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Weekly roundup: Court and legal news from May 28

Welcome to the weekly roundup of the latest news from the courts and the legal industry. Each week, we bring you a quick summary of significant developments, new trends, and interesting articles. 

This week’s highlights 

  • Texas: Judiciary warns backlog could last years without additional funding
  • 16 BigLaw firms have no black partners, including the firm ranked #1 for diversity
  • New York: Full staffing resumes in courts statewide 
  • Florida: Supreme Court rules remote lawyering from Florida not an ethics violation
  • Firm sued over failure to redact personal information in a federal filing 

Texas: Judiciary warns backlog could last years without additional funding 

“Top brass in the Texas judiciary are telling Austin lawmakers they should hire retired judges and continue virtual court sessions or run the risk of the pandemic case backlog lasting until 2026.” (Bloomberg Law) 

The Executive Director of Texas Judicial Council, David Slayton, has warned that, without additional resources, thousands of jury trials will remain pending. The average number of jury trials in the state is currently just four per week, down from an average of 186 per week in 2019. 

Slayton’s agency has requested an additional $6.7 million in funding from the state, the amount they believe is required to clear all the cases in the backlog. 

Diversity: 16 BigLaw firms have no Black partners, including the firm ranked #1 for diversity 

“Many law firms that ranked relatively well on the American Lawyer’s 2021 Diversity Scorecard have no Black partners, including an immigration law firm ranked No. 1 for diversity.” (The American Lawyer) 

The 2021 Diversity Scorecard, which records the number of minority attorneys at AmLaw200 and National Law Journal 250 law firms, has revealed a lack of diversity holding partnership positions. 

Overall, the survey found that the number of Black partners at the nation’s leading law firms rose from 2.1 to 2.2 percent. While 16 firms continue to have no Black partners, several did report that they have elevated attorneys since last year’s report was published.  

New York: Full staffing resumes in courts statewide 

“On Monday, May 24, 2021, all 16,000 members of New York State’s Judiciary returned to full staffing in all courthouses and other court facilities throughout New York State.” (NYCourts.gov) 

Fifteen months after first shutting down and moving most operations online, the New York state courts are re-opening. The return of staff to courthouses across the state does not mean business as usual, however.  

The state will retain mask mandates while inside court buildings, limit capacity in courtrooms, and continue to discourage physical attendance unless required. “The plan is to limit the number of people physically present in courthouses by relying on remote technology and virtual appearances” said the court system in a news release. 

Florida: Supreme Court rules remote lawyering from Florida not an ethics violation 

“In a ruling late last week, the Florida Supreme Court said an attorney living in Florida but barred in New Jersey and practicing for a New Jersey firm wasn’t violating any ethical conditions by doing so.” (Daily Business Review) 

A new ethics ruling from the Florida Supreme Court has experts asking whether floodgates are about to open for remote lawyering. The Court ruled that a New Jersey attorney, working for New Jersey clients but from Florida, wasn’t breaching any ethics rules by doing so. 

Commenting on the ruling, Ira Coleman—chairman at McDermott Will & Emery—said: “The importance of physical location has been shifting for a while, and the pandemic put this into overdrive. Being able to offer added flexibility to attorneys in where they can live and can practice is a good thing.” 

Firm sued over failure to redact personal information in a federal filing 

“A fashion model has filed a lawsuit alleging that Goldberg Segalla exposed her Social Security number and other personal information in a PACER filing.” (ABA Journal) 

A leading law firm is facing litigation after allegedly failing to correctly redact sensitive personal information from a federal court filing.  

The lawsuit alleges that Goldberg Segalla filed an exhibit, a model management agreement, that included the plaintiff’s Social Security Number, date of birth, and several other pieces of identifying information and that this unredacted version of the filing remained publicly accessible on the PACER website for almost a month. 

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.