Ties that Bind

In the summer of 2016, Adam Merberg was offered a job as a data scientist at AbleTo, a behavioral health care company based in New York City. After he verbally accepted the job offer, a corporate recruiter sent him an email letting him know the company would be running a routine background check. “Also attached is a confidentiality agreement,” the recruiter wrote. “Please review, complete, sign, and return to me as soon as possible.” The agreement included a non-compete clause prohibiting Merberg from working at any of the company’s competitors for twelve months after leaving. Merberg, who had recently completed a Ph.D. in mathematics, didn’t consider how this might later affect him.

The Supreme Court’s War Against Workers

Gorsuch’s decision ignores all power imbalances between employers and employees. “Should employees and employers be allowed to agree that any disputes between them will be resolved through one-on-one arbitration?” he writes. “Or should employees always be permitted to bring their claims in class or collective actions, no matter what they agreed with their employers?” The problem with this argument is that it presumes these contracts are drafted up by two teams of lawyers representing parties of equal power, not legal documents created by corporate law departments and shoved under the noses of unwitting employees on their first day of work. Later on, Gorsuch writes of “the parties,” plural, who “proceeded to specify the rules that would govern their arbitrations,” as if every low-wage worker consults a contract lawyer before signing off on their HR paperwork.

Law Students Push Back Against Mandatory Arbitration

To participate in on-campus summer recruiting, law firms will soon need to say if incoming associates will be subject to mandatory arbitration for employment-related disputes, and if so, if those agreements also include non-disclosure provisions. The initiative is the result of grassroots campaigns mounted by students at top U.S. law schools, who believe mandatory arbitration agreements effectively force employees to sign away their rights to go to court if they ever experience illegal treatment in the workplace.

#MeToo Movement Brings Busy Times for Labor Lawyers

What began in October with reports about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged serial sexual predation has sparked a viral engagement with the #metoo social media movement, a national conversation about sexual misconduct, and a wave of high-profile workplace sexual harassment allegations in entertainment, media and politics that shows no sign of letting up. On Monday, Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski announced via his lawyers at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart that he will retire immediately following allegations of sexual misconduct from more than a dozen women. The cultural phenomenon has created work for lawyers, from creating new internal policies at corporations, to advising them on upcoming legislation that could fundamentally change how sexual harassment allegations are settled.

How Justice Kennedy Fell for a Right-Wing Meme

Cases like Masterpiece are a symptom of white conservative Christians feeling like they have become outsiders in what they believe is their country. Jack Phillips’s lawyers at the Alliance Defending Freedom have framed his and other similar cases as efforts to protect Americans who have been caught in the crosshairs of Kennedy’s Obergefell decision and LGBTQ rights advocates. They’re trying to protect themselves against what they perceive to be the new dominant cultural norm.

Big Law Firms Show Sharp Divide Between Attorney and Staff Parental Leave

Many Big Law firms promote generous paid parental leave policies in order to woo young lawyers hoping to start a family, but those benefits often don’t apply at the same levels to staff providing support work, an analysis by Big Law Business has found. The numbers show that law firm staff do better than their counterparts in similarly paid jobs, but that law firm paid leave policies still lag behind some of the biggest U.S. companies.

The Career Coaches Helping Women Leave Big Law

Elena Deutsch spent seven years as a career coach and leadership consultant hired by law firms to advise rising associates. During that time, most of the associates she coached one-on-one were women.“When I would ask them about their partnership goals, whether they wanted to make partner, many would look over their shoulders, and kind of lean in and ask if they could really talk to me about this,” Deutsch said. “And when I assured them of confidentiality, they would share that they weren’t sure.”

Why Women Leave Big Law To Start Their Own Firms

Peggy McCausland was tired of her firm’s networking events.The potential clientele she wanted to woo — business women — weren’t showing up, she said. So McCausland conceived her own networking event that would draw them — golf lessons, catered meals and shop talk — and asked for the necessary marketing funds. She was a partner at the firm, Blank Rome, after all. “The response I got from [a senior partner] was, ‘Where are you going to find a golf course that’s gonna let a bunch of amateur women come hack it to bits?’” McCausland recalled ten years later.

Mistaken For The Court Reporter: Litigating As A Woman

Ask a woman in litigation if she’s ever been mistaken for a court reporter, and there’s a good chance she’ll say yes. Teri Drew, who specializes in the defense of commercial liability claims, said it happened to her just a few months ago. “I went to a plaintiffs’ firm for a deposition, and the receptionist said, ‘OK you’re going to be in the conference room. You can go in because I know you need to set up.’” Drew recounted to Big Law Business.

Today’s Law Degree Takes on a Broader Meaning

It can be awkward for law school deans to talk about: As the number of law graduates continues to decline nationwide, more are getting jobs that don’t require a law degree. That’s not such a good look for law schools, where many students attend with high hopes of earning a place at a prestigious law firm, or, at the very least, practicing law after they graduate. Now, some deans are trying to embrace the change rather than fight it, launching training programs for students in areas outside of law — like technology — and speaking publicly about alternative career paths.

I learned the hard way why non-competes are bad for journalists

There’s a silent scourge creeping around newsrooms, one with origins in trade publications and tech-led new media: non-compete agreements. In their most typical form, these agreements bar reporters and editorial staff members from working at competing publications for a period of six months to a year after they leave. Publications that use them argue they need non-competes to cover the cost of the training they provide employees. Some even argue their reporters are privy to trade secrets.

Companies Use Diversity Data to Hold Law Firms Accountable

Legal departments are no longer just asking firms to field diverse groups of attorneys — they’re asking those firms to put attorneys in leadership positions, and they’re asking for data to back it up. The changes have coincided with corporate demands on in-house legal teams to track their spending with greater precision, indicating that the use of data to hold law firms accountable for diversity initiatives will only increase.
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