The Brief No. 31: Mind the Gaps

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March 20, 2019

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Tax Tips for Freelancers with Lance

Being a solo practice or freelance legal professional can provide freedom, flexibility, supplementary income... and sometimes panic at tax time. Join us over on the blog where our friends at Lance discuss potential advantages to freelancers under the new tax bill as well as tips and tricks to help you lower your tax time stress and bill.

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It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know: Last week, an investigation known as “Operation Varsity Blues” revealed a scandal in which several wealthy parents bribed sports programs and test-takers to fraudulently gain admission for their children into prestigious schools. The scheme involves more than 50 people (including a co-chair of a BigLaw firm), and includes criminal charges such as conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and racketeering, and mail fraud. While the allegations have sparked outrage towards the individuals involved, many also insist that the case is a symptom of a broken college admission system that promotes bias based on socioeconomic background. Additionally, some blame employers for relying too heavily on the prestige of their employees’ alma mater, thus placing undue pressure on students to hang an ivy league diploma on the wall.

Faking It, Not Making It: A recent lawsuit against law firm Robinson, Bradshaw, & Hinson claims that the firm hired minority lawyers as a facade for marketing purposes and, once hired, the lawyers faced a variety of discriminatory practices including segregated work functions and inferior job assignments. In The American Lawyer, Henry E. Ibe explains other challenges encountered by black lawyers that contribute to the lingering lack of diversity among many law firms. While legal departments have generally gained praise for a more progressive approach, advocates maintain that there are still steps to be taken if each corner of the legal industry wishes to accomplish genuine equality.

Clouds Rolling In: It looks like Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election may finally be wrapping up. A significant indication towards closure came with senior prosecutor Andrew Weissmann’s nearing departure from the team. It’s been a busy few weeks for Weissmann, who also led the case against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort that resulted in a seven and a half year prison sentence just last week. In an effort to ensure accessibility to the findings of Mueller’s investigation, the House of Representatives passed a resolution requiring the report be made public. Still, the ceasing of the investigation will not mean a stoppage of conflict surrounding its subjects, and extensive litigation will likely take place as details of Mueller’s findings emerge.

How Much Does a Polar Bear Weigh? Climate change is once again on the tips of tongues on both sides of the aisle, as students around the world skipped school on Friday to protest lack of government action. Meanwhile, the 3rd annual Conference of Lawyers Committed to Addressing the Climate Emergency is slated for April 18 in cities around the U.S., New York is looking into physically extending Manhattan to protect from future flooding, and several states have recently proposed litigation that would challenge climate change education in schools. In short, we’re still fighting about this somehow.

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The tumultuous climate in Washington D.C. means that political news has the turnover rate of a pancake. It also means a widening aisle between parties and more difficult for those trying to make cool-headed sense of it all. On the Amicus podcast, writer and journalist Dahlia Lithwick sits down with Republicans and Democrats alike to do just that. Check out the latest episode, “Lawyers Are Tackling Our Democracy Problem Via the Take Care Clause”, where Lithwick is joined by former White House lawyer Ian Bassin to discuss Trump administration trends and Protect Democracy.

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