Trump Makes It Illegal To Hate America. Or … Something?

We have reached the Mad King stage of the Trump administration, where the president barks out an insane, unconstitutional command, and the White House lawyers scurry off to package it into something resembling a legal order.

Next he’ll be issuing proclamations that it must rain on election day, but only in blue states.

It all started with the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which posits that 1619, the year the first slave ship arrived on the continent, is the true “birth year” of America. The original piece by reporter Nikole-Hannah Jones, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her work, was developed into a school curriculum which treats the original sin of slavery and its echo in racist laws and policies after the Civil War as the defining characteristic of American identity.

There’s no indication that the 1619 Project’s curriculum has been widely adopted in schools, but in the wake of the protests against systemic racism in policing after George Floyd’s killing, prominent right-wing figures such as Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and talkshow host Ben Shapiro have attempted to flip the script. It’s not police who kill Black Americans who are racist; actually it’s people who talk about racism who are the real racists. And they do it because they hate America.

“The self-proclaimed ‘anti-racist’ left — a left that sees all of human relations reduced to a rudimentary correlation of skin color and inequality, an analysis we used to call racist — has decided that the culture must be cleansed of all of those who will not be drafted into its woke army,” Shapiro wrote in his nationally syndicated column this July, conveniently casting himself and his fellow conservatives as the real victims, valiantly fending off attack by an army of woke liberals, even as police were unleashing clouds of teargas on unarmed protestors.

And then it was off to the … races. (Sorry.)

Trump mainlines six or seven hours a day of Fox and OANN programming assuring him that hordes of BLM protestors are storming the suburbs to indoctrinate American youth with anti-patriotic ideas about systemic racism; Trump shouts at rallies and sends out tweets warning that Cory Booker (!) will bring Section 8 housing to destroy the American dream; and then those rallies and tweets are reflected back to him the next day as Tucker, or Sean, or Jeanine, or Laura reassures him that, yes, Mister President, sir, Democrats are the real racists.

Which is how we ended up with Trump ordering an end to anti-bias training in federal agencies last week, and then expanding the order to all federal contractors today.

Well, kind of.

Here’s the actual text of the order:

The contractor shall not use any workplace training that inculcates in its employees any form of race or sex stereotyping or any form of race or sex scapegoating, including the concepts that (a) one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex; (b) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously; (c) an individual should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex; (d) members of one race or sex cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race or sex; (e) an individual’s moral character is necessarily determined by his or her race or sex; (f) an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex; (g) any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex; or (h) meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a particular race to oppress another race. The term “race or sex stereotyping” means ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of his or her race or sex, and the term “race or sex scapegoating” means assigning fault, blame, or bias to a race or sex, or to members of a race or sex because of their race or sex.

Which shouldn’t be a problem, since pretty much no one’s saying that. Even the handful of examples dredged up in the verbiage of the order itself about supposedly racist trainings don’t stand up to scrutiny, much less indicate a widespread campaign to indoctrinate federal contractors and employees into a state of un-American wokeness.

For instance, the order refers to “Materials from Sandia National Laboratories, also a Federal entity, for non-minority males stated that an emphasis on ‘rationality over emotionality’ was a characteristic of ‘white male[s],’ and asked those present to ‘acknowledge’ their ‘privilege’ to each other.”

As Josh Hawley himself acknowledged when he first brought Sandia Labs to right-wing attention, the “rationality over emotionality” and other stereotypes of “white male[s]” were generated by the participants themselves in response to a prompt during an outside training.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture months ago removed a graphic from its website describing the nuclear family as an aspect of “white culture.” Nevertheless, these and a handful of other cases are cited as evidence that “many people are pushing a different vision of America that is grounded in hierarchies based on collective social and political identities rather than in the inherent and equal dignity of every person as an individual.”

In fact, the order goes all the way through the looking glass to accuse anti-racists of being on the side of the Confederates in the civil war.

