Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Women's right to sue as a class limited. Is that the good news or the bad?

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a super-large group of women attempting to sue Wal-Mart failed to establish a commonality of purpose in the filing of a class action lawsuit.  The decision was split numerous ways.  Justice Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court.  Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy and Alito joined in the opinion.  Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan joined as to Parts I and III and Justice Ginsburg filed an opinion which concurred in part and dissented in part as to Part II, in which Breyer, Sotomayor and Kagan joined.  While the "majority" obviously leaned way towards the conservative side of the Court, the issues of gender discrimination and the right to sue as a group got mixed up with the issue of what constitutes a group for purposes of certification as a class.  Many view this decision as a "win" for "big business" and a loss for the "liberals."  However, if you look beneath the surface of the actual holding, the suit remains viable as to 3 of the 7 named plaintiffs and across the country other potential plaintiffs are coming forward and corporate policies will be scrutinized on a more localized level.  That is not all bad, although the loss for certain of the plaintiffs seems unreasonably unfair, considering the technical nature of the decision.  Anything that clarifies the certification process such that more victories for the discriminated upon may be forthcoming in the long run cannot be all bad.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Exciting Changes Happening With Association of Certified Family Law Specialists

At the latest board meeting of ACFLS, we learned that as of August 18, 2011 our brand new website will go live.  This website will allow Facebook-like control over comments, blogs, forums, messaging, profiles, calendaring and the like.  As I was involved from the very beginning in designing and creating content for the ACFLS website, I feel particularly proud as to how far we have come in this techno-savvy world.  Generally, lawyers are so busy, it has proven difficult to move the more seasoned lawyers into the virtual world.  Clearly, that world has now met our world and it is an amazing one that I cannot believe we ever lived without!

Also, our Newsletter has received a major facelift in terms of name and presentation and we are inaugurating a monthly news blast to go out to all of our members starting this July!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Flurry of Estate Planning Activity

Seems like everyone has stopped to think about the realities of life (and death) and planning for the expected and unexpected future. I am encouraged that more and more frequently, my friends, relatives and clients are calling me about updating their estate plan or developing one for the very first time.  And calls come in every day about creating or amending a trust.  Not only that, it is that time of year for inquiries about a prenuptial agreement.  Often, the couple has not provided themselves with enough time to prepare, review and sign a prenup at least 7 days before the wedding.  More often than not, they are left with the only option of drafting a community property (post-nuptial) agreement which sometimes they never get around to doing after the wedding. But at least they are learning of the necessity and objective good practice of putting down in writing how they want to handle their financial lives in the present - and in the future.