The Windsor case, decided by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2013, has great social and emotional significance today. In fact, the monumental social impacts of the case–in a way–have overshadowed the positive, long-term financial benefits to which same-sex couples now have access. As a result, some of these couples have overlooked their financial windfalls and are not yet taking advantage of these benefits with sound financial, tax, and estate planning.
The ultimate multitasking machine – a treadmill desk.
Having trouble maintaining an exercise routine along with a hectic work schedule, family obligations, and other personal commitments? If you like to multitask, two Midwest law firms may have found the perfect solution for you.
With more businesses trying to find ways to improve their employees’ health and wellness (and thereby reducing absences from the office, lowering insurance premiums, etc.), Taft Stettinius & Hollister and Quarles & Brady have gone beyond the typical corporate wellness program offerings of smoking cessation, discounted weight loss programs, and so on. Employees now have the option to make use of “treadmill desks” – and they are just what you think they are – a desk placed high enough to stand in front of, large enough to hold a laptop, cell phone, and other essentials, and that can be placed over a traditional treadmill or just a rotating belt. More expensive versions look like typical heavy wood desks, but come with built in Bluetooth-enabled consoles to track the distance walked, calories burned, etc., and can be adjusted up or down to allow for use without the treadmill as well.
There is even a website dedicated to reviewing products and providing advice on using treadmill desks, including proper etiquette, the best kind of work to do while on a treadmill, and accessories to help your productivity, such as telephone headsets. I’ve been hearing about the trend in moving towards a standing-only workspace, but apparently some of the country’s largest employers, like Microsoft and Google, have been offering these to their employees for some time.
Any readers out there using a treadmill desk, and if so, have you seen any benefits yet?
End of summer?
While it seems like summer is trying to end earlier every year, I’m not going to let it. Sorry. Labor Day is the first weekend of September, not the last weekend of the summer. Yeah, I know kids’ soccer practice has been going on for weeks and college football begins this weekend and some folks are already back in school. But my flip flops aren’t going away quite yet!
The weather will remain nice in the east for many more weeks and the beaches might even be a little more inviting with smaller crowds. The ocean water is still warm and golf or fishing or tennis or running is only better this time of the year. And you are still allowed to read those summer books that you haven’t quite finished yet.
So though the days are getting a little shorter and AccuWeather is telling me I might need a sweater soon, summer is not ending for me for quite some time. Maybe when I get my skis out of storage…
It is no secret that smartphone and tablet use has dramatically increased over the past few years, so much so that mobile device sales have outpaced PC sales at Lenovo according to a recent article in the New York Times. The rise in smartphone and tablet use means increased demand for products suited to the mobile experience.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), for example, seeks an app that will integrate departmental enforcement data from the Wage and Hour Division with other publicly available data. In an effort to encourage development, the DOL has launched an app contest called the DOL Fair Labor Data Challenge. The challenge is summarized by the DOL in this way:
Your challenge is to create an application that integrates publicly -available enforcement data from the Wage and Hour Division and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for various industries with other publicly available consumer friendly data sets and consumer ratings sites like Yelp and mapping tools like Google Maps. The application will help consumers locate such establishments and view their federal enforcement and violations history as well as read consumer reviews to help them decide where to spend their hard-earned wages. Not only can this compliance information be useful to consumers, it can likewise factor into employees’ decisions while job hunting.
See Challenge Summary at http://fairlabor.challenge.gov/
Submissions are being accepted through October 11, and the winner will be announced on November 2. Prize information, judging criteria and information on how to enter can be found online at http://fairlabor.challenge.gov/.
Those interested in DOL Wage and Hour Division matters outside of the mobile app development realm, please note that ALI CLE is offering a program titled, “Wage and Hour Practice Today: Policies and Litigation Strategies after Comcast, Genesis, and Espenschied” on September 17.
Despite my time in the Pacific Northwest, my Jersey driving instincts returned in full force. I use my horn more often than not and I get easily frustrated by drivers daring to do the actual speed limit. And please don’t get me started on drivers who use the passing lanes beyond their intended purpose, which is clearly for “PASSING” only. For the record, I appreciate the fact that I need to be more patient while driving, especially now that I’ve got precious cargo (my little girls) in the car with me 99% of the time. I am definitely working on this driving “situation”.
Slowly, I am reforming myself back to the Seattle driver I liked better. I “rarely” speed these days. I continually remind myself of my mother’s quote, “It is better to be late, than to not get there at all”. The profanity has stopped, the hand gestures as well (more out of necessity because my three year-old is a human parrott!) But everyone has a slip up every once and awhile. Well, I had three.
Over the last year, I’ve paid three fines for moving citations for running red lights or for failing to stop at a red light. I’ve chosen those words VERY CAREFULLY. I PAID the tickets but I vehemently denied my guilt to my husband and to anyone who cared to listen to my rantings. I am sure my Jersey driving raised questions about the credibility of my statements. Well, and then there were these photos. The photos certainly didn’t help my case.
You see, nowadays there are cameras EVERYWHERE, especially at major intersections.
A typical red light camera
These cameras are a wonderful, steady stream of revenue for the townships that use them. Towns get increased funds through the tickets issued from them, without increasing their police force (in fact, most towns are cutting their forces-I digress). I loathe, no hate, these cameras. And on three instances, municipalities sent me tickets through the mail, with photos included, showing me either in the middle of an intersection under a red light or stopped at a red light, behind the pedestrian line.
