Fight or Flight: Explaining Minority Associate Attrition

Diversity has been a prominent problem in the legal profession. Law is among the least diverse professions in the nation. According to a survey conducted in 2016, racial minorities represent about 20% of all attorneys at law firms. The industry has seen efforts to incorporate minorities into law schools and law firms, including minority mentorship programs, partner training, and objective evaluation methods; however, progress has been achingly slow. In the seven years between 2009 and 2016, the percentage of women in law firms has grown by less than one percent and the percentage of minority lawyers has only increased by about two percent. The lack of diversity is exacerbated among more senior attorneys. A survey of national law firms showed that while minorities compose 32% of the summer associate class at law firms, minorities compose 8% of partners. Thus, the primary impediment to diversity in law firms is not the hiring, but the retention of minority attorneys. Minority attorneys are 1.3-1.5 times as likely to voluntarily leave their law firms compared to white, male attorneys. Minority partners are almost three times as likely to leave their positions compared to white men. Minorities’ greater dissatisfaction with private sector jobs  may be [read more]

Antitrust Scrutiny of Vertical Mergers Under the Trump Administration

The business world welcomed the Trump administration with open arms, believing it would usher in a new era of unprecedented growth by disposing of many of the barriers implemented during the Obama Administration, such as Net Neutrality. During his first week in office, President Trump signed Executive Order 13771, which requires federal agencies to cut two existing regulations for every new regulation they enforce. Since the implementation of the executive order, deregulation has ensued, the market has improved, and growth has been steady. One area where this pro-business approach has not been observed uniformly is that of vertical mergers in the cable industry. Most famously, the Department of Justice  (DOJ) sued to block the $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner back in November, and the case is headed for an early trial in March. The ruling in this case will be largely influential in the cable industry, as more distributors and programmers of content are merging in order to stay competitive with the relatively new threat of streaming services. The merger between AT&T and Time Warner is a vertical merger—a merger between two companies that operate at different stages of the production process for a specific finished product. [read more]

Christie v. NCAA and the Implications of Legal Sports Betting

In 1992, Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PAPSA”), prohibiting states from authorizing, licensing, regulating, and controlling sports betting. The Act grandfathered in states that had previously legalized sports betting – Nevada, Oregon, and Delaware – and offered an exemption to New Jersey if they enacted legislation within a year. The state failed to do so, and continued to prohibit sports betting within its borders. In 2010, the state changed course and initiated a referendum among its voters asking whether sports betting should be legalized in the state. The referendum was approved by a wide margin. In response, the Legislature passed the Sports Wagering Act in 2012, which legalized sports betting in private casinos and racetracks across the state. The NCAA, NFL, NHL, and MLB (“NCAA”) sued the Governor of New Jersey and various state officials (Christie I), alleging that the Act violated PAPSA. The state admitted that the Sports Wagering Act violated PAPSA, but argued that PAPSA was unconstitutional because it violated the anti-commandeering doctrine of the Tenth Amendment. The doctrine prohibits the federal government from requiring states or state officials to adopt or enforce federal law. The NCAA argued that PAPSA did not require the [read more]

Fair Play for Minor League Baseball

People are often quick to criticize professional athletes for the amount of money they make. And within the world of professional sports, baseball players often make more money than their peers in other professional sports. Some of the reasons for this, as some have pointed out, are that Major League Baseball (MLB) has no salary cap, the MLB has a strong players’ union, and sports agents wield a tremendous amount of power. Compared to other major American sports, Major League Baseball also cultivates talent in a unique way. In the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Football League (NFL), professional teams typically recruit players from college. In the National Hockey League (NHL), there are minor league teams, but there are numerous leagues, and individual teams do not have contractual control over all players on the team. In baseball, however, virtually the only way that a player reaches the MLB is by progressing through Minor League Baseball (MiLB). MLB teams typically exercise control over 3-5 MiLB teams, and the MiLB teams have contractual control over all of their players. This level of control has led to unequal bargaining power that teams have over their players, which has not only resulted [read more]

Collective Bargaining for Farmworkers

Freedom of association protects workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain. Collective bargaining is when workers negotiate with their employer over important arrangements, such as employee benefits and working conditions, with the idea that workers have more bargaining power collectively than individually. Farmworkers have been systemically denied the right to collectively bargain and organize throughout American history. The 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) excluded farmworkers from the right to collective bargaining. Although this was the progressive era for workers’ rights legislation, it was also the Jim Crow law era. Consequently, farmworkers’ legal exclusion from collective bargaining was likely approved by Congress because the profession had a majority African American workforce. New York law on the matter is in conflict. In 1937, New York passed its State Employee Relations Act (SERA), which conformed to the NLRA’s exclusion of farmworkers. The New York Constitution, passed in 1938, states that there exists a right to organize and bargain collectively. Yet, New York has continued to deny farmworkers their right to associate and bargain with employers. Despite SERA clearly violating the plain language of New York’s Constitution and international criticism of the exclusion, the conflict has now become a matter for the court. [read more]

