In-House Interrogatory

Asked: Our weekly question to the In-House community

The National Labor Relations Board is looking at the intricacies of back pay and taxes in the next couple months.

The board is asking whether an employer is responsible for paying taxes on back pay owed to employees in a case where the company was found to have violated fair labor practices when it fired employees.

The board asked for briefs in light of a decision it issued Tuesday dealing with a Chicago charter bus company. An administrative law judge found the company, Latino Express, violated fair labor practices. The judge ruled the company illegally fired two employees during a union organizing campaign.

While the board agreed with the judge, it is still considering two questions pertaining to the case and those interested can submit briefs on the matter to the board before October 1. Briefs can be uploaded here. The case number is 13-CA-046528.

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Law blog roundup

Welcome to the start of what looks to be a very sticky week. We’ll be hit with Maryland’s three summer “h’s” – hot, humid and hazy. Here are this week’s hot legal news links.

  • The legal profession keeps getting more and more elite. Jobs are shrinking as more lawyers flood the market.
  • Maryland’s trial judges are on the low end of the pay scale compared to their peers.
  • Backroom deal or not, charges against a man police say terrorized Montgomery County as a serial rapist in the ’70s and ’80s can move forward.
  • A Baltimore-born man, who practiced law in West Virginia, is working to preserve pilgrim history in Cape Cod.
  • Maryland among many states considering Caylee’s law.
  • Maryland law grad Ron Liebman, who served on the federal prosecution teams against former VP Spiro Agnew and Gov. Marvin Mandel, has written a legal thriller.
  • Trouble for Baltimore nightclub Sonar’s owner.
  • With 142 accidents on one bridge, maybe Maryland should have put up a jersey wall.
  • University of Texas at Austin is suing Ryan O’Neal for refusing to donate an Andy Warhol portrait of his love, Farrah Fawcett, as she requested in her will.

Number crunching the legal job void

It’s no secret that law schools are churning out more lawyers than the country needs.

Still, when you actually crunch the numbers, as economic consulting firm Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. did, the results are sobering. On average, the number of people who passed the bar exam in 2009 was twice the estimated number of legal job openings.

That’s right, 53,508 people passed the bar in 2009, while job openings stood at 26, 239. (The number crunchers note that not all exam takers are new grads – some people are trying to get licensed in new states and others wait to take the exam for several years).

Each state, aside from Wisconsin and Nebraska, and our neighbor, Washington, D.C., produced more lawyers than jobs for lawyers.

However, lawyers in good standing can be “waived” into practice in D.C., which accounts for the low number of people who take the bar there. In Wisconsin, law school grads do not have to take the bar before practicing. All that is to say, take these numbers with a grain of salt.

Maryland makes the list of the top 15 over-suppliers of lawyers. 1,277 passed the exam in 2009 to fill an estimated 560 positions. That’s nothing compared to New York, where 9,787 passed the bar with just 2,100 openings. Ouch.

Chart from www.economicmodeling.com

Law blog roundup

You may be back on the job this Monday, but at least 1,000 legal types lost their jobs in May. So much for all that optimism in April. With that, let’s check out some law links, shall we?

  • Prince George’s County lawyer and power broker Peter O’Malley III died last week. O’Malley, who was not a relative of the governor, paved the way for sports complexes built by the late Abe Pollin and was heavily involved in Democratic politics.
  • Are Baltimore City’s towing companies too aggressive?
  • David Ball, the “dean of damages” says there’s only one surefire tool to use when cross-examining experts.
  • New male partners outnumbered new female partners 2-to-1 this year.
  • Make sure you get your fair say in court.
  • A former assistant football coach at USC says the NCAA defamed him and destroyed his career in its investigation into Reggie Bush.

NALP numbers – read ‘em and weep

The NALP numbers are out and it doesn’t look pretty for 2010′s law school graduates.

On the surface, the numbers look OK: 87.6 percent of last year’s grads had found work nine months after graduation (of graduates whose employment status was known).

But dig a little deeper and it gets worse: Only 68.4 percent of graduates had jobs that required bar passage, the lowest rate NALP has ever measured. Ever.

