It would appear that SCOTUS clerk bonuses draw many more clerks to private practice than in past decades. Law.com’s Tony Mauro is reporting that the prevailing hiring bonus for Supreme Court clerks is $400,000—up from $300,000 in 2015. And that does not include salaries. If the trend continues, the clerk bonus will soon approach twice the annual salary of the justices they work for.
Jean O’Grady reports on widespread layoffs at Thomson Reuters Legal: “Over the past few weeks multiple sources have confirmed to me that executives, managers and staff across TR have been ‘invited to find new employers.’ Some of the people impacted have been fixtures in the legal publishing and tech industry for decades. … Next year many familiar TR faces will be absent from the conference rooms and exhibit halls at the ILTA, Legal Tech and AALL conferences. I guess we can all understand the need to ‘rightsize’ an organization but the timing … right before the holidays is brutal.”
Unfortunately “right before the holidays” a/k/a just ahead of Q4 and year-end financial results is not unusual. For details, see this Dewey B Strategic post.
LJ’s Star Library Ratings and the LJ Index of Public Library Service spotlight the best of the best across America. The 2018 edition, sponsored by Baker & Taylor’s CollectConnect, is the 11th. This year, 7,361 U.S. public libraries are scored on the LJ Index, and there are 257 Star Libraries.
“Today we are remaking how we cover the legal market,” wrote Bloomberg BNA editor in chief Cesca Antonelli in a recent email to employees announcing a major corporate reorganization and 46 staff layoffs. “The five groups that produce the bulk of Bloomberg Law news products will become two: one focused on beat reporting and one focused on what we are calling legal intelligence,” according to the email. As observed in Stumbling Toward Digital-only Legal Publishing, we have been dealing with the effects of the lead-up to this reorganization.
H/T to Jean O’Grady’s Dewey B Strategic post.
From the National Conference of State Legislatures announcement: The Maine State Law and Legislative Reference has created the Law and Legislative Digital Library (LLDL) and other digitization projects that has expanded and streamlined access to huge volumes of the library’s most requested information. These accomplishments demonstrate the library’s commitment to excellent service and its values of teamwork, resourcefulness, and creativity. Library staff follows well-documented, efficient processes and every staff member contributes.
The Maine State Law and Legislative Reference Library has 12 staff members representing 159 years of service to the Maine Legislature that have made numerous contributions to professional library associations including the Law Librarians of New England, the American Association of Law Libraries, the Maine Library Association, the Maine State Bar Association, and the Law Librarians of New England. It has agreed to host the 2019 NCSL LRL professional development seminar and has sent participants to the seminar in 2015 and 2017. The library’s reference staff meets annually with visiting NCSL representatives and regularly contributes to the LRL listserv.
In a shake-up of Thomson Reuters Legal executive suite, TR Legal’s president Susan Taylor Martin is out at the end of this month, and Brian Peccarelli, president of Tax & Accounting, and Neil Materson, EVP and chief transformation officer, have been appointed Co-COOs. These changes are taking place in the context of TRI’s “plans to de-layer the business and reduce its cost base to reflect a smaller organization when it closes the sale of a 55% interest in its Financial & Risk business to private equity funds managed by Blackstone (expected in the second half of 2018).” Here’s the press release.
H/T to this LawSites post. — Joe
On Constitutional Law Prof Blog, Steven Schwinn wrote
The State of Illinois yesterday [May 30, 2018] became the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, 45 years after Congress proposed it. This leave the ERA just one state short of the 38 (three-fourths of the states) required for amendment.
But Illinois’s vote comes well after the (already extended) congressional deadline of June 30, 1982. So does it count toward validation as an amendment? Given the deadline and putative ratification rescissions by five states, can the ERA come into force under any circumstances? Or does it need to be re-proposed, and re-ratified?
He then calls attention to this CRS report, The Proposed Equal Rights Amendment: Contemporary Ratification Issues (R42979, May 9, 2013), because it addresses the questions he posed. — Joe
President Donald Trump said Thursday he plans to issue a pardon to Dinesh D’Souza, a prominent conservative commentator and filmmaker who was convicted of making an illegal campaign contribution. In his tweet Trump adding that D’Souza “was treated very unfairly by our government!”