This destructive ideology is grounded in misrepresentations of our country’s history and its role in the world. Although presented as new and revolutionary, they resurrect the discredited notions of the nineteenth century’s apologists for slavery who, like President Lincoln’s rival Stephen A. Douglas, maintained that our government “was made on the white basis” “by white men, for the benefit of white men.” Our Founding documents rejected these racialized views of America, which were soundly defeated on the blood-stained battlefields of the Civil War. Yet they are now being repackaged and sold as cutting-edge insights.


At bottom, this order does exactly nothing. It demands that federal contractors stop saying that white people are bad and bear collective responsibility for systemic racism — which they weren’t — and post a piece of paper saying as much. Whether this has a chilling effect, with federal contractors canceling all anti-bias trainings for fear of running afoul of this vaguely worded diatribe, remains to be seen. But once again, your federal tax dollars are being used to repackage the rants of a madman into something resembling law.

And now they’re promising to reform the entire American healthcare system by executive order “in the days ahead.”

Can’t hardly wait.

Elizabeth Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.

The Supreme Court Nominee’s Confirmation Process Will Be Cringeworthy

I, like many, am saddened by the recent passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The timing of her death could not be worse as it has exacerbated the civil unrest in this country while we live with a virus pandemic that doesn’t care who you vote for in November. Honestly, I don’t know much about Justice Ginsburg other than her general public stature. I am more familiar with her late husband Martin Ginsburg, an eminent tax attorney.

Republicans have planned for this moment, probably for years. All possible scenarios have been addressed, confirmation votes have been assured, and deals have been made for those on the fence or who face tough re-election battles. President Donald Trump said that he will announce his nomination by the end of the week. But the fact that they are moving so quickly to replace the vacant court seat tells me that there is a good chance that the balance in power will shift in 2021.

Trump’s nominee will face a tough crowd and it’s not just the usual criticism from the opposition. Unless he nominates Merrick Garland or a surprise liberal-centrist, the nominee will be attacked, scrutinized, shamed, and doxed. We might even see a few funny internet memes at their expense. Some media outlets and their many commentator-journalists will be relentless.

When a liberal justice is being replaced by a conservative one, there has been surprise and drama. A mysterious figure will suddenly appear, accusing the nominee of something heinous they did in the past. The accuser might have objective, unbiased proof to back up their accusations. Or they will have no evidence but knows that the nominee won’t have any either, thus turning this into a battle of rhetoric and credibility.

The accuser will be raked over the coals by Republicans and their supporters. He or she will be asked, “Why come out now? You knew about the nominees and their front-runner status for a long time. Why didn’t you let us know sooner?” To which the accuser will respond: that they were scared, didn’t think it was a big deal, or they didn’t think the nominee would make it this far. Regardless, it is better to be late than never, and they see it as their patriotic duty to put their country’s needs (as they see it) before their own.

Once this is over, the accuser may have to go into hiding for a while. But chances are they will be fine in the end, have a six-figure GoFundMe nest egg for their trouble, and will be a hero to the liberal crowd.

In the final analysis, two things are certain. First, it won’t matter if there is evidence or not. Trump’s opponents will automatically believe the accuser without question. This is because they are more interested in intimidation. Enough to force the nominee to withdraw and force Republican senators into changing their vote. They are less interested in knowing whether the accuser is telling the truth, exaggerating like a résumé, or even lying. And anyone who questions the accuser will be unfriended, blocked, cancel cultured, and accused of whatever “-ism” is most convenient.

Second, this tactic — while making popcorn-worthy political theater — is not likely to work. It didn’t work with the Clarence Thomas nomination nor with Brett Kavanaugh. Given the Senate’s makeup and the statements from supposedly on-the-fence Mitt Romney and Chuck Grassley supporting a full vote before the next inauguration, confirmation is near certain. It might be a scorched-earth victory but a victory nonetheless.

