Boston Court Reporting Firms

Boston court reporters are helping law firms meet emerging challenges.

Boston court reporters are helping law firms meet emerging challenges.

Today’s legal professionals need every edge as they take on the complex cases that have become staples in today’s legal system. More cases, more clients, crowded court dockets, and less time have all become the norm for today’s attorneys, and they need technology to help them work at their highest level.

Boston court reporters can help lawyers who want to maximize their time and talents. These court reporting professionals offer all of the tools that today’s busy legal professionals need as they guide their cases from preparation to presentation in the courtroom.

Connectivity has enhanced our lives in many ways, and it has changed the way people work in many fields. New tools like videoconferencing, realtime reporting, and online repositories take advantage of connectivity as the cornerstone of a new way of working that can alleviate travel burdens and help lawyers work more effectively.

Even with all of the technology available, Massachusetts court reporters remain the reliable source for accurate and timely court reporting and transcripts that are crucial to attorneys’ work every day. These reporting professionals have also now evolved to bring innovative ideas and new technology into the work of legal professionals both in the area and across the country.

Summit Court Reporting Indispensable in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Summit Court Reporting Indispensable in Pennsylvania and New Jersey

Summit Court Reporting is an important asset for today’s law firms.

More and more lawyers are taking on cases that present new challenges. These lawyers are working to enhance the way they work by partnering with top Philadelphia court reporters, and Summit Court Reporting is the leader in providing the services necessary for today’s legal work.

Summit provides all of the important services that today’s attorneys need throughout all phases of their casework. Indexing, online repositories, and courtroom presentation can all help lawyers make an impact in different ways.

For attorneys who need to expand their reach and eliminate the time and expense of travel, New Jersey court reporting firms can also provide videoconferencing that can be applied to many arras of legal work. Attorneys can consult with co-counsel or even depose a witness over a secure connection.

Summit has worked over the years to meet the changing needs of attorneys in an evolving legal field. The firm has worked to bring new and innovative technologies to legal work that allow the lawyer to better utilize their time and talents.

Summit Reporting also provides all of the accurate transcription and other services that are crucial to legal work every day. In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, these professionals are the leaders in helping lawyers serve their clients more effectively.

Having Family Build Your Conference Room Furniture

Having Family Build Your Conference Room Furniture

New conference room furniture at Carol Nygard & Associates Deposition Reporters

Operating a deposition reporting firm requires a great deal of infrastructure in order to create the best possible experience for clients. While the most important part of what we do involves creating an easily accessible and accurate transcript of proceedings, client comfort and aesthetics are also very important to us.

We recently opened a new office in Walnut Creek, California and decided that we would like custom-built conference tables to match the sea and scuba diving décor throughout the office. After finding out that custom conference room tables like the ones we wanted would cost tens of thousands of dollars each, we found another solution: an employee who also happens to be family.

We enlisted the assistance of John Nygard, who happens to be both handy and creative. Exploiting family labor in projects like these is a real money-saver if you are lucky enough to have a family member willing and able to take on this type of project. A table that would normally cost tens of thousands of dollars can instead be created for the cost of supplies and the long list of future favors you may owe the family member doing the labor.

Of course, there are potential hazards to having a non-professional creating your conference tables. The first frame for our first table was too large to fit in the elevator or up the stairs of our office building. Then while waiting to try to break it down in the parking lot to be moved upstairs, a woman ran over it with her car and ruined it. A different table with a concrete top required additional painting and polishing the night before our big opening. John stayed up until 6 am to have it ready in time for our first deposition in that room. What happened after that? The deposition cancelled.

In the end, building our own custom conference room tables allowed us to create the office we wanted. Our clients love the tables and ask about how we did it. You too can do it if you have an idea and a handy relative who also happens to be an employee. Now our biggest worry is that he’s going to start moonlighting as a builder of custom conference room tables.

Scott Nygard
Carol Nygard & Associates Deposition Reporters
www.sacramentocourtreporter.com

Greening Your Legal Practice

By Carter E. Strang

Greening Your Legal Practice

What are you doing to ‘green’ your legal practice?

Economist Barbara Ward said “[o]ur only choice, whatever our dogma, is to protect the Earth. This is our common progress or our common ruin. There is nothing in between.”

