Law firm

law firm


Chapter 36

Question 6:

Ian M. Starr was a partner in the law firm Fordham Starrett. After Starr’s first year of employment, the firm’s profits were divided evenly among all partners. During his second year with the firm, Starr’s relationship with the other partners began to deteriorate, and he quit the firm on the last day of the year. Listing several negative factors relevant to Starr’s performance, the firm paid him less than half an equal share. Starr brought an action to recover amounts to which he claimed he was entitled pursuant to the partnership agreement. He also claimed breach of fiduciary duty. Starr’s former partners counterclaimed that Starr had violated his fiduciary duties to the partners and breached the partnership agreement. How do you think the court settled this conflict? [Starr v. Fordham, 648 N.E.2d 1261 (1995).]

Question 7:

The Vancouver Group is made up of five investors, Pietz, Wynne, Fordham, Indermuehle, and Smith. The group entered into a partnership with Robert Berry for the joint purchase of the Sundance Hotel and Casino. The group and Berry made an offer to purchase the hotel. Pietz agreed to supply $500,000 to the deal and post a $285,000 letter of credit. However, after receiving information that caused him to doubt Berry, Pietz withdrew his interests from the partnership. Berry threatened to sue Pietz for breach of contract, fraud, and tortious breach of the covenant of good faith. Pietz and Berry settled, and Pietz subsequently sued the group for the cost of the settlement. The trial court rejected Pietz’s claim of breach of fiduciary duty. He appealed the decision. How do you think the court decided? Was there a breach of fiduciary duty? [Pietz v. Indermuehle, 949 P.2d 449 (1998).]

Question 10:

Phillip Heller was a partner of the Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro law firm. The relationship between Heller and the firm was not strong, as Heller’s work performance was unsatisfactory. He billed 1,000 hours fewer than he had estimated that he would produce, and he did not establish strong working relationships. Heller signed the partnership agreement in 1992. The agreement authorized the Executive Committee to expel partners. After Heller submitted a derogatory and lewd article entitled “Why I Fired My Secretary,” the committee met and terminated Heller’s partnership. Heller challenged the authority of the committee to expel him, regardless of whether he had signed the partnership agreement. Do you think the court agreed with him? Why or why not? [Heller v. Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, 58 Cal. Rptr. 2d 336 (1996).]

Chapter 37

Question 4:

In June 2001, Greenfeld, Stitely, and Karstetter negotiated to merge their practices into a partnership that would provide accounting, tax, and information technology services. The partnership was profitable every year from its inception. However, Stitely felt that Greenfield’s information technology services were not generating as much revenue as his one-third share in the partnership should. So Stitely indicated to the partners that he wanted to withdraw from the partnership. Soon after, Stitely and Karstetter agreed to instead continue as partners together after Greenfield was out of the picture. Greenfield did not violate his partnership agreement, but the two partners forced Greenfield out of the partnership without compensating him for his interest. They accomplished this by unlawful means, such as purporting to withdraw from the partnership while in reality seizing control of its assets. Furthermore, they transferred the assets of the partnership to their new company, preventing Greenfield from having computer access to the business files, software, and client records. Was the partnership terminated properly? If the decision was wrongful, what potential consequences could Stitely and Karstetter face? [Wayne I. Greenfield v. Frank L. Stitely, et al., 2007 Va. Cir. LEXIS 7 (2007).]

Question 5:

Jones and Hardy entered into an oral partnership agreement. They planned to develop and lease certain areas of land. Together, they formed the Bloomington Knolls Association. Jones and Hardy began to experience financial problems, and they brought in a third partner, Jackson, to arrange for additional financing for the project. Jones subsequently dissolved the partnership and requested that he be given a portion of the land as his share of partnership assets. Jackson and Hardy did not honor his request, and Jones never received any assets of the partnership. Jones moved for an accounting and winding up of partnership affairs and brought the case to court. The district court entered judgment against Hardy and Jackson, jointly and severally, for an amount representative of Jones’s interest in the partnership. Jackson and Hardy appealed the district court’s decision. How do you think the court decided? [MacKay v. Hardy, 896 P.2d 626 (1995).]

