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Atkinson, Conway & Gagnon attorney Neil O’Donnell recently successfully represented Luis Lopez – a 10-year Army service member – in his legal quest to become a U.S. citizen. Mr. Lopez was brought to the United States from Mexico by his parents as an eight-year-old child. After attending school in California, Mr. Lopez enlisted in the Army with a false birth abstract. He subsequently served three combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and received numerous awards and medals. After he disclosed and attempted to remedy his illegal immigration status, the Army began discharge proceedings against him and an Army personnel manager characterized his military service for the purpose of his immigration application as “not honorable” because of the circumstances of his original enlistment. Mr. Lopez’s commanding officer, however, “strongly recommended that SSG Lopez [be] awarded United States Citizenship for his commitment and service to the United States of America.” Mr. Lopez’s naturalization application was ultimately approved and Mr. Lopez took the oath of citizenship on February 9, 2011. Mr. O’Donnell represented Mr. Lopez on a pro bono basis. The Wall Street Journal published an article about Mr. Lopez’s legal journey on February 10, 2011: “Soldier Finds Minefield on Road to Citizenship”

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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.

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‘Tis the season, all right. The season for a whole banker’s box full of Alaska law-related proceedings and topics, any one of which would be worthy of deep analysis and serious discussion in a blog posting.

We’ve got the Alaska Supreme Court rejecting Joe Miller’s challenge to the State’s vote counting. Sad to say this likely won’t be last of the saga as Mr. Miller and crew will no doubt head back to Judge Beistline in federal court to make another run at constitutional claims. You know, Bush v. Gore stuff. (Anyone remember that case? According to the commentators, the U.S. Supreme Court seemingly does not.) In my view, Joe is earning his new title: Joe Miller, R – LaMancha.

FestivusPole.jpegThen there is the self-appointed head of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia going into court in Fairbanks. Although the guy was there on a weapons related charge, he sought to turn the tables by serving papers on the judge to charge the judge with a crime. The judge wisely set a trial date quickly, gaveled the proceedings to an end, and ducked out the back. A recent article in the Anchorage Press described the militia members’ off-kilter philosophy.

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Collecting a judgment can be a real pain. The paperwork can be daunting to the uninitiated. A mistake in the smallest of details can trip you up in getting the official machinery moving in your direction, especially since the Alaska Court System can be slow to process execution packages even when everything is in order.

It seems like an odd sort of problem to have. The whole point of the civil justice system is to give private parties an effective dispute resolution procedure so that they don’t settle things out in the streets. In view of that aspiration, you might think that making use of the ultimate hammer – execution – would be looked upon with favor. I mean, the claims have already been fully adjudicated before a judgment even gets entered. What more is there to decide?

Guillotine_%28PSF%29.pngBut this is not the view the Court System or even the Alaska Legislature seems to have. There always seems to be another hurdle to overcome, another exemption to adjudicate, or a waiting period to hold things up just a little while longer. The extra time and expense it takes to collect just bogs down the whole process and, in some instances, makes enforcement of the judgment impractical.

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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.

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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.

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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.jpgBob 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.

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I’ve found a few minutes to make some notes updating prior posts here on the Alaska Law Blog.

(Hey, I’ve been distracted. Inspired by legal work I did for a couple of local entrepreneurs, I got to brainstorming ideas for possible new products for the unique Alaska market. Like one that consists of SAD lights with mudflap silhouettes stuck on them. Could be a seasonal big seller!)

H-P v. Hurd. I wrote about H-P’s bold lawsuit against its former CEO Mark Hurd just a few weeks ago. H-P apparently wasn’t all that serious about the case, seeing as how it was going to be a tough one to win anyway. H-P quickly settled with Hurd. Hurd has to give back some 350,000 H-P shares (worth maybe $14 million) that he received in his H-P severance package.

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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.

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Big time litigation is the sport of kings. A very recent example of a regal slugfest comes to us this week from the news headlines. We find that HP has sued its former CEO Mark Hurd because Hurd has signed up to go to work for Larry Ellison at Oracle. When it comes to the Kings of the Silicon Valley tribe, this is a fight between some of the heaviest hitters.

You can find a copy of the complaint HP filed in the Santa Clara County Superior Court here. The fascinating thing about this case – other than the prominent personages involved — is that HP did not have a broadly written covenant not to compete in Hurd’s employment contract. Instead, the contract (as disclosed in HP’s complaint) had only a limited non-compete that, so long as Hurd stayed in California, was specifically tied to the misuse of confidential information.

The lack of a broadly written covenant-not-to-compete means HP has to build one out of the clauses protecting trade secret information that were in Hurd’s contract. HP’s complaint seeks to lay the groundwork to do just this. While this kind of thing is entirely possible in some jurisdictions in the country, it is going to be a tall order to achieve in California. The California appellate courts are on the record as explicitly rejecting the “inevitable disclosure doctrine,” which is what HP’s complaint essentially asserts.