Constitutional Law Authority Sujit Choudhry Attends Workshop in Ukraine

Despite the controversy that swirled around the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the transition of power unfolded smoothly on Inauguration Day. This reflects the ongoing power and resiliency of the United States Constitution, which is regarded by many to be among the finest documents of its type ever produced. In fact, it is so highly regarded that countries around the world turn to it when seeking to transition to democratic governments. That is the case regarding the Ukraine, which since the fall of communism has famously struggled to strike an even keel with the balance of power in its government. Recently, comparative constitutional law expert Sujit Choudhry attended a workshop in Kiev, Ukraine, to discuss the challenges that the country is facing.

The workshop took place in Kiev, Ukraine, on July 10. In addition to Sujit Choudhry, numerous constitutional scholars were there to assist. The main topic of interest was the semi-presidential system of government of the Ukraine and the resulting constitutional challenges that are faced by the fledgling democracy. Ultimately, the discussion revolved around finding ways to improve governmental processes in Ukraine. With so many renowned minds in one room, it is safe to say that a lot of headway was made.

The attendance list for the Kiev workshop is a veritable who’s-who of constitutional law expertise. In attendance were Sergyi Holovatyi, who is a member of the Constitutional Commission of Ukraine as well as the Venice Commission; Sumit Bisarya of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, or International IDEA; Vladimir Vasilenko, who represents Ukraine on the United Nations Human Rights council; Viktor Musiaka, who is a representative of the president in Supreme Council 1996; and Thomas Sidelius of Dalarna University. The workshop was hosted by the Center of Policy and Legal Reform, which is a major Ukraine think tank, as well as International IDEA, which supports sustainable democracy around the world.

A variety of topics were discussed during the workshop, which was regarded as being highly productive. More than anything else, discussion focused on the ongoing instability of democratization in Ukraine, which has mostly been an issue because of the concentration of power in the presidency. Unlike the U.S., then, the country doesn’t have a balanced system of checks and balances, so democratic policies are more difficult to implement.

The scholars and experts, including Sujit Choudhry, also discussed the separation of powers within the dual executive branch. The government of Ukraine does not have just a president; it has a prime minister as well, so that is another way in which the government of this country differs from that of the United States. Another issue that was discussed to a great extent was the fact that the political parties of Ukraine are very weak. As a result, it is difficult for citizens to know parties’ stances on issues, and many other problems arise. The electoral system for the legislature of the country is also a major issue, and the experts focused on this one for a while as well.

As founding director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, Sujit Choudhry has a unique understanding of the issues that are currently being faced by the Ukraine. The Center for Constitutional Transitions is currently conducting research into semi-presidentialism and constitutional instability in Ukraine. Ever since communism fell, the country has struggled to implement an effective democratic government. The legislature has overwhelmingly been far too weak, and the president has had far too much power. The organization hopes that its research will provide much-needed guidance to the country to help it establish a strong democratic government.

Ultimately, the goal of both the Center for Constitutional Transitions and those who gathered in Kiev on July 10 is to help Ukraine to develop a strong semi-presidential system of government. The work will not be easy to achieve, however, as the process has been underway for more than two decades already and very little real progress has been made. With so many great minds working on the issue, however, it is hoped that some real progress will be made in the very near future.

Scholars and researchers who have been working on this issue, both at the workshop in Kiev and at the Center for Constitutional Transitions, which is helmed by Sujit Choudhry, have identified many potential options that could help to establish a secure semi-presidential system in the country. This is an important and even crucial goal for a number of reasons, including:

  • To produce a strong, effective legislature that can exercise oversight over the president and the government as a whole. This will help to strike a better balance of power, which will facilitate the process of building a strong democratic government.
  • To facilitate an effective sharing of power between the president and the prime minister of the country. Up until now, far too much power has been concentrated in the office of the president, and this is one of the many reasons why Ukraine has struggled so much.
  • To ensure limited presidential power. When the president has an excessive amount of power, true democracy is impossible, and the country suffers.
  • To develop a government that is strengthened by presidential leadership during crises. Otherwise, the country flounders when major catastrophes occur, and the democratization process is weakened and threatened.

Sujit Choudhry was a welcome addition to the special workshop that was held in Kiev on July 10. An expert on comparative constitutional law, Choudhry holds law degrees from the University of Toronto, Oxford University and Harvard University. He also served as law clerk to Chief Justice Antonio Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada. As the founder of the Center for Constitutional Transitions, Sujit Choudhry has played an instrumental role in constitution building processes of countries around the world. The organization has more than 50 experts in more than 25 nations. Right now, it is co-leading three collaborative global research projects, including the one about semi-presidentialism in Ukraine.