It is incumbent upon attorneys to help protect the earth because we are part of the problem: The typical attorney uses between 20,000 and 100,000 sheets of copy paper alone per year, much of it wastefully, resulting in environmental harm and unnecessary expense.

However, something as simple as resetting printers to print documents double sided results in significantly less waste as well as cost savings. One firm that followed this practice reduced its paper use by 1,760,135 sheets, which saved 150 trees and 61,604 gallons of water and prevented the release of 97 tons of CO2 emissions. It also resulted in a yearly savings of over $13,000, a true “win-win” for the firm and the environment.

Discussed in this article are practical steps attorneys, their firms, corporate and government law departments, legal non-profits, and other law organizations (“firms/offices”) can take to “green” their practices by reducing office waste and costs.

Bar Association Programs

An ideal way to green your law firm/office is to take advantage of an existing bar association program. Various programs exist at the national, state and local bar levels, including the ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge and Massachusetts Bar Association Lawyers Eco-Challenge.

Participation in a local (municipal or county) bar association green program is particularly advantageous because of the enhanced ability to work closely with bar staff and local attorneys in a way that enhances the local community. One such program, offered through the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, is profiled below.

Should participation in a bar association program not be practical, your firm/office can still implement any of the bar or individual firm/office green initiatives discussed in this article.

Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Green Initiative

Launched in 2008, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Green Initiative (CMBA/GIP) may well be the most comprehensive local bar program of its type in the United States.

The CMBA/GIP is coordinated by its Green Initiative Committee, composed of a broad cross section of bar association members employed at law firms/offices, as well as non-lawyer affiliates (e.g., court reporting firms). The core mission of the Committee is to promote sustainable environmental practices at law firms/offices.

The CMBA/GIP capstone is the Green Certification Program which certifies law firms/offices which adopt environmentally responsible practices. Just shy of 50 Cleveland area firms/offices are now certified. The CMBA Green Certification criteria include firm/office recycling, responsible paper use, and energy saving efforts. The criteria can be found at http://www.clemetrobar.org/Green/.

Recently, CMBA added a Green+ Certification level for those firms/offices that demonstrate a commitment to the environment above and beyond that required for basic certification. Green Certified firms/offices proudly display the “CMBA Green Certified” or “CMBA Green Certified+” logo on their websites and other marketing materials.

Each year, a law firm/office that has adopted new and innovative green practices is chosen to receive the CMBA Green Innovation Award – an award made of 100% recycled materials.

The CMBA Green Committee also holds an annual “Greener Way to Work Day.”   On that day, all bar association members and affiliates are encouraged to take green commutes to work (public transportation, carpooling, biking, etc.). A luncheon program is held to honor those who are green certified and to present the annual Green Innovation Award.

The program includes participation by green vendors (e.g., recycling companies) which are provided booths in return for financial support for the luncheon. Local governmental entities have embraced the event, including the Regional Transportation Association, which provides discounted mass transit vouchers.

The CMBA Green Initiative Committee also created a Carbon Footprint Calculator for legal services organizations, which can be used to determine the carbon footprint per hour of legal services rendered.   The CMBA published the Calculator along with other useful information – including recycling information – in the bar journal and posted it on the Committee website.

The Green Initiative Committee has also partnered with local organizations and companies to promote green activities. One such effort is its partnership with OneCommunity and RET 3 Job Corporation to reduce a significant environmental hazard – e-waste. Their Green Computing program refurbishes computers for donation to local urban schools, reducing the “digital divide” between the quality and quantity of computers used in wealthy and impoverished school systems. What cannot be fixed is responsibly recycled, with nothing going to landfills.

The CMBA promoted the Green Computing program by encouraging local law firms/offices to donate their unwanted computers – and even assisted in collecting them.

Firm/Office Green Initiatives

Law firms and offices are required – as part of the CMBA Green Certification Program – to create their own green committees to implement the CMBA certification requirements and serve as a liaison to the CMBA Green Initiative Committee.

The firm/office green committees have served as incubators of sustainable office practices which go beyond the CMBA certification requirements and are worthy of duplication by other firms/offices. Below are some examples of firm/office initiatives.

