Transportation

Data is King!!!

Data is King

In the early days, people though Uber and Lyft were crazy to think people would ride in each other’s personal vehicles. In NYC the number of FHV’s rose dramatically since 2013. Uber and Lyft need massive supply of vehicles and driver to provide on demand service. The increase in the supply lead to an increase in demand which led to a need for more supply of vehicles. The 8.6 Million residents and over 60 million visitors are always seeking to go from point A to point B. All these vehicles are being driven primarily in the 22 square smiles of Manhattan (302 square smiles of all 5 boroughs). Manhattan has a famous grid system that dates back to 1811. What was known to be the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811, which planned Manhattan’s famous grid system, was completed at the end of the 19th century and produced 11 major avenues and 155 cross-town streets still used today. The grid begins north of Houston Street, since the area to its south was well established when the grid came to be in 1811. Broadway, one of Manhattan’s oldest thoroughfares (and the world’s longest) runs perpendicularly as it progresses north from the tip of Manhattan up into the Bronx.  As it crisscrosses the straight avenues, it creates large, open intersections (Union Square, Madison Square, Herald Square, Times Square, Columbus Circle, etc.).

Lyft and Uber seem to have a mission of improving people’s lives with the world’s best transportation. But this is more than just about technology or moving into adjacent categories like bikes and scooters. Lyft and Uber seem to see ride-hailing as a way to upend the negative aspects of automobiles. Keep in mind that they are the second highest household expense and a typical car is used only about 5% of the time. Despite all the success, Lyft and Uber are still in the early phases of its market opportunity, as rideshare networks account for roughly 1% of the miles traveled in the US. But to truly achieve the vision of transforming the transportation industry, the company will need to be aggressive with AI (Artificial Intelligence).

 

By embedding machine learning into its technology stack, Lyft and Uber have the advantage of data on over one billion rides and more than ten billion miles – which allows for training of models to improve the experience, such as by reducing arrival times and maximizing the available number of riders and creating sophisticated pricing models. But when it comes to AI, the holy grail is autonomous driving. Part One is creating the network. The nature of the Manhattan grid and the rise of Uber and Lyft created the network. The path to Autonomous vehicles is largely tied to the continued success of Uber and Lyft. This is because Autonomous vehicles will likely be most effective when managed through sophisticated routing systems which ridesharing networks have. As such, they can manage the network. Part three is autonomous vehicles. Most accident are caused by human error. Take the human partially out and then fully out of the equation and you are left with less and less accidents. The level 5 autonomous vehicle is supposed to be in operation within the next 10 years. Even if you push the timeline out further, the reality is that with partially autonomous vehicles there will be less accidents.

 

A company must have resources and scale to effectively pursue to collection of data and AI. Data is the “cash cow” of the digital age. Like gold and oil in decades past, there is a rush to accumulate as much data about consumers as quickly as possible. Companies like Facebook and Google are acquiring and making a fortune off the sale of said data. The current environment surrounding data acquisition and the proliferation of sensory technology in our vehicles is astounding. The increased presence of sensors and cameras within modern cars yield greater ability to monitor performance and surroundings. Today’s vehicles can identify which part of the car’s interior needs maintenance or if there are obstacles around us as we drive. These sensors generate data that is analyzed in the hopes of creating self-driving vehicles. Self-driving cars would generate immense amounts of data (1 gigabyte per second). The possibilities created by these acquisitions are equally immense. Vehicles will potentially be able to relay the location of specific landmarks like parking spaces in a crowded lot, for instance. While the ability to locate a parking space from a single application on your phone is beneficial, it is only one positive change self-driving vehicles could bring about.

So how does that affect the workforce. First, self-driving vehicles would remove driver necessity in the transport industry. Taxis, cargo trucks, etc. would find their once human-operated vehicles controlled by a computer receiving incredible amounts of data as it travels.  There would not be payroll discrepancies about overtime wages. Gone would be the days of driver error resulting in accidents (which result in $242 billion a year in the United States). Like the invention of the mechanized assembly line, the widespread implementation of self-driving vehicles would make the use of anything else obsolete.

The presence of affordable autonomous travel would exponentially expand the travel market. Transportation companies would be able to enter and reach people in the developing world who are unable to afford vehicles of their own or transport services operated by human drivers. The presence of vehicles always connected to the internet opens up the avenue for location and time-based advertisements. Companies could not only generate revenue from the use of vehicles and the sale of vehicle data, but also from advertisers trying to reach constituents in a particular region.

Self-driving vehicles can potentially streamline the route optimization and dispatching processes of your fleet – new orders will no longer have to be communicated from headquarters, as the car nearest a request would immediately get the request. Traffic congesting routes would be circumvented as the car receives data on the various paths towards its destination. The advent of the self-driving vehicle will be disruptive to various industries. Companies will have to adjust their processes, but the benefits should outweigh the costs. On the ever-growing hill to cutting-edge technology, there is one item to always keep in mind: Data is King.

Trying a Case- An Innate Quality and Exhilarating Experience

Trying a case before a judge and jury (and spectators) is probably the most exciting thing I have ever done as a lawyer. Trying cases is not for everyone. It almost always fascinates lawyers and lay people alike. For some practitioners, it can be a paralyzing experience to stand before a judge and jury, while arguing your client’s position. That is why not everyone can be a trial attorney. For me it is exhilarating. It is a high. It is the time for the curtain call and for the show to begin. Stage fright is not an option. It is my time to shine and do so for the protection of the interests of my clients.

Trying a case is not acting, but is that moment in time, when an advocate much reach deep within and find the words and level of emotion needed to reach the jury, make them put themselves in the shoes of your client and thus, deliver the point, deliver “the message”. The reaction from judges and juries is based upon more than years of experience, intense preparation, and the desire to prove right from wrong. Yes, we must stand tall, make our case and dissect our opponents arguments with focus, articulation and the precision of a surgeon. But all the years of experience and preparation does not make a good trial attorney. A good trial attorney can try a case….but a great trial attorney is born with that certain quality that makes them personable to the jury, credible to the judge and innately able to explain why your theory of the case is correct. In other words, why you should win/prevail.

