Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Legal News for Mon 4/29 - FTC's Ban on Noncompete Clauses has State Component, Trump's Trial is his Campaign, Survey on Law School Prep and Privacy Complaint against ChatGPT

Legal News for Mon 4/29 - FTC's Ban on Noncompete Clauses has State Component, Trump's Trial is his Campaign, Survey on Law School Prep and Privacy Complaint against ChatGPT

FTC's ban on noncompete clauses, Trump's trial's impact on his campaign, a survey on law school prep, and a privacy complaint against OpenAI's ChatGPT.
“You’re right! My apologies, it isn’t your birthday. Happy Birthday!”

This Day in Legal History: Oliver Ellsworth Born

On this day in legal history, April 29 marks the birth of Oliver Ellsworth in 1745, in Windsor, Connecticut. A pivotal figure in early American jurisprudence, Ellsworth's contributions to the United States legal system are profound and lasting. As the third Chief Justice of the United States, a position he assumed in 1796, Ellsworth helped shape the role and authority of the Supreme Court. However, his most significant legal legacy stems from his earlier work as a drafter of the Judiciary Act of 1789.

The Judiciary Act of 1789 was a cornerstone in the establishment of the federal court system, laying down the framework for its structure and function. The Act not only created the system of federal district and circuit courts but also detailed their jurisdictions and interrelations with state courts, thereby ensuring a cohesive and unified judiciary. Ellsworth's influence is also noted in his role in determining that the Supreme Court justices would have the final say on the constitutionality of state laws, a principle central to federalism in the United States.

Before his tenure on the Supreme Court, Ellsworth served as a U.S. Senator from Connecticut. During this time, he played a crucial role in drafting the United States Constitution. His proposals and ideas significantly shaped the development of the legislative branch and the balance of power among the federal government's three branches.

Ellsworth's tenure as Chief Justice was marked by efforts to enforce the principles laid out in the Constitution and the Judiciary Act. His diplomatic role was also notable, including his 1799 mission to France, which helped de-escalate tensions and avert a potential war between the two nations.

Though less famous than his contemporaries like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Ellsworth's impact on American law and governance is indisputable. His legal philosophy and decisions continue to influence the U.S. legal system. Despite resigning from the Supreme Court in 1800 due to poor health, his foundational work, particularly the Judiciary Act of 1789, remains a critical element of legal studies and practice in the United States today.

Oliver Ellsworth's legacy is a testament to the enduring influence of early American legal thinkers in shaping the judicial landscape of the nation. His birth anniversary serves not only as a remembrance of his personal achievements but also as a celebration of the foundational principles he helped to establish, which continue to govern the United States.

The Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) recent nationwide ban on noncompete clauses has significantly impacted state legislatures, prompting many to reconsider and tighten their restrictions on these restrictive covenants. The FTC's initiative marks a significant federal push towards liberalizing labor mobility by prohibiting employers from enforcing noncompete agreements that prevent employees from moving between jobs within the same industry. This move has catalyzed a broader examination of noncompete laws at the state level, with some states already modifying their laws and others poised to follow.

Evan Starr, an associate professor at the University of Maryland, suggests that the FTC's proposal has fundamentally altered the discussion around noncompetes, influencing states like Minnesota and New York. Minnesota successfully enacted a ban last year, while New York saw a bill pass the legislature only to be vetoed. Other states, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Michigan, are also considering expanding their restrictions on noncompetes.

Despite the FTC's robust action, the rule faces legal challenges, rendering its future uncertain. This situation places state-level regulations as the primary enforceable standards, a point emphasized by legal experts and enforcers who advocate for continued strong enforcement of state laws during this period. Gwendolyn Cooley, Wisconsin's assistant attorney general for antitrust, stresses the importance of robust state enforcement.

Noncompete agreements affect an estimated 30 million American workers. States like California, Oklahoma, and North Dakota have outright bans on all noncompetes, while other states have more targeted restrictions, such as bans for certain healthcare workers in New Mexico, Iowa, and Kentucky.

Legal and business experts debate the FTC's authority to enact such sweeping regulations. Some argue that state legislatures are the appropriate bodies to handle such matters, a sentiment echoed by Neil Bradley from the US Chamber of Commerce. On the other hand, legal scholars like Orly Lobel of the University of San Diego see the FTC's action as a catalyst for more uniform state laws, potentially leading to a regulatory landscape similar to California's stringent stance against noncompetes.