So who knows if there will be any surprise appearances during the confirmation process. Most of the leading Democratic politicians have stated that “all options will be open” to fight the confirmation although no one has stated any specifics. Some have suggested another impeachment hearing although it is unclear how that will stall anything. Or a private individual might act on their own. Or they may wait until 2021 when court-packing becomes an option should the Democrats take control.

I understand why Democrats are fighting this so passionately. Replacing a liberal justice or a swing-vote justice with a conservative one will tilt the court further to the right and many 5-4 decisions will either be overturned or strengthened. Abortion rights and other issues Democrats hold dear will be threatened. Obviously, they cannot accept this lying down as it will anger their voter base, particularly a growing faction who have accused the leadership of being “weak asses.”

On the other hand, I expect the nominee will be ready to fight back, especially if the nominee is a woman. She saw what Thomas and Kavanaugh went through, and she should be ready to face the same level of grilling, both from Democratic senators and their supporters. It’s safe to say that she won’t be crying in front of the judiciary committee.

Democratic leaders should be mindful of the aftermath. While the confirmation process will mobilize their voter base, there will also be those lone-wolf psychopaths who are itching for a reason to riot under the guise of protesting if Trump’s nominee is confirmed. If the unrest gets bad enough, it will turn off moderate voters who want order restored.

So grab your popcorn, folks. Because of the stakes involved, Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg will run through a political gauntlet. Not only that, we’re likely to see someone accuse the nominee of something, and we’ll be expected to believe that person without question. But since this is an election year, how each party behaves through the process might determine who gets control of the Senate and the White House in 2021.

Steven Chung is a tax attorney in Los Angeles, California. He helps people with basic tax planning and resolve tax disputes. He is also sympathetic to people with large student loans. He can be reached via email at Or you can connect with him on Twitter (@stevenchung) and connect with him on LinkedIn.

Barbara Lagoa: Who Is She And What Fresh Hell Would She Bring To The Supreme Court?

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images,)

Sure, Amy Coney Barrett is still the odds on favorite to be Donald Trump’s pick to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, but it’s far from a done deal. The other name making its way up the shortlist is Eleventh Circuit judge Barbara Lagoa. So what does the president have to say about Judge Lagoa, a person, remember, he’s already appointed to a lifetime position:

She’s an extraordinary person. I’ve heard incredible things about her. I don’t know her. She’s Hispanic and highly respected. Miami. Highly respected.

Well, that’s a thing, and probably way more telling than Trump intended. Bloomberg notes the electoral implications if Trump picks Lagoa:

Lagoa’s legal bona fides hold some political appeal for Trump as the election bears down — a woman of Hispanic heritage from Florida is a trifecta of forces that will help make or break Trump’s fate this fall. He’s trailing Biden in Florida and trailing widely among women, but polls show he’s doing better among Hispanic voters than he did in 2016.

But what do you — and the president, apparently — need to know about the potential SCOTUS pick? Well, she’s the daughter of Cuban immigrants, something that comes up a lot in the talking points about her. She attended Florida International University for undergrad, and got her JD from Columbia. She did a stint in Biglaw and was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida in the Civil, Major Crimes, and Appellate Sections.

Lagoa’s time at Greenberg Traurig — from 1998 to 2002 — was noteworthy. During that time, she was the lead in the case of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban minor who sought asylum in the U.S., as reported by

According to her disclosure papers to the U.S. Senate, she was Greenberg’s lead attorney in the case of Elian Gonzalez, a minor who sought asylum in the United States after his family’s boat capsized on its way from Cuba in 1999. Lagoa argued the case pro bono with two other Greenberg attorneys, she wrote in the disclosure.

She also had some famous clients back then:

She also represented former Van Halen singer Sammy Hagar in a lawsuit seeking to block an unauthorized biography and represented Leor Dimant of the musical group House of Pain in an insurance case after he was involved in an altercation at a Miami Beach club.

