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Courts & legal news weekly roundup

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 

  • Senate Judiciary Committee advances plans for cameras in courtrooms over judiciary’s objections 
  • National Law Journal publishes its annual ranking of the 500 largest law firms 
  • Judge slashes Roundup lawyers “far-reaching” fee request 
  • Civil Rules Committee seeks to strengthen expert witness requirements 
  • Biden Administration extends federal eviction ban through July 

Senate Judiciary Committee advances plans for cameras in courtrooms over judiciary’s objections 

“One of the bipartisan bills would let federal judges authorize the broadcast of proceedings in their courts. The second piece of legislation would require the Supreme Court to allow television coverage of its arguments.” (National Law Journal) 

Senators on the Judiciary Committee advanced a pair of bills on Thursday on the broadcasting of federal court proceedings over the objections of the federal judiciary’s administrative arm. 

Law.com explains: “The two bills, which would require the U.S. Supreme Court to allow television coverage of its arguments and to let federal judges authorize the broadcasting of proceedings in their courts, were introduced on a bipartisan basis.” 

Committee chairperson, Sen. Dick Durbin said at the start of the hearing that, while members of the different parties “may disagree on how the justices decide cases, I hope we can agree it’s healthy for our democracy for the American people to see the Supreme Court in action,” a point the ranking member, Sen. Chuck Grassley agreed with. 

National Law Journal publishes its annual ranking of the 500 largest law firms 

“Today, the National Law Journal unleashed its annual NLJ 500, a ranking of largest law firms in the United States covering the previous calendar year. If you’ve ever wondered about precise law firm headcounts, this is the ranking for you.” (Above The Law) 

The National Law Journal has published the latest iteration of its NLJ 500 ranking, which lists law firms in the United States in order of the number of lawyers they employ.  

For the first time since 2008, the total number of lawyers working at the country’s largest firms declined. Overall, there were 0.1% fewer attorneys vs. 2020, with associate roles hardest hit.  

New York remains the city with the largest population of Big Law lawyers, followed by Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston.  

Judge slashes Roundup lawyers “far-reaching” fee request 

“The lead attorneys in multidistrict litigation over allegations Monsanto Company‘s weed killer Roundup caused cancer overstepped when requesting an 8.25% holdback on all recoveries from the company, a California federal judge said.” (Bloomberg Law) 

A California federal judge has rejected a request from the attorneys who spearheaded the legal fight against the manufacturer of the weedkiller Roundup. Attorneys had asked for 8.25% of all plaintiffs’ recoveries in the multidistrict litigation over the product’s alleged cancer-causing properties. 

District Judge Vince Chhabria called the request “breathtaking.” In a 33-page ruling issued Monday, he said that the fact that the lawyers were requesting such a “far reaching” order shows that the system to compensate lawyers in large cases had become too unpredictable for courts to rely on.  

New rules, he said, were desperately in order. 

Civil Rules Committee seeks to strengthen expert witness requirements 

“A US courts committee is backing a proposed rule change that would tighten up standards for expert witnesses to get in front of juries, after major businesses complained that unscientific evidence was making its way into courtrooms” (Law360) 

The Advisory Committee on Civil Rules of the Federal Judiciary recently approved amendments to Fed. R. Evid. 702 to add additional wording. The rule contains the rubric intended to clarify how judges should decide whether parties chosen expert witnesses are strong enough to testify in front of a jury.  

The committee states in its accompanying notes that the change is explicitly to reject “many overly lenient judicial applications of Rule 702.” 

Biden Administration extends federal eviction ban through July 

“The Biden administration extended the federal ban on evictions that was set to expire at the end of June by a month. This is intended to be the final extension of the eviction moratorium, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which issued the order.” (CNN) 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, Rochelle Walensky, extended her agency’s ban on resident evictions on Thursday. The extension comes as vaccination rates slow, and the COVID-19 virus continues to linger. 

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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.