March 26 2008, 10:34
On March 7, 2008, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit filed its opinion in the case of International Brotherhood of Teamsters v. North American Airlines.  It addressed the question of whether a labor union is entitled to enjoin an air carrier to prevent it from unilaterally altering the working conditions of its pilots, while negotiations for an initial collective bargaining agreement are still pending.  The court cited the Supreme Court's interpretation of the status quo provisions of the Railway Labor Act of 1926 in Williams v. Jacksonville Terminal Co., in ruling that unilateral alteration of working conditions are not prohibited in cases where there is no prior collective bargaining agreement, regardless of any pending negotiations.  The Teamsters case well illustrates a continuing debate as to whether the Supreme Court's interpretation of the RLA's status quo provisions still adequately serves the RLA's original purpose of promoting peaceable resolution of labor disputes. [More]
February 24 2008, 01:17
Both the National Football League (“NFL”) and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) have endured their fair share of high profile coaching defections either from one university to another, university to professional franchise, or professional franchise to university. Among the high profile coaches who have abandoned their respective clubs under contract are Nick Saban, formerly of the Miami Dolphins and currently with the University of Alabama, Bobby Petrino, head football coach at Arkansas via the Atlanta Falcons, and Rich Rodriguez, the freshly minted coach at the University of Michigan. The defections by Saban and Petrino received a fair amount of attention. However, the Rich Rodriguez situation may be enough to scare other high profile coaches from jumping ship too soon. [More]
February 21 2008, 10:38
The New York Times recently asked, "In today's perpetual workplace, where downtime has merged with work time, where you can carry your office in your pocket, where collars are no longer distinctly blue or white, how does one measure overtime?"  Such questions lead to others, concerning the purpose of overtime pay, the reasons for distinguishing between types of employees, and the role the federal government ought to play in resolving the growing inconsistencies and confusion of the complex structure of overtime law. This article examines recent changes to the overtime laws concerning exemption of white-collar workers and any effects, beneficial or burdensome, that they may have on individual workers and the economy as a whole. [More]
October 24 2007, 23:11
Law firms have adjusted to recent generations of associates that demand a better quality of life in conjunction with their careers.  A young lawyer wants it all: a successful career, a family, and time for a social-life outside the office. "Work/life balance" has become a buzzword for firms attempting to recruit the best and brightest. Some firms have responded to the needs of working parents who prioritize childrearing by offering reduced and alternative working schedules.  Others allow associates to bill some of their time to pro bono work, which increases the esteem of the profession  in addition to satiating a young associate's need to make a difference. While programs such as these move toward the much sought after "work/life balance." they may not be enough to truly achieve a happy, well-balanced life. [More]
September 27 2007, 23:15
For the past 30 years United States manufacturing jobs have been outsourced to foreign countries as a means to save both time and money.  Long thought to be immune from outsourcing, American workers in the service industry have also recently been replaced by cheaper, foreign workers.  For example, customer service and technical support telephone numbers are often rerouted to call centers in India.  As service providers themselves, should lawyers and law student be worried that they may be replaced by a cheaper alternative? Is there a substitute for seven years of higher education and a degree worth six figures in student loans? In actuality, there is, and in-house legal departments and law firms alike are taking advantage of the opportunity.
The Dallas law firm Bickel & Brewer began the phenomenon of outsourcing legal work in 1995 when they realized they could hire a lawyer in India to work for just $2.00 an hour.  The company created by Bickel and Brewer now handles legal work not only for their firm, but for other clients based in the U.S. as well.  While most of the legal work currently outsourced is low-level paralegal work, some companies are beginning to focus on more specialized and sophisticated services such as patent applications.  Lexadigm, a legal outsourcing company in India, boasts they can provide the same quality work as large law firms while only charging 1/3 of the price.  Salaries for their attorneys start as law as $6,000 per year. Even at $36,000, the salaries of their top earners pale in comparison to the starting salaries at top firms in the U.S.  Among the services Lexadigm offers are preparing trial and appellate briefs, document review, preparation of patent applications and competitor patent review, contract drafting, and a myriad of legal research services.  Lexadigm has also drafted briefs for submission to both Circuit Courts of Appeals as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. 