Then, in 2006, she was appointed to the Florida Third District Court of Appeal by Jeb Bush. In January of 2019, Ron DeSantis appointed her to the Florida supreme court. Her judicial record in state court reflects a staunchly conservative record:

On Florida’s high court, and before that, on a state appeals court, she repeatedly sided with businesses, helping to turn back a higher minimum wage in Miami, limiting recourse for homeowners facing foreclosure, and reversing or rejecting cases of employees who sued Caterpillar and Uber. Lagoa also wrote a controversial decision finding that DeSantis had broad executive authority to suspend a county sheriff over his handling of the 2018 shooting in Parkland, Fla.

But 2019 was a banner year for Lagoa. In October of 2019, she was nominated to the Eleventh Circuit and in December, she was sworn in. That’s right — Lagoa has been a federal judge for less than a year and she’s already up for a promotion. But don’t worry — this is COMPLETELY NORMAL.

During her confirmation, Lagoa said the right (read: conservative) thing about her judicial philosophy:

“To me, the term ‘judicial activism’ means that a judge is reaching a result based on the judge’s own personal preference. And that is antithetical to what I believe a judge should be,” she later said.

Lagoa said she sometimes personally disagrees with her decisions, and that originalism is an important principle for judges in interpreting the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. “If we are not bound by what the Constitution means, and it’s — it is ever-changing, then we are no different than the country that my parents fled from which is Cuba,” she said. The biography submitted to the Senate ahead of her hearing said she’d been a member of the conservative Federalist Society since 1998. She was confirmed by the Senate by a vote of 80-15.

Though that bipartisan confirmation is being treated with suspicion among some on the far right:

[Coney Barrett backer Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council] said he also raised concerns about Lagoa, whom he describes as a relative unknown. The fact that more than two dozen Democratic senators voted for her 2019 confirmation to her current seat has raised suspicions, Perkins said. (That bipartisan vote is a plus in the eyes of Lagoa’s backers.)

But even in her brief amount of time on the Eleventh Circuit, she’s already proven herself willing to uphold conservative policy goals, even in the face of an overwhelmingly popular ballot measure. She demonstrated her hostility to voting rights, upholding the Republican measure to have former felons who were re-enfranchised in Florida pay undisclosed amounts of fees to actually exercise their rights, as per AP:

In her short tenure on the 11th Circuit, one controversial ruling in which she was among five Trump appointees in the majority was a 6-4 decision earlier this month that Florida felons had to not only complete their prison time but also pay any fines, fees and restitution.

And as noted by Marc Joseph Stern, Lagoa wrote in support of poll taxes, in a move characterized as auditioning for her place on the SCOTUS shortlist:

Lagoa also wrote her own concurrence, joined by no one, that would gut constitutional protections against wealth-based voter suppression. She argued that judges should generally uphold poll taxes when indigent citizens have “alternative avenues” to vote—even when those avenues are arbitrary, discriminatory, or downright illusory. In Florida, people with felony convictions can theoretically regain the right to vote by seeking executive clemency. The state’s clemency board is notoriously biased toward white people and Republicans and rejects the vast majority of applicants, usually for no stated reason. According to Lagoa, however, those biases don’t matter. As long as people theoretically have another way to restore their voting rights, the state may saddle them with a poll tax that they cannot afford to pay.

There is a word for what Lagoa did throughout the Amendment 4 litigation: auditioning. Lagoa proved to Trump that she would even defy judicial ethics to come through for him on a case that could swing the election. Nobody should’ve been surprised when she appeared on the president’s latest Supreme Court shortlist.

And the issue of recusals the Supreme Court struggles with, yeah, it’s not going to get better:

There were calls from supporters of the original felon voting amendment for Lagoa and a fellow 11th Circuit Judge, Robert Luck, to recuse themselves from the case because they participated in a state Supreme Court case on the issue but neither did.

And though it’s one case, it’s a pretty big deal, and could easily be the difference in deciding Florida’s electoral votes.

Lagoa is not just conservative—she’s also a partisan who flouted judicial ethics to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of people in Florida, potentially throwing the state to Trump. Lagoa’s unprincipled conduct in that case makes her a perfect candidate for the president’s midnight appointment.