The courtroom can be intimidating, but it is a living, breathing creature that contains many moving parts. The navigation through this maze of traps and black holes must be done with precision, clarity and efficiency. This requires substantive and procedural knowledge of the law, as well as knowing all the persons involved in the courtroom, especially the Judge. Your adversary, court clerk, Judges legal secretary, court officer, and stenographer ALL play a role in the outcome of a trial lawyer’s case. Each individual who comes and goes from the courtroom, the temperature, the level of lighting, and even the comfort of the jurors’ chairs can affect the verdict. As an advocate, I do everything possible, within the rules and bounds of the law, to win my cases for my clients and that includes taking a case to trail and verdict when need be.

It all begins when I stand up in the courtroom. All eyes are on me. The floor is mine. I love it. It is time to sink or swim. You are either ready or you are not. There is no middle ground. My demeanor, mannerisms, dress, confidence and humility are all alive and obvious to all of the jurors to see and observe. The import of making no errors, especially early on, is paramount. Holding doors, apologizing, and assisting others creates the preliminary framework for the trial that has, theoretically, already begun. Let others exit elevator first, don’t speak on phone loudly, or bustle through the hallways as if you were more important than anyone else, to name just a few. The slightest mistake and loss of focus will be irreversible. We are dealing with human beings who will NOT find for you and your client if they do not LIKE you.

While I cant try a case every day, it is surely something I LOVE and that I am good at. I welcome my clients to come see me in action. I love to dazzle them. It is one thing for you to call a client after the trial is over and tell them that you won the case. It is a whole other story for the client to see you in action and to see you shine bright. Remember, there is no pat on the back or trophy for second place. Perhaps I love to talk. Perhaps I love the action of a trial. Perhaps I love to be great at what I do. In the end, I want to WIN because no matter how much you prepare and try your best, if you lose a trial, the client will not be happy…..and I always love to say “clients don’t pay me for my good looks, they pay me to WIN”….and WIN is what I shall do.

Lawyers as Strategic Advisors in the Trucking Industry

The transportation industry is an unpredictable environment in which to do business. The trucking industry is a heavily regulated industry that involves many pitfalls and hurdles. Advisors to the transportation industry know that the best way to handle this challenge is to plan for it. Transportation entrepreneurs often need a full range of services to complement their management team. Such services often include crafting alternate carrier practices, creative planning, utilizing innovative information technology solutions and the implementation of best business practices.

Businesses today don’t need armchair philosophizers; they need business-savvy “real life” counselors who can help guide their company to success. Those in the trucking and logistics segments of the transportation industry often need advisors who can focus on business issues such as carrier profit improvement, enhancing margins, gaining efficiencies and driving down operating costs. Consultants often provide a thorough analysis of the current business operations and identify issues that need improvement. But an outside consultant usually lacks the trust of the leaders of a company and does not often grant them a seat at the decision-making table

Succeeding in the trucking industry requires allocating time and resources to the areas that your business will most benefit your bottom line. Beyond developing your services to target the market, transportation entities most often need advisors who have the heart and soul of your business in mind. The most accomplished lawyers are those that become "trusted advisors" to their transportation clients. This means that their counsel is sought not only for discrete cases, but also on an enterprise level- and not just for "legal" matters. The trusted advisor has a profound understanding of the clients’ business, the industry the client works in and can provide professional judgment, emotional intelligence, candor and experience tailored to the client’s risk tolerance and enterprise objectives. The trusted advisor must be more than just someone who knows the law or who can handle a case. The trusted advisor must be a part of the company's DNA.

Business leaders in the transportation industry today expect their lawyers to counsel them on legal matters, but not all realize that a lawyer who is knowledgeable in the business of transportation can contribute to the success of their business by serving as strategic advisors. While everyone ultimately seeks to earn a seat at the table and be considered a strategic advisor, many lawyers fall short. Nothing is more frustrating for the business team and the lawyer when this relationship doesn’t exist.

A lawyer can only be viewed as a strategic advisor to a transportation entity if they know the industry and the specific business well enough to selflessly contribute to the issues facing the company. Moreover, if the lawyer views their role as to only weigh in on legal issues or the legal implications of issues instead of the business implications, they will be viewed as a legal advisor and will not be thought of as being able to add value beyond that. The business lawyer is the one who leaders want to invite to participate in meetings which are viewed as strategic. Oftentimes, legal issues are raised in the typical “non-legal” meetings and, if a lawyer is not present, decisions may be made that need to be undone or modified in the future. A lawyer will be viewed as a strategic advisor when they are not just available, but are solution-oriented and well-respected by their peers in the company

The job of the strategic lawyer is to provide advice to the business decision makers regarding the legal risks of the various courses of action, devise practical legal and compliant solutions that get management and the company where they need to go to achieve the company’s goals, and objectives and aid the CEO, COO and Board in making those hard decisions. The strategic lawyer communicates his or her understanding of that role and who the proper decision makers. Too many lawyers think that they should be making the decisions. That’s fatal. Of course, the lawyer needs to always urge compliance with applicable laws and regulations and reports up the chain of command. The strategic advisor lawyer must be focused almost entirely on the company’s business and not just on the competitors of the company. They must be the innovator disruptors in the industry, focusing on executing plans and making the competition irrelevant.

The main reason lawyers fail at being strategic advisors is risk tolerance. Most lawyers are programmed to be risk adverse. How many attorneys have you heard of that won’t make decisions when there is a risk involved in the decision? I know a lot. While I subscribe to the general principle that corporate attorneys are advisors and not usually decision makers for business operations, corporate attorneys in the transportation field need to be ready to help the leaders make decisions and then support those decisions even when those decisions present risks. The best strategic advisors identify the risks for the business and then assist the business to mitigate and manage the risks. If the risks are extreme, a good strategic advisor will highlight those to the business as completely as possible which may include “what if” scenarios and case examples of other companies or other decisions AND if available, alternate decisions that may accomplish the same or similar purpose. A strong lawyer strategic advisor will have to work against the way he or she is programmed to avoid all risk and instead will have to consider the best interest of the company in advising management or the Board. If decisions are made by the company with the right information available and the right approach to manage the known and potential risks, the lawyer has done his or her job.