Introduction to IRAC
All homework case problems and essay answers on the examinations must be answered in IRAC (Issue, Rule, Application, Conclusion) format. This is a specialized format that is used in the law to help us analyze legal questions and develop our critical legal thinking skills. It helps teach us how to look at a set of facts, determine the rule of law that applies, apply the law to that set of facts, and then develop a legally defensible conclusion.
Beulah walked up quietly behind Verna and hit her in the head with a textbook causing serious injury to Verna.
Verna will end up suing Beulah. The ISSUE is the fundamental/basic question that Verna will be asking the court to answer. It should be specific as to the cause of action upon which Verna is suing–in essence:
Issue: Whether Beulah is liable to Verna for battery.
The next step is the RULE. This is the rule of law that applies to the case. How can you tell whether Beulah is liable unless you know what the definition of battery is? The rule is the definition of the cause of action.
Rule: Battery-an unauthorized and harmful or offensive physical contact with another person.
The next step is the toughest–the APPLICATION. Students normally struggle with this section initially but eventually get the hang of it. It takes lots of practice by spending time on your homework answers and reviewing the model answers–practice, practice, practice. The application is where you take the elements of the rule (definition of the cause of action) and match it with the facts of the case. The best way to determine the elements is to look at the adjectives used in the definition. For example, the first thing that’s required for a battery is an unauthorized contact. The next thing that’s required is that the contact be harmful or offensive. The next requirement is that there be a physical contact. The last requirement is that the contact be with another person.
What facts indicate to you that this contact was unauthorized? The fact that Beulah walked up quietly behind Verna. What fact indicates that the contact was harmful (let’s go with harmful as opposed to offensive in this case)? The fact that Verna suffered serious injuries. What fact indicates that there was a physical contact? The fact that Beulah hit Verna. What fact indicates that Verna is a person? Well, the facts aren’t specific, but it’s a reasonable presumption.
Application: This contact was unauthorized because the facts state that Beulah walked up quietly behind Verna indicating that she did not want to be discovered. The contact was harmful because the facts state that Verna suffered serious injuries. The facts also state that Verna was hit by Beulah which means that there was physical contact. Finally, while the facts don’t state specifically that Verna is a person, it is a reasonable assumption given the circumstances.
The next section is the CONCLUSION which is the answer to the question asked in the issue–yes or no.
Conclusion: Yes. (It’s also okay to write a one sentence affirmation of your conclusion like “Yes, based on the facts presented, Beulah is liable for battery” if you choose to do so)

In IRAC you are not advocating one side or the other–you are to look at each scenario like a judge and analyze the facts leading you to develop a “ruling” so to speak.
Do not provide “cut and paste” analyses. These are analyses where the student simply gives back the facts given without any analysis. For example:
Issue: Whether Beulah is liable to Verna for battery.
Rule: Battery-an unauthorized and harmful or offensive physical contact with another person.
Application: Beulah walked up quietly behind Verna and hit her in the head with a textbook causing serious injury to Verna.
Conclusion: Yes.
This is not a good IRAC–and will result in very few points. It does not explain how you came to your conclusion. Basically, the student is taking the facts given and saying to the professor–“Here are the facts you gave me. I’m giving them back. I don’t know how to figure out this problem–you do it.” Don’t make your mother cry by getting a low score on your IRAC. Give me a good IRAC using proper form and analysis and get points for your efforts on an exam.
Also, if you are struggling to make the facts fit the rule, step by and ask yourself whether or not you are using the correct rule.



………………….Answer preview…………………

Question 6:
Issue: Concerning the case above, the question that asked is whether the firm Starr worked for violated the fiduciary theory or is it Starr who on the other had violated the duties.
Rule: Fiduciary in this case is an obligation for another party to act in the best interest. The agreement of the partners also bids the case against the firm………………………….


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