Compare that to figures from 2008, when74.7 percent of law school graduates needed to pass the bar for their employment, and it’s obvious that things have deteriorated quickly. It is worth noting, however, that an additional 10.7 percent of recent grads had jobs where a JD was preferred or required, but bar passage was not necessary.

Another staggering figure: Only 50.9 percent of 2010 grads report working in private practice. NALP hasn’t seen numbers like that since 1976. (Numbers typically fluctuate between 55 percent and 58 percent since 1993).

Of those who do work in private practice, many of them (39.1 percent) work in offices of two to 10 lawyers, a gain of 7.5 percentage points since 2008.

Graduates working at firms of more than 501 attorneys fell to 20.5 percent, compared to 25.6 percent in 2009.

Unfortunately, it seems like the “lost generation” may always be lost.

Law blog roundup

It’s Presidents Day, but we’re still working here at The Daily Record, so we figured some of you out there might be working, too. Take a gander at the latest in blogs below:

  • Who does snitching hurt?
  • Can’t the Maryland Division of Corrections do its own employee background checks without demanding Facebook log in information?
  • What’s with all the no beard policies?
  • Above the Law offers a free crash course in pre-law.
  • Video ridiculing the IT system for California’s courts gets few clicks, but those watching are likely the ones with the power to change it. Dig the guy in the track suit.
  • This guy needs to put down the booze.

Law blog roundup: Careful hitting the ‘send’ button

Happy new year! Back to work after an extended vacation? Don’t worry, so are most of the bloggers. Check out these law links to see what you’ve missed.

  • When will they learn? Two lawyers sending nasty e-mails back and forth in Florida have been sanctioned by the state’s supreme court. That will teach these guys to hurl their insults in person instead of over e-mail.
  • Will the filibuster rule get changed this week?
  • Don’t neutral paint colors just scream strip club to you? Apparently not to these clubs in Fort Worth.
  • Get a haircut and get a new job.
  • In the new year, Chief Justice John Roberts asked for a little less partisanship when it comes to the court.
  • “Witch” is officially a regulated profession in Romania.
  • Recession hurt law firm diversity.

More on the NFL pension plan

In researching the NFL’s pension plan for today’s Maryland Lawyer cover story, one thing made no sense: If the Retirement Board consists of representatives from the league and the players’ union, why wouldn’t the union people always side with the players against management?

The theory Cy Smith subscribes to is that the NFLPA‘s demographics make it different from other unions. The NFLPA represents only active players, who are typically in their 20s and 30s.

“The NFLPA focuses on interests of current players because they are the bargaining units and they don’t think long-term the way most people in their 20s don’t think long-term,” he says. “If you’re a current player, your focus is going to be on salary.”

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Law blog roundup: Ben Matlock offers the best defense

Still wish you were on vacation? Most of your co-workers out for week? Here’s some “work” you can do to pass the time:

Closius on debt, future of law schools

Today’s Maryland Lawyer cover story is our interview with Phil Closius, dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law. One thing he said that I couldn’t fit into the story is that the average UB student graduates with about $90,000 in debt.

He once recited that figure to an alum and his daughter, a prospective student. “That high?” the father said. “That’s all?” the daughter said.

The figure is “on the low side” for law schools, Closius said, but he sees it the way alum does.

“If you come to UB, the bulk of students are going to have to be able to deal with a $90,000 debt service on a $65,000-a-year salary,” he said. “That’s not easy.”

The school, incidentally, has raised tuition 77 percent in the last 7 years.

Watch video from the Newsmakers interview with Dean Closius

“The only thing that justifies it is, so is everyone else in the law school world,” Closius said.

In that vein, I asked him about the future of law schools; a recent law review article predicts there will be   fewer law schools in the years to come. Closius said he believes law schools will close or shrink in size.

“The pressures are becoming too strong,” he said. “If you’re not producing jobs, if you’re not giving people the economics that make sense, you’re going to get hurt. And I think it’s going to happen soon.”

Just not at UB, he was quick to add.

“I don’t think we’re closing,” he said. “We’re on the good side.”