Despite the photos, I screamed my innocence. I was quite certain I came to complete stop in one instance. And technically the photo I was sent showed my vehicle in a fixed, static position at the red light, well behind the cross walk. It really didn’t prove that I failed to come to a stop at the light. It showed me stopped, at the red light, technically speaking. And in the other two instances, I had proceeded slowly through a yellow light that changed quicker than I could blink an eye. Nevertheless, I paid the tickets because it was honestly far simpler for me to do.
Yes, I took the easy way out. Now as a mother of two, who works full time, I can’t afford to fight everything on principle alone. I need to do a cost benefit analysis (CBA) of my time. In this instance it was multiple days off work, as a new employee, to fight tickets that I could still be forced to pay in the end. So I paid the tickets.
And now, at every yellow light, I hit the brakes. I have become the driver my previously self would have honked and screamed at in frustration. You see, I’m so nervous about getting another one of these tickets, that I just stop now- no matter what. Sometimes, I worry that this reaction is exposing me and my family to risk from a rear-end collision. But I can only pay so many tickets, right?
Well, I was vindicated recently. For months now, I’ve been saying that the cameras that captured my photo were wrong. I have also argued that the camera and the traffic lights were not calibrated correctly. Thankfully, there were other folks out there who believed as I did and had more time on their hands to fight this injustice! A class action was brought in one of my three instances, there was an admission of improper calibration and a settlement was reached. Yay, me!!
I was right all along. Clearly, the $8.52 class action settlement check I received last week did not make me whole again. But the vindication I feel, now knowing I was right, is priceless. Of course, I’m still stopping at yellow lights and working on reforming myself back to the Seattle driver I know and love. But in the meantime, I am thinking long and hard about what I will splurge on with my settlement check. Starbucks, maybe?
Heard u were in an accident. I may be able to help you get $ for injuries. Call me @ xxx-xxx-xxxx…
In April, the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline issued an ethics opinion which determined that text message advertising is generally permissible under Prof.Cond.R 7.2(a), provided that the messages also comply with rules 7.1 and 7.3. In the usual scenario, lawyers would get cell phone numbers of prospective clients from accident or police reports, and then send a text to those numbers soliciting employment. Because of the limitations of text messaging, the information in the text would be general and usually include a link to a website where more information could be obtained.
In order to comply with the rules, the ethics opinion set additional parameters for certain circumstances – ones which might be deemed too obtrusive to entice a lawyer to make use of this medium, including: 1) having the words “advertising material” or “advertisement only” at both the beginning and end of the message; 2) reprinting the entire text of a “Understanding Your Rights” statement, which, by itself, is so long that it would carry over into multiple texts; and 3) the lawyer’s name and office address. Further, if the lawyer cannot verify that the prospective client won’t be charged a fee to receive the text, they need to employ “free to end user” technology, thereby taking on responsibility for any costs incurred. They must also comply with any applicable federal and state telemarketing laws.
Have you ever tried this approach, or know a lawyer who did? If you haven’t, would you?
[box]If you’re interested in learning more about this topic and other ways that lawyers can ethically market themselves using social media, tune in for a one-hour seminar on August 21 with Stuart Teicher, When Ads Attack: Ethical Issues in Advertising on Social Media[/box]
(Allegedly) abused dogs in the shelter: who should pay for their care?
Earlier this year, if a person was arrested for animal cruelty, her animals would be seized by law enforcement and then sent to non-profit shelters where they would languish indefinitely in crowded, unhealthy conditions pending the outcome of the person’s animal cruelty prosecution. The burden of housing these animals fell on the shoulders of non-profit shelters which often lacked the necessary resources to provide adequate care.
With PA House Bill 82, signed into law by Governor Tom Corbett this past month, the financial burden is shifted from the non-profit agencies to the defendant: if someone is charged with animal cruelty, she is now forced to pay for the care of her animal(s) pending resolution of her criminal case.
On its face, this legislation seems like a laudable measure – easing the financial burden of already-taxed agencies and increasing the ‘deterrence factor’ for would-be animal cruelty defendants. The American Kennel Club, however, was adamantly opposed. The organization, which “promotes the sport of purebred dogs and breeding for type and function”, called the bill “detrimental to the rights of animal owners” because the defendant would be forced to pay for the care before being actually convicted of animal cruelty.
What do you think? Should accused defendants be forced to pay for the care of their animals pending resolution of the animal cruelty case? Should a defendant only be forced to pay the government back for the cost of care once the conviction is entered? Or should a defendant in an animal cruelty case be relinquished of all duties to pay for the care of her seized animals?
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
During the Supreme Court’s final days of the term, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg gained additional popularity in certain circles after authoring strong dissenting opinions in some of the most closely-watched cases of the year.
In response to some social media buzz that week about her dissents, a NYU Law student started a Tumblr account as a tribute to Ginsburg, titled “notoriousRBG” (a take on the name of famed rapper, Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls), who was killed in a drive-by shooting in 1997). Through the site, you’ll not only find a collection of quotes from her time on the bench, but will also learn that someone has written a comic book about her life; a variety of “fan” t-shirts have been produced; and that she favors wearing lace gloves at special occasions.
If you don’t want to publicly declare your admiration for Ginsburg on your chest, a limited edition Ginsburg bobblehead was available for a short time to a select few, courtesy of The Green Bag. One is currently up for sale on ebay if you act quickly!
Even if you disagree with Ginsburg’s legal opinions, you can’t help but have respect for the 80-year-old, two-time cancer survivor’s exercise routine. I only hope that I can do 20 full body pushups when I’m that age!