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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

HOME, STRETCHED - The consensus among in-house lawyers seems to be that working remotely during a pandemic really bites. Part the reason for that has to do with the typical limitations, distractions and boundary issues inherent in working from home. But for legal department leaders, in particular, the other major frustrating factor is a lack of resources. Several in-house attorneys opened up to Phillip Bantz about the struggles of having to do even more with even less at a time when work and cost pressures are both mounting. One tech startup GC, for example, put in long hours on the job every day while self-quarantined in her bedroom with COVID-19. Another hoped to hire more staff for her legal department but was given contract management software as a consolation prize. PROTECTING THE JUDICIARY - In the wake of the fatal shooting at U.S. District Judge Esther Salas’ New Jersey home, which left her son dead and her husband in critical condition, the House appears poised to grant the DOJ’s first directly requested increase in appropriations for judicial protection in several years. But how feasible is stopping violence against federal judges? Charles Toutant posed that question to security experts, who said 100% prevention is impossible but vigilance can help to greatly reduce potential danger. For example, John Muffler, a retired U.S. marshal who ran the agency’s National Center for Judicial Security, said that while hostile phone calls and letters to a judge’s chambers rarely escalate to physical incidents, certain conduct, such as an aggrieved party driving past a judge’s house, can be a “pathway to violent behavior.” “Understanding that pathway behavior and being able to mitigate that is what we can do,” Muffler said.

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