  • Earth Day programs, featuring speakers, green vendors, raffles, and prizes for those that bicycle, car pool, or take public transportation to work that day. One law firm featured local grown/organic wine and appetizers at its program.
  • Bicycle clubs that promote recreational bicycling and the use of bicycling as transportation to work. One law firm arranged for the free use of showers for its participants.
  • Green programs in collaboration with other tenants of the same office building and the building owner. One firm’s efforts led to a building-wide recycling program and a green fair in the building lobby.
  • Screen saver modes for firm/office computers that remind personnel to turn off their computers at the end of the day.
  • Compost programs for coffee grounds and leftover office food.
  • Discontinuance of disposable cups and water bottles.
  • Adoption of a “single stream” waste handling program wherein all non-food office waste is put in the same container and is separated later by the waste handling company.
  • Green “give aways,” such as a reusable grocery bags/totes with the firm/office logo, a BPA-free water bottle, a solar calculator or flashlight made from recycled materials, etc.), along with information about the beneficial impact of their use.
  • Green newsletters and websites that include profiles of green activities and committee members, discussion of green practices in the home, and interactive postings. One firm posted a “freeboard” where unwanted personal items are offered at no cost for anyone that wants them (bikes, furniture, etc.), reducing solid waste disposal. The same firm also had an interactive posting site for ride sharing.
  • Workplace contests that promote green practices.
  • Educational environmental DVDs using firm/office personnel. One firm created a series of DVDs that promoted recycling and reductions in energy use both at the office and at home. The DVDs utilized firm personnel as actors in humorous but thought-provoking skits. The DVDs were shown at firm functions and posted on the firm website.
  • Merging “wellness” health initiatives with green initiatives, such as firm support of a local bike ride for charity, resulting in fewer visits to the doctor and possibly lower firm/office insurance premiums.
  • Reusing/repurposing/recycling litigation/trial binders.   One firm instituted a program to reuse as many binders as possible, repurpose those not suitable for reuse by sending them to local urban schools, and recycle those no longer in a condition for use by anyone.

A suggested “best practice” for a law firm/office green committee is to include representatives from each occupational group (partners, associates, of counsel, paralegals, IT personnel, and legal secretaries). Staff members in particular appreciate being included in a decision-making part of the firm. If your firm/office has multiple offices, include representatives from each office on the committee and conduct meetings via video conferencing.

Finally, remember that keeping your committee events fun and interesting will increase interest and participation.

Conclusion

In light of our recent (April 22) celebration of Earth Day, consider it to be a fitting time to green your firm/office and become part of “our common progress” rather than our “common ruin.” Adopting even just a few of the ideas discussed above will help protect the earth and improve your firm’s bottom line as well.

Carter E. Strang is a partner in the Cleveland offices of Tucker Ellis LLP. He is a member of the DRI Toxic Tort & Environmental Law Section and is listed in the Top Rated Lawyers Guide to Energy, Environmental and Natural Resources Law. He is Immediate Past President of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and a past president of the Federal Bar Association, Northern District of Ohio Chapter. He founded the CMBA Green Initiative, served as chair of its Green Initiative Committee, and currently serves as a member. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Tucker Ellis Green Initiative Committee, upon which he also serves. The firm received the CMBA Green Innovation Award and is CMBA Green+ Certified.

Export Control Reform: Where Are We Now?

by Jon P. Yormick and Mark J. Sundahl

 

Export Control Reform: Where Are We Now?

New regulations involving the export of ‘dual use’ items are taking hold.

Five years have passed since the Obama Administration launched the Export Control Reform Initiative (ECR) in 2009.   This initiative was undertaken to remedy the complexity, ambiguity, and occasional absurdity of the existing regulations governing the export of military and dual-use items (i.e., items that have a civilian as well as a military application). While significant progress has been made in reforming this critical area of law, the project is not yet complete.

The primary thrust of the ECR effort is to move less sensitive items and technologies from the United States Munitions List (USML) to the Commerce Control List (CCL). Items on the USML are subject to the strict controls of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) which, with few exceptions, require a license from the U.S. Department of State’s Directorate of Defense Trade Control (DDTC) prior to the export of the listed items (known as “defense articles”). Those items and technologies that are transferred to the CCL will be subject to less strict controls of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) which regulate the export of dual-use commodities and technologies.

