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When Billable Hours Are Scarce, Partners Get to Work First

Aug. 13, 2020, 5:50 PM

Here are the day’s top coronavirus stories from the team at Bloomberg Law:

  • PARTNERS GET TO WORK: When demand falls, prices can rise. That sentence would get you kicked out of Econ 101, where even undergrads know better than to contradict the law of supply and demand. It turns out that at least some partners are getting more involved in client matters, driving up the price, Bloomberg Law’s Roy Strom writes. Many partners have been scrambling to help clients tackle a wave of issues related to the pandemic, while others have used a slow down in their practice areas to pick up work often left to associates.
  • VIRTUAL JURY TEST: The first U.S. criminal jury trial conducted this week via video conference in Austin, Texas, is getting more scrutiny than the typical traffic matter as court administrators and legal observers tease out lessons for future cases. The trial had its share of technical glitches, but Presiding Judge Nicholas Chu and Texas court administrators think the experiment went well enough to serve as a potential model for how to restart jury trials in the middle of the pandemic.
  • VOTING RULES: A divided Supreme Court declined to block Rhode Island from proceeding with plans to relax a two-witness or notary requirement for absentee ballots in upcoming elections, rejecting a Republican challenge. Recent high court emergency actions in other cases have made voting more difficult during the pandemic, dating back to April when a majority of justices sided with Republicans on Wisconsin voting rules.
  • BIGGER-THAN-EXPECTED DROP: The number of Americans applying for state unemployment benefits fell below 1 million for the first time since the pandemic began in March, suggesting the economic recovery is gaining some traction amid a deceleration in coronavirus infections.

Editor’s Top Picks

New York Blocks $1 Billion in Fraudulent Unemployment Claims
The New York State Department of Labor has rejected as fraudulent more than $1 billion in unemployment insurance claims since the start of the outbreak, even as it paid out $40 billion in benefits.

Cuomo Quarantine Order on Travelers to New York Upheld by Court
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s imposition of a two-week quarantine order on people traveling to New York from states that have high levels of infection doesn’t violate the Constitution, a federal judge ruled.

Federal Panel Rejects Mass Consolidation of Virus Coverage Cases
Hundreds of businesses suing their insurers for pandemic-related business interruption coverage will fight on individually for now after a federal judicial panel refused to centralize their cases.

Telehealth’s Post-Virus Power in Doubt as Virtual Visits Decline
Virtual doctor’s visits in August were half of what they were during their April peak, a sign the pandemic might not be the turning point for virtual health without sweeping changes.

Hogan Partners, Law School Deans Push For D.C. Diploma Privilege
The push to allow lawyers to practice without passing the bar exam in Washington, D.C. has gained some heavyweight support.

CUNY Beats Injunction in CARES Act Suit Over Faculty Layoffs
An employees’ union lost its bid to force the City University of New York to reinstate thousands of adjunct faculty and staff members laid off amid the pandemic, after a federal judge said Wednesday that it lacks a cognizable claim.

Texas Democrats Sue Again Over Demise of Straight Ticket Voting
Democrats are once again asking a federal judge to force Texas to allow voters to vote a straight ticket in November, arguing that the option will help lines move faster at the polls during the coronavirus pandemic.

Home Health Agencies Seek Narrower Covid-19 Paid Leave Rule
Health-care workers who have direct contact with patients should be excluded from accessing coronavirus-related paid leave benefits, according to a trade group for the home health industry.

N.J. Nursing Homes Face Covid-19 Death Claims in State Court
Two New Jersey nursing care facilities must defend negligence and malpractice claims growing out of residents’ Covid-19 deaths in state court, a federal court in the state said.

INSIGHT: Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations Without the Workplace
Remote workplace investigations, once thought to be temporary, may be with us for the long haul due to Covid-19. Attorneys with the Law Offices of Amy Oppenheimer offer tips for better online communication, working with remote technology, and creating rapport with witnesses without in-person eye contact, reading body language, and handling documents.

Click here for updates on how federal courts are operating during the pandemic.

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Editor’s Note: The Bloomberg Law news team has been closely covering the legal, regulatory, business, and tax implications of the coronavirus pandemic. This daily email highlights the top stories of the day, across practice areas. To unsubscribe, please adjust your Bloomberg Law newsletter settings. For assistance, contact our help desk at 888-560-2529 or help@bloomberglaw.com.

To contact the reporter on this story: Molly Ward in Washington at mward@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com