Throughout his storied career, Sujit Choudhry has published nearly 100 book chapters, reports, articles and papers. Today, he serves as the I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law at the University of California and Berkeley School of Law. Choudhry is currently a member of the scientific advisory board of the International Journal of Constitutional Law; the executive committee of the International Society of Public Law, or ICONS; the editorial board of Constitutional Court Review; the international advisory council of the Institute for Integrated Transitions, or IFIT; and the editorial advisory board of Cambridge Studies in Constitutional Law. Without question, Choudhry will continue to play an active role in the ongoing situation in Ukraine.

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Online Law Related to Harassment Issues

One of the biggest issues facing the field of law today is how to deal with online harassment. Over the past few years, the number of cases in this area has increased greatly. There are many people who are struggling to understand all of the issues in this area.

If you are the victim of online harassment, it is difficult to track down the people who are responsible for harassing you. The good news is that new technology is coming out to help police in this area. For the people who work in the legal field, it is vital to understand everything that victims are going through when you are helping them with their case. Here are some of the most important aspects of online harassment for people in the legal profession.

Online Harassment

Many people go to their lawyer for legal advice in a number of areas. It is important to work on a plan with your clients that makes sense with their situation. Online harassment is growing every year, and many people do not know how to prevent it.

The first thing to do with clients is to understand their history and background. If they have an idea of who is doing the online harassment, it is vital to tell police. A lot of people who are being harassed do not want to go the police because they think it will only make the situation worse. It is hard to fight back against someone you cannot see.

Legal Advice Online

One area of opportunity for many people in the legal field is to give advice online. There are a lot of people who need legal help who would rather have their question answered online than go to someone in person.

Many lawyers are struggling to pay off their debt from school while growing their business. If you want to take your legal business to a new level, this is a great area to concentrate on. Legal issues are going to persist in the online space until more legislation is passed.


Mathematics, Law, Business, and Charity: The Unique American Dream of Tony Petrello

It’s an understatement to say that Tony Petrello’s career has been one of great success. After all, in 2015, Tony Petrello was one of the highest-compensated CEOs in the U.S. Tony’s many achievements have been the products of natural gifts, consistent hard work, and creative thinking.

It’s also important to note the ways in which Tony has given back to society, particularly how he’s worked to help children with neurological disorders. For sure, his life is worthy of admiration and emulation.

A Remarkable Student

Tony grew up in Newark, N.J., where he attended public schools. When he was in high school, he was famous in his hometown for his amazing math abilities. Yale University took notice, and it awarded Tony a scholarship and the opportunity to be mentored by Serge Lang. Lang was a brilliant mathematician, author, and professor.

At Yale, from which he would receive his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, he became known for his outgoing personality and strong sense of humor. Plus, Yale changed Tony Petrello’s life in a special way. It was there that he met Cynthia, his beloved wife. Cynthia would go on to become a dancer, a movie and TV actress, and a soap opera producer.

After graduating from Yale, Tony Petrello surprised many of his professors and classmates when he decided not to become a mathematician. Rather, he enrolled in Harvard Law School.

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Law or Business?

In 1979, Tony Petrello joined Baker & McKenzie, a major American law firm. There, he specialized in business law, especially taxation and arbitration. In 1986, he became a managing partner of its New York division.

At Baker & McKenzie, Tony Petrello worked with a client by the name of Nabors Industries. Nabors drills for oil and natural gas on land, and it’s the largest such company on Earth.

Managers at Nabors were so impressed by Tony’s efforts and powers of analysis that they began trying to hire him away. Well, those lobbying efforts paid off. A budding mathematician turned corporate attorney was headed for a new career. He was to become a business executive.

Thus, after he’d lived in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York, Tony Petrello was off to make his residence in an entirely new place: Texas. The Lone Star State is his home to this day.

Life at Nabors and Beyond

In 1991, Tony Petrello began serving as Nabors’ Chief Operating Officer. The same year, he took a seat on the board of directors as well as the board’s executive committee. Then, in 1992, he became the president. His achievements in those positions were undeniably helpful in terms of building up the company. For instance, in 1993, Tony Petrello helped direct a $32 million purchase of a firm called Grace Drilling. Also, a much larger transaction in 2010 brought Superior Well Services under Nabors’ corporate umbrella.

Since October 28, 2011, Tony Petrello has been Nabors’ CEO. On top of that, in June 2012, he was named the chairman of the board as well as chairman of the board’s executive committee.

By common acclaim, Tony Petrello’s leadership at Nabors has been top-notch. During the past six years, he’s allowed the company to keep growing and thriving in an industry where the competition is intense, to say the least, at all times. Indeed, Tony Petrello is extremely adept at day-to-day management tasks as well as the creation of long-term strategic visions.

In addition to his many duties at Nabors, Tony Petrello has been a director at, and today, he’s a director at Hilcorp Energy Company. What’s more, since February 28, 2011, he’s served as a director at Stewart & Stevenson.