The other goal of the ECR is to transform the USML into a “positive” list, i.e.,a list that describes the controlled defense articles and technologies with specificity in order to enable companies to more easily determine when their products are subject to the ITAR. Unlike the CCL (which is a positive list), the descriptions of items on the USML have been notoriously broad. As a result, a manufacturer’s product may fall within the scope of the ITAR even if the item has no inherent military application. For example, prior to the ECR, all parts and components that were “designed” or “modified” for incorporation into a controlled item were subject to ITAR control. This was true even if the part taken by itself had no inherent military application, such as a screw that had been painted “army green” for use in a tank. This overly broad language of the USML has required a multitude of lower-tier manufacturers to be regulated under the ITAR with its annual registration requirement (even if the manufacturer does not export or only had a single transaction involving a defense article or technology), licensing mandates, and threats of severe penalties – civil, criminal, and debarment.

The proposed revisions to the ITAR (and those already in effect) fix this problem to a large extent by describing with specificity those items that are subject to the ITAR. Blanket categories, such as “spacecraft,” have been replaced by lists of technology with clear specifications that attempt to include only those items that are of true military value – and which therefore deserve the strict controls of the ITAR. Perhaps most importantly, the number of parts and components that are controlled has been significantly reduced and now generally exclude those parts that have no inherent military or intelligence applications. This has been achieved by subjecting to the ITAR only those parts and components that have been “specially designed” for use in a defense article. The new definition of “specially designed” excludes any fasteners (nuts, bolts, screws, etc.), as well as any part that has performance specifications equivalent to an item regulated under the lower tier of export controls of the EAR. It also sets up a “catch and release” structure so that articles and technologies that are initial caught under the new “specially designed” may nonetheless be “released” from the jurisdiction of the ITAR if the item is not specifically listed on the USML.

At the outset of the discussion of the ECR, there was hope for the eventual unification of the two regimes. If this is accomplished, we will have a single list of controlled items, rather than the existing bifurcated system based on the USML and the CCL, and this single list of items would be subject to a single set of regulations administered by one agency. At this point, a unitary “one-stop shop” approach to export controls is not likely to evolve within the near future. This goal may be realized in the next wave of reforms, but the current project will be restricted to the transfer of items from the USML to the CCL and the transformation of the USML to a positive list.

ECR Progress to Date

Last April, in these pages of the CMBJ, we wrote that the initial noticeable steps of the ECR had occurred in early March. At that time, we explained that the Administration had issued its first “38(f) notice” to Congress regarding USML Category VIII (Aircraft and Associated Equipment) and the newly established Category XIX (Gas Turbine Engines and Associated Equipment) and that the first transfer of items from the USML to the CCL would likely occur in October 2013. Despite a federal government shutdown last October, ECR forged ahead with the first transfers effective on October 15, 2013.

Since then, the Department of Commerce and the Department of State have been and continue to be engaged in transferring appropriate items on the USML to the CCL pursuant to the “38(f) process” as provided under Section 38(f) of the Arms Export Control Act which requires the President to periodically review the USML ‘‘to determine what items, if any, no longer warrant export controls under’’ the ITAR. Items moved to the CCL are now and will continue to be grouped under the new “600 Series” category that will also contain certain significant military items that are already on the CCL.

So how far along are we in this process? The process has moved forward methodically through the review and revision of each category of the USML. The amendments to the following categories have already gone into effect: Category VI (Surface Vessels of War and Special Naval Equipment), Category VII (Ground Vehicles), Category VIII (Aircraft and Related Articles), Category XIII (Materials and Miscellaneous Articles), Category XVII (Classified Articles, Technical Data and Defense Services Not Otherwise Enumerated), Category XX (Submersible Vessels and Related Articles), and Category XXI (Articles, Technical Data and Defense Services Not Otherwise Enumerated).

Amendments with respect to other categories go into effect in a few short months on July 1: Category IV (Launch Vehicles, Guided Missiles, Ballistic Missiles, Rockets, Torpedoes, Bombs, and Mines), Category V (Explosives and Energetic Materials, Propellant, Incendiary Agents, and Their Constituents), Category IX (Military Training Equipment), Category X (Personal Protective Equipment), and Category XVI (Nuclear Weapon, Design, and Testing Related Articles).

