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Chaney Law Firm donates life jackets during Summer Safety program at Perritt Primary School

Perritt Primary School invites members of the community to speak to students about safety during the last week of school. As part of this year's safety week, the Chaney Law Firm spoke to two groups of pre-K, kindergarten, and first graders about water safety. Together with Wal-Mart, the firm gave away 20 life jackets to kids in the school.

First-grader River Chaney led off the program by introducing the members of the firm. Nathan asked the kids who was excited about summer vacation, and we still don't know who waved their hands harder — the students of the teachers. Nathan asked the kids to tell their summer plans, and there were a wide range of responses: visit the lake, beach, river, or water park; travel to Costa Rica, Sea World, and Magic Springs; and stay in a hotel. All these things involve water, so Nathan spent a few minutes telling the students about his own experiences with water safety. Nathan told of getting fishhooks in his head not once, but twice, as a youngster. The kids suggested he wear a hat and sunglasses while fishing. He also told of getting a bad case of poison ivy on the banks of the river, and how to identify poison ivy.

Hilary went next, and had River tell the kids about a few pictures:

L to R: The Chaney family; River and Sue E. in the family boat; and River and Nathan blowing bubbles across the water.

Hilary discussed the importance of wearing sunscreen, and told the kids to look for SPF 30 or higher. She asked the kids if they knew about the buddy system, and why it was important to have a friend around when you swim. The kids responded that a friend can tell an adult or lifeguard if you get in trouble in the water. Hilary let the kids know swimming lessons are available this summer at the Arkadelphia Aquatic Park and Henderson State University. Finally, Hilary explained that kids should never swim after dark, since you can't see how deep the water is.

Terri "Manners" Chaney spoke next about keeping safe in the sun. She put on three hats, and asked the kids to tell her which one was best to wear outside. First came an elf hat, which the kids knew wasn't good because it didn't have a bill. Next came a baseball cap, which was a little better. Finally, she donned a wide-brimmed hat, and the kids all could see that was the best choice for the sun. Terri also talked about the importance of drinking plenty of water, and how to identify heat sickness. She also talked about not diving headfirst into water except from a diving board.

Uncle Taylor served as the surprise guest, and came out in dressed for the part. He went through several steps of getting ready to go out on the water. The kids told him he shouldn't wear long clothes on the water because they might get heavy if he fell in. They also told him to wear his life jacket and to make sure it was cinched tight. They told him to apply sunscreen, which Terri did (because in primary school, your mom needs to rub the sunscreen in). With his hat and glasses, the kids helped Taylor get fully ready for a day on the water. I think he might've left the office early today...

Don "Granddaddy" Chaney went next, and he explained the legal reason why kids need to wear life jackets: because water safety is important, parents can be ticketed if kids aren't wearing life jackets around the water:

The next segment of the program was a joint effort between the Chaney Law Firm and the local Wal-Mart. Together, we donated 20 life jackets and held a drawing to see which children won. River passed out all the life jackets to the winners.

We had a great time presenting to the kids at Perritt Primary, and wish everyone a safe and fun summer vacation!  

Nathan Publishes Article in the Arkansas Law Review

The summer 2014 edition of the Arkansas Law Review is out, and I wrote one of the feature articles. The article is about the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA). The ADTPA permits any citizen who has been the victim of a deceptive trade practice to bring suit against the bad actor. The act is very broad and consumer-friendly. We most often see it when the Arkansas Attorney General uses it to stop wrongful practices, like very high interest check-cashers.

The Act contains an exemption for conduct "authorized" by federal and state laws and regulations. Some Arkansas courts apply the exemption as written. For example, when the Environmental Protection Agency approved an estimated mileage sticker for the Toyota Prius, an ADPTA claim against Toyota for misleading mileage estimates failed. The conduct was "authorized" by the EPA. When the ADTPA exemption is limited like this, it is known as an application of the "specific conduct" rule.