An Extraordinary Philanthropist

In the late 1990s, Tony and Cynthia Petrello had a daughter named Carena. At birth, she weighed 20 ounces, and she suffered from cerebral palsy. Carena wouldn’t be able to eat solid foods until she was about 7 years old.

Tony Petrello wanted to help other children with neurological conditions. Therefore, he donated $7 million to the Texas Children’s Hospital, and he also took a seat on its board of trustees. The hospital was able to put that money toward the construction of a complex dedicated to pediatric neurological care. It’s called the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute, and it’s a cutting-edge institution. The Institute treats children from across the country and the globe, and it’s provided hope to countless families.

Over time, Tony Petrello has used his business acumen to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in charitable donations to this cause, and those efforts are ongoing.

Finally, Tony Petrello is quick to credit luck for many of his accomplishments. However, his friends, his family members, his colleagues, and everyone who’s gotten to know Tony’s powerful work ethic and big heart realize that good fortune is only one small aspect of his amazing life story.

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Court Rules against the Slashing of Civil Servant’s Redundancy Payment

The controversial caps placed on civil servant’s redundancy payment has been considered unlawful by a recent court review. The Guardian reported that the new ruling left the government in a tough situation as many civil servants are filing for compensation.

The redundancy payment had been cut in November 2016 by the ministers in the Cabinet Office. The policy also saw the banning of early access to pensions by public sector employees.

However, the court made a review on the case and ruled that the cuts were unlawful. This is because the Cabinet Office had failed to confer with the trade union on the decision to slash off the payments.

The recent court ruling is now expected to leave the government susceptible to legal confrontations from most of the civil servants who had accepted the payment reduction terms. Theresa May’s government, for instance, is expected to receive the biggest blow since it had been under pressure for failing to remove the public sector pay cap.

After adoption of the new scheme, PCS union was rather unhappy and immediately began to battle the case in court. This uproar was fueled by a piece of advice from the CSCS, who claimed that the enforcement of the payment caps was unlawful. After this advisory, the union which consists of 160,000 members called for a judicial review in February. The appeal was heard in court on 4th through to 5th of July this year. The discussion was presided over by Lord Justice Sales and Mrs. Justice Whipple.

When asked to comment, a PCS spokesman uttered that he felt the ruling was clear, and that the caps had to be removed. He further said that the union didn’t care much on whether or not the government should begin consultation on the ruling once again.

The union claimed that the court hadn’t consulted with the employees’ representatives before ruling in favor of the redundancy pay cut bill. They also said that this ruling was illegal because it would unlawfully interfere with public sector employees’ possessions (redundancy fees). Slashing off the payments without the union’s consent was considered as going against the equality duty of the public sector.

In their defense, the Counsel of the Cabinet Office stated that even if they had consulted with the union, the ruling would have been the same. Based on the former ruling, a public worker with thirty years of service and earns an annual salary of £30,000 would receive £45,000 rather than the usual £52,500. Consequently, those with 20 years of service earning £15,000 annually would be entitled to £28,161 instead of £38,333.

President and Pope Battle to Save Baby’s Life

Charlie Gard who turns 1 year old on August 3, 2017, was born with encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome. Despite the fact that he is unable to move or even breathe on his own, this child who is blind and deaf has ended up at the center of a global political debate.

Courts Rule to Remove Lifesaving Medical Care

Ever since, Charlie was born, he has been hospitalized. Three courts in Europe and the European Court of Human Rights have denied his parent’s permission to bring the child to the United States where lifesaving treatment may be available. They feel that they have the right to give their child a chance to live, but the courts have determined that the hospital has the right to turn off the breathing machine. The courts have ruled that Charlie must stay in the London hospital where he is currently a patient.

Pope Francis Supports Parents

According to the Vatican, Pope Francis has been following the case with sadness and affection. Officials at the Vatican say that the pope hopes that the child can be brought to the United States as the parents’ wish. Italy’s top pediatric hospital has said that they will take the sick infant giving him a chance to continue to live. While there are only 16 children in the world believed to have this debilitating syndrome, some experts believe that nucleoside therapy could help save the infant’s life. In light of the new evidence that this therapy might help, the London hospital will return to the High Court on July 10, 2017.

Help From United States

President Trump recently tweeted that the United States was prepared to do everything possible to help this family. An online campaign has raised more than $1.7 million in hopes that the child can be brought to the United States. Members of the United States Congress have proposed that the family could receive permanent residency if it would save the child’s life. The United States has also said that they are willing to ship the medicine to London if Charlie is unable to travel.