D’Souza pleaded guilty in 2014 to reimbursing two of his associates after causing them to contribute $10,000 each to the 2012 Senate campaign of Wendy Long. From the FBI’s Sept. 23, 2014 press release announcing the plea deal:
During the plea proceeding, D’SOUZA admitted before the Court that he caused two close associates to contribute $10,000 each to the Long Campaign with the understanding that he would reimburse them for their contributions and that he did reimburse them. D’SOUZA also admitted that he knew that what he was doing was wrong and something the law forbids.
At the time, D’Souza was sentenced to five years probation. — Joe
Kudos to the award winners. From AALL’s press release:
Courtney and the State Copyright Resource Center Team at Harvard University have created an innovative website that helps users easily access information about the copyright status of their state’s legal information. By offering an easy to navigate, free to use digital resource, the State Copyright Resource Center website educates the public on copyright law and policy and provides advocacy tools for open access advocates and libraries.
Visit the State Copyright Resource Center at Harvard University here. Very helpful. — Joe
Last Friday, the Trump Administration issued three executive orders that will make it easier for federal agencies to fire employees. Buzzfeed reports “the executive orders will significantly reduce the amount of time it takes for federal agencies to go through the process of firing a federal employee; reward ‘performance over seniority’; order agencies to work on renegotiating union contracts and publish them in a database; and require all federal employees to devote at least 75% of their work hours for agency purposes.
- White House press release
- Executive Order Developing Efficient, Effective, and Cost-Reducing Approaches to Federal Sector Collective Bargaining
- Executive Order Ensuring Transparency, Accountability, and Efficiency in Taxpayer Funded Union Time Use
- Executive Order Promoting Accountability and Streamlining Removal Procedures Consistent with Merit System Principles
Newly released survey data from the American Bar Association on the nationwide population of lawyers indicates a total of 1,338,678 licensed, active attorneys in the United States. The total represents a 0.2 percent increase since last year and a 15.2 percent rise over the past decade in number of U.S. lawyers. Here’s the 2018 American Bar Association National Lawyer Population Survey. — Joe
This year’s award recognizes Susan Nevelow Mart’s The Algorithm as a Human Artifact: Implications for Legal (Re)Search. The article, which some may and I will say, is one of the most important articles published in the 2010’s, demonstrates how legal research is impacted by the biases and assumptions held by the programmers who construct the algorithms searchers use. Congratulations. — Joe
Earlier this week Reporters Without Borders released its 2018 World Press Freedom Index, an annual review of 180 countries and their relationship with the media. Sweden and Norway again rank as the freest media environments in the world, while the Netherlands replaced Finland in third place. Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea are this year’s worst offenders — just as they were last year. The U.S. has fallen from 43rd to 45th due in no small part to President Trump and his routine attacks on the press. — Joe
LexisNexis has sold its eDiscovery product suite including the LAW PreDiscovery, Early Discovery Analyzer and Concordance products. “That final one is particularly notable—23.5 percent of respondents to the 2017 LTN Law Firm Tech Survey indicated using the tool for e-discovery” notes Legaltech news. In an FAQ on CloudNine’s website, the company added that it plans to allow access to all of the tools in its portfolio to pre-existing users of the LexisNexis and the CloudNine software. — Joe
A pioneer in Canadian law blogging, Slaw founder Simon Fodden passed away on Feb. 10, 2018. Here’s the link to his obit on Slaw by Steve Matthews. — Joe
From the Feb. 8, 2018 press release for Thomson Reuters’ Q4 and full-year financials:
Q4 results for Legal:
Revenues increased 1% to $881 million.
•Recurring revenues grew 3% (75% of total)
•US Print revenues declined 7% (14% of total)
•Transactions revenues declined 1% (11% of total)
Adjusted EBITDA increased 6% to $314 million and the margin increased to 35.6% from 34.3% due to the impact of the severance charges incurred in the fourth quarter of 2016.
•In constant currency and excluding the severance charges from the prior-year period, adjusted EBITDA declined 3% and the margin decreased by 150 basis points.
Full-year results for Legal:
Revenues increased 1% to $3.4 billion.