Finally, the FTC's rule explicitly states that it does not preempt state laws offering similar or greater protections, nor does it inhibit state-level enforcement actions. This clarification ensures that state authorities can continue to regulate noncompetes independently of the FTC's framework.

The FTC's noncompete ban notably highlights the complex interplay between federal initiatives and state law. The rule's explicit allowance for state laws to offer greater protection or to continue separate enforcement actions emphasizes the layered nature of legal authority in the U.S., showcasing how federal and state laws can coexist and complement each other in regulating employment practices. This dual-layer regulation is crucial for understanding the broader implications of legal decisions on employment and competition within states.

Battles Over Noncompete Clauses Poised to Heat Up in Statehouses

Donald Trump is utilizing the intense media scrutiny surrounding his New York hush money trial to bolster his presidential campaign by embracing the notion that all publicity is good. Despite facing multiple criminal charges, Trump is engaging in presidential-like activities, such as meeting with foreign dignitaries at Trump Tower and making public appearances in Harlem and Manhattan. These efforts are seen as an attempt to maintain his public visibility and portray an image of perseverance against what he describes as a politically motivated trial.

Trump's campaign strategy also involves frequent updates on his social media platform, Truth Social, where he continues to claim that the trial is a "witch hunt" and an act of election interference. The trial itself bars media from televising the proceedings, making Trump's own communications and staged public appearances key to keeping his narrative in the public eye. His strategy aims to use the media coverage to his advantage, despite the risks associated with the negative connotations of the trial.

Political analysts and strategists note that Trump's ability to turn the trial into a campaign platform may have mixed results. While it keeps him in the public eye, the ongoing coverage of the trial's sordid details could potentially alienate some voters. However, his campaign team remains confident that these actions will ultimately rally support against what they view as unjust persecution.

The trial has become a focal point not just for Trump's legal battles, but also for his campaign's efforts to contrast his proactive engagement with what they portray as the failures of the Biden administration. This strategy includes showcasing Trump's involvement in significant global issues and his resilience in the face of legal adversity, hoping to secure voter support amidst the controversy.

Trump trial tests his campaign strategy of embracing bad publicity | Reuters

A recent survey by Major, Lindsey & Africa and Leopard Solutions revealed that 45% of junior associates feel that law school did not adequately prepare them for practical aspects of their legal careers. This sentiment was drawn from feedback from 546 junior associates who also highlighted a discrepancy between the skills taught in law school, primarily litigation-focused, and the transactional skills required in their current roles.

Additionally, 31% of the associates expressed that their experiences at law firms did not meet their initial expectations post-law school. This group of associates pointed out the lack of practical training and the adverse impact of starting their careers during the COVID-19 pandemic, which limited face-to-face interactions and personalized training.

Despite these challenges, the survey found a high level of job satisfaction among junior associates, with 83% stating they would choose to work at their current firm again, and 79% satisfied with their assigned tasks. Moreover, 67% plan to stay at their current firms for three or more years, though gender disparities were noted in aspirations for law firm partnership and long-term commitment to their firms, with men showing higher likelihoods in both areas.

The survey underscores the need for law schools to adapt their curricula to include more practical skills training, particularly in transactional law, and for law firms to be mindful of gender disparities in career development opportunities.

Law school failed to prepare 45% of junior associates for practice, survey finds | Reuters

OpenAI, the creator of ChatGPT and backed by Microsoft, is facing a privacy complaint in Austria lodged by the advocacy group NOYB. The complaint arose after ChatGPT provided incorrect information regarding the birthday of a public figure, and failed to rectify or erase the erroneous data upon request. NOYB argues that ChatGPT's inability to correct the data or provide transparency about its data processing violates EU privacy laws. The complaint emphasizes the challenges in ensuring that AI-generated content complies with stringent data accuracy and transparency requirements mandated by EU regulations. This incident highlights ongoing concerns about the reliability of AI technologies and their compliance with established legal standards, specifically regarding the handling of personal information.

OpenAI's ChatGPT targeted in Austrian privacy complaint | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
The idea is that this podcast can accompany you on your commute home and will render you minimally competent on the major legal news stories of the day. The transcript is available in the form of a newsletter at