We are still awaiting the publication of final rules with respect to two categories of the USML for which proposed rules have been published: Category XI (Military Electronics) and Category XV (Spacecraft Systems and Associated Equipment). The proposed changes to Category XV have been particularly momentous — and generated the greatest volume of public comments.   On May 24, 2013, the DDTC issued proposed rules that will transfer (for the most part) all but the most sensitive space technology to the CCL, thus restoring the appropriate level of control to civil space systems that existed prior to an unauthorized disclosure of controlled technology resulting from a 1996 failed launch of a U.S. satellite from China. Those items that would remain on the USML include satellites and spacecraft with significant military value, such as the ability to detect nuclear detonation, track missiles, destroy other satellites, or strike targets on Earth. However, some aspects of the proposed rule remain controversial, such as the retention on the USML of any hosted payload that is funded by the U.S. Department of Defense (regardless of the payload’s capabilities), as well as any “man-rated” spacecraft, even if such spacecraft (such as Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo) has no military application. The continuing debate over these issues could delay the issuance of a final rule for Category XV into next year.

As we also stated last year, companies that manufacture or export defense articles that are currently subject to the ITAR, but will be transferred to the CCL later this year will face a lighter regulatory compliance burden. Generally, although a license will still be required for items transferred to the CCL’s new “600 Series” category (unless the item is being exported to Canada), a number of license exceptions may permit export without a license. Of particular significance is License Exception Strategic Trade Authorization (STA). Under specific circumstances and upon meeting certain EAR requirements, this license exception is available when products or technologies are exported to a NATO country and to those located in other allied countries, such as Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea. If a license is required, the on-line licensing process under the Department of Commerce regulations are less complicated.

ECR is here. Companies that have not yet reviewed the jurisdiction (USML v. CCL) under which their products and technologies are governed under ECR cannot afford to wait any longer to determine how ECR affects their export compliance processes and procedures, and their customer relations.

http://www.yormicklaw.com/

Good, Better Best: Never Let It Rest

By Beth Hill

GOOD, BETTER, BEST, NEVER LET IT REST

Can you visualize where your law firm will be in five years?

A quote from George Burns says it best. “Get your good better and your better best.” This is good advice because there is no time to rest on one’s laurels. As paralegals, we are responsible for our own professional growth and career development. It is not up to our employers to nurture our knowledge. We must each take the tactical steps necessary to ensure continued growth.

The legal profession is on a course of constant change. Law firms, in particular, used to be able to count on client loyalty and a sizable retainer from clients who regularly provided the firm with work, which in turn helped to reduce certain costs, such as marketing costs. Today, however, clients shop around and demand top legal services at reduced costs. They can often change counsel on a case by case bases. In today’s uncertain market, it has become increasingly important for paralegals to develop a strategic plan to keep their careers on the correct paths.

How will your job be different in five years? What will happen with the firm for which you work? We really don’t know what the future holds, but what we do know is that change is constant. Succeeding in a demanding, changing workplace requires a strategic career plan. Employers want to retain employees who provide the best value. Look at yourself as a business with a product to sell, and create a strategy for marketing your work-place value. You can employ a strategic process of improving your worth and setting new goals for your career path.

How do we keep that competitive edge? Below are some important steps you can take today to furture-proof your career.

Remain Tech-Savey

The skills you have today may not be sufficient for tomorrow. Much of the change today involves new technology. Technological skills are some of the most sought after skills in the present legal market. You will most likely find yourself at high risk of losing your job if you are without the technological understanding and ability. Paralegals must make themselves proficient with a growing array of word processing, spreadsheet, telecommunications, database, presentation and legal research software. Force yourself to keep your technical skills current.

Knowledge Is The Key

Learn all you can in the area of law in which you work in to set yourself apart. Distinguish yourself with your knowledge. Invest in additional education; read books and magazines; take webinars; and attend seminars and workshops. Determine what you need to know and learn; and work to overhaul your professional image. Participate in professional development; become a member of your local paralegal association which promotes professionalism, ethics and eduction for its members. Becoming a valuable paralegal involves expense, tuition, time and effort. A little investment of your own funds and time will pay lasting dividends for years to come. Pay for additional courses and take exams such as the PACE to validate your skill set and knowledge.