And, of course, since Lagoa’s time on the federal bench is so short, we are forced to look at her carefully crafted statement on the issue of reproductive freedom, which, basically tells us nothing:

In response to written questions from Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, Lagoa said the 1973 decision “is binding precedent of the Supreme Court and I would faithfully follow it,” noting that for “lower court judges, all Supreme Court precedent, including Roe v. Wade … is settled law.”

Lagoa is married to Jones Day attorney Paul Huck Jr., described as the “godfather of the Federalist Society in Miami.” Her father-in-law is Southern District of Florida judge Paul C. Huck (appointed by Bill Clinton in 2000). And she has three kids.

Listen, she hasn’t been a federal judge for very long, but I think we know all we need to about the kind of Supreme Court justice that Barbara Lagoa would be.

headshotKathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).

In 2020, Nothing Is Certain But Chaos And Client Billing — There’s Some Good News About The Latter

The 2020 news cycle isn’t letting up, but somewhere between bonus wars and a constitutional crisis, we would be remiss if we didn’t highlight the moves in the legal technology market. It may be hard to move the media needle with a legal tech acquisition at this point, but consider those big bonuses going around and remember that those only happen because someone got out there and got the client to pay in full and on time.

So when ASG LegalTech CEO Soumya Nettimi considered the next acquisition for a growing platform that already includes PracticePanther, Bill4Time, and MerusCase, adding a payments platform seemed like the logical next step. As she told Bob Ambrogi:

In our LawNext interview, Nettimi said that two factors drove her company to want to acquire a payments platform. One is that their philosophy is to serve as a one-stop shop so customers do not have to find different products for the various functions and tasks they need to do to manage their firms.

The other is that they try to listen to their customers about what they need, and in this year of the pandemic, “where getting paid is synonymous with staying in business for many of our firms,” customers wanted a solution that would help them increase both collection rates and speed of collection.

It’s impossible to overstate the existential crisis of getting paid at this time.

So when Nettimi surveyed the landscape for a payments platform that would give the ASG LegalTech family of products the edge in this arena, Headnote jumped out. Probably because it has the advantage of being designed by an actual attorney who knows what lawyers need. Armed with that experience, Headnote CEO Sarah Schaaf created a modern and secure payment technology that’s helped law firms reduce payment processing fees by 35 percent and get paid 70 percent faster than the industry average of 94 days. 

Schaaf will carry on at ASG LegalTech as General Manager of Payments as the company prepares to launch a fully integrated, all-in-one payment solution, a reimagined and optimized version of PantherPayments. Current Headnote clients can rest assured that the standalone product will remain available, though if you have an opportunity to move to an integrated solution, it’s not clear why you wouldn’t jump at it. It’s another victory for the “one-pane” design concept, allowing users to perform all the tasks they logically need to without jumping between programs.

The new PantherPayments offering will provide:

  • Full compliance with IOLTA, ABA, and lawyers’ online payment rules in all 50 states, as well as with payment card industry standards.
  • Low, simple and transparent pricing of 2.8% for all credit cards and 1% for same-day e-check payments, with no monthly membership fees or variable rates.
  • Fast payments, with clients paying invoices up to 70% faster than average and with more payment options than other processors.
  • Integration with the PracticePanther platform, eliminating the need for dealing with multiple systems or vendors and providing a single source for support questions.
  • Strong security, with SHA-256 data encryption, cloud-based hosting, and tokenized payments.

Congratulations to everyone involved in this deal. And now we return you all to the raging chaos of 2020 secure in the knowledge that at least you’re going to get paid on time.

Exclusive: ASG LegalTech Acquires Payments Platform Headnote; We Interview the Two Companies’ CEOs [LawSites]

HeadshotJoe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.

The Above The Law 2020 Law School Rankings Are (Finally) Here

Yes, it is September. Yes, the Above the Law 2020 rankings are only just being published now. You see, in June, when we typically publish the rankings, it seemed like the whole world was coming apart, and we questioned whether something as mundane as law school rankings even mattered.

