Last week, in a landmark decision for LGBTQ rights, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act has protected workers for decades from wrongful termination by their employer based on a number of characteristics, including race and sex. However, protections pertaining to “sex” had not been inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. Such federal protection has been long sought after by the LGBTQ community.
There are lessons to be learned from COVID-19 that should provide the impetus for change to address some of the structural flaws in the way Big Law recruits and develops legal talent.
Any analysis must acknowledge that while it may be easy to make broad proclamations about the permanent changes to Big Law that will arise from COVID-19 and its aftermath, it is dangerous to do so. Traditionally, Big Law does not change quickly or permanently by way of seismic shifts. It changes cautiously and slowly, often only after a strong market leader breaks with the past to provide cover to the entire profession – and particularly when clients press for, or at least approve, of a new approach.
The coronavirus pandemic has pushed telecommuting and digitalization of offices into overdrive, with many companies now requiring employees to work remotely and most large cities ordering non-essential employees to stay at home. Where the option to video conference into a meeting was once the exception, it is now the rule. And where office workers could once rely on IT departments to monitor and support all of their technological needs, work from home employees must now be more proactive than ever in understanding and adapting to a new remote work culture. Working from home has added many new variables into companies’ cybersecurity platforms that IT professionals are struggling to keep up with and that cyber criminals are exploiting.
Among the chaos that is COVID-19, the practice of law has shifted from a professional office environment to at-home counseling. The change in the legal industry undoubtedly brings tension and uncertainty as lawyers grapple with maintaining a sense of normalcy during a global pandemic. When faced with new challenges resulting from the crisis mitigation efforts, we must continuously adapt to maintain our physical and mental health in highly limited circumstances.
While we’re hunkered down at home and attempting to manage our work and care for our families, now, more than ever, is the time that we must consider the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I appreciate that my company, Legal Innovators, places high importance on mental health and has shared resources and best practices for a positive state of wellbeing.
In this post, I'll share my perspective as a junior lawyer including the things that have worked well for me in terms of managing stress during these unprecedented times as well as several of my favorite resources and best practices.
As an African American woman, and first-generation college student, my initial goal in law school was to keep my head above water. Commonly, first-generation college students lack the cultural, social, and financial capital that allows them to navigate higher education spaces smoothly. Moreover, they are also overwhelmingly minorities. We often do not have the same level of resources and support as some majority counterparts, who benefit from previous family guidance. Unfortunately, I had little direction on how to navigate higher education spaces which made it difficult to focus both on my grades, as well as my career aspirations after graduation. Considering these pressures, I felt underprepared.
As leaders of a new company in the Alternative Legal Service Provider (“ALSP”) space, the news of a possible pandemic weighs heavily on our hearts and minds. Each day brings more news of cases of people contracting the COVID-19 virus, which is spreading at a rapid rate. The constant news flow has raised questions about business travel, meetings, interviews for new talent, and employees working from home, among other considerations.
Legal Innovators is a start-up company, so we are running hard adding new clients, raising capital and adding new talent to our business. We cannot afford a significant business interruption. However, what is of greater concern to us is the health of our team (both existing and future members), our clients, and the general public.
We thought in this moment, we would lead from the heart and head, listen to the medical professionals, and be as innovative as possible to run our business while protecting our teammates.
Toward that end, here are several legal considerations and practical tips for employers trying to develop a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Our team is very excited to announce new partnerships with eight new law schools. We now have partnerships with 11 schools in total. These additions are a pivotal part of our growth and recruitment strategy, especially as we interview candidates for the fall 2020 class of junior legal professionals.