There are several incentives for firms to outsource their legal work overseas to countries such as India. The first and most obvious is the cost savings to clients as a well as to the firms themselves. While a lawyer fresh from a top American law school may start as a new associate as a firm for up to $160,000 per year, the starting salary for a lawyer at Lexadigm is only $6,000 per year.  While Lexadigm's starting salary is up to three times larger than the starting salary at most Indian law firms, the cost savings to firms in the U.S. is staggering.  In 2003, Bruce Masterson, the C.E.O. of Socrates Media L.L.C., opted to hire a firm from India to tailor leases for each state at a cost of $45,000, a price tag that was $355,000 less than the estimate his outside counsel had quoted.  By utilizing offshore legal services, law firms can realize up to an 80% savings for basic legal work such as legal research, patent review, and transcription services. 
Another advantage of outsourcing to India is the difference in time zones.  An attorney can electronically send work to India as he is leaving the office, and return the next morning to the completed assignment.  The ten hour time difference also has its drawbacks.  Supervising the Indian attorney and communication in general becomes more difficult with both attorneys essentially working opposite hours of the clock.  There is also the issue of quality control.  While preparing patent applications is one of the most common outsourced legal tasks,  patent applications must be very specific, and poor drafting could leave a company holding a virtually worthless patent as well as opening up the drafting firm for malpractice. 
Though most attorneys may not believe they are easily replaceable by outsourced foreign attorneys, the truth is that more and more firms are opting for this cost saving measure. Ten of the highest grossing U.S. law firms were asked to comment on the trend toward outsourcing legal jobs; seven of those firms declined to comment.  Only one, Mayer Brown Rowe & Maw, stated they did not outsource any legal work overseas.  When a client requests outsourcing to save money, firms such as Jones Day and Kirkland & Ellis send basic legal work to India, saving the client a substantial amount in legal bills.  A Forrester Research Inc. forecast estimates that 50,000 legal jobs will be outsourced to other countries by 2015. 
The outsourcing of American jobs to foreign countries is a touchy subject, and many firms do not want to risk alienating clients and damaging their reputation by an often unpopular practice.  As more firms opt to use this cost saving measure, however, the court of popular opinion may sway in the opposite direction, making outsourcing a more acceptable alternative.  David Perla, co-chief executive of a New York and Mumbai based offshore legal service company, speculated that law firms were not ashamed of using the practice, but instead wanted to maintain the competitive advantage offshoring provided. 
With technology advancing in leaps and bounds everyday, countries become interdependent on each other for economic success. This globalization is a double edged sword for the U.S. legal market. Law firms are able to offer their clients more service for less money, and general counsel can appease their corporate shareholders with higher profits. Unfortunately, legal jobs in the U.S. are cut in the same fell swoop. While there has not yet been an exodus of outsourced legal work, if this practice becomes standard many firms will have no choice but to outsource as well to compete.
 Darya V. Pollack, Comment, "I'm Calling My Lawyer. . . In India!": Ethical Issues in International Legal Outsourcing, 11 U.C.L.A. J. Int’l & For. Aff. 99, 101 (2006).
 Brian O'Neill, Outsourcing Legal Work to India: That Giant Sucking Sound from the East, American Jurist, Nov. 11, 2005, available at http://www.americanjurist.net/home/index.cfm?event=displayArticlePrinterFriendly&uStory_id=8d5a5609-cdac-4bc1-ad9c-7eed34092e78.
 Daniel Brook, Made in India: Are your lawyers in New York or New Delhi?, Legal Affairs, May/June 2005, available at http://www.legalaffairs.org/issues/May-June-2005/scene_brook_mayjun05.msp.
 Lexadigm Website, http://www.lexadigm.com (last visited Sep 21, 2007).
 Mary C. Daly & Carole Silver, Flattening the World of Legal Services? The Ethical and Liability Minefields of Offshoring Legal and Law-Related Services, 38 Geo. J. Int’l L. 401, 410 (2007).
