructive knowledge of a defect in a highway to be liable if that defect caused an injury. In Edenshaw, the Court distinguished these prior cases by noting that a grocery store (which was where the injury occurred in Edenshaw) is a much more tightly controlled area, and thus it was more reasonable to impose a general duty of care on the business owner regardless of whether the business owner had actual or constructive knowledge of a dangerous condition on the property.

This opinion will have a significant effect in future litigation, as business owner now can be exposed to liability for injuries caused by dangerous conditions of which they were both not aware and had no reason to be aware. It is also certain to make premises liability cases more expensive and difficult to defend, as the question of the reasonableness of an owner’s actions will almost always be a fact question. Consequently, now that a business owner cannot rely on a lack of notice, constructive or actual, to avoid liability as a matter of law, it will be very difficult to obtain summary judgment or resolution of a premises liability case short of actual trial.

May 1, 2008

Pat Gilmore Gets A Clue (And An Award)

One of Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon’s very own, Patrick B. Gilmore, received the 2008 Professionalism Award from the Alaska Bar Association. The award was announced at the May 1 Bench and Bar Luncheon, a part of the Bar’s Annual Convention.

The award was a surprise to Pat when he heard his name called. (Pat is better known as “Gil” amongst the cognoscenti of Alaska.) Gil had been lured to the luncheon by a longtime friend, knowing nothing about the award. He probably should have thought it strange that his wife, Chris, and 22 year old daughter, Casey, showed up at a Bar Association lunch. The fact that a couple of Pat’s clients were there as well could have been a tip off that something was in the works. But Gil was as low key as ever, oblivious to it all. (I guess no one ever said “professionalism” was necessarily synonymous with “swift on the uptake.”)

Gil.jpgThe Bar’s Professionalism Award is a true honor, serving as recognition from fellow lawyers of the respect with which the recipient is held. And really there could not be a better person for the award than Pat. He is a lawyer who quietly and efficiently goes about his client’s business. He is never flashy and never obstructive, but always effective. Unlike many lawyers who talk about the importance of pro bono work, but do not follow through and actually provide it, Pat has without fanfare given substantial time to handling cases for the domestic violence project. He is the embodiment of the highest ideals that every lawyer should strive to achieve. Pat is a throwback to a nobler age, a reminder that the law is a learned profession and not a mercenary pursuit.

So let us all raise a glass to Patrick Gilmore and congratulate him on a well-deserved award!

(Hey, I’m more than willing to make Pat the butt of jokes, but you have to hand it to a guy who gets the Professionalism Award. And besides, anyone who names his dog “Bluto” after the late, great Senator John Blutarsky is A-OK in my book.)

February 18, 2008

Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon Selected For 2008 Benchmark:Litigation

Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon has been selected for inclusion in the 2008 edition of America’s Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys. Those firms selected are identified by Benchmark’s research team, which conducts extensive face-to-face and telephone interviews with the nation's leading private practice lawyers and in-house counsel across the country in the preceding 12-month period. The purpose of the ranking is to identify those firms and attorneys best able to handle complex litigation matters.

The research results for law firm selection are broken down into “highly recommended” and “recommended” categories. All listed firms were consistently mentioned by peers and clients, but the "highly recommended" firms received the most mentions, and were held up as being definitively dominant in their particular jurisdiction. Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon, Inc., was identified as “highly recommended” in this ranking, and was one of only 3 law firms selected from Alaska.

The rankings also include identification of "local litigation stars" for each state, reflecting only those individuals who were recommended consistently as incontrovertible stars by clients and peers. Two of the law firm's partners, Richard E. Vollertsen and Patrick B. Gilmore, were identified in this ranking as “local litigation stars”.

Source: Benchmark: Litigation 2008
, America's Leading Litigation Firms and Attorneys, www.benchmarklitigation.com

February 8, 2008

Weekly Summary of New Alaska Supreme Court Opinions

Almost every week, the Alaska Supreme Court issues its written opinions on Friday. You can download free PDF versions of these opinions here. You can also subscribe to a free e-mail list that will e-mail you links to each week’s opinions here. Each week, I will try to post a summary of that week’s opinions, focusing primarily on those opinions addressing civil litigation matters. While Supreme Court Opinions dealing with family law (such as disputes over visitation with the family dog) or criminal matters (how to get barred from attending your own criminal trial) offer interesting reading at times, they are not particularly relevant to the issues the lawyers at Atkinson Conway & Gagnon normally face.

This week, there was only one opinion issued that is of interest. In Villaflores v. Alaska State Commission for Human Rights, Clarito Villaflores, who is Asian and over 40 years old, applied for a human resources position with ConocoPhillips. He was not hired. Mr. Villaflores then filed a complaint with Alaska’s Human Rights Commission, alleging that ConocoPhillips did not hire him because of his race and age. The Human Rights Commission rejected this claim and dismissed his case.

