the Zealous

30 Jan 24

Lawyers occupy a unique and vital role in society, as guardians and champions of the oppressed and persecuted. The world has recognized this essential function by enshrining certain principles via proclamations of international law. For example, the United Nations has issued its Basic Principles on the Roles of Lawyers (1990) to "assist Member States in their task of ensuring and protecting the proper role of lawyers," and which "should be respected and taken into account by Governments within the framework of their national legislation and practice."

Among the more critical principles are the following:

16. Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

17. Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.

18. Lawyers shall not be identified with their clients or their clients' causes as a result of discharging their functions.

A consortium of international human rights organizations, bar associations, and advocacy groups has released its annual report coinciding with the International Day of the Endangered Lawyer, January 24. This year's focus is on Iran.

14 Jan 24

Enacted in 1872, section 16600 of the California Business & Professions Code proclaims that "every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void." Courts have "consistently affirmed that section 16600 evinces a settled legislative policy in favor of open competition and employee mobility." Edwards v. Arthur Anderson (Cal. S. Ct. 2008). Recent legislation has only strengthened the bite of the law, rendering non-compliance quite costly for businesses.

California and Massachusetts offer two contrasting lessons on the impact of non-competes in the technology industry. In contrast to California's policy of maximizing employee mobility, Massachusetts has long permitted non-competes, and even after reform legislation was passed in 2018, routinely enforces them.

14 Dec 23

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on December 10, 1948. Promulgated in the darkness between the brutal horrors of World War II and the dawn of the Cold War, the power of its words has inspired numerous constitutions of nations and international human rights treaties. Above all, it stands as an exemplar of an international consensus of a kind that seems hopelessly unattainable today.