Well, it’s three months later and… the world is still coming apart — seriously the West Coast is literally in flames right now. But, importantly, there’s a greater recognition that (law school) life finds a way. During times of economic distress, folks often decide to park for three years in law school, hoping that when they get out, the economy will be in recovery and jobs will be plentiful. And the early reports on law school admissions reveal COVID hasn’t hurt application numbers. That means it’s especially vital now to report on how well law schools prepare you to get a job on the back end of all those loans you’re likely taking out.

And this is as good a place as any to remind everyone that the Above the Law rankings are based around the premise that a law school is only as good as the job you can get when you graduate — paying down your loans is real, y’all. As such, ATL’s Top 50 ranking is the only ranking, among the slew of other law school ratings, that incorporates the most recent ABA employment data concerning the class of 2019. Remember, the cost of law school is steep, and the job market is harsh (and COVID-19 is only going to make it more cutthroat out there), so, when weighing law school options, you really need to put your hand on the scale in favor of future employment prospects over all other factors.

So, on to this year’s ranking. There’s big news at the top — there’s a new #1 law school in town. Duke Law took over the number one spot (up from #2 last year), and University of Chicago moved up to the #2 spot. That pushed last year’s champ, UVA, to No. 3. It seems small increases in the employment scores for Duke and UChicago as well as a noticeable dip in Biglaw employment for UVA account for the shift. But the actual schools that are in the Top 10 remains the same, although the order is shuffled up a bit.

Further down the list, there are some bigger changes. A total of five new law schools have entered the ranking. We want to welcome the following law schools to the to the party:

  • Baylor
  • St. Louis University
  • St. John’s
  • Tennessee
  • Wake Forest

So, which law schools are the most likely to help you be gainfully employed upon graduation? Check out our full rankings below.

headshotKathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).

Keep On Top Of Trends And Developments In Securities Regulation

As a securities lawyer, you’re well aware that you must stay informed of changes in the law and regulations. Indeed, 46 states have mandatory continuing legal education requirements that apply to all lawyers. With a wealth of resources out there, what’s the best way to keep current? Is it enough to merely stay updated on the law itself — or are there other topics to consider?

One of the easiest ways to stay informed on the law is by reading primary and secondary resources. Go straight to the source: subscribe to RSS feeds of the relevant government websites where possible. Blogs, such as those published by PLI, are also an excellent resource. Through PLI PLUS,  subscribers can access a complete library of over 4,000 titles covering 25 practice areas. And if you prefer to learn “on the go,” podcasts, such as PLI’s inSecurities series, can provide the latest perspectives.

Live conferences are another way to keep informed and stay connected with others in the field. Though the pandemic has forced many of these events into the virtual space, technology allows for a robust, interactive experience. A good securities law conference will cover the topics most important to you and your clients. A great securities law conference will bring together a variety of perspectives on these topics. Those should include professionals from various settings, such as in-house, law firms, government, self-regulatory agencies, consultants, and business executives.

It’s also essential that these perspectives be diverse, representing multiple backgrounds including gender, age, experience, ethnicity, and political/policy leanings. Integrating multiple viewpoints into your understanding of the law is not only a requirement of many state bars (i.e., bias credits), but is also beneficial to your growth as a lawyer and advocate for your clients. Just as the #metoo movement caused a shift in discourse around sexual harassment and equality, the recent marches and protests for racial equality have forced companies and firms to reexamine and recommit to the need for diversity and inclusion. In addition, the COVID pandemic has heightened awareness of the environmental and governance issues facing businesses, investors, governments, and other constituencies, and has required greater disclosure and transparency around all of these issues.

This fall, securities lawyers will have the opportunity to hear from the nation’s leading securities and corporate legal experts during a three-day conference broadcast as a live webinar. For over 50 years, Practising Law Institute’s Annual Institute on Securities Regulation has provided keen analysis and timely insights into the critical issues facing securities law practitioners. From November 4–6, PLI’s faculty will discuss capital markets, enforcement and securities litigation developments, accounting and auditing, Delaware law developments, and much more, including new panels on proxy statements, disclosure challenges, and a luncheon roundtable on diversity and inclusion in the law.

