Jay O'Keeffe

Chief Justice Lemons likes to say that an advocate develops three oral arguments in each case: the one they planned to give, the one they actually gave, and the one they wish they’d given. Last Friday, I was honored to speak at the VTLA Annual Convention. My topic was practical legal writing. Below is the speech that I planned to give. Two caveats: First, this is not the speech that I actually gave (let alone…
Let’s do a quick thought experiment. Why did Willie Sutton rob banks? Because that’s where the money is. And who, by and large, owns that money at those banks? Well, older folks. They’ve had a lifetime to accumulate it. So should we expect to see older Americans victimized by financial exploitation? Yes–and that is exactly what we are seeing. Since 2013, financial institutions reported more than 180,000 suspicious activities targeting older folks, involving more…
We’re really hammering the winter theme on this blog. This is a question that we get more often than you’d think. And we can only imagine how frustrating it must be to lose access to your bank account–especially if you have direct deposit and use that account to pay your bills. Unfortunately, there’s not a quick answer. Whether a freeze on your account is legal will depend on a bunch of factors: Did the freeze…
Delegate Marcus Simon, a Democrat from Fairfax, has introduced legislation to bar anyone from acting as an student loan servicer without a license. The bill, H.B. 1760, would would prohibit qualified education loan servicers from Employing any scheme, device, or artifice to defraud or mislead qualified education loan borrowers; Engaging in any unfair or deceptive act or practice toward any person or misrepresent or omit any material information in connection with the servicing…
The brief in opposition is one of the great underappreciated joys of Virginia appellate practice. It comes at the writ stage, when we’re just trying to convince the Supreme Court that it should/should not grant a petition for appeal. We’re not necessarily arguing the merits. Sometimes, the petitioner will not yet have hired specialist appellate counsel. Even when they do, some nominal appellate lawyers fail to appreciate this distinction. So how do we dissuade the Court…
Raffi Melkonian, an appellate lawyer from Texas and the dean of #appellatetwitter, has been working on what he considers the hardest problem at oral argument: the judge who has misunderstood something and is angry about it. I'm listening to a series of oral arguments for "reasons," and I've decided the hardest OA problem is the judge who has misapprehended something but is also mad about it. Lawyers really get themselves into a jumble dealing…
Confession time: I have a strong prejudice against the default writing style at most BigLaw firms. I’d like to think that my intolerance is mostly justified, but I recognize that it’s at least partly unfair. To understand why, remember that I started my career at a BigLaw firm. I had a great experience working with talented lawyers on exciting cases. But I faced one major hiccup along the way. Early in my tenure, I was…
These snow demons are fixin’ to break the law. Gift certificates are great holiday gifts. Sure, they kind of say, “I care about you, but not enough to, you know, shop for you.” But they’re just so convenient. Your brother-in-law with an undergrad economics degree who answers phones for a living now might argue that gift cards reduce the deadweight loss associated with presents. His argument sounds plausible! That plus laziness is why I…
He was very clear about my role here. About who I’m supposed to be loyal to. Guess you could call it . . . my core drive. My kids call my mother-in-law Bebop. Long story. But relevant here, Bebop is not a shy woman. She has opinions. She likes to share them. And she does not have what my kids might call an “inside voice.” Nor is Bebop a lonely woman. She has lots of friends…