Thursday, August 31, 2006

Greetings from Biloxi, Mississippi, home base for the Equal Justice Works Katrina Legal Fellow sponsored by ACC

I am Reilly Morse, a third-generation Mississippi attorney with the

Mississippi Center for Justice. MCJ is our only independent home-grown, home-owned statewide public interest lawfirm. Its focus is social and economic justice. Our headquarters is in the state capitol, Jackson. In December, 2005, MCJ opened its first branch office in Biloxi to assist with the legal needs of hurricane victims across the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

ACC’s sponsorship of my position at MCJ has assured there will be a voice speaking for the lowest-income residents in the poorest state in the nation impacted by the worst hurricane in American history. Thank you for this indispensable resource.

Traditionally, MCJ focuses on impact litigation rather than direct services. However, Hurricane Katrina destroyed offices and residences of coastal legal services centers, and so MCJ stepped in to help fill the gap. In cooperation with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and an array of volunteer lawyers from the smallest firms to national corporate law departments, MCJ manned disaster recovery centers and conducted over 20 disaster recovery workshops in impacted minority communities across the coast. We worked on FEMA benefits, SBA loans, insurance, evictions, foreclosures, contract disputes, and more. To get an idea of what we faced, take a look at MCJ’s short film, New Foundations and the Lawyers Committee’s short film, The New Homeless.

The voice for vulnerable storm victims was also heard in official chambers through my participation in the Affordable Housing Sub-Committee of the Governor’s Commission, and the Governor’s Housing Policy Council. Working with national and local partners, MCJ also presented comments to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development urging greater equity in Mississippi’s plans to use federal hurricane recovery funds and gathered thousands of supporting signatures.

MCJ played a pivotal role in the formation of an alliance of over 30 service organizations focusing on low-income and minority populations known as the Steps Coalition. “Steps” draws its inspiration from the concrete steps that alone remain after a hurricane. The Steps Alliance was highlighted at a joint Oxfam-America – NAACP Town Meeting in Gulfport on August 26, 2006, attended by the heads of Oxfam, NAACP, the Lawyers Committee, and actor/activist Danny Glover. I was a member of the local panel of experts which followed.

I contributed a section on predatory lending to “Envisioning A Better Mississippi,” the NAACP report on Hurricane Katrina. I also was acknowledged in Oxfam America’s “Forgotten Communities, Unmet Promises” report.

In the coming weeks, I hope to interest ACC members in augmenting these efforts with pro bono assistance on tax, corporate, and real estate aspects of the Hurricane Katrina recovery.

Written By:
Reilly Morse
ACC's Equal Justice Works Katrina Fellow
through the Equal Justice Works Program

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

In the News: GC's Top Law Firm Picks

Which law firm is the favorite of Fortune 250 general counsel? Which are the top firms for litigation? Why have DC firms mysteriously disappeared from the list? Are companies still going through the "convergence" process? Was going to the Fortune 500 just too much effort?

To get the answers to these questions (except the Fortune 500 one), check out the story on You can also access a chart showing which law firms companies use...if you register.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

In the News: GC Fired Over Backdating Scandal

Are GC's especially vulnerable in the current wave of backdating scandals? One reporter thinks so and points to the case of Kent Hart Roberts, GC of McAfee, Inc., fired over a stock backdating "episode." You can read the full article on

If you want to know how to be prepared when it comes to questions about backdating stock options, register for ACC's upcoming webcast on September 7.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

In the News: Going Dark to Avoid SarbOx?

New Jersey Law Journal probes whether more public companies are going private or "going dark" (deregistering their stock with the SEC) in order to avoid the onerous reporting requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley. Read all about it on today.