Don’t simply meet your continuing education requirements — seek to exceed them. You’ll enrich your understanding of the law for yourself, for your organization, and for your clients.

About PLI

Practising Law Institute is a nonprofit learning organization dedicated to keeping attorneys and other professionals at the forefront of knowledge and expertise. PLI is chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York, and was founded in 1933 by Harold P. Seligson. The organization provides the highest quality, accredited, continuing legal and professional education programs in a variety of formats which are delivered by more than 4,000 volunteer faculty including prominent lawyers, judges, investment bankers, accountants, corporate counsel, and U.S. and international government regulators. PLI publishes a comprehensive library of Treatises, Course Handbooks, Answer Books and Journals also available through the PLI PLUS online platform. The essence of PLI’s mission is its commitment to the pro bono community. View PLI’s upcoming live webcasts here.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Clerks To Stand Guard Beside Her Casket At Supreme Court Services

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The justice taught us all a thing or two about a life well lived. She was among the first mentors to tell me I could do anything — but she also told me that it would be foolish to think I could do many things well at the same time. The life lessons she imparted gave me the courage to take a step back from my own career and choose, for this moment in time, to be more present for my three children.

— Lori Alvino McGill, one of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s former clerks, offering words of kindness for the late jurist who served as her role model. More than 100 of Ginsburg’s former clerks are standing guard by her casket as she lies in repose at the Supreme Court, and they will not leave her side, day or night, throughout the entirety of the public viewing. May her memory be a blessing.

Staci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.

Quibi-rella Looking For Hollywood Ending With Prince SPACing

Corruption, Lies, Rank Hypocrisy Do Not Matter: The Last Vestige Of Republicans’ Honor Died With John McCain

This column was going to be about Joe Biden’s proposed tax policy, right up until Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed.

I suppose my topic didn’t officially change until a few hours after RBG’s death, on Saturday, when Donald Trump vowed to fill her Supreme Court seat “without delay.” Still, from the moment of Ginsburg’s death, there was never any real doubt that Trump, goaded on by the vampire of the Senate Mitch McConnell, would disavow everything his party said four years ago when Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland. The Republicans were going to try to ram a new Supreme Court Justice down Americans’ throats six weeks before an election.

Nobody reading this is unfamiliar with what happened in 2016, but if you need a quick reminder, Obama nominated the moderate D.C. Circuit veteran Garland to fill the seat left vacant following the death of Antonin Scalia. Scalia died in February of that year, months before the November election. But Senate Majority Leader McConnell, along with his many Republican lackeys, refused to hold proceedings of any kind on Garland’s appointment. Instead, they behaved as if no vacancy existed at all on the Supreme Court, until Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch less than two weeks after taking office in January of 2017.

The thrust of McConnell’s argument, in February 2016, was that it was too close to the November presidential election to fill a Supreme Court seat and that it should be up to the voters to decide who got to fill the vacancy. In addition to McConnell, at least 17 other Republican Senators who are still in the Senate are on the record in 2016 making the same supposedly principled stand in favor of a democratic response to a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year.

Now it is six weeks before a presidential election instead of nine months, and there’s no principled stand in 2020. Rather, most Senate Republicans are champing at the bit to fill RBG’s seat before Trump is frog-marched out of the Oval Office in January. To give their position the thinnest veneer of logical legitimacy, Republicans have offered a dumb excuse about this year being different from 2016 because the Senate majority shares the party of the president, but anyone with two brain cells to rub together should be able to see through that.