 Cynthia Cotts & Liane Kufchock, Jones Day, Kirkland Send Work to India to Cut Costs (Update 2), Bloomberg, Aug. 21, 2007, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=email_en&refer=home&sid=akN.rUGvG.5M.
 Edward Poll, Outsourcing: A Multi-Level Solution to the Cost/Value Dilemma, Law Practice Today, July 2005, http://www.abanet.org/lpm/lpt/articles/mtt07051.html.
 Brook, supra note 4.
 Daly & Silver, supra note 10, at 411.
 Joel R. Merkin, Recent Development: Litigation Outsourced Patents: How Offshoring May Affect the Attorney-Client Privilege, 2006 U. Ill. J. L. Tech. & Pol’y 215, 217 (2006).
 Daly & Silver, supra note 10 at 409.
 Merkin, supra note 19 at 217.
 Cotts & Kufchock, supra note 11.
 Merkin, supra note 19, at 216.
 Id. at 217.
 Cotts & Kufchock, supra note 11.
July 10 2007, 01:05
In today’s world where every law firm claims to value diversity throughout their ranks and prioritize it as a top concern in recruiting, it is easy to forget that even in the 1960s, Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz called the American legal profession “the worst segregated group in the whole economy.”  According to a 2003 American Bar Association study, slightly more than 89% of all lawyers in the nation are white. The overall numbers of women and minorities at the associate level are improving substantially, but the odds of making partner stay low.  Lawyers of color account for less than 5% of partners in all of the largest American law firms, according to the National Association for Law Placement.  White males have five times better odds than women of making partner, and seven times better than Asian-Americans or African-Americans.  Minority-owned firms provide a greater likelihood for advancement for many associates towards partnership, and the Clinton administration’s programs worked to create a better environment for such firms.  However, in recent years a backslide has occurred; legal and political changes have made it more acceptable for corporations and the government to give short shrift to minority-owned firms.  Still, without pressure from the government, market forces are causing diversity in larger firms to become a business imperative.  [More]
April 25 2007, 15:59
For eleven stellar seasons, the CBS hit “The Jeffersons” told the hilarious story of George and Weezie, who had moved on up the socio-economic ladder to “a deluxe apartment in the sky.”  In contemporary legal education, a growing phenomenon parallels George and Weezie’s desire to get a “piece of the pie.”  This article will examine the trend of the transfer law student in addition to the successes, complications, and possible prejudices experienced by transfer students in securing employment. [More]
April 20 2007, 01:07
During the uncertain times of World War II, Harvard University’s president was interviewed concerning the condition of the law school. He stated that it wasn’t bad as he had expected, given the war-time circumstances: “We have 75 students, and we haven’t had to admit any women.” 
One would think that the legal industry would have made giant strides towards remedying such primitive opinions. On the contrary, a recent Harvard Law survey of large corporate firms found that some male lawyers still drop pencils under boardroom tables as an excuse to look at women’s legs, and take clients to strip clubs where their female colleagues feel unwelcome.  Fortunately, not all firms tolerate such behavior. This article aims to examine the obstacles facing women and mothers in the field of corporate law, and what actions some firms are taking to alleviate their unique burdens. [More]
April 10 2007, 19:19
The Zone, Atkins, liposuction, colonics, the liquid diet... Many people have tried and failed at losing those last five pounds. However, would the effort be less frustrating if someone offered you money to lose weight? Employers across the U.S. have noticed problems associated with overweight employees, and they are hoping that monetary incentives will solve the problems. This article will first examine the rising healthcare costs in the workplace. It will then focus on employer efforts to combat these costs. Finally, the article will explain some cautionary steps that employers should take when implementing weight loss efforts. [More]
March 28 2007, 16:01
I: Common Sense is Not So Common
Polished black shoes. Dry-cleaned charcoal gray suit. Freshly pressed royal blue dress shirt. Red power tie. I ran through this checklist for every on-campus interview and call back interview this fall. Emails from my Career Services Office reinforced this sartorial splendor constantly. Eventually I began to notice that the CSO included several new items. “Make sure your Facebook and MySpace profiles do not have/reveal anything incriminating about you. Employers will check before an interview.” Come again? The hiring partner of a Vault 100 firm is going to “friend” me? [More]