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Big picture legal trends

The recession has exposed structural flaws in the business models of many law firms. The challenge: Amid a changing revenue stream, maintain compensation levels that keep partners happy and attract the best legal talent. Read the full story here and see also:

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Cashing in on state contracts becomes growth industry

The lobbying offices that line the moss-covered streets of Tallahassee have grown exponentially larger in the past two decades as governors and legislators have steered a greater share of the state’s budget to outside vendors. [Source: Times/Herald]

Eye doctors see long fight in 'eyeball wars'

A long-standing battle between the state's ophthalmologists and optometrists, known as the "eyeball wars," is once again ramping up in Tallahassee. At stake, according to both sides, is the health of Florida's 38 million eyeballs. It may seem an arcane issue — but not in Tallahassee, where political contributions and the right lobbyists tend to grab legislators' attention. [Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel]

Economic-development efforts more words than deeds

One of Gov. Rick Scott's central selling points to economically rattled voters in 2010 was his direct line to Corporate America. He promised to cut corporate taxes, make Florida's business climate the best in the country and sell the turnaround job in executive suites around the world. But when it comes to evaluating whether Scott's policies have been a catalyst in Florida's economic turnaround, the evidence is thin. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

As promised benefits dwindle, so do hopes for golden years

U.S. employers have been erasing the implied assurance that some fortunate workers would enjoy subsidized health care and monthly pension payments for life, downgrading some benefits and eliminating others altogether. This seismic shift has major implications for the country’s aging population and Florida’s future. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

See also:
» Would-be retirees still on the job


› Shuttered private schools leave students scrambling
When a private school shuts down, there’s no way for the state to enforce a requirement that the school’s records be kept. And without such a safeguard, some student records could end up in a long-forgotten storage space or in a landfill — leaving hundreds of students desperately searching each year.

› Florida python hunt ends with 50 caught, tens of thousands in hiding
They had guns, machetes and good intentions. That wasn't enough for most of the 1,500 snake chasers who signed up for Florida's month-long Burmese python hunt.

› Office Depot debuts 'interactive' store
Office Depot's new "interactive'' stores are a little Apple-like, a little Starbucks-like. The stores still will sell basic office supplies and provide copy and print services for small businesses, but now it comes with a twist, a bit of modernization and hip as the company gets away from its old big-box mentality.

› Scouring Tampa Bay for Rays season ticket holders
In baseball, 300 represents batting excellence; in bowling, perfection. Hollywood immortalized 300 martyred Spartans. With a single jab, however, Stuart Sternberg recently gave 300 a black eye in St. Petersburg. The Tampa Bay Rays owner, who wants out of Tropicana Field, let drop that only 300 full season ticket accounts trace back to St. Petersburg addresses.

Go to page 2 for more stories ...

› Public schools lose millions to crooks and cheaters
A Tampa Bay Times investigation found that last year criminals earned more than $7 million in federal funding for private tutoring businesses. Companies accused of overbilling earned another $7 million. The lack of oversight means millions go to cheaters and crooks.
» Part Two: Lobbying preserved millions for Florida tutoring companies

› Settlements over toxic Chinese drywall OK'd
A federal judge has approved five class-action settlements that call for a Chinese drywall manufacturer and others to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to repair homes damaged by the product, attorneys for thousands of Gulf Coast property owners said.

› Weiss rates USAA, Citizens strong, other Florida insurers weaker
Grades from Weiss Ratings might surprise homeowners accustomed to hearing debates in Tallahassee about the risky shakiness of state-run insurer Citizens — it gets an A plus for financial strength.

› Walgreens offer fresh food sections in some Tampa Bay stores
The offerings seem straight from a restaurant menu. Lobster bisque. Grilled chicken breast with tortellini. California rolls. You wouldn't expect them amid the paper plates, nail polish and pain relievers at a drugstore.