Lawyers succeed as strategic advisors by being appropriately balanced regarding risk and exercising good judgment. An excellent strategic advisor needs to constantly strive to find the right balance between supporting the business’s operational and strategic objectives and mitigating legal, regulatory, and reputational risk. The calls at either end of the spectrum are easy. The calls in the middle are typically far more nuanced and require good judgement in balancing multiple, often competing, considerations. The other way they fail is by not providing actionable advice or recommendations. A lawyer who simply describes the risks and opportunities of various options without providing a clear recommendation on which option the business ought to pursue is unlikely to be viewed as a good strategic advisor. A good strategic advisor will listen, truly understand, speak up and adapt to the changing needs of the business organization.

Properly serving the company as a trusted advisor means you have to be proactive with your business owner clients. Most lawyers who are serving business owners focus on incorporation or agreement review, intellectual property, trademarks, copyrights – things that are reactive. So they wait until one of their business owner clients comes to them with an issue and then they handle it. If there’s business litigation that’s needed, they handle it.

But what very few lawyers do – and I’m suggesting that transportation clients need – is to create a more proactive advisory relationship with your counsel.

The first thing that proactive counsel is going to do is to really get to know your clients’ business model. How do they earn their money? What types of customers do they have? How can you help them to collect payment and close deals more easily? This is one of the areas that the lawyer as trust counsel can provide, but is often overlooked by business owners. As a corporate trusted advisor, one of the things that counsel can and should do that will help the client make money (more money) right away is to help them to be able to close their deals more quickly and easily. The attorney as trusted advisor has a direct influence on this by how agreements are drafted and how counsel suggests that the agreement be signed. The Council as trusted advisor to a business owner must proactively meet with them at least one time per week. Speaking with the client on a regular basis empowers the trusted advisor to proactively make recommendations and be working on matters that will help to grow the business and secure the perimeter of the business.

The trust advisor must also meet with the company's leadership and financial team. This is one way that the trusted advisor can make a huge impact on their bottom line, by making sure that their financial systems and their financial controls are being maintained properly.

That also allows counsel to support them in getting in place a strong asset protection plan

Once you get involved in coordination and quarterbacking, transportation clients begin to see their counsel as the trusted advisor they can turn to when anything happens in their business and sometimes in their personal life. In the heavily regulated and dangerous field of trucking and transportation, there is simply too much at stake to rely upon old-school methods of business operations. Business leaders in the transportation world are always worried about disruption. Some high-tech rival might, after all, do to their sector what smartphones did to the photography industry, what e-commerce is doing to retail, and what financial technology (fintech) is threatening to do to consumer banking. 

When disruption does affect a company, it is frequently because the enterprise was already vulnerable in some fundamental way; moreover, many incumbent companies accelerate their decline through their efforts to forestall it. Panic-driven efforts to avoid or combat disruption can easily lead to hasty, reactive, short-term-oriented decisions that move a company in many directions at once, distracting its management and squandering its resources. The fear of disruption can thus be worse for a company than the actual disruption itself.

Of course, complacency or inaction can be just as problematic. Technological changes in the transportation industry, and other external competitive forces, affect many business realities in the transportation world. Proactive measures are often needed. But they should be well thought out. The best means to be proactive is to look to your trusted advisor. While many transportation entities these days have counsel to turn to when there is a problem, many do not have an attorney as a trusted advisor who can be proactive and beneficial in many more ways than the legal industry has traditionally provided service to their clients.

The disruption in the transportation, and in other industries, has also caused a disruption in the traditional modes in which business leaders seek advice. The best means to proceed with a business decision or a corporate transaction is not to seek counseling after the fact, but to receive proactive advice from someone. That someone is increasingly becoming the attorney as trusted advisor. But this type of relationship between the attorney of trusted advisor in the business owner and/or CEO does not develop overnight. Sometimes it takes many years to find a counselor as trusted advisor. This is partly due to the fact that it takes time to find someone who a business leader can share their deepest darkest secrets as well as their confidential business plans. It is also partly due to the fact that not all attorneys see themselves as the person who should be providing proactive counseling to a company.

In my experience over the past 20 years, the businesses who succeed the most and are prepared to deal with the worst-case scenario are the ones who have an attorney as their trusted advisor in the corner to help deal with all aspects of the operations of the company. The transportation industry is changing right before our very eyes. The trucking industry is in a state of flux. The peer to peer car sharing industry has provided a means by which to revolutionize the trucking industry. To stay ahead of the curve in the trucking industry you must not only have a trusted advisor, but such trusted advisor must be able to be proactive for the day-to-day operations while keeping their eye on the horizon for changes and developments in the industry. The failure to do so can lead to disastrous consequences. Remember what happened the Kodak?

 

ADA Compliance and Transportation offered via Web-Based Booking Engines

In the old days in New York City, if you wanted private for-hire ground transportation, all you had to call was call a car service call center. Some had easy to remember telephone numbers and others you could reach by calling the 311 operator or by utilizing the telephone book. With the advent and proliferation of the internet, most transportation entitles created websites by which to advertise their services. Rapid advances in technology made booking transportation over the telephone a bit outdated and time consuming. Transportation entities then started to integrate their website with a booking engine/booking platform by which people seeking transportation for-hire could check availability and costs and make bookings at lightning speed. Offering a great user experience online became the new expectation. Despite the advent of the smartphone application by which to book transportation for-hire, many car services still provide the public with the ability book private transportation on their websites.  