Donald Trump Jr. Under Investigation

The New York Times recently reported that the Trump administration had changed their defense against a recent accusation. The Trump legal team had been accused of meddling with Clinton’s effort to become the president of the free world. The recent change of defense agrees that some part of his legal team, his son and top campaign members had met with a well-known lawyer in Russia exactly one year ago. The Russian lawyer goes by the name Natalia Veselnitskaya while the top officials from Trump’s legal team include Paul Manafort and Donald Trump Jr. Veselnitskaya is a Russian lawyer who had been accused of fighting the Magnitsky Act of the year 2012. This is an act that was meant to blacklist Russians who had been linked or suspected of going against human rights. In reaction to this campaign, Russian President, Vladimir Putin blocked the law and even refused Americans to adopt children from Russia.

However, few people knew about this meeting and only came to light after Jared Kushner decided to get a new security clearance. This came after Jared Kushner was accused by New York Times for refusing to talk about the contacts that he had with Russians before he was invited to work with President Trump. Donald Trump Jr. insisted that the visit to Russia was not based on his father’s campaign. He further insisted that it was focused on adopting Russian children and he had asked both Jared Kushner and Paul to drop by to help him with the issue. As for the New York Times, they reported that the meeting took place because young Trump had promised some damaging information to ruin the presidential bid of his father’s opponent Hilary Clinton. However, Donald Trump’s legal team responded to these accusations terming them as a way of undermining the campaign efforts of their boss.

The team, later on, changed their stand after the Times published another story telling about the meeting. The team said that their boss was not aware of the meeting between his son and the Russian lawyer. Reports said that Veselnitskaya had been hired by a person named as Denis Katyv. Denis, on the other hand, happens to be connected to Pyotr Katsyv who is a senior government official in Russia. Other than this position, Pyotr is connected to Prevezon which is a real estate company from Cyprus. This is a firm that has been under the radar of department of justice for laundering charges.

Facebook Law passed in Germany

Lawmakers in Germany recently passed a new law that intended to curb the hate speech on social networks. Social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook will pay fines of up to $50 million if they fail to remove hate speech content. The German parliamentary body passed the Network Enforcement Act on Friday. The “Facebook Law” as it is commonly known will go into effect later this year. The law stipulates that these companies would be fined if they failed to remove content that is illegal. This content includes incitements to violence, hate speech, and defamation. The law states that the companies will have to do so within 24 hours. This period extends to one week if the case is more complex to handle. The law sets an initial fine of $5 million. This could increase to fifty million depending on the case.

Supporters of the bill including the Minister of Justice known as Heiko Maas say that the bill is a huge step in curbing the spread of hate speech. Maas said that experience had shown them that large corporations would not take initiatives if political pressure was not applied. He responded to questions about the freedom of expression and said that it ended where criminal law started. Critics and digital rights activists say that the law could infringe on free speech. This is because it could be abused by the government if the content is not pleasing to officials. It also gives technology companies a lot of power in deciding the validity of content on their platforms.

This is not the first time that Germany has asked large technology companies to remove hate speech content. The country entered into a deal with Facebook, Twitter, and Google in 2015. The deal directed the companies to delete this content within 24 hours. This was done to control the anti-migrant sentiment that was developing in the country because of the refugee crisis. The effectiveness of this pact was questioned after a report released earlier this year showed that the companies were not fulfilling their obligations. Social media companies have come under fire from the public and the media to remove terrorist propaganda and fake news. It is expected that the fines will give them more incentive to regulate the content on the platforms. It is important to note that the European Union fined Google for anti-trust policies with regards to shopping results.

Finding Legal Services Online

The legal industry is going through a lot of change right now with the new technology that is available. Across the country, more people than ever before are starting to see the value in using new technology in order to drive innovation and growth within their respective industry. The legal industry is moving online in a lot of areas. Not only is this good for customers, but it is a way for companies to grow their business as well. Over time, investing in online growth is one of the best things that the legal profession can do. Here are some of the biggest advantages for companies that offer services online.

More Flexibility

One of the biggest advantages in offering online legal services is the flexibility that it provides. There are a lot of people who use legal services online because it is much more convenient than going to visit a lawyer in person. Not only that, but some people are embarrassed about the legal issues that they have and are more comfortable working online with someone.

As a business in this field, you need to work on a way to add more flexibility for your clients. This will allow your company to grow sales and serve more customers within the community.

Better Service

When it comes to offering services online, legal companies are getting better service comments from customers across the board. The young people today want to do business online in any way that they can. With that being said, legal services are a little different than streaming your favorite television show.

Legal companies need to spend an appropriate amount of time scaling up their legal services that they offer online. Over time, they will be able to see all of the different changes that are available to make in order to drive sales and profits in this area.

Future Trends

Overall, the legal industry is changing rapidly for a number of reasons. Not only do customers want more options, but they also want to work on their legal issues on their own time. A lot of legal teams are starting to offer services online in response to this demand from customers. This is a growth area of the industry, and it is vital that current legal teams start to adjust with the market in order to stay relevant and grow.

