– The number of Uber drivers who will be affected by a recent advice memo from the Office of the General Counsel for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The memo says that Uber drivers on the app-based, ride-share platform are independent contractors, not employees.
According to Bloomberg Law, the advice memo “means the agency’s general counsel will take the position that workers for companies such as Uber are excluded from federal protections for workplace organizing activities, like trying to form or join a union. In practice, that means Uber workers are without a federal forum if they want to unionize or file what’s known as unfair labor practice charges.”
However, an employment lawyer told the publication that state law is still applicable.
“The crazy quilt of state law tests for independent contractor status is not affected by the issuance of the Advice Memorandum,” said lawyer Richard Reibstein. “The primary battleground for independent contractor misclassification issues remains at the state level.”
Want more? Attend “Independent Contractors and the Gig Economy” at the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Health, Labor & Employment Law Institute, Aug. 15-16, at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
Check out the schedule at hle.wisbar.org.
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Value Your Time
It may sound simple enough, but all the technology in the world won’t help lawyers who don’t value their time.
According to lawyer Kirk Stange, a legal blogger in the LexBlog Network, lawyers receive valuable (and expensive) education and training and gain knowledge of a legal system that many people do not understand.
“Even with all this training, many lawyers come out not thinking of their time as being valuable,” Stange said.
Lawyers can undervalue their services or fail to bill for significant portions of billable time, for instance.
Want more insights on Wisconsin’s legal market? Start with the State Bar’s Economics of Law Practice in Wisconsin Survey Report.
On the Radar
Wisconsin Wages Legal Fight Against Prescription Opioid Maker
Last month, the state of Wisconsin filed a lawsuit against OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma Inc. and Richard S. Sackler, former president and cochair of Purdue Pharma’s board from 2003 to 2018.
The Sackler family controls Purdue Pharma, according to the complaint filed in the Dane County Circuit Court, and has benefited from billions in profit distributions.
Four other states – Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, and West Virginia – filed similar lawsuits against Purdue Pharma the same day, according to a press release from the Wisconsin Department of Justice and NBC News. In March, Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family agreed to pay $270 million in a settlement with Oklahoma.
“The opioid epidemic has shattered lives and strained communities across the state and the country,” said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Today, we filed suit against Purdue Pharma L.P., Purdue Pharma Inc., and Richard Sackler, alleging that they misled the public and medical professionals about both the benefits of and the dangers posed by OxyContin and other opioids, and that the opioid epidemic is partly attributable to their conduct.”
Wisconsin’s case is just one of thousands against prescription opioid makers and distributors across the country, including a multi-district litigation case of more than 1,500 consolidated federal court cases brought by cities, counties, Indian tribes, and citizen groups.
“With a potential payday amounting to tens of billions of dollars, it has become one of the more complicated and gargantuan legal battles in American history,” The New York Times reported in January.
From Australia to Green Bay: Diversity, Inclusion, and Innovation
The State Bar of Wisconsin’s annual Wisconsin Legal Innovator awards (nominations due June 30) showcase lawyers, law firms, and legal organizations that are finding innovative ways to deliver quality legal services, including initiatives to attract and retain diverse, inclusive, and innovative legal teams.
Those initiatives and discussions are happening around the world. The Legal Innovation & Tech Fest takes place June 12-13 in Sydney, Australia. One of the sessions will explore the role of diversity and inclusion in fueling innovation. Alison Woolsey, diversity and inclusion director for a major Australian law firm aiming for 35 percent women partners by 2022, will talk about how the firm will get it done.
“You have to be relentless, resilient, and keep repeating the message,” Woolsey said in a pre-conference interview. “People in senior leadership roles need to continuously role-model inclusive behaviours. You also need to engage with your broader set of stakeholders. Share stories. Story-telling is such a strong communication tool.”
A similar discussion will take place in Green Bay, at the State Bar of Wisconsin’s 2019 Annual Meeting & Conference, June 13-14. Attorney Rekha Chiruvolu, diversity and inclusion director of Nixon Peabody in Los Angeles, is leading that discussion on June 13. Read her interview in the May Wisconsin Lawyer.
Nominate a Wisconsin Legal Innovator: thatsafineidea.com.
Source: Legal Innovation & Tech Fest Blog; AMC.wisbar.org
From the Archives
Back to Green Bay
The 34th meeting of the State Bar Association of Wisconsin, in the 49th year of its organization, was held in Green Bay in June 1927.
Now, 92 years later, the State Bar of Wisconsin is holding its Annual Meeting and Conference in Green Bay again, June 13-14.
The 1927 meeting report said “it was probably the most enthusiastic and best attended meeting in the history of the association.” In the president’s address, Marvin Rosenberry, later a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, called on lawyers to unite.
“We must build up a feeling of professional solidarity, a unit of interests,” Rosenberry said. “We need not sacrifice our individuality as lawyers in order to unite our common interests in an aggressive and effective organization.”
Source: Bulletin of the Wisconsin State Bar Association, September 1927.
“Long before stress results in mental health issues or substance abuse, it takes a toll on one of the most essential legal capacities: innovation.”
– Brett Bartlett and Nate Klemp in “How to Shift From Bad to Good
Stress and Protect Innovation in Law Practice,” published by the ABA Journal in May.
Stress is inevitable in the legal profession, the authors note, but not all stress is bad.
“Challenge stressors are the pressures we experience that push us to be our best,” the authors wrote.
“Hindrance stressors, by contrast, are the pressures we face that diminish innovation and lead to the cascade of psychological problems that arise from chronic stress. These stressors include petty arguments, office politics and drama, unnecessary red tape and job insecurity.”
The difference, they say, is about control. “When we lack a sense of autonomy in our work, our experience of stress can also begin to shift from the realm of challenge to the innovation-diminishing realm of hindrance.”
What to do? “We need to create a culture where attorneys feel a greater sense of control in the mental and emotional experience and in their broader work environment.”
Innovation on your mind? Nominate a Wisconsin Legal Innovator by June 30, at thatsafineidea.com.