The ADA was enacted in 1990 to prohibit discrimination and ensure equal opportunity to people with disabilities. This applies to State and local government services, employment, commercial facilities, transportation, and places of public accommodation, which are essentially private entities that affect commerce.  These laws can be enforced by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and through private lawsuits. An unresolved legal issue has recently arisen which has led to uncertainty in the law. Uncertainty in the law almost always leads to costly litigation because a company does not clearly know what its legal obligations are. People with disabilities should be able to easily access the Internet, but to accomplish this, the DOJ should have issued regulations. It issued regulations for State and local governments to know what it must do to become compliant with the law, but the DOJ did not issue regulations that would apply to private business.

The lack of regulations has led to the absolute worst-case scenario. People with disabilities have not been served since most companies are unaware this is an issue. Most companies do not even realize this is a problem to consider and resolve until they receive a demand letter from a lawyer or are served with a lawsuit. This leads to a scramble to get compliant. Unfortunately, it can take up to a year to do so depending on the complexity of the website. Transportation companies have relatively complicated websites because customers are presented not just with information about the company, but are provided with a customized web reservation site that is often an extension of main website. Private, customized portals are often created for corporate accounts or large groups. These portals can also accept marketing and/or promotional codes helping to increase both customer loyalty and reservation volume.

At present, a company website that is purely informational or educational in nature is likely beyond the ADA’s accessibility requirements. But a website that sells goods or services directly to the public may be regarded either as a sales or service establishment in its own right, or as a service of such an establishment, and thus covered by the ADA. On the whole, it is hard to argue that a car service that provides a website booking engine by which the public can utilize to arrange for transportation does not engage in some form of commercial activity. Thus, it is safe to assume that car service websites are subject to the ADA. 

The most common allegation in a Website Accessibility Lawsuit is that the company website is inaccessible to visually-impaired customers (some cases now involve mobile apps). Such customers often rely on screen-reader software like JAWS or NVDA to interact with and access a site's content. If the website is not compatible with this or similar screen-reader technology, most visually-impaired customers will not be able to use the website.

Meanwhile, plaintiffs’ attorneys across the country are taking advantage of the confusion. More than 260 website accessibility lawsuits were filed in 2016, and significantly more were filed by the end of 2017. But these numbers do not even begin to cover the cases that are settled pre-litigation. 

As stated above, the DOJ has not issued regulations that apply to private businesses and the law remains unclear because there is a split among the federal courts as to whether the statute applies only to physical structures. According to the more narrow interpretation adopted by several courts outside of New York, a disabled person is entitled to the “full and equal enjoyment” of goods and services only if they are offered at a physical location. Thus, if a business operates exclusively through the internet, without any physical location where customers interact with the business, the ADA’s mandate for accessibility does not apply. Most transportation companies in New York have an office, but they do not offer their services at a physical location where a member of the public can come to book transportation for-hire. The below is just a short indication of how the courts have been ruling on this issue. It has not been uniform and certainly not favorable to businesses in New York.

In 2017, defendant Bang & Olufsen obtained a dismissal in a Florida court because the plaintiff failed to establish a nexus between the company website and its physical locations. In California, a judge dismissed a website accessibility suit against Dominoes, finding that the company had met its ADA obligations by providing a 24-hour toll-free phone line to assist visually-impaired customers. The judge further ruled that to require website accessibility without meaningful administrative guidance would violate Dominoes' due process rights. Yet three months later, another judge in the same federal district ruled otherwise in a case involving Hobby Lobby. Similarly, in the October 2017 Dave & Buster case, the court recognized that providing a disability assistance telephone number may be an alternative means to comply with the ADA, but the court refused to dismiss the lawsuit, in part because it was unclear if the ADA notice and phone number itself were accessible (i.e., could be read via screen-reader software).

On the other hand, the New York Court have been quite favorable to plaintiffs. In July, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in Marett v. Five Guys Enterprises, issued a decision directly speaking to the applicability of Title III of the ADA (Title III) to websites, denying Five Guys’ motion to dismiss, and holding that Title III does indeed apply to websites.  Facing a class action lawsuit brought by serial plaintiff, Lucia Marett, Five Guys sought to dismiss the claim that its website (which, among other things, allows customers to order food online for delivery or pick up at its brick and mortar stores) violated Title III and related state/local statutes because it is inaccessible to the blind, on the grounds that Title III does not apply to websites and, even if it did, the case was moot because Five Guys was in the process of updating its website to provide accessibility.  The Court rejected Five Guys’ arguments.  Citing both the text and the broad and sweeping purpose of the ADA, the Court held that Title III applies to websites – either as its own place of public accommodation or as a result of its close relationship as a service of Five Guys’ restaurants (which the court noted are indisputably public accommodations under Title III).  Further, the court was unmoved by Five Guys’ ongoing efforts to make its website accessible because they had yet to successfully do so and there was no absolutely clear assurance that further accessibility issues would be avoided. 

In August 2017, Judge Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York denied retailer Blick Art Materials' motion to dismiss a website accessibility lawsuit under the ADA. The court found that Blick's website was subject to the ADA, even for the goods and services that it sold independently of any physical retail location. The judge rejected Blick's arguments that the court should wait for DOJ guidance on a technical website accessibility standard, and that it would violate Blick's due process rights to require its website to comply with the ADA without any administrative standards or regulations. 

It seems clear that many of the courts that have considered these issues have been unsympathetic to businesses, and plaintiffs are taking advantage of the reality that many businesses are unaware of their obligations under the ADA and do not have fully accessible websites. Website accessibility lawsuits are proving to be challenging to defend and expensive to resolve. If a court finds that a website is inaccessible, it can order the business to make its website accessible and to pay the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees, costs, and expenses. Additionally, in certain jurisdictions, the court can order the business to pay the plaintiff monetary damages and/or civil penalties under state and/or local law. Many courts and the DOJ have viewed the privately developed Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, Level AA, as the de facto standard for ADA compliance. Accordingly, transportation entities who offer a web booking engine to their customers should consider reconstructing or redesigning their websites in compliance with this standard. Even if a business successfully defends such a claim, the expense of litigation may exceed the cost of compliance.