Similarities and Differences Between Big Tobacco and Big Pharma’s Opioid Crisis

Opioid painkillers help many people afflicted with chronic pain live near-normal lives. Without opioids, many chronic pain sufferers may not be able to work, care for others, or even perform household chores like washing dishes or sweeping floors. Although prescription opioids have been available in the United States for over one hundred years, opioids have recently made a big splash in the world of litigation. Despite them just now getting deserved attention, poppy plants — the precursors to opioid painkillers and heroin alike — have been used by humans for centuries.

Drugs have been a staple of human history for many years, and are likely to continue being a part of most people’s lives. Coffee, tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, hard drugs, and prescription medications all fit the bill for the aforementioned drugs. In recent United States history, various drugs have caught flak for various reasons.

Alcohol was prohibited about a century ago, then made legal and regulated due to the crime and danger associated with bootleg alcohol. Tobacco makers were sued in the 1990s for pushing unarguably deadly tobacco products to consumers without appropriately representing their risks.

An industry-wide penalty was placed on the United States’ largest tobacco manufacturers in 1998, being forced to pay $250 billion throughout future years. Experts believe class-action lawsuits against opioid painkiller manufacturers, developers, and marketers may appear very soon. Although the tobacco market of the 1990s was much larger than the prescription opioid market of today in the United States, possibilities for suing are very real.

Some attorneys have pointed out glaring differences in the two addiction-forming scenarios. Tobacco companies sold their products directly to consumers, with any United States citizen over the age of 18 with valid identification being able to purchase, and use, tobacco. Prescription opioids, on the other hand, require healthcare professionals to prescribe them. Even opioids have been redirected from prescription holders into the hands of street drug users, effectively finding their ways into mouths, noses, and veins of millions of Americans, pharmaceutical companies are not directly to blame.

With the opioid crisis birthing countless detrimental outcomes by the day, turning many prescription opioid users into heroin addicts, litigation is certain to become actuality in the next few years. The outcome of lawsuits, however, is clearly up for debate.

Only coming years will determine the fate of opioid-producing pharmaceutical giants.

Legal Issues affecting the State of Texas

Donald Trump is making headlines again after appointing dozens of people to fill vacant positions in the federal government. Most of the positions are legal ones especially the appointees of circuit courts. He has also appointed ambassadors from Singapore to Alabama. However, he has singled out Texas as none of the vacant legal positions have been filled in the State. In the State of Texas alone, there are vacant positions such as two slots for the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, 11 district judgeships as well as four district attorney seats. By this date eight years ago when Barrack Obama was the president, most of these legal vacant positions had already been filled. In fact, statistics show that Donald Trump has done half of the work that Obama had completed by this time. As for appointing the U.S. attorneys, this is usually a slow process. While Trump made his first appointment on 12th June, Barack Obama made his nominations on 15th May. As for George. W. Bush, he made these appointments on 1st August.

Like earlier mentioned, the number of vacant positions in Texas are noticeable. In fact, the state of Texas is known for having the largest numbers of U.S. attorney districts in the United States. A recent report detailed that the Southern District of Texas is one of the busiest districts in the United States. For instance, in a case of 52 judicial emergencies, nine of them were filed in the state of Texas alone. However, there is a vacancy in this state that has been unoccupied since the year 2011. Legal experts feel that the president should do something to fill these vacancies as they are slowing the process down. Also, some experts feel that given the size of Texas and its legal problems, this is a serious issue. It’s also important to remember that most of Trump supporters are from this state.

This has made critics say that Trump is not interested in implementing the things that he promised during the campaign. Instead, he is seen to use them as a way to gain political relevance. It’s important to note that all U.S. attorneys happen to be political appointees with the presidential input. They have to pass through a vetting process that is usually carried out by the U.S. Senate. There are legal issues in Texas such as drug trafficking, immigration as well as border security. This explains the importance of these appointments.


The Supreme Court Reinstates the Travel Ban

President Donald Trump promised the Americans that they would work together to make America great again. True to his words, he tried to implement some promises but he was set back by some court rulings. However, the president and his followers have something to smile about as the Supreme Court on Monday decided to overturn the rulings of the other courts. The president had imposed a travelling ban that affected nationals from six Muslim countries. Donald Trump defended his actions as aligning to national security but his opponents went to court terming this as discriminatory. The executive order had been issued on 6th March this year.

The order was reinstated on the last day of the current term as the judges are going for the summer vacation. However, they revealed that they would look into the issue thoroughly once they are back in August. This will be seen as a test for the presidential powers especially if the ban will be thrown out. Following the Supreme Court ruling, Donald Trump said that this is a win for the national security. He also emphasized that the ruling by the Supreme Court would also help the ban become effective than before. Trump continued to explain that it’s his responsibility as the president of the United States to keep away people who want to harm the nation. He also emphasized his love for people who have good intentions for the nation and its citizens. He also mentioned that the country was interested in hard working people.