Cross Training

While it’s important to know all you can about the area of law in which you currently work, it is just as important to realize that in a down-economy, the type of work you do may need to shift to another area in the firm. For example, real estate work may have been plentiful in the past, but today, bankruptcy, collections and foreclosures have increased, and your help may be needed in those areas. If you can demonstrate your knowledge and willingness to make the change, you are ahead of the game.

Develop Transferrable Skills

Continue to work on developing transferable skills that are universally sought by employers. Leadership, communication, innovation, stress management, and interpersonal skills are fundamental requirements.

Create A Success Journal

This is important to think about when you are not looking for a job. Be proactive and take inventory of what you do well. Track you duties, projects and results.

Develop Resilience

B ecuause we don’t know what the future holds, setbacks are inevitable. Those who will emerge successful are the ones with the ability to bounce back. We have to develop our resilience skillsand use that resilience to meet the challenges that have become a regular part of our work. Resilience is your capacity to deal with stress, aversity and uncertainty. When we practice resilience, we are in a better position to adapt to ongoing changes.

Be Proactive

Let’s face it: some attorneys do not utilize paralegals effectively. They just do not know what type of work to give paralegals. Take the initiative and seek out substantive work. Know all you need to know and understand about the area of law in which you work. This in turn will demonstrate your abilities, and the profitability for the firm will increase. Effective paralegal utilization equals increased profitability. Avoid limits on the scope of your position. Seek new assignments and challenges. Find a niche area of expertise and become that go-to person.

Communication

You cannot underestimate the importance of communication with the clients you serve. It is fundamental to the practice of law. Paralegals serve as an important liaison between clients, experts, vendors and other legal professionals. Keep communication with clients a top priority. Return calls promptly and keep clients updated on their cases. Happy clients also make happy bosses.

Work With Passion

Be passionate about your work and you will have the greatest chance of success. I believe paralegals are passionate people We believe in what we do, and we believe that our work makes a difference in the lives of others. It is that very passion that drives us to be the best that we can be. When we work with passion, we work harder, have more energy, get more creative and most of all we inspire others who work along side us.

With the New Year well underway, which promises to be filled with challenges and uncertainties, now is the time to focus on your personal strategic plan to future prof your career. As Judge Judy accurately declares, “The time to change was yesterday; the time to wake up is now.”

Beth Hill has been a paralegal for 26 years specializing in Estate Administration, Estate Planning, Tursts an Trust Administration. She is currently employed at the law firm of Burt, Blee, Dixon, Sutton & Bloom, LLP in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She currently serves as the Vice President and Secondary Representative of the Northeast Indiana Paralegal Association. She can be reached as hill@burtblee.com

What Interns Do May Determine What They Are Due

By Monica Levine Lacks

What Interns Do May Determine What They Are Due

What are interns doing in your business?

For college students, summer often means the temporary retirement of books and backpacks, and the chance to “play grown-up” with a resume-building internship. And for the businesses and institutions who retain and train these future “grown-ups,” summer may bring an opportunity to utilize low-cost or no-cost labor to accomplish outstanding tasks, while grooming potential members of their future workforce. Or maybe not. Lawsuits challenging the legality of unpaid and “underpaid” internships under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and a six-factor test issued by the U.S. Department of Labor, raise questions as to whether interns must be paid in accordance with U.S. wage and hour laws, and their state equivalents (in Ohio, R.C. 4111.01 et seq). Among the factors that may present the greatest hurdle for employers are that the internship – which must be “similar to training which would be given in an educational environment” – also be “for the benefit of the intern” and that that the employer derive “no immediate advantage” from the intern’s activities.

These and other factors have formed the basis for a number of class actions against employers utilizing summer and longer-term interns. In April 2010, the U.S. Wage and Hour Division published Fact Sheet No. 71, articulating six factors to help “for-profit” sector employers determine whether interns must be paid under the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The criteria include:

  1. That the internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship;
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for time spent in the internship