 The good news is that the United States House of Representatives recently passed a bill aimed at stemming the floodgate of ADA lawsuits brought by a small number of serial plaintiffs. The bill, the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) would impose a notice requirement and would allow businesses a grace period to cure alleged accessibility barriers before a lawsuit could be filed. Although not specifically aimed at particular type of ADA lawsuit, the reforms in the bill may provide relief from the large number of website accessibility lawsuits filed over the past few years. The bill will now move to the Senate. Regardless of whether the bill ultimately become law, it reflects a growing acknowledgement that private lawsuits under the ADA have reached a critical mass and until certain reforms are enacted to limit attorney driven suits, it is important for all businesses to understand the need for ADA compliance and the pitfalls posed by non-compliance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A New Synergy Between Automakers and TNCs

Automakers are in a complex relation­ship with Transportation Network Companies (“TNC’s”) such as Lyft and Uber. In a way, Uber and Lyft and Uber are both competitors and customers. The Uber and Lyft of today do not own vehicles. Their driver’s own them and in the short run, auto man­ufacturers will likely start producing customized vehicles for TNC drivers. In the long run or as soon as the level-5 driverless cars come on the scene, Uber and Lyft may have no choice but to go into the auto manufacturing business.

The Uber and Lyft of today are a quasi-technology company and quasi transportation service provider. They are not one to the exclusion of the other. The transportation industry, as far as the transportation of persons by ground involves 3 parties: the driver, the customer/passenger and the 3rd party intermediary that puts them together. Once the autonomous vehicle takes the driver out of the picture, Uber and Lyft will have no choice but to embrace a new business model that involves ownership of vehicles

Owning and operating a fleet of automated vehicles is vastly different from operating an app-based demand-responsive company that facilitates transportation of persons. Technological advances in transportation have made it inevitable for Motor City to move into Silicon Valley, just as the power of fleet ownership will force TNCs into partnership with vehicle manufacturers.

TNC’s are well on their way to making their vehicles more “passenger centric” by creating a com­fortable and seamless passenger experience — as opposed to today’s driver-centric vehicles. Passengers do not have to concentrate on driving and as such, there will be an increased focus on entertainment, infotainment and connectivity within existing vehicles. This effect of vehicles being more passenger centric will become even more pronounced when we have driverless vehicles. TV, audio, media, video games, video conferencing and high-speed Internet will become more commonplace.

The auto manufacturing industry is already working on the autonomous vehicle, which may place them in a better position to create their own ride-hailing service. They have the experience with vehicle creation and ownership and Uber has shown the world the way to creating a ride-hailing service for on demand ground transportation. But why would big auto create its own ride hailing platform when they can partner with Uber or Lyft. The big auto manufacturers already have name recognition and capital to make the leap and the driverless vehicle will not embroil them in the never-ending saga of whether Uber’s drivers are employees or independent contractors. This is an issue that has the potential to cause Uber to implode, especially in California, its home state. The decision in Dynamex makes that potential crystal clear.

All this points toward an era of transition where automak­ers, TNCs, software companies and other innovators in media and infotainment, such as Vugo, will operate in cooperation and some competition simultaneously. Over the next 5-10 years, they will all fumble their way through a convoluted series of new partnerships and alliances.

Regardless of whether to own or manage a fleet of vehicles, administrators are going to use and monetize their assets to the fullest. That means doing more than just connecting passengers with vehicles. It means finding new ways to unlock hidden value based on the information, communications, processing capabilities and physical location of those assets and the customers that use these vehicles. The cumulative result will be a fundamental shift in the business model for existing manufac­turers and tech companies because a new business model is growing which involves the convergence of data consumption and advertising. The vast frontier of in vehicle advertising and infotainment will create new capabilities and business models that do not quite exist yet in the consumer-produced trans­portation system of today

When driverless vehicles arrive, they will dramatically lower the cost of conveying physical things and create more opportunities for integrating entertainment and advertising into the transportation experience. Inside passenger vehicles, entertainment and retail will turn into major revenue streams. More lucrative will be the ability to mone­tize the process of physically bringing people together through dynamic pooling. All these services will also act as a plat­form for data gathering — helping companies build more sophisticated customer profiles and better understand tastes and preferences which will help advertisers target audiences even better that google already does. Since we all use computers on a regular basis, google has a semi-captive audience. What could be more captive than taking a trip in a vehicle from point A to point B and having ads targeted to you based upon a variety of data driven factors. 

This new wave of creative destruction is likely to devastate traditional auto manufac­turing and is poised to disrupt the business of car services. At the same time, mobility is the perfect hedge. While the profits of auto manufacturing might stagnate, the total revenues in the mobility space might well dwarf anything that currently exists. That is why Big Auto and many others are already betting on mobility. Investments are already in the billions. The rising masses of mobility patrons will create an opportunity for proprietors at a scale the world has never seen. The repercussions for our society and labor sectors will be far-reaching. The proprietors of tomorrow will sell trips and services rather than horsepower, and those services will be delivered more efficiently than ever before. Patrons will consume these services in new configurations. Mobile com­puting and human-dependent transportation have been a toxic cocktail from a safety standpoint, leading to distracted driving and more frequent car crashes.

On the other hand, automakers may be more determined to stop the rush to automation and focus more on the software inside the vehicle because technology can be far more profitable than auto manufacturing making. Unless auto manufacturers are well positioned, they may discourage regulatory approvals of level-5 vehicles, or they could create roadblocks to their usage by having their army of lobbyists put the proverbial brakes on the movement towards automation.

Either way, there is great hope for the future. New technology and new consumer demands already have us on the road toward a more technologically dynamic, less environmen­tally destructive and safer transportation system. Getting there depends largely on policy leadership over the coming 5 to 10 years — and a willingness of societies to bid farewell to the past and embrace the future of technology. History has taught us that if you don’t embrace technological change, you will become the next Kodak.