These orders affect people from Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Libya and Syria meaning that they cannot be allowed into the country. The ban also implements a 120 days ban on refugees entering the United States. This ban was issued after an attack on major cities across the globe such as Berlin, Brussels, London and Paris where citizens of these nations were linked to these attacks. However, the court was challenged the federal courts. The courts ruled that the ban violated federal immigration laws. Federal courts also ruled that the ban was discriminating the Muslim people.

The Supreme Court on its part upheld the ban stating that any person from these six countries seeking to enter the United States should have a direct relative. If they don’t match these requirements, they will be prevented from entering the nation. The ban had been challenged by the Hawaii Attorney General. His name is Douglas Chin and has left his position since then.

Studies Find Law Firms May be Vulnerable to Cyberattacks

A cyber security startup called LogicForce recently released a report on the vulnerability of law firms to cyberattack. The results are pretty unsettling. In the wake of the devastating cyberattack on DLA Piper, a multinational law firm, law firms from around the country want to know how vulnerable their systems are to cyberattacks and ransomware.

The report released by LogicForce found that law firms are especially vulnerable to all kinds of cyberattacks. Disturbingly, the study found that corporate and government-affiliated law firms are also at risk. There may be billions of dollars at stake in the sense that ransomware could imperil huge swaths of a corporate client’s assets.

Some of the attacks may have already taken place. The LogicForce study showed that two-fifths of law firms were unaware that their systems were breached. Most law firms may be at risk since the study also found that the size, type, and complexity of the law firm had little or no bearing on whether that law firm was targeted for a sophisticated cyberattack.

Fewer than one-fourth of law firms surveyed in the study had cyberattack insurance. Admittedly, this is a brave new world with evolving threats, but more law firms should be protecting their clients’ confidential information and protecting their own assets. The cost of doing otherwise is simply too high.

So, how many total law firms are being affected by this ongoing onslaught of cyberattacks. The LogicForce study indicated that upwards of 65% of the 200 surveyed law firms had been breached with at least one cyberattack.

If there’s a silver lining to all of this it’s that about half of law firms tend to have an incident response plan in the event of a cyberattack. This means that lawyers are prepared to respond to threats of varying sizes with different strategies. That’s good news for mitigating the damage, but more proactive measures are needed to ensure that cyberattacks are kept to a minimum.

A similar though more comprehensive study undertaken by the American Bar Association (ABA) found that half of law firms with staff of 500 or more lawyers had an adequate incident response plan while 60 percent of law firms with 100-499 lawyers had such a plan in place.

The takeaway from all of these studies is that law firms should consider taking out cyberattack insurance and developing graduated incident response plans in case a cyberattack takes place.

Karl Heideck’s Guide to Pennsylvania Employment Law for Small Businesses

Do you operate a Pennsylvania business? There are a few things that you need to keep in mind regarding your workforce. Although labor laws are constantly evolving, it’s critical that you stay ahead of the curve. Here’s how employment regulations influence your compliance obligations and corporate future.

Critical Laws That Impact Pennsylvanian Companies

Employment law has a broad scope that touches on a vast range of practices. Some of the regulations that bind you may be specific to your industry or business model. For instance, if you employ legal minors, or individuals under the age of 18, then you’ll need to adhere to the Pennsylvania Child Labor Law, or CLL.

Other provisions are more broadly applicable regardless who’s in your workforce. Understand these critical rules:

Minimum Wage and Labor Practices: The Fair Labor Standards Act

This law, also known as the FLSA, lays down the rules for when you need to pay your employees minimum wage. It also covers overtime, your tabulation and recording of work hours, and your duty to post FLSA requirements visibly at your premises.

Although the FLSA governs the minimum wage, it’s important to remember that these federal rules don’t override state laws. For instance, as of June 2017, most Pennsylvanian workers who earned minimum wage received the same $7.25 hourly rate that the FLSA set. Since 2016, however, individuals who worked for the state’s government or contractors that bid on state jobs earned $10.15 when making minimum wage. If you’re unsure whether you need to pay federal or state minimum wage, the general rule is to pick the higher of the two.

The Family and Medical Leave Act

Also known as the FMLA, this federal law ensures that eligible employees are allowed to take leave when it’s related to their family or medical needs. During someone’s FMLA leave, you don’t have to pay them, but you can’t penalize them by firing them from their job or cut back their group health insurance eligibility.

