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Courts & legal news weekly roundup 

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This week’s highlights 

  • As courts reopen, divorce filings are on the rise
  • California, Illinois eviction bans set to expire; New York’s ban extended to 2022
  • Legal services sector adds 4,300 jobs in August, despite an overall slowdown
  • Several BigLaw firms may delay their office reopening until 2022
  • New dating app launches for lawyers and those who want to meet them

As courts reopen, divorce filings are on the rise 

“It’s difficult, if not impossible, to know whether the higher rates are because more people want to get divorced or because many courtrooms were closed during the pandemic, creating a backlog.” (New York Times

According to preliminary data released by courts across the country, divorce filings are up significantly in the first half of 2021 as compared with the same period last year. The data is echoed by some lawyers and relationship experts who say that divorce filings in their areas are on the rise.

New York family law attorneys that talked to the New York Times all reported swift business. “Since May, our business has been up by more than 20 percent,” said divorce lawyer David Badanes. Martha Cohen Stine, another family law attorney in New York, added: “Since April, our phones have been ringing off the hook.”

California, Illinois eviction bans set to expire; New York’s ban extended to 2022 

“New York State lawmakers extended sweeping protections against evictions into next year… The move was the first by a state to put in place new barriers to eviction after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Biden administration’s moratorium.” (New York Daily News

New York state moved last week to extend sweeping protections against evictions into next year in a move that was among the first by a state to put in place new barriers to eviction after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Biden Administration’s moratorium.

However, there was skepticism in both California and Illinois—two states with many at-risk tenants—that their own local eviction bans could be extended once they expire (on September 30, 2021, and September 18, 2021, respectively).

In California, the chair of the state assembly’s housing committee told CalMatters: “California’s eviction protections will almost certainly not be extended once they expire after September 30.”

Legal services sector adds 4,300 jobs in August, despite an overall slowdown 

“For the legal sector, the job gains from August actually improved upon the most recent two months, which saw 2,500 jobs added in June and 2,900 added in July, per seasonally adjusted figures.” (Law360

The legal sector added 4,300 jobs in August according to preliminary data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week. The U.S. as a whole added just 235,000 new jobs last month, a notable decline from the more than one million that were added in July.

There are now 1,141,200 people employed in the legal services sector, a jump of 2.7 percent from the same month last year. Still, there are around 20,000 fewer people working in legal jobs than at the sector’s peak employment rate in February 2020.

Several BigLaw firms may delay their office reopening until 2022 

“Some firms haven’t committed to a date at all, but have told employees that they’ll provide 30 days’ notice before setting a date. Scant few firms have already committed to keeping their offices closed for a full return until January 2022.” (Above The Law

Office returns that were scheduled for the end of this month are in doubt, and many firms are hedging their bets and refraining from stating a firm date for a full office reopening.

Many AmLaw 200 firms are still scheduled to re-open their offices in September or October, according to reporting by The American Lawyer. However, there’s widespread skepticism about those dates especially as high-profile names in other sectors have begun to announce delays to their re-opening plans.

New dating app launches for lawyers and those who want to meet them 

“The app is available around the world, including in the United States, according to Law.com. There is no cost to sign up, but those who want additional features have to pay about $7 per month.” (ABA Journal

A new dating app called Lawyr is being launched with the objective of connecting people in the legal community with each other or with those interested in meeting them. It’s the brainchild of Matthew Rhodes, a former BigLaw attorney who created the British legal gossip website RollOnFriday.

To find potential matches, users can apply filters such as age, distance, gender, legal position and practice area. Matches can chat within the app. The only restriction, said co-developer James Dennison in the press release, “is that one-half of the match has to be in the legal profession, so nonlawyers can’t search for other nonlawyers.”

Richard Heinrich

Richard Heinrich

Richard is Vice President of Sales and Marketing at InfoTrack. He has worked with law firms for more than a decade to advise on adapting to regulatory and technological change. He writes about the courts, civil procedure, and developing trends that may affect law firm operations.