Taste of victory
By Caitlin Tremblay
People with food allergies and digestive ailments who want
access to specialized edibles have found a surprising ally in
the Justice Department, NPR reports.
In 2009, students of Lesley University in Cambridge,
Massachusetts, filed a complaint with the DoJ, claiming that the
college was in violation of Title III of the Americans with
Disabilities Act of 1990 because its meal plans were inadequate
for students with food allergies or other diseases.
After an investigation, the Justice Department's Civil
Rights Division agreed with the students and now has announced a
settlement with Lesley. The school will not only pay the
students $50,000 in damages, but will also provide them with
gluten- and allergen-free options in the dining halls and offer
special meal plans to students with allergies. It was the first
allergy-related settlement under the ADA in higher education.
The agreement turns food into an access issue, something
made possible in 2008 when Congress broadened the scope of the
ADA to accommodate people with food allergies, says NPR.
Curb your litigation
By Dan Brillman
When the Computer Electronics Show, the techie trade-show
extravaganza held annually in Las Vegas, carves out time to
discuss a legal thorn, you know it has to be a pressing industry
In between discussions of bendable screens and smartforks,
this year's attendees on Tuesdaygot the chance to hear a panel
with U.S. representative Pete DeFazio (D-OR), who talked about
how to deal with patent trolls, businesses that buy patents for
the sole purpose of bringing lawsuits against alleged
infringers. As ArsTechnica reports, DeFazio is in the process of
drawing up a modified version of the SHIELD Act, an anti-troll
bill he introduced in Congress last year.
DeFazio listened to businesspeople talk about massive legal
bills that they have to pass on to customers and the feeling
that they're being extorted by trolls. "All they (trolls) offer
is the right not to be sued," said Lee Cheng, Chief Legal
Officer at computer retailer Newegg.
One of the SHIELD Act's main features is designed to curb
lawsuits brought by trolls. It would put them on the hook for
the defendant's legal costs should the defendant win the case.
Other ideas included making it less costly to challenge a
patent's validity with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
War crime debate
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
Al Qaeda facilitator Ali al Bahlul, who made propaganda
videos for Osama bin Laden, was convicted in 2008 of providing
material support to a terrorist. But now the Justice Department
has filed a brief in a Washington appeals court arguing that the
conviction must be vacated, reports The Washington Post. The
Justice Department still maintains that al Bahlul's conviction
was constitutional, but it filed the brief in the wake of a
ruling by the same appeals court reversing the conviction of Salim Hamdan, bin Laden's former driver and bodyguard, on
charges of providing material support for terrorism.
The DoJ says that the decision in the Hamdan case, which
found that providing support for terrorism was not a war crime
at the time of Hamdan's alleged conduct from 1996 to 2001, was
flawed. By filing a brief to have the al Bahlul case vacated,
the Justice Department may be signaling its intention to appeal
both decisions to either a full court of appeals or the Supreme
Court, says the Post.
Earlier in the week, Charlie Savage of The New York Times
reported that the Obama administration's legal team was divided
on whether to drop the two terrorism cases. A number of opposing
memorandums had been passed around the legal department, and the
final decision was in the hands of Solicitor General Donald
By Casey Sullivan
Dewey & LeBoeuf. Howrey. Thelen. These once-prestigious law
firms that met untimely demises are bound by a few common
symptoms that should now serve as lessons for others, according to an advisory written by Brad Hildebrandt, the chairman of
Among traps that law firm managing partners should avoid:
overly ambitious business plans that aim to open offices and
hire partners quicker than a law firm is financially able; not
having the right mix of practice areas; and the disingenuous
engineering of the law firm's financials to better position
itself both publicly and internally.
Hildebrandt also expressed the need to clearly establish the
roles of law firms' leaders to promote a sense of transparency
throughout the partnership and prevent a "culture of secrecy" --
a problem, he said, that existed in many defunct law firms.
Hildebrandt is an adviser to Thomson Reuters.
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