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Courts & legal news weekly roundup 

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This week’s highlights

  • Prices for consumer legal services flat in July; corporate legal prices up 0.5 percent
  • Fifth Circuit refuses to revive lawsuit after lawyer’s email snafu
  • New survey of multi-district litigation plaintiffs suggests flaws in mass tort system
  • ABA urges legal employers to be sensitive when designing back to work policies
  • BigLaw firms see strong Q2 results as demand for corporate legal services hits pre-COVID levels

Prices for consumer legal services flat in July; corporate legal prices up 0.5 percent

“The producer price index (PPI) for final demand, which measures changes in prices charged by domestic producers to suppliers and retailers, rose at the fastest annual pace since November 2010” (The Hill)

Prices charged for common consumer legal services did not change in July despite rapid consumer inflation in the wider economy. Overall, consumer legal prices have increased by only 0.6 percent since last July, whereas the overall prices have increased 5.4 percent.

The price of corporate legal services, on the other hand, continued its upward trajectory. Prices increased 0.5 percent in July vs. June, meaning that prices have increased a total of 3.3 percent since the middle of last year.

Fifth Circuit refuses to revive lawsuit after lawyer’s email snafu

“The Fifth Circuit refused to revive a personal injury suit by a Home Depot employee after finding that an email ‘glitch’ leading to his attorney’s failure to respond to a motion for summary judgment is a ‘cautionary tale for all attorneys’” (Law360)

A major retailer will avoid an employee’s personal injury lawsuit because the plaintiff’s lawyers missed a key deadline due to an email mix up, the Fifth Circuit affirmed, citing the incident as a “cautionary tale.”

Plaintiff, Kevin Rollins, was suing Home Depot after he sustained an on-the-job injury. Home Depot filed a motion for summary judgment. The notification of the filing was inadvertently filtered into a part of the lawyer’s inbox labelled “other,” instead of the main email inbox where other notifications had been received.

As a result, the deadline to respond to any motions was missed. The district court granted summary judgment, and later denied Rollins’ motion to alter the judgment.

New survey of multidistrict litigation plaintiffs suggests flaws in mass tort system

“A survey of female plaintiffs in multidistrict litigation has found that most were dissatisfied with their lawyers, most didn’t trust their lawyers to act in their best interest, and most were unhappy with lengthy litigation.” (ABA Journal)

The first-ever survey of litigants involved in multidistrict litigation in the federal courts has found widespread dissatisfaction with the process and with the lawyers involved. Among the 168 plaintiffs who has hired attorneys, about 65 percent were extremely or somewhat dissatisfied with their lawyer.

A recurring theme was a lack of contact by attorneys who took on a high volume of cases. “These lawyers took way too many cases, dumped them in a pile, and waited for a payout!” said one survey respondent. Said another, “Getting status updates is like pulling teeth!”

ABA urges legal employers to be sensitive when designing back to work policies

“Resolution 602 calls on legal employers that are instituting policies on the safe return to the workplace to also address the pandemic’s disproportionate impact in the legal profession on specific groups, such as people of color, women, caregivers, seniors and individuals with disabilities or who identify as LGBTQ+.” (ABA Journal)

The ABA’s House of Delegates has passed a resolution urging all legal employers to be sensitive to the post-pandemic needs of specific groups, including women and caregivers as they design their back to work policies.

The move follows recent surveys showing that the transition to remote work disproportionately impacted female lawyers with children and lawyers of color. In particular, women were more likely to report increased disruptions to work due to personal obligations and feeling overwhelmed by their responsibilities.

BigLaw firms see strong Q2 results as demand for corporate legal services hits pre-COVID levels

“Law firms that weathered the pandemic are seeing average demand and productivity levels return to their pre-pandemic normal, according to a Monday report from Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor Index, while some practices are outpacing even the heady days of 2019” (Reuters)

Peer Monitor, an economic tracking service provided by Reuters, tracked an overall 0.6 percent increase in demand for legal services and a 0.5 percent decrease in productivity between Q2 2021 and Q2 2019, the last pre-pandemic second quarter.

The increases stand out even more compared to the second quarter of last year, when coronavirus lockdowns were in full swing. Demand for legal services and productivity both increased by 7.3% between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021.

“We’re building off a very low baseline” for the year-over-year change, analyst William Josten said.

Author

  • 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.