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Courts & legal news weekly roundup  

This week’s highlights 

  • Survey finds worsening well-being for lawyers, especially among associates 
  • Supreme Court rejects bid to overturn CDC eviction moratorium 
  • California: Legislature passes budget with big increase in funding for the courts 
  • Illinois: Speedy trials to resume and social distancing rules to be relaxed  
  • Cybersecurity experts warn law firms’ return to the office could pose risks 

Survey finds worsening well-being for lawyers, especially among associates 

“Nearly half of lawyers responding to a Bloomberg Law survey said their well-being declined over the first quarter of this year—and the problem was even worse for junior lawyers.” (Bloomberg Law) 

Bloomberg’s annual Workload and Hours Survey, published Tuesday, found that despite hours worked being steady most attorneys reported lower wellbeing versus the prior year. The survey was conducted in April and May of this year. 

Respondents were more likely to say that they have experienced burnout in the past three months, and less likely to say that they are satisfied with their work than in previous years. These results contributed to almost half (49%) of all attorneys stating that their wellbeing had worsened in the past year. 

Supreme Court rejects bid to overturn CDC eviction moratorium 

“The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to lift a moratorium on evictions that had been imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Brett M. Kavanaugh in the majority.” (New York Times) 

The court gave no reasons for its ruling, which is typical when it acts on emergency applications. But Justice Kavanaugh issued a brief concurring opinion explaining that he had cast his vote reluctantly and had taken account of the impending expiration of the moratorium. 

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention exceeded its existing statutory authority by issuing a nationwide eviction moratorium,” Justice Kavanaugh wrote. “Because the C.D.C. plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks, on July 31, and because those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds, I vote at this time to deny the application” that had been filed by landlords, real estate companies and trade associations. 

California: Legislature passes budget with a big increase in funding for the courts 

“State lawmakers late Monday approved elements of a $262 billion budget package that restores $200 million in previously cut court funding and provides another $60 million to address backlogs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” (The Recorder) 

The California State Legislature has sent the annual budget to the Governor and included a significant funding boost for the state’s beleaguered courts. Court funding was cut back in last year’s budget as lawmakers grappled with the potential for a substantial reduction in revenue.  

That reduction never materialized—thanks to federal funds and additional tax revenues. As a result, the legislature has fully restored the cut funding and provided additional, one-off, funds to help courts to clear their civil and criminal backlogs. 

Illinois: Speedy trials to resume and social distancing rules to be relaxed 

“Beginning Oct. 1, criminal defendants in Illinois will once again be able to effectively invoke their right to a speedy trial, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered Wednesday.” (Chicago Tribune) 

The highest court in Illinois has ordered that speedy trials can resume by October 1, 2021. The move reverses last year’s order suspending rapid trials due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The court also released an order permitting local courts to end social distancing requirements at their discretion.  

Cybersecurity experts warn law firms’ return to the office could pose risks 

“Many large and midsize firms have been proactively controlling and monitoring employee devices for cyber threats. But a year working outside of the office left some law firms’ electronics unpatched and at potentially higher cyber risk.” (Legaltech News) 

As many law firms begin to encourage staff back to the office there is an increased risk of accidentally introducing malware, a cybersecurity expert has warned. The risk is heightened, the expert says because many law firms hastily deployed staff to remote working without proper procedures for managing law firm equipment.  

“The situation would be around them bringing in personal devices,” said David Wong, vice president of consulting at cybersecurity provider FireEye Inc. “If they bring in their personal devices and plug them into networks, if their system potentially has malware, they can possibly transmit [it].” 

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.