Some Arkansas courts have interpreted this to mean that all "regulated" conduct is exempt from the ADPTA. For example, some insurance companies argue that their claims practices are regulated and any ADTPA suit against them must fail, even though the insurance code defines certain insurance practices as deceptive (like failing to give you a reason for denying your claim). Primarily, the federal district courts for the Eastern District of Arkansas apply the rule this way; it is known as the "general activity" rule.

The Arkansas Supreme Court hasn't specifically ruled on this exemption. However, many courts around the country have ruled on similar exemptions.  My article surveys 50 other states, and concludes that most states having a rule similar to ours apply the specific conduct rule.

The full citation for the article is: Nathan P. Chaney, The Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act: The Arkansas Supreme Court Should Adopt the Specific-Conduct Rule, 67 Ark. L. Rev. 299 (2014). I'll post a link when it becomes available.

Nathan speaks to college students about intellectual property

I spoke to a class of upperclassmen at Henderson State University today about intellectual property. These students, all business majors, are preparing business plans for course credit as well as several local and statewide competitions that have cash prizes for the best plans.


Using the Coke bottle analogy, I taught them about the different forms of intellectual property, and I fielded questions from the students about how intellectual property fit into their business plans. The students were curious about the different forms of intellectual property fit together, what type of patent and trademark procurement costs they could expect to report in their business plans, and how to search for software patents using free tools.

Good luck to Professor Lonnie Jackson's students on the upcoming business plan competitions! 

Hilary scheduled to teach Continuing Education across Arkansas


I will speak about my experience as a Bipolar attorney for CLE credit at two locations in Arkansas.  On Friday, November 1 at 2:30pm I'll speak at the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville.  On Monday, November 18 I'll present at 12:00pm at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Bowen School of Law.  My talk is approved for 1 hour of Ethics CLE and it is free.  The talk is titled "Through the Open Door: A Bipolar Attorney Talks Mania, Recovery, and Heaven on Earth."  I'll have copies of my book of the same name for sale at the CLE for $12.00 (also available for purchase at Amazon).  The target audience is law students, professors, and attorneys, but both talks are open to the public.  

By speaking about my own struggles and eventual triumph over Bipolar Disorder, I hope to shine a light on mental illness and help remove the stigma associated with it.  Mental illness is not a death sentence, and with the proper treatment and support, anyone can beat mental illness and become a professional, spouse, parent, advocate, and friend.

I volunteer for Arkansas Judges and Lawyers Assistance Program which provides free treatment for lawyers, judges, and family members suffering from mental illness, addiction, and a variety of other illnesses.  I have found that advocating for mental health awareness and offering counsel to those suffering is a tonic, and as close to a cure as you can get.  

My personal insight into mental illness has proved a powerful tool in securing Social Security Disability benefits for my clients.  Few attorneys can relate to a client's manic or depressive episodes.  However, I can offer the compassion and understanding that clients seek and deserve.  

If you would like for me to speak to a group about my story, please contact me at the Chaney Law Firm.


Nathan speaks to Arkadelphia High School business class


I was invited by Principal David Maxwell and instructor David Gustaveson to speak to several business classes at Arkadelphia High School this morning on the subject of intellectual property. 

I told the students a plastic Coke bottle represents 5 types of intellectual property and asked for their help in naming each one. We walked through (1) the design patent for the shape of the bottle, (2) the utility patent for the tamper-resistant top, (3) the trade secret on the Coke formula, (4) the trademark for Coca-Cola® and Coke®, and (5) the copyright for the label.

The discussion turned to the laws for intellectual property. We discussed the constitutional basis for each type of intellectual property and some basic tensions between protecting intellectual property rights and encouraging free sharing of ideas. iPhone vs. Android helped illustrate some of these principles, and the students were divided in their loyalties to their cell phones.

I appreciate the students being attentive and interactive. Thanks to Mr. G and Principal Maxwell for inviting me out! And, thanks to Paul Sivils for giving me a tour. AHS has changed quite a bit since I was a student!

UPDATE: We've added a page on the site that includes an explanation of how a Coke bottle represents five different types of intellectual property. Check it out here.