Lessons in Diversity Jurisdiction from the First Circuit

The importance of subject-matter jurisdiction is axiomatic in federal courts. Parties must either get to federal court via a federal question or on the basis of diversity of citizenship. Given the centrality of subject-matter jurisdiction, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3) mandates that cases that lack subject-matter jurisdiction must be dismissed. Even when issues of subject-matter jurisdiction are thought to be settled, new concerns can be raised at any time and force the court to reverse itself. Such was the case in an April 27, 2017 case from the First Circuit. Rule 12(h)(3) enables litigants to raise challenges to the court’s subject-matter jurisdiction at any time. As the First Circuit recently found in Hearts with Haiti, Inc. v. Kendrick, “any time” can even mean after the trial and during the pendency of an appeal. The case’s subject-matter jurisdiction was predicated on the diversity of citizenship, as it raised state tort law issues, rather than a federal question. In the underlying action, the founder of an orphanage in Haiti brought suit against Paul Kendrick for defamation claiming that Kendrick had falsely accused him of sexually abusing the boys in the orphanage. Kendrick further accused Hearts with Haiti—a non-profit charity raising funds [read more]

Common Sense ‘Slants’ in Favor of Creative Freedom in Trademark Protection

What’s in a name? Early this year, the Supreme Court considered this question in Lee v. Tam. The US Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) denied Simon Tam and his band, The Slants, a trademark for the name of the band. Citing the anti-disparagement clause of the Lanham Act, the PTO found that the name could be “disparaging” to people of Asian-American descent. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a specialized court with jurisdiction over intellectual property matters, recently ruled en banc in the case. There, the Court found that the anti-disparagement clause constitutes unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination. During oral arguments, the Supreme Court appeared to agree with the Federal Circuit Court’s thinking. Justice Kagan echoed this sentiment in her question to the Government’s lawyer:   “The point is that I can say good things about something, but I can’t say bad things about something. And I would have thought that that was a fairly classic case of viewpoint discrimination.”   The Justices seem posed to rule in Tam’s favor, ending a six-year battle with the PTO over the name of the band.   In the case of the arts, this result seems just. It stamps out bureaucratic oversight [read more]

Protecting Patents from the Looming 3D Printing Storm

The current state of U.S. patent infringement law does not meet the challenges of 3D printing technology. 3D printing is a process in which a printer produces a physical three-dimensional object from a “CAD” file, which is an image file formatted for computers. Owners of the printer merely have to upload the CAD file onto the printer to reproduce the desired object. Although 3D printing has yet to gain broad use and appeal, the law may need to catch up with the technological advancement. Data indicate that 3D printing could be mainstream in even five years. The federal statute controlling the area of patent infringement (including 3D printing) is 35 U.S.C. § 271. The statute explains both direct and indirect patent infringement. Direct infringement is the act of making, using, selling, offering, or importing into the U.S., any patented invention, without permission. Indirect infringement, is any act that is not direct infringement, but which requires some knowledge and intent regarding the actual infringement. The federal statute protects against infringement in the most basic sense. In Bauer & Cie. v. O’Donnell, the Supreme Court ruled that physically reproducing a patented invention is the same as “making” a patented invention (direct infringement). [read more]

Court of Arbitration for Sport: Flawed but Essential

By: Karli Cozen The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has played an active role in the international sporting arena since its inception in 1984. CAS is an independent quasi-judicial body with arbitral jurisdiction to resolve both commercial and disciplinary sport-related disputes. It was developed to provide an outlet to resolve disputes in response to the growing number of international sporting disputes. CAS has been implemented by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and many International sporting federations as the chosen method of recourse in dispute resolution. Most recently, in Maria Sharapova v. International Tennis Federation, CAS reduced professional tennis player Maria Sharapova’s two-year ban from professional competition to 15 months of ineligibility on an appeal from a ruling of the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) appointed independent tribunal. Sharapova is a Russian-born tennis superstar with an impressive resume that includes formerly holding the number one rank in the world and five grand slam championships. In January 2016, at the Australian Open, Sharapova tested positive for taking Melodonium. Melodonium is a drug that was added to the list of banned substances in the World Anti-Doping Code as of January 1, 2016. Sharapova took Melodonium for ten years prior due to a magnesium [read more]

What to Do with the Minimum Wage: Pro Arguments (Part One)

By Daniel Sperling Is the minimum wage high enough today? Increasing the minimum wage could decrease poverty, benefit company productivity, and boost the economy. But is increasing the minimum wage really that simple? In 1938, the United States Congress passed 29 U.S. Code § 201, otherwise known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which effectively shaped the history of United States labor law and regulation. The legislation introduced many characteristics of the work force that still exist today, including the minimum wage requirement. The minimum wage is the base level that an employer can pay its employees as regulated on a federal and state/local government level. In 2007, the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007 was passed which gradually increased the federal minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over two years.  Currently, twenty-nine states have minimum wage legislation that ensures wages hirer than the federal standard, fourteen states have minimum wage legislation equivalent to the federal government, and five states have no minimum wage legislation. Two states, Wyoming in Georgia, have minimum wage laws that actually guarantee an amount less than the federal government, meaning that employees not covered under the FLSA are subject to the lower wage, which [read more]
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