Employees covered by the FMLA may take as many as 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year. Valid reasons for taking leave include when workers

  • Need to care for their children, parents or spouses who have serious health problems,
  • Are having a new baby or need to care for one who was born less than a year ago,
  • Are adopting or foster parenting a new child,
  • Can’t perform their job due to their own serious health issues, or
  • Have military spouses, offspring or parents who get injured.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act

Employees are getting older, and employers must afford elderly workers the same rights that they’d grant their younger counterparts. If you fail to do so, you could face discrimination lawsuits or fines.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or ADEA, dates back to 1967. It was originally intended to stop bosses who employ more than 20 people from discriminating against workers above the age of 40. Navigating this law isn’t as simple as determining whether you meet these basic tenets, however. For instance, if you operate a consumer research organization, then you may have a valid reason for restricting certain employment offers based on applicants’ ages or other demographics.

The ADEA applies to government institutions and contractors. As workforces grow progressively older, however, legislators may expand the law to protect more employees.

IRS Worker Classification

Should you withhold income and Social Security taxes from your workers’ paychecks? There’s a big difference between part-timers and independent contractors. Bodies like the IRS apply various rubrics to gauge how much control you exert over your workers and determine whether they should be classified as employees.

It’s critical that you understand these distinctions so that you don’t fall afoul of tax regulations. Also, remember that the federal unemployment taxes, or FUTA, that you must pay the IRS are separate from the sums required by the state’s unemployment contribution law.

Hiring, Harassment and Discrimination: Equal Employment Laws

While the federal Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, or EEOC, may be the first agency you think of when it comes to employment discrimination claims, it’s not the only body with jurisdiction. The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, or PHRC, also fields claims, and the state’s Human Relations Act may mean that you’re subject to anti-discrimination guidelines that the EEOC excludes.

The PHRC typically deals with companies that have between 4 and 14 workers, but the EEOC handles enterprises with at least 15. Both prohibit hiring and employment discrimination based on protected classes, like race, religion, sex, national origin, disability and age.

Situation-specific Laws

In addition to state-level laws, federal legislation and rules that only impact your industry, you may be subject to statutes imposed by your city, county or township. For instance, in 2017, Philadelphia barred employers who do business in the city from asking about new hires’ wage histories.

Employment law is exceedingly complex, but this isn’t an excuse for falling behind. Many small business owners find it helpful to consult with legal experts about their obligations.

More by Karl Heideck:  Career Spotlight: Litigation with Karl Heideck

About Karl Heideck

Karl Heideck is a Philadelphia-based contract attorney who works hard to help businesses do right by their employees. Karl Heideck firmly believes in assisting firms that strive to adhere to the spirit of the law and not just its letter.

Karl Heideck has practiced in various fields of employment and contract law for more than a decade. In addition to coming directly to the aid of companies that would otherwise struggle to master the complex nuances of their regulatory obligations, he routinely contributes to online news sources and blogs by explaining the evolution of Pennsylvanian law and its impact on businesses.

During the time he spent as a Pepper Hamilton LLP project attorney and a Conrad O’Brien associate, Mr. Heideck gained invaluable experience fighting for enterprises and individuals alike. Karl always looks forward to applying his exhaustive knowledge in challenging new cases.

For more information, connect with Karl Heideck on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Constitutional Law Expert Sujit Choudhry Presents an Analysis of Freedom of Speech

Understanding Freedom of Speech 

It’s important to comprehend the legal parameters of the freedom of expression in particular jurisdictions. The right to freedom of speech is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Human Rights Law. Freedom of speech is basically the right to articulate opinions and ideas without fear of government retaliation or societal sanctions. The United States Constitution is a document understood best in context form. There have been 27 amendments to the United States Constitution since its inception as America’s founding political document. The First Amendment primarily focused on protecting political as well as religious expressions. In essence, this Amendment was designed to protect the people from government pressure. As late as 1798, the scope of free speech was still up in the air when President John Adams signed the Alien and Sedition Acts. Based on the First Amendment, Americans receive protections from exercising their spiritual beliefs freely without government restrictions. Free speech and a free press are protected under the Constitution on citizens assembling peacefully, but the confusion in this scenario arises when people don’t understand what each of those two things means.

Understanding Hate Speech 

Americans across the board are widely in support of the idea of freedom of expression and yet there is a growing movement that is promoting social justice as well hate speech restrictions. From a legal point of view, those ideas entirely contradict. In a broader sense, there is no constitutional prohibition distinctively addressing hate speech despite the fact that some states have enacted laws that target hate speech. Hate speech may fall under the category of “Fighting Words and Offensive Speech.” According to the First Amendment of the Supreme Court of 1942, the spoken or written works that would likely cause violence are not protected under the law. The general statement against a group that causes emotional distress under the umbrella of free speech cannot be restricted.