SCOTUS Ruling: End of the Road for Interstate Transportation Entitles as Arbitration Exemption Applies To All Employment Relationships, Including Independent Contractors

On January 15, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States of America (“SCOTUS”) ruled on 1/15/19, in a unanimous 8-0 decision, that federal courts cannot force interstate transportation workers, whether classified as employees or independent contactors into arbitration. (See New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira). The Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”), passed in 1925, enshrined in law a strong pro-arbitration policy. Pursuant to the FAA’s requirements, federal and state courts regularly enforce arbitration agreements. But as described below, there are exceptions. Several recently decided SCOTUS cases interpret the FAA very broadly and have enforced arbitration agreements, including in the employment context. (See Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis) However, Section 1 of the FAA excludes “contracts of employment of seamen, railroad employees, or any other class of workers engaged in foreign or interstate commerce,” which the Court previously ruled to include “contracts of employment of transportation workers.”  See 9 U.S.C. § 1; Circuit City Stores v. Adams. Prior to New Prime Inc. v. Oliveira, lower courts interpreted the Section 1 exemption to apply only to employees and not to independent contractors. 

Dominic Oliveira, a truck driver brought a class action suit against New Prime alleging that the company failed to pay him minimum wage for all hours worked. Oliveira brought the suit in federal court despite a provision in his independent contractor agreement with New Prime in which the parties agreed to arbitrate their disputes. Oliveira argued that the FAA’s exemption for “contracts of employment” for interstate transportation workers refers to all contracts to do work with employees, including those signed by independent contractors. The term “contracts of employment” was interpreted by SCOTUS according the arguments made by counsel for Oliveira, which was based upon the meaning of the words from the time of the FAA’s passage in 1925. In other words, counsel for Oliveira argued that the Court must interpret the statutory language based on what the words meant at the time the statute was passed. In 1925, when the FAA was enacted, “contracts of employment” referred generally to all agreements to perform work and included both employment agreements and independent contractor agreements. Because labor strife in the 1920s served as partial motivation for passage of the FAA, and because both employees and independent contractors can cause labor strife, it was argued that it would make no sense for them to be treated differently.

The SCOTUS decision was decided unanimously in workers’ favor. On the first issue, the Court ruled that a judge, rather than an arbitrator, should decide the applicability of the Section 1 exemption. In doing so, Justice Neil Gorsuch (writing for the majority) rejected the employer’s delegation clause argument, and instead cited the fact that Sections 3 and 4 of the FAA—which in part require a court to stay litigation and compel arbitration—are limited by the exceptions defined in Section 1 of the FAA. Thus, Justice Gorsuch reasoned that a court should decide whether the Section 1 exclusion applies before ordering arbitration. Justice Gorsuch explained that, in order to invoke its statutory powers under Sections 3 and 4 to stay litigation and compel arbitration, a court must first know whether the contract itself falls within or beyond the boundaries of Sections 1 and 2.

On the second and more critical issue, SCOTUS ruled that the term “contracts of employment” pertains to contracts with employees AND independent contractors.  In reaching this conclusion, Justice Gorsuch explained that then the FAA was enacted in 1925, a “contract of employment” meant nothing more than an agreement to perform work.  So, at the time, the common understanding of the Section 1 exemption meant that Section 1 applied to both agreements between employers and employees as well as agreements for independent contractors to perform work. Justice Gorsuch reinforced his decision by looking at dictionaries from the relevant time period and comparing the word “employment” as a synonym for “work;” with all work being treated as employment. Further, the Court looked at legal authorities from the time period and saw no evidence that a “contract of employment” strictly meant that an employer-employee relationship was formed. 

SCOTUS’s decision to hold that “contracts of employment” in Section 1 of the FAA include independent contractor agreements, transportation employers will now find that the arbitration agreements and class action waivers they signed with their independent contractors are mostly likely to be considered invalid. Further, some state courts applying state law have refused to uphold certain arbitration provisions, such as class action waivers, on unconscionability grounds. This means that a wave of class and collective actions can threatening to overwhelm transportation entities engaged in interstate commerce.

Arbitration is a means to permit disputes to be resolved with less litigation expense. SCOTUS’s ruling will likely raise legal and operational costs for transportation companies. These companies may be forced to pass on the higher costs to consumers who depend on interstate trucking/transportation for the delivery of commercial goods. This decision is a victory for transportation workers’, but if the costs of the goods being transported are increased due to the increased costs of litigation, it will be the public that pays the ultimate costs.

 

Congestion Surcharge on For-Hire Vehicles is a Sham

A lawsuit was filed against the State and City of New York as a result of the Congestion Surcharge that is set to go into effect on January 1, 2019. The congestion fee on taxis and for-hire vehicles was enacted under false pretense of reducing congestion but is really just a cash source for the strapped MTA. A judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing the Congestion Surcharge from going into effect. A hearing is set for January 3, 2019 for the Court to determine if the Congestion Surcharge should go into effect, as the state wants, or order a stay until the court case is resolved.

The court case was filed by yellow taxi owners, who argue the law discriminates against them.  The fact is, it’s also bad for the for-hire livery industry.  The law, set up to favor behemoths like Uber and Lyft, could put it out of business; residents of Northern Manhattan and the boroughs, who have long relied on local liveries to get around, will also suffer.

Fortunately, there's still time for the state to act and save these small businesses and protect riders. In its rush to pass it, the state ignored the law’s impact on hundreds of for-hire livery bases and some 15,000 drivers. 

Here’s how: the Congestion Surcharge law requires a $2.75 fee to be added to rides below 96th street in Manhattan. The financial responsibility of remitting the money to the state rests with companies, not drivers. This fits perfectly with companies like Uber and Lyft because they collect the fee from the passenger through their apps.

On the other hand, the law is completely incompatible with the livery base model. In our business, the driver, NOT the base, collects the fee (in cash) from passengers. The livery base is then dependent on the driver passing the fee to it before the base can pass it along to the state.

Livery bases will be penalized financially for failing to pass on the collected congestion fees. Yet, the law carries not a single provision protecting livery bases against driver refusal to pass the collected fee. All this for a sector that probably services 1% of its' trips below 96th Street. We can still fix this law and help small car services survive in the age of Uber.

If the judge today allows the law to move forward, New York State should amend the law to either exempt neighborhood livery service, given the very few trips that will apply to them, or replace the per-trip fee with an annual congestion fee that is paid by the driver at the beginning of each year.

