Reflecting concerns over the country’s progress toward gender equality, the National Women’s Law Center, a Washington-based advocacy group for women’s rights, has announced the formation of a new legal network dedicated to helping women and girls who are victims of sex discrimination. The NWLC has recruited more than 70 attorneys in 15 states so far, and aims to have attorneys affiliating with the network in every state, the Associated Press reports:
Fatima Goss Graves, president of the [NWLC] … said the initiative was prompted by growing concerns that protections against sex discrimination were being weakened under the Trump administration. “We’ve seen a surge of gender-based hostility and harassment across the nation,” said Goss Graves, who decried “escalating federal rollbacks to critical protections in education, the workplace, and health care.” …
Creation of the new legal network was welcomed by Lenora Lapidus, who heads the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project. “Bringing in more attorneys to really focus on these cases is a good idea,” she said. “We become like a tide that can push change more rapidly.”
The announcement comes in the wake of several high-profile sexual harassment scandals and gender discrimination lawsuits, which have called attention to how vulnerable women still are to mistreatment in the American workplace. Rewire’s Bryce Covert takes a closer look at what the network is already doing, and what it hopes to accomplish:
A rule enacted by the US Department of Labor earlier this year requiring employers to disclose their relationships with consultants hired to discourage employees from forming or supporting unions has been blocked by a district court judge in Texas, The Hill reports:
Judge Sam Cummings granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) that turns the temporary stay he ordered in June into a permanent injunction. In the two-page order, he said the rule “should be held unlawful and set aside.”
In the temporary injunction he issued in June, Cummings had said the rule was too broad and would have conflicted with state rules regarding the practice of law. Employment lawyers had strongly opposed the rule, arguing that it infringed on their ability to advise clients confidentially when they faced union elections. Fisher Phillips calls Wednesday’s permanent injunction a “clear and all but absolute [victory] for employers”:
The persuader rule is almost certainly dead, and it is hard to envision a legal landscape where it will be resurrected. Although the USDOL is continuing to litigate an appeal of the initial court ruling, that appeal will not be decided before Donald Trump takes office as president. Given his avowed interest in boosting businesses and his oft-stated animosity towards business-encumbering regulations, many analysts predict that the Trump administration will simply drop the appeal once it controls the USDOL. Under directions from Trump, the new Secretary of Labor could simply decide to withdraw the appeal and commence administrative proceedings to reverse course. Such a maneuver would effectively kill the persuader rule once and for all.
Mark Cohen looks to the future at Forbes, noting how automated processes are already making inroads into the traditionally innovation-averse legal sector:
It’s no surprise that AI is rapidly becoming a staple in the delivery of legal services. The disaggregation of legal tasks fueled by globalization, technological advances, and the financial crisis propelled legal process outsourcing companies (LPO’s). The LPO model relies on labor arbitrage and technology to dramatically reduce the cost of high-volume/low-value “legal” functions like document review. This has enabled LPO’s to pry certain types of repetitive work from high-priced law firms. LPO’s demonstrated that law firms are not the sole—or most efficient and cost-effective—providers of all legal services. They also confirmed that technology and process management—together with legal expertise—are all essential legal delivery components.
AI is ushering in the second phase of legal delivery disaggregation. …