Free Speech and College Campuses 

In the United States College Campuses, free Speech is more volatile. It’s believed that colleges are strongholds of democratic deliberation and critical thinking. Moreover, in the last decade dramatic shift in mutual attitudes at institutions of higher learning has been noticed. College environment illustrates why free speech is important and some universities remain devoted to protecting the free exchange of ideas. Many institutions in America are in support of freedom of expression simply because student activism has indeed changed school policies. The concept of human nature apparently helps people to relatively narrow the range of thought and ideas. The only way to broaden these perspectives is to challenge them with competing ideas in favor of emotional growth along with human understanding. Therefore, free speech is fundamental.

Role of Social Media 

The transfer of information was a slow process for the most of America’s history. It’s evident that the transmission of information from coast to coast took weeks before the existence of radio, telegram, and telephones. In the last 50 years, the internet has turned the world into universally acknowledged social standards and people can interact with an increasingly different pool of acquaintances. However, social media exposes a variety of political opinions in real time by bringing new as well different ideas right on your front door. The United States Constitution lawfully protects your fundamental human rights by valuing free speech and advocating generation of new ideas. This promotes respect and creates the safest public atmosphere for all citizens transversely to every political stripe and social issue.

Who is Sujit Choudhry? 

Sujit Choudhry is the Director of the Center for Constitutional Transitions. He is the I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law California University, Berkeley school of Law, where he served as a dean. Choudhry is an expert in comparative constitutional law. Previously Choudhry was the Cecelia Goetz Professor of Law at New York University, and the Scholl Chair at the University of Toronto. Born in New Delhi in 1970, Sujit is an internationally recognized authority on comparative constitutional law and politics. He holds law degrees from Oxford, Toronto, as well from Harvard. Professor Sujit was a Rhodes Scholar in which he served as law clerk to Chief Justice Antonio Lamer of the Supreme Court of Canada. He combines a wide-ranging research agenda with in-depth field experience as an advisor to constitution building processes since he has lectured in over two dozen countries including Jordan, Nepal, Libya, South Africa, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Ukraine. Professor Choudhry generates and mobilizes knowledge in support of constitution building by assembling as well as leading international network of experts to produce thematic research projects that offer evidence-based policy options to practitioners and agenda-setting research. Up to date, the Center for Constitutional Transitions has worked with more than fifty professionals from more than twenty-five countries whereby it partners with a global network of multilateral organizations such as think tanks and NGOs.

Professor Choudhry’s research addresses a wide range of issues in comparative constitutional law along with politics. He has written extensively on Canadian constitutional law. The fields he has concentrated more includes; constitutional design as an instrument to manage the change from violent conflict to diplomatic democratic politics, constitutional design in ethnically divided into societies, constitutional design in the context of transition from authoritarian to democratic rule, basic methodological questions in the study of comparative law, minority and group rights, official language policy, Bills of rights and proportionality. He also discussed issues related to federalism, decentralization, and secession. Professor Choudhry has published over 90 articles, book chapters, working papers, along with reports. Central to such an endeavor, the books include; “The Migration of Constitutional Ideas” (Cambridge, 2006), “Constitutional Design for Divided Societies: Integration or Accommodation?”(Oxford, 2008), “The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution” (Oxford, 2016), and “The Constitution Making” (Edward Elgar, 2016). In collaboration with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Professor Sujit Choudhry is currently co-leading three global collaborative research projects. The projects are; “Dealing with Territorial Cleavages in Constitutional Transitions,” “Security Sector Reform and Constitutional Transitions in Emerging Democracies” and “Security Sector Oversight” which will yield a series of research and policy outputs to be published in 2017.

Interviews with Sujit Choudhry: 



Daniel Budzinski Podcast


Further Analysis Of Dakota Access Pipeline’s Environmental Impact Ordered

The Dakota Access Pipeline has been a major source of debate in the political and environmental spheres as of late. Now, a U.S. federal judge had ordered that debate to continue.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington determined that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers did not analyze the possibility of a catastrophic oil spill to satisfactory levels. Such an oil spill could have negative effects on the livelihood of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, he claims. The judge found that federal permits issued for the pipeline violated the law by not thoroughly completing this investigation.

As of now, the pipeline has not been stalled again, but pending the results of an investigation, it could find itself dead in the water again. The Corps will be required to resume their investigation and will need to reconsider certain aspects of its past investigation.

People on both sides of the issue are disturbed by this outcome. Those against the pipeline are upset that the pipeline hasn’t been definitively stalled to allow the investigation to run its course. Those in support of the pipeline are worried that the findings in the Corps investigation could persuade the court to take further action to dismantle the pipeline once and for all, killing their considerable investment.

The Corps themselves believe they will be able to persuade the court to allow construction to continue while they address the discrepancies in their analysis. They believe that the errors found can be addressed quickly and will not require much time or effort to warrant a halt to construction.

Donald Trump famously pushed the pipeline through with an executive order shortly after he was sworn into office. However, that rush he placed upon the Corps has now been found to be unlawful and may not only endanger the pipeline but come back to bite him politically as well.