To show that an employment relationship does not exist (and that the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime requirements do not apply to the intern), all six of the factors must be met. Notably, the Wage and Hour Division has pointed out that the requirements do not apply to internships in the public sector and for non-profit charitable organizations.
Granting in part the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, and conditionally certifying a class of plaintiffs under the FLSA, the United States District Court in Glatt v. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Inc., S.D.N.Y. No. 11-06784, 6/11/13, rejected the employer’s position that its unpaid interns met the six-factor test. As a result, the court found that two interns working on the set of the movie “Black Swan” were misclassified as unpaid interns and were entitled to damages under the FLSA and its New York state equivalent. As to the first factor, the court emphasized that, while classroom training is not a prerequisite, “internships must provide something beyond on-the-job training that employees receive.” In Glatt, the subject interns “did not acquire any new skills aside from those specific to the [the employer’s] back office, such as how it watermarked scripts or how the photocopier or coffee maker operated.” Addressing the second factor, the “benefit of the intern,” the court pointed out that while the plaintiffs received some benefits from their internships, such as resume listings, job references, and an understanding of how a production office works, those benefits were “incidental” to working in the office like any other employee. Because the employer received the benefits of their unpaid work, which would otherwise have required paid employees, the employer, not he plaintiffs, primarily benefited from the relationship.

The court found that the third factor – regarding the displacement of regular employees – was not met because the interns performed administrative tasks that might otherwise have been done by paid employees, such as reconciling invoices, drafting cover letters, organizing file cabinets, making photocopies, and running errands. For these reasons, the employer obtained an immediate advantage from the interns’ work (the fourth factor). The fifth factor – that the interns knew they were not entitled to a job at the end of the internship – was satisfied by the employer.

The undisputed fact that the interns knew they would not be paid (the sixth factor) may be of particular interest to employers. The court observed that this fact added little, “because the FLSA does not allow employees to waive their entitlement to wages.” In short, an understanding between the employer and the intern that the internship is unpaid will afford an employer little if any protection.

The Glatt court distinguished the facts before it from the “trainee” exception established in Walling v. Portland Terminal Co., 330 U.S. 148 (1947). In Walling, the United States Supreme Court held that “trainees” attending a week-long course for prospective railroad breakmen were not employees covered by the FLSA. The program in that case was used purely as a training device for the trainees’ benefit; did not expedite company business; and occasionally impeded it. Accepting the “unchallenged findings” that the railroads obtained no “immediate advantage” from the trainees’ work, the Supreme Court concluded that they were not employees under the FLSA. Walling, 330 U.S. at 153.

In November 2013, the Glatt defendants’ interlocutory appeal of the trial court’s summary judgment order was certified by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Significantly, in February 2014, the court of Appeals denied appellants’ motion to stay pending appeal the district court’s ordering permitting issuance of notice to putative class members, creating further challenges and costs for the appellants. While the district court’s conclusions remain subject to change, its findings suggest that employers will be closely scrutinized under the six factor test regardless.

Such was the case in the Northern District of New York, where another putative class of interns sought damages under the FLSA and its New York equivalent. The plaintiff in Kozik v. Hamilton College, C.A. No. 6:12-cv-1870 (LEK/TWD), brought an FLSA action alleging that interns in Hamilton College’s athletic department were working long hours – sometimes 80 or more hours per week – with the college’s varsity sports programs, performing the same jobs as fully paid assistant coaches. The interns, who were not students at the college, alleged that they received flat pay at monthly or other intervals at a rate well below minimum wage and overtime provisions. During their “in season” varsity sports, interns allegedly were required to travel with their assigned teams, often working ten hours or longer at a time. During the off-season, they were required to perform “game management duties” (arguably enabling the college to avoid hiring workers for games), as well as participating in recruiting activities and showcases and camps. The lead plaintiff maintained that the interns’ salaries of $1100 per month or $275 per week resulted in an effective hourly wage of as little as $2.60 in some weeks, and that they never received overtime pay. Kozik settled in January 2014, while the plaintiff’s motion for conditional collective action certification was pending, and four months before trial.

A number of other lawsuits have been brought by putative classes of interns – all alleging that they were unpaid or underpaid in violation of the FLSA. While the litigation stems primarily from the state of New York, the federal coverage of the FLSA potentially exposes employers nationwide to litigation and potential damages resulting from alleged misclassification of interns. Employers – many of whom seek to create relationships of mutual benefit by hiring student interns for the summer or longer terms – are well advised to scrutinize those arrangements to determine their wage and hour obligations, if any, under the FLSA and their analogous state laws.