•Recurring revenues grew 3% (76% of total)
•US Print revenues declined 6% (13% of total)
•Transactions revenues declined 6% (11% of total)
Adjusted EBITDA increased 4% to $1.3 billion and the margin increased to 37.7% from 36.6%. The increase was driven by the impact of severance charges incurred in the fourth quarter of 2016, higher revenues and savings from ongoing simplification initiatives.
•In constant currency and excluding the severance charges from the prior year, adjusted EBITDA was up 2% and the margin increased 30 basis points.
When Fastcase hired industry veteran Steve Errick this summer, observers knew things were going change. And they have. Fastcase has launched Full Court Press to publish law journals, legal treatises, deskbooks, forms, checklists and workflow tools. First up, RAIL: The Journal of Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & Law. For details, see Bob Ambrogi’s LawSites post. — Joe
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided the case of John Doe v. University of Cincinnati (16-4693) today. The case concerns whether a preliminary injunction against a penalty of suspension imposed in a Title IX case should be upheld. The Court agreed with Doe that his due process rights were violated as he had no way to cross examine the accuser in his case. The Court notes that educational institutions are not in the judicial business, meaning that their hearings do not have to model trials and their rules of procedure. Nonetheless, they have to provide a level of due process to the accused. The fact that the University failed “to provide any form of confrontation of the accuser made the proceeding against John Doe fundamentally unfair.”
The process the University subscribes to in its administrative hearings for Title IX violations allows for accuser and accused to submit written questions which the administrative committee would review and ask each of the parties. This did not happen in this hearing because the accuser, Jane Roe, did not attend the hearing. University rules did not, in fact, require any of the parties to attend. The panel made its decision on the basis of the written statements each party submitted, the Title IX Officer’s report, and statements Doe made in his defense at the hearing. They decided to impose a two year suspension that was later reduced to one year on administrative appeal.
Doe took his case to the District Court which found in his favor. The University could only decide based on the submissions from each party, basically one’s word against another. The Court stated that cross examination was “essential” to due process in these circumstances. The District Court also noted that the University’s code allowed for notarized statements from the accuser. Roe’s statements were not notarized and the Court said that this significant departure from the institution’s own procedures could also amount to a violation of due process.
The University appealed to the Sixth Circuit which agreed with the District Court and upheld the preliminary injunction against suspension. The Court largely agreed with the District Court’s reasoning. The Court of Appeals set out the required process:
While the exact outlines of process may vary, universities must “at least” provide notice of the charges, an explanation of the evidence against the student, and an opportunity to present his side of the story before an unbiased decision maker. Id. (citing Heyne v. Metro. Nashville Pub. Sch., 655 F.3d 556, 565–66 (6th Cir. 2011)).
Both parties agreed that Doe’s property interest (not being suspended) is significant. The Court said that the right to cross examine in one form or another is required by due process in the most serious of cases and the accusation of sexual misconduct is one of these cases.
Given the parties’ competing claims, and the lack of corroborative evidence to support or refute Roe’s allegations, the present case left the ARC panel with “a choice between believing an accuser and an accused.” Flaim, 418 F.3d at 641. Yet, the panel resolved this “problem of credibility” without assessing Roe’s credibility. Id. (citation omitted). In fact, it decided plaintiff’s fate without seeing or hearing from Roe at all. That is disturbing and, in this case, a denial of due process.
The Court held that the cross examination need not take the form of direct confrontation. The question and answer format identified in the University Rules would work as would other variations such as appearances via Skype. At the very least, the accuser will have to participate somewhat more actively in the hearing.
I wrote a book review recently of Laura Kipnis’ book, Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Come to Campus, which is about this very issue. Professor Kipnis highlighted some of the more egregious violations of due process in the book’s stories. It’s well worth reading in light of this decision.
From the film’s official synopsis: “The legendary filmmaker [Frederick Wiseman] brings his incisive vision behind the scenes of one of the world’s greatest institutions of learning, capturing the vast programmatic scope of NYC’s library system. The NYPL is blessed with uniformly passionate staff and deeply devoted, appreciative bibliophiles and beneficiaries across its 92 branches. The film reveals a venerable place of welcome, cultural exchange, and intellectual creativity.” — Joe