The primary issue on appeal was whether the Human Rights Commission’s decision was supported by substantial evidence. The Court noted that to prevail on a his employment discrimination case, Mr. Villaflores had to prove: (1) he belonged to a protected class; (2) he applied for and was qualified for the position he was denied; (3) his application was rejected despite his qualifications; and (4) the employer hired someone not in the same protected class. While Mr. Villaflores was in protected class (Asian and over 40), the Court found that he had failed to establish that he was qualified for the job. Specifically, his job application did not show that he had the requisite five to 10 years of human resources experience required by ConocoPhillips. Moreover, the person hired by ConocoPhillips did. Consequently, Mr. Villaflores claim was properly denied by the Human Rights Commission because Mr. Villaflores failed to make out a prima facie case of employment discrimination.

The Court also rejected Mr. Villaflores argument that a Seventh Circuit case, Milbrook v. IBP, Inc., 280 F.3d 1169 (7th Cir. 2002), required ConocoPhillips to hire the most qualified applicant, which, presumably, Mr. Villaflores argued was him. The Court noted that even if Mr. Villaflores had established that he was qualified for the position (which he had not), Milbrook gave the employer broad discretion to chose between equally qualified candidates.

While Villaflores v. Alaska State Commission for Human Rights does not change Alaska employment discrimination law, it is a good, short summary of some of the elements that an applicant claiming employment discrimination must prove. It also squarely rejects any reading of Milbrook that would tie the hands of an employer choosing between equally well-qualified applicants.

January 24, 2008

Atkinson, Conway and Gagnon Attorneys Selected As Super Lawyers

Several Attorneys with the law firm of Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon, Inc. were recently selected to be listed in Alaska Super Lawyers 2007, a publication of Washington Law & Politics magazine.


Not only selected as one of Alaska's Super Lawyers, Bruce E. Gagnon was selected as one of Alaska’s Top 10 Lawyers by the publication. Mr. Gagnon has practiced law with the firm since 1970. He received a J.D. degree from Harvard University in 1967, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Before coming to Alaska, Mr. Gagnon was an Assistant Professor of Law at the Vanderbilt Law School. Mr. Gagnon is recognized as a leading attorney in Alaska on business transactions and commercial litigation. He was the first attorney in Alaska to be elected to the prestigious American Law Institute.

Robert J. Dickson was selected as an Alaska Super Lawyer in the category of General Litigation. Mr. Dickson has practiced law for 35 years in the areas of construction litigation and healthcare law, including medical malpractice defense. He is also the co-author of Alaska Construction Law, author of the Alaska Chapter in Sourcebook on State Public Construction Law (CCH 2002), and numerous other publications on Alaska construction law. In addition to owners, contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, sureties, title companies, banks and hospitals, Mr. Dickson has represented national and international design and engineering firms on a variety of claims including engineering malpractice defense, as well as contract disputes.

Jerome H. Juday was selected as an Alaska Super Lawyer in the category of Business and Corporate law. Mr. Juday has been an Alaska bar member since 1982. He has served on the Alaska Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct Committee since 1996, acting as Chair of that committee since 2002. Mr. Juday’s practice emphasizes real estate law, commercial transactions and business litigation.

W. Michael Moody and Richard E. Vollertsen were also selected as Alaska Super Lawyers in the Personal Injury practice area. www.alaskainjurylawblog.com/2008/01/alaska_personal_injury_law_gro_2.html

Mr. Gagnon, Mr. Dickson, Mr. Moody, and Mr. Vollertsen are also all AV rated by Martindale Hubbell, the highest national rating for legal ability and ethics, and have been listed in the Best Lawyers in America for over 10 years.

The rigorous merit-based selection process began early in the year, with invitations to participate in the nominations process going out to over 1,400 attorneys in Alaska. In addition, Law & Politics’ research department conducted independent candidate searches through professional databases, legal trade journals, and meetings with law firms. The candidates were then evaluated by the Law & Politics research department. This evaluation process included examination of candidates’ background and experience, followed by a peer evaluation from other Alaskan attorneys in the practice area. The final candidates selected were those with the highest point totals from each category, and included only five (5) percent of all attorneys in Alaska.

January 24, 2008

Atkinson, Conway and Gagnon Prevails In Ninth Circuit Ruling

While cargo barges may be "unmanned" while under tow, longshoremen and seamen often go aboard "unmanned" barges for loading, unloading and other purposes. Federal regulation 46 C.R.F. § 92.25-5 requires that cargo barges have a three-course perimeter safety railing. The Coast Guard, however, has failed to enforce that regulation, stating without explanation in its Marine Safety Manual that such barges are totally exempt from the railing requirement. In a lawsuit we are handling, a longshoreman working on a cargo barge equipped with only a two-course safety railing fell between the two courses (exactly where the third course should have been) and was crushed and badly injured when the barge surged back against the dock. In an important recent decision, the Ninth Circuit agreed with us that the Coast Guard's manual is inconsistent with the regulation; that the express terms of the regulation controls; and that the barge was in violation of the regulation. Abruska v. Northland Vessel Leasing Co., 2007 WL 4328834.