Economic, Workplace and Environmental Regulation

  • September 5, 2017
    Guest Post

    Samuel R. Bagenstos, Frank G. Millard Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School

    For many of us, Labor Day marks the end of summer. We’ll perhaps have a cookout with family, friends, and neighbors, or maybe take advantage of the deals at the local shopping mall.

    But the Labor Day holiday, officially declared in 1894, once meant much more than that. The American Federation of Labor president Samuel Gompers described it as a day when workers would “meet at their parks, groves and grounds, and by appropriate speech, counsel with, and pledge to, each other that the coming year shall witness greater efforts than the preceding in the grand struggle to make mankind free, true and noble.”

  • August 31, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Dan Froomkinstacks on stacks

    The ultra-high-end real estate business, where Donald Trump made a lot of his money, is the easiest place for oligarchs and others to launder large amounts of illicit cash.

    And because several of the lawyers on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russian connections with the Trump presidential campaign are specialists in money-laundering and other financial crimes, some observers are speculating that he may be looking into Trump's past business dealings to see if any of those connections are relevant to the matter at hand.

  • August 25, 2017
    BookTalk

    Book by Sandra F. Sperino and Suja A. Thomas

    Reviewed by Katie Eyer, Associate Professor, Rutgers Law School

    Employees who believe that they have experienced discrimination face long odds in bringing discrimination litigation against their employers. Less than 5% of discrimination plaintiffs ever achieve any form of litigated relief. Discrimination cases are dismissed at startlingly high rates across virtually every procedural juncture (including after a plaintiff-favorable jury verdict).  The rates of dismissal in discrimination cases are much higher than the rates of dismissal for virtually any other substantive category of federal claims. And yet debate remains regarding the causes of these low levels of success, with some contending that discrimination lawsuits are unfairly dismissed, while others argue that a glut of non-meritorious lawsuits is to blame.

  • July 11, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared on the Economic Policy Institute’s Working Economics Blog.

    by Celine McNicholas, Labor Counsel, Economic Policy Institute

    Yesterday, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), an independent agency that serves as a watchdog for consumers, issued a rule that would ban companies from using mandatory arbitration clauses to deny Americans their day in court. The rule would restore consumers’ ability to band together in class-action suits. Without the ability to pool resources, many people are forced to abandon claims against financial institutions and other powerful companies. Consider that hundreds of millions of contracts for consumer financial products and services include mandatory arbitration clauses. Yet, The New York Times found that between 2010 and 2014, only 505 consumers went to arbitration over a dispute of $2,500 or less. By prohibiting class actions, companies have dramatically reduced consumer challenges to predatory practices.

    Mandatory arbitration clauses are also used by employers. Employees are forced give up their right to sue in court and accept private arbitration as their only remedy for violations of their legal rights. Private arbitration clauses tilt the system in the business’s favor: the company is often allowed to choose the arbitrator, who will thus be inclined to side with the business; arbitration also cannot be appealed, leaving workers and consumers in much worse shape than if they had access to the courts. As such, employees who bring grievances against their employers are much less likely to win in arbitration than in federal court. Employees in arbitration win only about a fifth of the time (21.4 percent), whereas they win more than a third (36.4 percent) of the time in federal courts.

  • July 5, 2017

    by Kaiya Lyons

    At the 2017 ACS National Convention, Professor William Yeomans concluded the breakout panel on whether to serve in an unfriendly administration by emphasizing to the room of current, former and aspiring government lawyers that public service “really is a lawyer’s highest calling.” But for too many law students, the choice to pursue that higher calling comes at a high price, as student loan debt continues to rise well beyond most public interest wages. Later in the day, ACS Board member David Frederick had a simple solution—“make law school less expensive.”

    During the “Progressive Federalism” plenary, Frederick declared that massive student loan debt is the “number one impediment to law students going out and doing public service jobs.” To support his assertion, Frederick pointed to the time-honored tradition of public interest-minded grads spending two to three years in BigLaw to pay down their student loans before entering public service. Frederick explained that, instead of starting in public service, “law students are often forced into corporate law firms” for years to pay off their loans, a practice he characterized as a type of “indentured servitude.” While this image sparked laughter and jokes from the other panelists, Frederick maintained the veracity of his comparison and went on to stress that legal education must be more affordable in order for young lawyers to pursue public interest.

    Forgiveness in Exchange for Services Rendered

    However, much to our collective disappointment, law school tuition hikes show no signs of decreasing, nor does a decrease in tuition rates seem likely. Therefore, law students and recent grads have two options: (1) take the tried-and-true path of their predecessors and enter the corporate sector for a few years with the hope that they will be able to move into the public sector later, or (2) take advantage of the government’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and be able to work in public interest law immediately after graduation and have their debt erased after ten years.