This kind of regulatory support will not have a negative financial implication to the state, but will go a long way towards protecting small livery businesses.

To do any less would essentially lead to the extinction of the industry and fewer transportation options for New Yorkers.

Evolution of Transportation and Insurance and The Impact of Technology on The Future of Both (Innovation and Its implications upon Risk and Society)

It is quickly approaching: a world where we can get into a vehicle anytime and anywhere, but do not own it. It is a world where we are all passengers. Where we do not have to worry about dangerous drivers and accidents are drastically reduced due to the lack of human involvement. Where we can talk on the phone, review a report for a meeting, watch TV or do anything you want on your morning commute to work. Vehicles and vehicular transportation are changing drastically and quickly. While automakers and other stakeholders have invested an estimated $80 billion into autonomous vehicle technology, it remains unclear when this technology will achieve widespread consumer adoption. The when is up in the air, but the if is no longer in doubt.  Regardless of the precise timeline for its widespread adoption, it is clear that autonomous-vehicle (AV) technology will continue to improve safety and reduce risk. It is only a matter of when, not if it becomes ubiquitous.

Alongside the transformation of vehicles and differing modes of vehicular transportation, investment in autonomy, electric technology, and mobility services continues. The convergence of these three trends is set to transform how consumers and companies think about vehicles as they relate to rick, safety, and insurance. As the automobile is quickly evolving before our very eyes, we should take a moment to consider where we were, how we got here, where are we going and imagine the future possibilities.

Since the Ford Model T came off the production line in 1908 cars have been continuously evolving. Changes to vehicles over time have had the dual effect of not just improving driver experience, but has forced the automobile industry to balance innovation with safety. For example, in 1911 rear view mirrors were used for the first time. In 1921 the headrest was invented to reduce the harm caused by whiplash in rear-end collisions. 1947 saw the first car with padded dashboards, which was intended to minimize chest damage when hit head-on. In 1956, power steering became a standard feature for drivers which made maneuvering a vehicle more comfortable and improved safety. In 1958, cruise control improved user experience and paved the way for what will is the modern-day autonomous features. In 1963 the inertia-reel seatbelt was initiated by allowing the seatbelt to re-adjust to the preference of the passenger. In the US made it mandatory to have collapsible steering columns and side marker lights in all vehicles. In 1974, General Motors provided optional airbags for the driver and passenger’s seats. In 1978 the first electronic anti-lock braking system was introduced. 1981 saw the release of the first production car with supplemental restraint system airbags for the driver’s seat. By 1984, most vehicles came equipped with airbags. The 1990s saw an increasing amount of electronic systems being installed in vehicles. In 1994 side-impact airbags were introduced. In 1996 the Brake Assist System was introduced.

The turn of the century introduced new protection measures for pedestrians and development of computer technology continued. In 2000 the Lane Departure Warning System was developed. This technology which used audible, vibration  and visual warnings to alert the driver if they are leaving their lane. 2004 saw the introduction of the blind spot information system using cameras and motion sensors to avoid accidental collisions when the driver is parking or switching lanes. In 2010 the pedestrian detection system was first utilized, causing cars to brake automatically when they detect a pedestrian. It uses camera and radar technology to keep an eye out for other vehicles as well. Today, multiple safety features aided by computers are able to keep drivers from swerving out of a lane, backing up into another vehicle, running into a vehicle in front of us, flipping over, spinning out, or generally doing anything dumb. And if future predictions are correct, we can soon look forward to cars that will be able to drive themselves. There will not be an overnight change to driverless cars. Human drivers will continue to mix with autonomous vehicles on the road, and there will be various stages until we reach full autonomy. With the march of time, the modern-day automobile will support evolution until it eventually becomes fully automated.

It is best to consider AV capabilities along five levels. For example,  Level 0 means no autonomy; the human is at the wheel. Level 2 (partial automation) indicates the vehicle can steer, brake and accelerate under some circumstances. Level 3 (conditional automation) is when the vehicle can monitoring the environment as well as manage almost all driving functions. Under this technology, the driver will need to be available to take over if the vehicle confronts a situation it is not programmed to handle. Level 4 (High Autonomy) is when the vehicle can operate without human input under select conditions such as geographic area and road type. Level 5 (Full Autonomy) is where a destination is entered, but the AV operates on in any conditions and on any road than a human driver could negotiate. While full adoption of Level 5 vehicles may be some way off, onboard computers will increasingly take over, particularly for city driving. 

With these onboard computers, vehicles will become more proficient at communicating with one another and control centers will harness data to improve safety and traffic flow. Wireless technology will allow each vehicle to broadcast their position and speed to nearby cars. This will let each vehicle understand their surroundings, better identify potential perils, and determine possible corrective actions to take if such a hazard occurs. Also, communication with control centers will allow cars to broadcast their location and receive the areas of other vehicles, thus allowing the vehicle to choose a route with less traffic, which would speed up travel times and decreasing the risk of accidents.

Much of the potentialities around the AV is their potential to reduce fatalities on the road dramatically. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 94 percent of the estimated 2.2 million crashes in 2015 were the result of driver error, 2 percent were due to the environment, and the remaining 4 percent were due to unknown reasons/causes. The number of accidents through driver fault will continue to drastically decrease as vehicles become more autonomous. If a car accident occurs today the fault usually on the driver. With AV’s, in the future more of the liability will fall on the technology and manufacturer of the vehicle. Not coincidentally, it is estimated that as the number of autonomous vehicles increases, the number of motor vehicle accidents is anticipated to decrease substantially. Less motor vehicle accidents translates in fewer insurance claims. This should increase the insurability of highly autonomous cars. As a result of the increasing use of telematics and black-box technology, the cause of the motor vehicle crashes will be easier to determine. Onboard technologies will bring much more certainty in determining each vehicle’s contribution to a crash event. This can considerably accelerate insurance claim resolution and reduce unnecessary legal costs.

