Labor / Employment

Ed. note: This is the latest installment in a series from Bruce MacEwen and Janet Stanton of Adam Smith Esq. and JDMatch. “Across the Desk” takes a thoughtful look at recruiting, career paths, professional development, human capital, and related issues. Some of these pieces have previously appeared, in slightly different form, on AdamSmithEsq.com.

We continue our taxonomy of law firms with a term I’ve borrowed shamelessly from the retail industry, “Category Killers.” In retail, these have traditionally been Big Box stores with exhaustive inventory and wickedly competitive prices on one deep “vertical” category of merchandise:

  • Home Depot and Lowe’s
  • Toys ‘R Us, Linens ‘R Us, Attorneys ‘R Us
  • Bed Bath & Beyond and The Container Store
  • Petco and Petland
  • Staples and Office Depot

You get the idea. The most salient characteristic of this model is that it works. If you doubt me, then I have to ask if you disbelieve the famous phrase, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” because the concept of category killer retail stores has spread far and wide from its initial roots.

As I use it in Law Land, it means a firm that has the following characteristics…

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* The role of lawyers in America’s Syrian policy. Everyone always tries to throw the lawyers under the bus. [Lawfare]

* Pippa Middleton has some lawyers trying to crack down on a parody Twitter account. Thankfully, the law exists to protect wealthy socialites from being mocked. [IT-Lex]

* GCs are not happy with the rates charged by outside counsel. I, for one, am shocked that GCs don’t like paying upwards of $1000 an hour for “further work.” [Consero]

* Honestly, we should have seen this coming: a Zimmerman juror is seeking a book deal. This is the juror who assumed black people had rioted over the shooting and called Trayvon a “boy of color,” so you can tell the prosecution was doing a bang-up job with its jury selection procedures. [AlterNet]

* Conservatives rejoice after several unions complain about Obamacare. Oh, the irony! Except the unions’ complaint is not that Obamacare is bad, but that it doesn’t go far enough in providing incentives to non-profit insurance plans and penalizing companies that are cutting back on hours to avoid the law. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* The Top 50 Legal Innovators, Techies, Visionaries, and Leaders: meet this year’s Fastcase 50 (Lat appeared on the inaugural list). [Fastcase via TaxProf Blog]

* After the jump, a short video about Superman and the duty to rescue. I understand that people are miffed that the most recent film version of Superman takes a laissez-faire view of saving lives, but Superman’s always been a dick

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* Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is leaving the cabinet to head the University of California system. That’s a natural transition because UC already treats its students like threats to national security. [The Faculty Lounge]

* Texas banning tampons from the Texas Capitol building in advance of abortion vote. Guns are still fine though. In the words of the inimitable Spencer Hall, “But what about a gun that FIRES tampons, Texas?” [Huffington Post]

* A lot of folks are anticipating Noel Canning, but if Harry Reid invokes the so-called “nuclear option” (fifth item), does that render the whole case moot? [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* Three years for stealing an iPhone from a child. I guess it’s like taking Candy (Crush) from a baby. [Law and More]

* If you stop to think about it, someone should totally have sued the camp from The Parent Trap (affiliate link). If for no other reason than the likelihood Lohan was dealing to all the other campers. [Crushable]

* An iOS app for creating semi-bespoke contracts. That’s cool, but I’ll stick to Temple Run, thanks. [Associate's Mind]

If you want to see something really racist, check out what her lawyers are saying.

Look, I think the Paula Deen controversy is more theater than news. The only people who need the information that there are still white people in the South who are horribly racist are John Roberts and his band of conservatives. Deen is awful, but I don’t have a lot of spare outrage to waste on a television fry cook.

There is, however, a really interesting and novel legal argument being launched by Paula Deen and her attorneys. I think the argument is arguably just as racist as anything Deen actually said, but that doesn’t mean it’s legally incorrect. Deen’s lawyers are saying that white people, namely the white plaintiff suing Paula Deen, don’t have standing to claim a “hostile work environment” if all Deen did was run around saying awful things about non-whites.

And her lawyers are now using the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, as the basis for their objections…

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‘So I says to Mabel, I says, ‘How do I avoid the Rule Against Perpetuities?”