Monica Levine Lacks is a Cleveland attorney. She has an extensive background in labor and employment law, as well as ERISA denial of benefits litigation. She annually participates in the CMBA Bench-Bar Run for Justice. She has been a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association since 2006. Monica can be contacted at monica.lacks@gmail.com

**Printed by permission of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association**

Attorneys Finding Their Edge with Texas Court Reporters

Attorneys Finding Their Edge with Texas Court Reporters

Technology can give today’s lawyers an advantage in their work.

Today’s legal professional needs every edge to perform in a demanding legal field. Attorneys are facing bigger client rosters and court dockets that are growing more crowded, and it is important for the lawyer to be able to perform at their very best. Texas court reporters are helping in this effort, by providing a number of new technologies that are revolutionizing the way attorneys work on their cases.

Travel can be a challenge for attorneys. Time spent on the road could be time spent working on cases, and that can be an issue in law firms of all sizes. For smaller firms, travel can also be a large expense. Videoconferencing allows attorneys to work from their firm and expand their reach anywhere in the country. It can be used to work with other attorneys, and it can also be used to conduct depositions remotely. Coupled with realtime reporting. Lawyers can now use this important tools to work with deponents and witnesses anywhere while saving money on travel.

Texas court reporting firms also have a number of ways to serve the traveling attorney. Conference rooms and online repositories can offer a place to work and a place to store documents. This makes the lawyer more effective and make travel far more productive.
These new tools are just a few of the innovations offered by today’s top court reporting companies. They can help enhance the work of today’s attorney so that they can focus their efforts on better serving their clients.

New Technology from Birmingham Court Reporters

 

New Technology from Birmingham Court Reporters

New technology from Birmingham court reporters gives attorneys new tools in their casework.

Birmingham court reporters are prepared to bring new technology to legal professionals that enable them to work with greater efficiency. This new technology can help eliminate some travel, make necessary travel more productive, and connect lawyers and their cases in new ways.

Connectivity is one of the cornerstones of the new innovations that Alabama court reporters can bring to law practices. It is the engine behind videoconferencing and the streaming of video, audio, and data that can change the way the attorney approaches his or her cases.

Lawyers can now work with co-counsel over secure, broadcast connections and enhance collaborative work. Legal professionals can also work on shared documents, photos, videos, and graphics that are shared online in password protected portals.

This same technology can be applied when the attorney must depose a witness. Remote depositions that use videoconferencing can help eliminate some travel, and realtime reporting is another key element of this technology. From the mouth of the deponent to the reporter’s equipment to the lawyer’s laptop or tablet, testimony moves at the speed of light. This gives the legal professional an unprecedented level of immediacy to their work.

More legal professionals are seeing how the innovations provided by today’s court reporters can be a way to enhance the dogged work of attorneys on behalf of their clients. This new technology can enhance the firm’s work and bring cases into the 21st century.

Texas Court Reporters and Austin Court Reporters Helping Today’s Legal Professionals

Texas Court Reporters and Austin Court Reporters Helping Today’s Legal Professionals

In Texas, law firms are taking advantage of the experience of top court reporters.

Austin court reporters are the source for the innovative solutions to help today’s lawyers meet the challenges that their cases present. More and more firms are taking on cases that take them across the country, and being able to take advantage of connectivity and other tools is the key to allowing the law firm to expand its reach more effectively.

Videoconferencing is a revolutionary tool that can help attorneys work more efficiently, and it can be integrated into casework in a variety of ways. When attorneys work with co-counsel in firms across the country, they often need to connect to discuss their cases.

Videoconferencing brings legal professionals together through secure, broadcast-quality connections. It can also be used with other technology to collaboratively work on documents and view video, graphics, and other files.

When legal professionals need to conduct depositions, Texas court reporters can also use videoconferencing to bridge the distance between the attorney and the deponent. Video is a powerful way to assess the truthfulness of a witness, and with videoconferencing the lawyer can work as if they were at the deposition. They can also communicate with co-counsel over secure chat connections. This technology can also be used in conjunction with realtime reporting to give attorneys all of the tools they need to work more effectively.

Today’s legal work is stretching legal professionals in new ways. Court reporting firms are ready to help law firms meet the emerging challenges of today’s legal work by providing the experience and creativity that is a key to success.