CULTURE BY COERCION - Last week in this newsletter, we wrote that the office return has become law firm leaders’ white whale. Were we to continue that metaphor, we might say we’ve now reached the point in the story where Captain Ahab attempts to harpoon Moby Dick from his boat and becomes entangled in the harpoon line before being cast out to sea. As Law.com’s Andrew Maloney reports, law firms have had trouble enforcing office attendance policies in recent years. But with the labor market tightening and more personnel cuts likely, some have become more assertive by tying bonuses or job retention to in-person work. As recently as the second quarter of this year, firm leaders were more likely asking how they could entice transactional associates to work in-person with things like free lunches, said Michelle Fivel, a partner at recruiting firm Major, Lindsey & Africa. “Now it’s, ‘If you’re not coming in, there’s going to be consequences,’” said Fivel, who specializes in placing associates. “Whether that’s losing your job or maybe not getting bonuses, or maybe that carrot of just, ‘Hey, if you’re not around, you’re not developing.’” Fivel told Maloney she heard last week about a partner who said that lawyers who didn’t consistently show up to the office about three days a week “probably won’t be here too much longer.”
SPEAKING OUT - Amid legislation, Hollywood films and UN resolutions, plaintiffs firms are also getting involved in fighting against nondisclosure agreements in cases of sexual assault and harassment. Philadelphia-based personal injury litigation firms Laffey Bucci Kent and Missouri-based Monsees & Mayer on Friday filed a petition for damages against Kanakuk Ministries, the organization’s CEO Joe White and three other defendants, alleging fraud in the context of a settlement and nondisclosure agreement reached with a sexual-abuse victim. According to the complaint, Logan Yandell, now age 27, and his parents, were induced to sign a nondisclosure agreement following sexual abuse of their son by Kanakuk camp supervisor Peter Newman, who in 2010 was sentenced to two life terms, plus 30 years, in prison for multiple counts of child abuse. The court filing also alleges that the defendants failed to disclose the systemic nature of serial child abuse at summer camps run by Kanakuk Ministries. As Law.com’s Christine Schiffner reports, the filing could lead to similar complaints in the near future. “We’ve been in touch with scores of victims that have been in similar situations,” Laffey Bucci Kent founder Brian D. Kent told NLJ. “This was a calculated effort to prevent people from being able to speak about what happened to them.”
ON THE RADAR - Uber and Social Bicycles LLC were hit with a breach-of-contract lawsuit Wednesday in California Northern District Court. The court case, brought by Glassberg Pollak & Associates and Reynolds, Ridings, Vogt, & McCart on behalf of American Property Locators Inc. a/k/a APL Inc., accuses the defendants of failing to pay APL for its services in identifying over $15 million in unclaimed funds. Counsel have not yet appeared for the defendants. The case is 4:22-cv-07192, American Property Locators, Inc. v. Uber Technologies, Inc. et al. Stay up on the latest deals and litigation with the new Law.com Radar.
Stanford Law Pulls Out of US News Rankings, Joining 5 Other T14 Law Schools By Christine Charnosky