* Half-Law office, Half-Barbershop. That makes sense, I’ve seen some haircuts that should be crimes. We hear they even have a $5 haircut special called “The Misdemeanor.” [New Britain Herald]

* The editors of Ramblings on Appeal give their takes on Shelby County. Rarely has truer legal analysis been offered than characterizing Roberts’s decision as, “Oh and I have five people on my side, you only have four, so take that.” [Ramblings on Appeal]

* UVA law professor Chris Sprigman has co-authored an op-ed calling out the NSA. Oh, that guy’s phone is getting tapped. [New York Times]

* The Expert Institute continues to draw from popular culture to coach expert testimony. This time it’s Game of Thrones. It’s a handy set of lessons, but “Never Trust a Frey” deserved mention. [The Expert Institute]

* The Justice Department is bringing on unpaid attorneys because slave labor is awesome and unpaid internships are never elitist and discriminatory. [Pro Publica]

* On that note, Bar President calls for an end to unpaid 3L internships. Video after the jump…

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If you were hoping to spend a year with no pay helping a premier Internet publication write up a sighting of Amanda Bynes at Shake Shack, you may soon be out of luck.

On the heels of Judge William Pauley ruling in favor of unpaid interns in the entertainment industry, the Internet behemoth that is Gawker Media is the subject of a new class action for its unpaid internships.

Which means this was probably a bad day for them to make jokes about the practice of abusing interns…

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The front of the Supreme Court building: ‘Equal Justice Under Law.’ (Click to enlarge.)

Justice O’Connor, Justice Stevens, Ted Olson, David Boies, Jeffrey Toobin.

All of them were at the Supreme Court today, eager to hear what the Court had to say. New gay-marriage crusading BFFs Olson and Boies sat together. Also in attendance were lots of other fancy folks — like Solicitor General Don Verrilli and Nina Totenberg — who are there more often.

There’s nothing like late June at One First Street.

At the start of the day, 11 cases remained to be decided, four of them blockbusters. The issues on deck: the Defense of Marriage Act, Prop 8, the Voting Rights Act, and the University of Texas’s use of a form of affirmative action. Today, one of the big cases was resolved; with five others coming out, there are only six remaining.

Today, the Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy, addressed the University of Texas’s use of affirmative action. As the Chief Justice announced that Justice Kennedy had the opinion and would start reading it, a rush swept through the courtroom. People leaned forward. Papers rustled….

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Paul Mannina

Today we’ve got some somber news out of Washington, D.C., where Paul Mannina, a Labor Department attorney who worked in the Division of Plan Benefits Security, was found dead in his jail cell. This isn’t your everyday lawyer death. Mannina was being held because a judge found him to be a danger to the community — you see, this labor lawyer was accused of brutally beating and sexually assaulting his coworker, a fellow attorney.

Authorities have not yet classified Mannina’s death as a suicide, but just hours prior to his death, he was denied release from jail to seek mental health care. Continue reading for some additional details about the underlying case and the grisly scene in Mannina’s jail cell…

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Lauren Giddings

* You think you know Justice Clarence Thomas, but you have no idea. Here are several myths about the silent Supreme Court star that he was capable of busting in just this term alone. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* According to the CBO, the immigration reform bill being considered in the Senate would allow eight million immigrants to gain legal status and lower the deficit by billions. But alas, dey still terk er jerbs! [NPR]

* Google is doing its best to try not to be evil by asking the FISA court to ease up on gag orders preventing the internet giant from telling the world about what it’s required to give to the government. [Washington Post]

* Florida firm Becker & Poliakoff will withhold 20% of equity partners’ pay, a move that made some lawyers cry. The firm is apparently planning to save the cash for a rainy day. [Daily Business Review]

* Paul Mannina, an attorney with the Labor Department charged with sexually assaulting a coworker, was found in his cell with his throat slashed. Police are investigating the death. [Washington Post]

* FYI, your aspirational pro bono hours — or complete and utter lack thereof — will now be public record in New York, and you must report them on your biannual registration forms. [New York Law Journal]

* Coming soon to a law school near you: really old books from the 13th century that’ll probably turn into dust if you dare try to read them. You can find this nerdgasm over at Yale Law. [National Law Journal]

* The family of Lauren Giddings, the slain Mercer Law graduate, has filed a $5 million wrongful death suit in federal court against accused killer Stephen McDaniel in the hopes of finding her remains. [Telegraph]

* How often are you sitting around wondering about all the legal ins-and-outs of the assassination of James Garfield? Wonder no more. [The Legal Geeks]

* A love poem with citations to the U.C.C. You know, if you never plan on getting laid again. [Law Poetry]

* Justice Kagan dials 867-5309. [Slate]

* Underage models in New York are now covered by child labor laws. In related news, American Apparel stops making any ads whatsoever. [Fashionista]

* When a bank nixes your merger, just go ahead and do it another way and bury the bank’s opinion. There’s not much the SEC can do about it anyway. [Dealbreaker]

* Pepper Hamilton’s Nina Gussack is making it rain. [The Careerist]

* Eric Posner has no beef with the NSA. [Constitutional Daily]

* States: The New (Patent) Troll Slayers [Slate]

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