The Brief No. 54: The Joneses Aren’t Keeping Up

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September 25, 2019

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A/B Testing the Future of Work: Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) was signed into law in California, codifying the California Supreme Court’s  “ABC Test”. The bill aims to make more “gig economy” workers employees rather than independent contractors. Unlike attorneys and many other professional service roles, most gig economy platforms were unable to gain exemptions. Lyft, Uber, and Doordash have vowed to spend $30M on a ballot initiative to overturn AB5 while maintaining that the law does not apply to them. This has sparked speculation that a compromise could be the landmark creation of a new category of workers tailored to the gig economy. Others see this as a major turning point and acknowledgment by tech-friendly California that the gig economy is not living up to the promises of the tech and startup worlds.

Note to law practices who use temp attorneys: many roles must still be classified as W-2 under IRS guidelinesoverview here

The Joneses Aren’t Keeping Up: Jones Day’s bias suits were temporarily forgotten as the storied firm became the poster child for #redactionfails. A team at the firm used a combination of 90s software solutions (Adobe and Microsoft Word) instead of the firm's e-discovery software, allowing a reporter to cut, paste, and read redactions exposing secret grand jury information. While a target for calling out the archaic practices and culture of law firms, Jones Day is not alone in hiring, promotion, and compensation practices or technology gaffes. This is the second recent incident where a sloppy, low tech redaction solution has had major implications in a legal case. As the legal industry realizes that a failure to change does not prevent risk but becomes a liability,  a record-breaking year in legal tech investment continues. Digital contracting software Ironclad announced its $50M Series C investment round last week.

Matters of “Urgent Concern”: Youth across the globe turned out in solidarity and to rally for urgent action for climate change in last Friday’s climate strike. Will the urgency of soon-to-come-of-age voters make climate a major voting and policy issue—and potential growth area in law—in the next decade? Equally uncertain is how yet another unprecedented issue of law for the office of president will unfold and if it will escalate calls for impeachment. Team Trump denied and also asserted that he could make aid to the Ukraine contingent upon the country investigating his potential 2020 rival Joe Biden as a whistleblower alleged. Trump again displayed the contingent nature of his affections as he distanced himself from kindred spirit and former “good friend” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party failed to secure enough parliamentary seats to establish a ruling coalition. Israel’s Arab parties stepped in—after 27 years of declining to recommend a leader—to support centrist Benny Gantz. Nearby, an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil fields shut down half of the kingdom’s production. Western nations placed the blame on Iran escalating threats of sanctions and tensions against Iran.

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As election season heats up and election meddling again grabs news headlines, get caught up with a perennial lawyer favorite podcast, “Stay Tuned” with former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bahara. Listen here as Preet breaks down where and how the Mueller Report fell short with Lawfare Executive Director Susan Hennessey and answers questions about House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff’s letter questioning why the whistleblower complaint was withheld from his committee.

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