Tragically, for about a third of Americans, it just does not matter. Republicans do not care if their leaders say one thing, and then do the exact opposite. They don’t care that their president has told more than 20,000 documented, provable lies since taking office. “All politicians lie,” they tell themselves and anyone else who will listen. But there is a difference between saying anything you think people want to hear, truth be damned, versus misstating something, or making an earnest promise that doesn’t go as planned, or even exaggerating within the limits of good taste. There is a difference between a good excuse, and a flimsy façade. Intent matters. But in Trump-world, there’s no difference between anything. Lies, corruption, and hypocrisy simply do not matter, as long as they’re coming from your side. Republicans parrot the party line, and then take that nearly translucent justification at face value.

In October 2008, a Minnesota woman at a Republican town hall event said, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him, and he’s not, um, he’s an Arab.” John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate running against Obama, grabbed the microphone from her and said, “No, ma’am. He’s a decent family man [and] citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what the campaign’s all about.” At that town hall, McCain defended Obama a second time as a “decent person” and as a president people need not fear. McCain was booed. And McCain lost.

But at least when McCain died 10 years later, he died with his honor intact. McCain swam against the dark tide swallowing his party. Trump, on the other hand, doesn’t correct nonsense conspiracy theories, or defend his political opponents from baseless attacks that undermine the integrity of our system of peaceful transfers of power. Trump does the exact opposite. A little over a third of our population cheers him on, and over half the Senate lets him get away with it.

The concept of honor is as foreign to today’s Republican Party as it is to a rattlesnake. With RBG gone, all we can hope for is that at least four Republican senators want to be able to look in the mirror and see something other than a power-hungry cynic, or a self-deluded liar.

Jonathan Wolf is a litigation associate at a midsize, full-service Minnesota firm. He also teaches as an adjunct writing professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, has written for a wide variety of publications, and makes it both his business and his pleasure to be financially and scientifically literate. Any views he expresses are probably pure gold, but are nonetheless solely his own and should not be attributed to any organization with which he is affiliated. He wouldn’t want to share the credit anyway. He can be reached at

Biglaw Firms’ Lack Of Transparency During COVID-19 Is Making Associates Anxious

Biglaw associates have been working through a pandemic for about seven months now. From their remote work environments, they’ve witnessed not just austerity measures like salary cuts, furloughs, and layoffs, but the deaths of more than 200,000 people thanks to COVID-19 in the United States alone. Anxiety and depression have set in, and Biglaw firms that aren’t being transparent with their associates are making things even worse.

How bad has it gotten? According to the American Lawyer’s 2020 Midlevel Associates Survey, more than 40 percent of respondents said they had anxiety, with three-in-four claiming their firms had negatively impacted their mental health. Summer associates who worked remotely this summer were also increasingly concerned about their mental health (about 48 percent of them said they were concerned this year, up from 39 percent last year).

What’s driving the increase in stress and anxiety is the fact that some law firms haven’t been transparent enough with their associates, which is making them feel uncertain about their job security. “Control and embargo of information [about] finances, staffing decisions, and cutbacks only breeds anxiety and reduces productivity,” said a fifth-year associate at an Am Law 100 firm in response to the Am Law Midlevel Survey. Luckily, there are things Biglaw firms can do to help their associates through these difficult times.

Transparency and communication is the most common antidote, [Anne Brafford, founder of legal well-being consultancy Aspire Legal,] said. While personal coping techniques such as exercise and mental tricks can help, the greatest influence lies in law firm leadership. That includes all partners, not just the executive committee.

“Firms that have been focusing on transparency will go a long way toward reducing anxiety,” Brafford said. “I don’t just mean firm leadership, but the day-to-day communication about what’s to being expected, how am I doing—following up.”

Firms that remain transparent with their associates — whether dealing with salary or staffing issues — will be able to provide the support these lawyers need during this time of crisis. Offer associates some certainty during an era of uncertainty. Invest meaningfully in associates’ mental health and everyone will be much happier.

The Pandemic Is Affecting Young Lawyer Mental Health, and Secrecy at Firms Doesn’t Help [American Lawyer]

Staci ZaretskyStaci Zaretsky is a senior editor at Above the Law, where she’s worked since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, comments, or critiques. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.