Where do you even buy a crossbow in this day and age?

The Future is Flexible Staffing

In the last 10 years, American companies have been outsourcing more than ever before – to the tune of around $1 trillion per year as of 2017.

“At large firms, 20% to 50% of the total workforce often is outsourced, according to staffing executives. Bank of America Corp. , Verizon Communications Inc., Procter & Gamble Co. and FedEx Corp. have thousands of contractors each.”

It’s more important than ever to consider the overhead savings offered by flexible staffing options to stay competitive with companies that have already seen the benefits.

“When an outside firm is in charge of labor, it assumes the day-to-day grind of scheduling, hiring and firing. Workers are quickly replaced if needed, and the company worries only about the final product. . . . ‘Internally, when [an employee’s] skills aren’t up to par, there’s a protracted process of managing performance,’ says Jewell Parkinson, the human-resources chief for SAP’s North American division. ‘Working through the vendor, it’s a more efficient turnaround.’”

But, of course, we’ve been saying this for years . . . .

We welcome our machine overlords — right up until they start price gouging . . .

A new paper suggests that online AI pricing algorithms may enter into collusive pricing schemes setting supra-competitive prices even absent instructions to do so.

Antitrust enthusiasts, keep an eye on this:

Mass Tort’s People Problem

We’ve been saying for years that client relationship management is a huge area of opportunity for mass tort firms.

In a survey of 217 plaintiffs in litigation consolidated in federal court involving injuries from pelvic mesh, breast implants and other products geared toward women, of the 168 plaintiffs who hired lawyers, about 65% were dissatisfied with their counsel.

  • 67.9% did not feel like they understood what was happening with their case.
  • 59.6% said their attorney did not keep them informed.
  • 50.6% did not feel like they could trust their lawyer to act in their best interest.
  • 49.4% said their attorney did not explain the benefits and risks of important decisions.
  • 46.4% said their lawyer did not consider the facts of their case.

“A recurring theme was a lack of contact by attorneys who took on a high volume of cases. ‘These lawyers took way too many cases, dumped them in a pile and waited for a payout for themselves!’ said one of the survey participants. Said another, ‘Getting status info is like pulling teeth.'”

Looks like it’s hard for cooler heads to prevail in a hot zone.

The South Carolina Supreme Court suspended a magistrate judge for six months and referred him to anger management counseling after he lashed out at the Chief Magistrate during a meeting on the court’s COVID-19 safeguards (which he thought were inadequate).

After the meeting, he got into it verbally with another magistrate in the hallway, and then “returned to the meeting room where the Chief Magistrate had begun to gather her personal belongings. When the Chief Magistrate turned to leave the room, she was startled to see Respondent, who was hitting his hands together and loudly requesting that going forward the Chief Magistrate should show him respect. The Chief Magistrate grew concerned for her physical well-being.”

Serious wellness tip – get one of those meditation apps. These are stressful times.

Aren’t we all just texting now anyway?

Yikes – check your dockets and make sure your email rules are working properly. Here is a “cautionary tale for every attorney who litigates in the era of e-filing” from the 5th Circuit.

(Rumors of email’s death – exaggerated.)

Plaintiff’s counsel in a personal injury suit had the case thrown out for missing email notification of a motion for summary judgment and subsequently missing the deadline to respond. The trial court granted the motion.

The email notice of the motion was filtered into a folder labeled “other” in the firm’s email system. The Court was unsympathetic to the plaintiff’s Rule 59(e) motion to alter or amend the summary judgment ruling:

“[Plaintiff’s] counsel was plainly in the best position to ensure that his own email was working properly—certainly more so than either the district court or [the defendant]. Moreover, [plaintiff’s] counsel could have checked the docket after the agreed deadline for dispositive motions had already passed.”

Attorneys Avoid Pandemic Blues . . . So Far

NALP has released a new report from its joint study, Law School Alumni Employment and Satisfaction for the Class of 2017, which includes data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The employment rate (96%) and career satisfaction levels (85%) remain very high for graduates three years out.
  • -The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn seem to have had little effect: About 1/3 of graduates reported no noticeable impact on their careers and less than 25% saw a reduced workload.
  • Graduates’ satisfaction with their current job decreased a bit: 45% responded that they were “extremely satisfied” with their current job, down from 53% for the Class of 2016; and 10% reported that they are “dissatisfied,” one of the highest levels of so far.

Cheers to the Singularity

Interesting take on emerging AI tools for legal research and writing:

“Legal technology is rapidly evolving and, to the extent it cannot now, it will soon have the capability to research and write legal briefs, emails and memos, perhaps, even without our input. . . .

The problem with law students using advanced legal writing technology stems from the reality that writing is an iterative experience. Unlike solving for “X,” part of becoming a great legal writer is experience. A series of first attempts followed by another round, and then another, to no objective end. The struggle to create arguments, string together prose and develop professional judgment in selecting words, cases and everything in between is part of what it takes to grow into a good, seasoned lawyer.

My concern is growing as legal technology is sprouting that not only identifies objective errors, but begins mimicking a lawyer’s hand and mind. Advanced technology like this may well prevent a student from growing into their full potential as a lawyer, replete with a possible lack of foundational professional judgment as a writer.”

Dispatches from the Fringe

The Wisconsin Supreme Court this week disciplined a Winnebago County Circuit Court judge for various instances of misconduct, including a 2015 incident in which the judge “gave a rather lengthy soliloquy about his views on courthouse security” during a burglary sentencing proceeding. The judge apparently pulled out a handgun and announced to those in attendance: “You’re lucky you’re not dead because, if you would have come into my house, I keep my gun with me and you’d be dead, plain and simple”. Seems to take the whole “scared straight” idea to an inappropriate level.