Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
Legal News for Weds 3/13 - Judge Shopping Curtailed, Debate on Unionizing Student Athletes, NY's Tax Proposals and Big Law Recruiting Hits 11 Year Low

Legal News for Weds 3/13 - Judge Shopping Curtailed, Debate on Unionizing Student Athletes, NY's Tax Proposals and Big Law Recruiting Hits 11 Year Low

On today's episode, we dive into new judiciary policies to end judge shopping, the debate on unionizing student athletes, NY's tax proposals, and Big Law recruiting hits 11 year low.
A store that sells Judges, pencil sketch

This Day in Legal History: Lots of Things 

On March 13th, various significant events have unfolded in the realm of legal history, reflecting the ever-evolving landscape of law and justice across the globe. On this day in 1781, Sir William Herschel's discovery of Uranus led to international legal discussions on the naming rights of celestial bodies, a precursor to modern space law debates. In 1868, the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson began, marking the first time a U.S. president faced such proceedings, underscoring the constitutional checks and balances in American governance.

Fast forward to 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Posadas de Puerto Rico Associates v. Tourism Company of Puerto Rico established significant precedents regarding states' rights and the commerce clause, affecting how businesses and state regulations interacted. On March 13, 1989, the Internet's precursor, ARPANET, was hit by one of the first major digital security incidents, leading to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 being amended to address such modern challenges, illustrating the law's attempt to keep pace with technological advancements.

Moreover, on this day in 1996, the Dunblane school massacre occurred in Scotland, leading to stringent gun control laws in the United Kingdom, a pivotal moment in the global debate on gun regulation. This tragic event underscores how legal systems can rapidly evolve in response to societal tragedies.

In more recent history, March 13, 2013, saw the election of Pope Francis, which brought to the forefront discussions about canon law, the legal system governing the Roman Catholic Church, highlighting the intersection of law and religion.

These events, spanning centuries and continents, illustrate the dynamic nature of legal history and its profound impact on societal norms, regulations, and governance. As we reflect on these milestones, it becomes evident that the law is a living entity, constantly adapting to the complexities of human civilization.

The federal judiciary has introduced a new policy to combat "judge shopping," a tactic where litigants select specific courts hoping for a favorable ruling, particularly noted in challenges to Biden administration actions in Texas. This practice, prevalent in cases aimed at barring or implementing state or federal actions, will now see civil actions randomly assigned to judges within a district, countering any local practices of case assignments to a single judge. This move, according to Judge Jeffrey Sutton of the Judicial Conference's executive committee, is a response to the increasing use of national injunctions that have seen district judges block nationwide policies across various administrations. While the policy's full implementation details remain unclear, it represents a significant shift aimed at ensuring impartiality and reducing the perception of the judiciary as politically influenced. The policy has drawn attention to judges like Matthew Kacsmaryk and Alan Albright, who have been focal points for conservative cases and patent cases, respectively. Despite these changes, challenges in areas not affecting state and federal law may still experience judge shopping. The judiciary's move is seen as a step towards fairness, although its effectiveness and scope are yet to be fully understood.

Federal Courts Aim to Curb Judge Shopping With New Policy (3)

US federal judiciary moves to curtail 'judge shopping' tactic | Reuters

The push towards unionizing student athletes, notably highlighted by Dartmouth College's men's basketball team's vote to unionize, has sparked significant controversy and concern among Republicans and university athletics representatives. This development comes amid debates in Congress, particularly focused on whether student athletes should be classified as employees, a question intensified by the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) decision to allow Dartmouth students to hold a union election. Critics, such as Rep. Burgess Owens, argue that recognizing student athletes as employees poses an "existential threat" to college sports, fearing widespread unintended consequences that could extend beyond NCAA Division I to impact Division II and III, as well as high school athletes.

University representatives worry about the implications of employment status on issues ranging from tax exemptions for scholarships to visa eligibility for international students. They also fear the potential for the NLRB's stance to fluctuate with political changes. Proponents of the NLRB's decision, however, argue that past decisions, like the one involving Northwestern University football players, have been misinterpreted and that circumstances have evolved to warrant a reevaluation of student athletes' rights. They advocate for student athletes having a "seat at the table" to negotiate conditions pertinent to their dual roles as students and athletes. This debate gains further complexity considering the recent legal milestones, such as the Supreme Court's NCAA v. Alston case and the NLRB's Columbia University decision, both favoring expanded rights and compensation for students. Amidst these divided opinions, there's consensus on the need for a new approach to how student athletes are treated, with unionization seen as a potential catalyst for change.

Unionizing Student Athletes Called ‘Existential Threat’ by GOP

In the climax of New York's budget discussions, state Senate and Assembly Democrats have proposed tax increases on high earners and corporations, diverging sharply from Governor Kathy Hochul's stance against income tax hikes. This move aims to address concerns over New York's high tax burden and the outmigration of taxpayers, with progressive factions advocating for these tax hikes to fund education and Medicaid, contrary to Hochul's budgetary constraints. The legislative bodies' budget resolutions, contrasting with Hochul's $233 billion plan, also suggest restrictions on social media for minors and the establishment of an AI research consortium, amongst other priorities.

While supporting the enhancement of housing construction and tech regulations, Hochul's budget seeks to manage future deficits through spending limits on public schools and Medicaid, positions not endorsed in the legislative proposals. Despite agreeing on a commercial security tax credit and extending a cap on itemized deductions for the wealthiest, the chambers reject Hochul's approach to school funding, Medicaid spending, and tech governance, indicating a significant battleground.

The contention extends to technology policies, where both the Senate and Assembly resist Hochul's proposed AI and social media regulations, though they do introduce other data privacy initiatives. With a looming April 1 deadline and the complexities of Easter timing, achieving consensus appears challenging, especially given Hochul's constitutional leverage and the political implications for upcoming elections. Hochul, emphasizing the urgency to protect children from digital harms, faces a delicate balance between her tech policy goals and securing an on-time budget amidst these divergent legislative priorities.

NY Lawmakers’ Budgets Oppose Governor’s Plans on Taxes, Housing

Securing a summer associate position at a major law firm was significantly more challenging in 2023, with the offer rate to law students at its lowest since 2012. Law firms made 19% fewer offers compared to the previous year, decreasing the average number of offers from 28 in 2022 to 22 in 2023. This reduction in offers resulted in a record-high overall acceptance rate of 47%, as law students found themselves with fewer options to choose from. The decline in summer associate hiring is attributed to a decrease in client demand and the high number of summer associates hired in 2022, leaving firms cautious about adding new talent amidst uncertain client demand. Furthermore, the competition was intensified by a 12% increase in the law student class size for 2024, exacerbating the challenge of securing these coveted positions.

Large law firms typically use summer associate programs as a key recruitment tool, offering students six- to 14-week positions that often lead to permanent job offers upon graduation, sometimes with starting salaries up to $225,000. These programs serve as an economic indicator for the legal industry, with firms adjusting their hiring based on anticipated demand. Additionally, the practice of "precruiting," or extending offers ahead of official on-campus interview programs, has risen, with 47% of offers made before these formal events in 2023, up from 23% in 2022. This shift indicates a change in how law firms are approaching recruitment, with most of the decline in offers occurring through school-sponsored interview programs.

Law firm summer associate recruiting hits 11-year low in 2023 | Reuters

Minimum Competence - Daily Legal News Podcast
Minimum Competence
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