COVID-19 data privacy could be a Pandora’s box

by Gerald Sauer

It has taken a global pandemic to finally move legislators in DC toward progress on consumer privacy issues. Despite an urgent need for a comprehensive legal framework to protect personal data, more than a year after it first began looking at a federal scheme, Congress has not managed to reach consensus on a framework such as the European Union’s GDPR or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Now, calls from public health experts to implement a system of contact tracing of individuals infected with COVID-19, and a seat-of-the-pants Senate proposal, have put data protection into hyperdrive.

We’re at a critical juncture, with the health crisis driving us toward a quick fix that could jeopardize the broader public interest. It’s the perfect moment for Congress to put differences aside and enact comprehensive federal data privacy laws, while also addressing the unique challenges of data collection during the coronavirus pandemic. A powerful cure is needed for the country’s data privacy disease, not simply an interim coronavirus relief patch that could, as explained below, open a Pandora’s box of problems.

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Celebrating Its 23rd Anniversary – S&W Promotes Three New Partners and Launches New Website

by Gerald Sauer

On the 23rd anniversary of its founding, Sauer & Wagner LLP is pleased to announce the promotion of Gregory Barchie, Amir Torkamani and Sonya Goodwin to Partner.  

Gregory Barchie has substantially litigated commercial, entertainment, real estate, employment, and intellectual property disputes in federal and state courts and in private arbitrations. Greg joined S&W in 2015 and has served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, President of the “Out of Court” section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, and President of the Southern California Business Litigation Inn of Court. He successfully defended a guarantor on a multi-million-dollar loan case involving the “sham guaranty” doctrine and prevailed on several anti-SLAPP motions including against claims for breach of contract/lease in an environmental contamination case, and fraud and intentional interference with economic advantage in a dispute between a borrower and mortgage loan brokers.

Amir Torkamani, who joined S&W in June 2012, focuses on commercial, entertainment, real estate, employment, and intellectual property litigation and has substantial experience handling jury and bench civil trials in federal and state courts, as well as litigating disputes in private arbitrations. He was recognized for obtaining one of the Top 100 Jury Verdicts in California in 2019 and was named a Rising Star by Southern California Super Lawyers in 2013 – 2018. Amir’s successes include the favorable settlement of a multi-million-dollar real estate dispute involving return of a substantial security deposit after the tenant had failed to pay rent and substantially damaged the property, as well as a commercial lease dispute involving a tenant facing eviction and substantial interruption of a machining and product development company.
Amir received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, both at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his J.D. from the University of Southern California.

Sonya Goodwin joined S&W at the end of 2019. She has focused her practice exclusively in the employment arena, counseling both employers and employees in a wide variety of employment issues including wage and hour issues, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract, as well as conducting investigations of workplace issues. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section.

Sonya earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, in history and international studies, from the University of California, San Diego. She attended UCLA School of Law, where she received her J.D.

S&W also released its redesigned website as part of the celebration of its 23rd anniversary. The website is located at www.swattys.com.   

For Lawyers, Social Distancing Could Be the New Normal: Gerald Sauer’s article for Law.com

For legal professionals, this new virus has completely rewritten how business is done. Courthouses are closed, office buildings are empty and a lot of things that once were urgent have suddenly been put on indefinite hold.

by Gerald Sauer

The novel coronavirus pandemic is reshaping our world in ways large and small, from compulsive hand washing to take-out meals to home-schooling. As we’re all forced to shelter in place, we find ourselves connecting with others in ways we may not have known about (e.g., Zoom), and in ways we never truly appreciated (e.g., email, texting, messaging).

For legal professionals, this new virus has completely rewritten how business is done. Courthouses are closed, office buildings are empty and a lot of things that once were urgent have suddenly been put on indefinite hold. We no longer meet in person with clients, we’ve stopped going to court, and we can’t even enjoy collegial get-togethers to exchange business cards and referrals.

Read full story on Law.com [Subscription Required]

Michael Avenatti leaves the federal court in New York City.

Attorneys Should Relearn Rules of Civility: Gerald Sauer’s article for Bloomberg Law

Basic tenets of civility and decorum in the legal profession are being drowned out by a win-at-any-cost mentality, writes Gerald Sauer, founding partner at Sauer & Wagner LLP in Los Angeles. Legal rules, ethics standards, and principles of civility were established not for the purpose of being pushed and broken, but to ensure a system of fairness, he says.

by Gerald Sauer

Recently, a judge before whom I appeared told me that I had an “old-school sense of ethics.” Her comment took me by surprise, but upon further reflection I realized that she was right: I always wear a suit and tie to court; I stand up when I’m speaking to a judge, and I treat witnesses and opposing counsel with respect. I’m decidedly “old school.”

How sad. That I’m considered an outlier in my profession speaks to the pervasive degradation of the practice of law. In a society increasingly defined by the norms of reality TV, it seems to have become acceptable for lawyers to push buttons and break rules.

Read full story on Bloomberg Law

Job (In)Security: How to Manage Economic Uncertainty: Sonya Goodwin’s article for Glassdoor

The coronavirus pandemic might be the biggest threat to employees — and the economy — since the 2008 recession. Are you protected if your employer cuts back your hours or lays you off?

by Sonya Goodwin

Time Off? 

If you need time off because you or a loved one is affected by coronavirus, or if your place of work or child’s school is closed, you may get up to two weeks’ paid sick leave under a proposed law that passed the House on March 13 and is expected to clear the Senate. As currently drafted, the law covers employers with fewer than 500 employees but exempts smaller employers who can prove economic hardship.  

Some large employers are adopting policies to respond to the pandemic. On top of existing paid sick leave, Walmart will provide up to two weeks’ paid leave for ill or quarantined employees. Darden Restaurants, the parent of Olive Garden, will permanently provide paid sick leave to all hourly employees. State and local governments may also provide limited paid sick leave, and you might be eligible for state disability leave if you’re sick with coronavirus.

Read full story on Glassdoor.com

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