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First Amendment UPL Challenge in NY

What’s on the docket this week:

  1. Featured Story – First Amendment UPL Challenge in NY
  2. 🗄 IP/Transactional – Trademark Dispute to Determine ‘The Real’ Lady A
  3. 🤺 Litigation – Education Secretary Blocks Student Loan Forgiveness Approval For Bankrupt 35-year-old
  4. 📲 Legaltech – 2022 ABA TECHSHOW Startup Alley Competition Winners Are…
  5. 🔪 Criminal/Politics – Wearing a ‘Fuck the Police’ Shirt Isn’t Cause For An Arrest
  6. 💰 Finance/Econ/Regulatory – IBA Young Lawyers’ Report
  7. ⚖️ Ethics – Protips For Engaging With Other Prosecutors

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Featured Story: First Amendment UPL Challenge in NY

The practice of law in the USA is limited exclusively to lawyers. At least that’s the way it’s always been. But as I’ve noted in past newsletters, there are new structures being established in Arizona & Utah looking to expand legal work to entities that include non-lawyer ownership.

But on a separate note, I noticed on former Avvo general counsel Josh King’s blog that a new First Amendment Unauthorized Practice of Law (“UPL”) challenge was recently filed in New York.

The plaintiffs, UpSolve, a nonprofit that helps people defend against debt collection lawsuits, wants to:

…train professionals who are not lawyers to provide free legal advice on whether and how to respond to a debt collection lawsuit. All advice under the program would be reliable, free, straightforward, and narrowly circumscribed, provided on a strictly non-commercial basis to ensure that defendants can understand their rights and respond to the debt collection lawsuits against them.

But this will trigger prosecution under New York’s UPL. So they filed this action to try and break the UPL barrier so they can help indigent claimants.

The lawsuit was just filed, so something to watch over the next year. It would have a huge impact on UPL rules across the country if they succeed.

🗄 IP/Transactional

Trademark Dispute to Determine ‘The Real’ Lady A

Blues singer, Anita White, filed a trademark dispute against the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum over their recent name change to Lady A. White, a Seattle-based blues singer who goes by the stage name of Lady A, sought a $10 million payment from the band for the damage that their name change would do to her publicity and livelihood. The two parties recently came to an undisclosed settlement and agreed to dismiss any further litigation over the name.

🤺 Litigation

Education Secretary Blocks Student Loan Forgiveness Approval For Bankrupt 35-year-old

In a rare decision, a Delaware court moved to eliminate $100,000 in student debt for 35-year-old Ryan Wolfson. The judge deemed Wolfson proved “undue hardship” with his epilepsy diagnosis, and thus eliminated his entire student-debt load through a bankruptcy filing. Two weeks later, the U.S. Secretary of Education appealed the decision, putting Wolfson at risk of further financial hardship and left with student debt he cannot afford to pay off. Recent revisions to bankruptcy protections were made to help alleviate the burdens of student debt, but if this appeal moves forward, the majority of student loan borrowers will have little future success in court.

📲 Legaltech

2022 ABA TECHSHOW Startup Alley Competition Winners Are…

Finalists have been chosen for the sixth-annual Startup Alley at ABA TECHSHOW. In Chicago, from March 3rd – 5th, 15 legal technology startups will get to compete for a package of marketing and advertising prizes. The contestants include: Dashboard Legal, Immediation, Jus Mundi, LawWurk, Lawmato, Fourth Party, TurnSignl, Analytica Legalis, CoParse, FastVisa, Clearbrief, Akroda, Lawcus, EmotionTrac, and Merlin. I’ll also be in attendance, so please feel free to reach out if you would like to connect in person.

🔪 Criminal/Politics

Wearing a ‘Fuck the Police’ Shirt Isn’t Cause For An Arrest

Clark County officers arrested a local man, Michael Wood, for his expressive attire at a local fair back in 2016. The Sixth Court recently ruled that the Ohio cops didn’t have proper cause to arrest Wood for wearing a ‘Fuck the Police’ shirt. Wood’s right to be free from arrest was clearly established by a long line of court opinions protecting obscene language directed at authorities. Although Wood’s speech towards the police during their interaction was profane, it did not create a recipe for immediate violence, therefore eliminating the possibility of using the “fighting words doctrine” against him.

💰 Finance/Econ/Regulatory

IBA Young Lawyers’ Report

The International Bar Association provides a number of key findings from young lawyer survey responses regarding their interests and concerns surrounding their profession. The pandemic has made high employee turnover increasingly common, especially when it comes to young lawyers. Survey data shows that half of young lawyers are likely to move to a new but comparable workplace, a third will move to a new legal practice, and about a fifth will leave the legal profession entirely. Many cite work-life balance and mental health as driving factors for role changes, however salary still remains the biggest factor responsible for drawing young lawyers towards new legal roles across all regions. To dive deeper into young lawyers’ thoughts on the legal industry, I highly suggest reading the full report to gain more perspective on the latest generation of lawyers.

⚖️ Ethics

Protips For Engaging With Other Prosecutors

Judicial Protip: Don’t use sexually graphic language while talking to female prosecutors and question them about their height and weight, while leering at them.

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Discipline: 6 month suspension.

New addendum to the sign off this week. The newsletter wouldn’t be possible without the assistance of our intern Tracey McEvans who does most of the heavy lifting on getting the newsletter out every week. Thanks to Tracey for all her help getting the newsletter out pain free!

Until next week, adjourned.

Keith & Tracey