President Obama used the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28 to champion his administration's legal efforts to stop voter discrimination and reform the nation's criminal justice system. "Whether by challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote, or ensuring the scales of justice work equally for all and the justice system is not just a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails," Obama said, "it requires vigilance." The Justice Department is suing Texas over its voter-ID law and redistricting legislation.
THEY'RE NO. 2
Baker & McKenzie has lost its position as the world's top-grossing law firm, despite posting yet another record financial performance. Baker's gross revenues increased by 4.6 percent during the fiscal year that ended on June 30, to an all-time high of $2.42 billion. None­theless, after heading NLJ affiliate The American Lawyer's Global 100 revenue rankings for the past three years, Baker will place second in the 2013 survey to DLA Piper, which saw its revenue increase by 8.6 percent last year, to $2.44 billion.
LAW SCHOOL SOLD
The owners of South Carolina's for-profit Charleston School of Law announced a preliminary ­agreement to sell to The InfiLaw System, which operates the Charlotte School of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law and Phoenix School of Law. The parties did not disclose the sale price. The entities announced an agreement in late July under which InfiLaw would assume management of the law school.
NFL SETTLES CONCUSSION SUIT
The National Football League has settled a concussion lawsuit brought by former players for $765 million. Under orders from U.S. District Judge Anita Brody in Philadelphia to start mediation last month, the NFL and the former players who suffered from concussive injuries settled the dispute for $765 million plus attorney fees. Mediator Layn Phillips informed the court of the settlement days ahead of the September 3 deadline Brody had set for hearing the results of the mediation. "From the outset of this litigation, I have expressed my belief that the interests of all parties would be best served by a negotiated resolution of this case," Brody wrote.
SAME-SEX WIDOW INHERITS
The parents of a deceased Cozen O'Connor lawyer are appealing a trial court's decision to direct the benefits of her profit-sharing plan to her wife, Jennifer Tobits. Last month, citing the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in U.S. v. Windsor, U.S. District Judge C. Darnell Jones II in Philadelphia ruled there was "no doubt" that Tobits is the surviving spouse of Sarah Ellyn Farley. The couple married in Canada in 2006 and lived in Illinois, which recognized Tobits as Farley's surviving spouse since it declared her Farley's sole heir.
Women gave firms lower marks than men in areas ­including workload, partnerships, ­diversity and family-friendliness, in the annual Midlevel Associates Survey conducted by NLJ affiliate The American Lawyer. Men, for example, rated their firms higher than women on the issue of family-friendliness (3.95 versus 3.79 for women on a five-point scale). Female associates tended to place greater emphasis on having more time outside the office and a better work/life balance. Men, however, gave a higher score (3.40 versus 3.13 for women) to the importance of becoming a partner. The magazine queried third-, fourth- and fifth-year associates at the country's biggest law firms.
ATTORNEY FEES LIMITED
California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation restricting the award of attorney fees to employer-defendants in wage claim cases. Starting in January, employers that prevail in litigation will have to show that workers sued "in bad faith" over nonpayment of wages, benefits or pension contributions to secure attorney fees and costs. The same restriction will not apply to winning worker-plaintiffs.