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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
LACK OF BANDWIDTH – If you thought “come back to the office because we don’t know how to manage you remotely” was poorly received corporate messaging, behold, a new low: “come back to the office because our tech is too outdated for you to work from home.” According to a survey by contract management software company ContractWorks, most in-house lawyers aren’t enthusiastic about returning to the office full time, but many legal departments have been slow to adopt the technology that would facilitate fully remote work. Despite 64% of the American lawyers reporting they don’t want to go back to the office on a full-time basis, 44% of survey respondents said they’ve already done so. Only 19% of the respondents work under a hybrid model. Thirty percent of respondents said lack of resources at their organization prevented them from adopting the technological tools that would allow them to fully work remotely. Twenty-seven percent of the surveyed lawyers pointed to budget constraints in their own departments, while another 29% said a lack of tech literacy was slowing adoption of new tools. “The results of our research may come as a wake-up call to legal department bosses, many of whom saw their teams remain in the office throughout the pandemic. Like most sectors, there is now a real appetite among in-house lawyers in the U.S. to be able to work from home for good,” Mark Rhodes, managing director of ContractWorks, told Law.com’s Jessica Mach.
THIRD-PARTY CRASHERS – Like malware and computer viruses themselves, the consequences of cyberbreaches have a way of spreading in unpredictable ways. As we explore in the latest Law.com Litigation Trendspotter column, a recent ransomware attack on third-party payroll and timekeeping software has led to several wage-and-hour class actions this week against everyone from PepsiCo to The Giant Company, alleging that the hack resulted in overtime pay violations for hourly workers. As of press time Tuesday evening, there had been five lawsuits surfaced by Law.com Radar in the past two days, all stemming from the December 2021 hack of timekeeping software vendor Kronos. All of the complaints were filed by either Houston-based Parmet PC, high-profile national plaintiffs firm Morgan & Morgan or both of those firms together in various federal courts around the country, and all of them allege that hourly employees were shorted on overtime pay as a result of the Kronos breach. While plenty has been written about potential cyber liability exposure for companies whose vendors are compromised, this latest crop of litigation shows how third-party cyberbreaches can also lead to other causes of action, such as labor & employment claims. I’m interested to hear from you. What are best practices for mitigating the risks posed by third-party vendor cyberbreaches. Let me know at [email protected].
WHO GOT THE WORK?℠ – Pfizer and Pharmacia & Upjohn Co. LLC have turned to Connolly Gallagher LLP partners Arthur G. Connolly III and Alan R. Silverstein to defend in a pending patent infringement lawsuit over the delivery mechanism of Pfizer’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. The suit was filed March 17 in Delaware District Court by McDermott Will & Emery on behalf of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. and asserts a single patent related to the use of lipid nanoparticles to deliver RNA to cells. The case, assigned to U.S. District Judge Colm F. Connolly, is 1:22-cv-00336, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Pfizer Inc., et al. >>Read the complaint on Law.com Radar and check out the most recent edition of Law.com’s Who Got the Work?℠ column to find out which law firms and lawyers are being brought in to handle key cases and close major deals for their clients.
SERVED OVER SERVERS – Parsons Behle & Latimer and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit Tuesday against Thomson Reuters and Thomson Reuters US in Utah District Court. The complaint was brought on behalf of SUSE LLC, a distributor of Linux software products which accuses Thomson of using over 1,300 SUSE Linux Enterprise servers over a period of years without paying subscription fees. Counsel have not yet appeared for the defendants. The case is 2:22-cv-00237, Suse v. Thomson Reuters et al. Stay up on the latest deals and litigation with the new Law.com Radar.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
GROWING COMPETITION – Alternative legal services firms that operate consultancy models are growing at a rate three times that of their mid-market rivals, according to new research. As Law.com International’s Jack Womack reports, analysis by U.K.-based Arden Partners, which looked at publicly available data between 2018 and 2020, revealed that consultant lawyer numbers have grown at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21%. The figure for mid-market law firms is just 7%. As part of the research, Arden analyzed what it refer to as the “leaders” in the legal consultancy space, identifying U.K. firms Keystone Law, Gunnercooke, Taylor Rose MW and Setfords. These firms were then compared against 185 law firms – which Arden defines as the “legal mid-market.” The research found that firms employing a consultancy model have also grown their revenues faster than the mid-market, as well as their headcounts. Revenues among the legal consultants have grown at a two-year CAGR of 26%, compared to just 10% for the legal mid-market. Arden argues that its findings point to “accelerating market disruption” led by legal consultants, and that the consultancy model has gained acceptance from lawyers, clients and financial investors, becoming much more mainstream in the process.
WHAT YOU SAID
“We would see less scholarship in the courtroom, and little or no effort to assist Judges in evolving the law. If non-lawyers owned law firms, traditional law firms would have to cut costs to compete.”
— Irwin Gilbert, partner at Conrad Scherer in Fort Lauderdale, on why he opposes nonlawyer ownership of law firms, which the Florida Supreme Court just declined to test in the state despite a recommendation to do by its Special Committee to Improve the Delivery of Legal Services
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