Connected cars will collect massive amounts of data. The frequent use of advanced driver assistance systems will grow exponentially and the evaluation of such data will significantly increase the knowledge and understanding of an insurance carrier's risk.  If the 94 percent of accidents are related to human error, if you take the human out of the equation, the advancement of autonomous technology will then cause the risk to insurance carriers to decrease. This should cause insurance premiums to be reduced over time. Although it remains unclear when the AV will achieve mass adoption, the risk will inevitably shift dramatically. AV’s that take human motorists out of the equation entirely will result in fewer traffic accidents. As such, the switch to autonomous vehicles is likely to alter our lives in remarkable ways. While technology continues to evolve, making accidents far less likely, an accident can still happen. But the risk of serious injury is far lower than it used to be thanks to the introduction of several safety features since the Model T was introduced. The advanced driver assistance system is the culmination of over a century of innovation in safety features.

AVs also have the potential to overturn more than a century of not just vehicle design but urban planning as well. The possibilities include connecting vehicles wirelessly to share information on roads, setting up electricity grids that manage energy supply and demand, impose real-time pricing and travel-on-demand services that give people greater flexibility. All this can reduce the cost of transportation. Self-driving cars will also enable vehicles to travel closer together, which would cut down on traffic congestion. The impact of the AV will be profound and impact almost every part of our lives.

A driverless future, based on increasing technological advances, may very well lead to the following:

1. People will not own vehicles. Transportation will be provided as a service from companies who own fleets of AVs;

2. Technology companies will hold more of the world’s economy as companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook will turn transportation into a pay-as-you-go service. These companies may own the world. Over time, they will own so much data about people, repetitions, obstructions and routes that new entrants will have insurmountable barriers to enter the market;

3. Parking lots and parking spaces on roads or in buildings will become unnecessary;

4. Local auto mechanics, car dealers, car washes, auto parts stores and gas stations will be unwarranted;

5. Gas will become much less valuable as electric cars replace fuel powered vehicles;

6. The same vehicles that transport people will start to transport goods as well. We already see this with companies as Uber and Uber eats.  Computer algorithms will optimize routes of travel;

7. AVs will need much less space between which will allow traffic flow to be better regulated and will maximize infrastructure utilization;

8. The public will undoubtedly have less privacy as interior cameras, and usage logs will track when, where and how often you go somewhere;

9.  Litigation over car accidents will not be individuals vs. individuals but will be more likely be big company versus big company. Forced arbitration clauses will become a mandated component of the contractual relationship with transportation providers;

10. There is already talk of in-transit purchases such as food and merchandise;

11. Traffic accidents from human error will be no more, but non-malicious software and technical issues will likely be the leading cause of delays.  One of the most serious of issues will be the hacking of computer systems in AVs. This will significantly increase the need for cyber insurance;

12. AVs will likely be filled with advertising of all sorts which will decrease the cost of the ride, although there will probably be a way to pay more to have advertising-free travel experience;

13. Sensors of all kinds will be embedded in AVs that will have other ancillary uses such as improving weather forecasting, crime detection, and prevention, finding fugitives, infrastructure conditions. Of course, all this data will be monetized, likely by the companies who own the transportation services;

14. Google and Facebook will add everything about customer movements and locations to their massive databases. Unlike GPS chips that only tell them where someone is at the moment, AVs will know where you have been, where you are going and likely with whom.

There is little doubt that the widespread adoption of AV will have a massive impact on the automobile insurance industry. Since insuring privately owned vehicles is what the auto insurance industry is all about, insurers have every reason to be happy that the number and severity of accidents and insurance claims will drop. The widespread use of telematics and sensor data will lead to lower premiums as insurers learn to price by real risk. In a future where AVs are prevalent, auto insurers will change their way of thinking, their business models and will adapt to new realities of the risks involved. The speed of the evolution to an AV environment is impossible to predict, but insurance carriers are already starting to create actuarial models based upon real-time and actual driving data that better determine risk and pricing for different stages of autonomous vehicle evolution.  Many insurers already offer premium discounts for these features, but as the effects of increased safety become apparent, insurers will likely to lower premiums or risk being undercut by competitors. Other forms of artificial intelligence will be highly useful for insurers to fine-tune data collection. This new information will help price premiums better and provide more valuable services to customers instead of going the way of Kodak and Blockbuster.

Insurance carriers are developing new product offerings in areas including product liability for software and sensors. Market participants who collect, organize and analyze this data will have inherent advantages over those with less developed capabilities. Carriers can and should develop the needed actuarial framework and models.  We have already seen partially autonomous safety features such as automatic emergency braking systems change the safety profile of newer vehicles.  Insurers will likely use sophisticated actuarial and modeling techniques to be ready as vehicles add more and more autonomous features. Insurers will also probably be identifying and collaborating with ecosystem partners such as automakers, communication service providers and software systems.

Finally, carriers will think about new business models. Numerous aspects of the insurance industry will be impacted as the AV advances. Until the vehicle is fully autonomous, liability coverage will be mandated. Over time, as the vehicle advances to stage 5 autonomy,  the coverage will change, as manufacturers, suppliers and even municipalities are called upon to take responsibility for an accident. Self-driving cars raise complex questions for insurers. Answering those questions will take time. The industry has time to research and make changes accordingly. But the proverbial ball is in insurers’ courts to make the most of the next 5 to 10 years and shift their business models to accommodate the coming changes in technology. One day, human driving may not just become uncommon, but eventually illegal. Change is afoot to our vehicles, our roads, our modes of transport, our urban footprint, our way of thinking about transportation and our insurance processes. This is one journey consumers, and insurance companies should not want to navigate on autopilot.

By: Steven J. Shanker, Esq.

 

The New General Corporate Counsel (The Outside General Counsel Solution)

In order pressure for corporations to properly react to increased pressure to be as effective and cost-efficient as possible, CEO’s are not just bringing legal work in-house, but are retaining a lawyer who acts as general counsel to the company without the company having to pay a salary and benefits associated with a full-time employee. The days of relying 100% on outside counsel are over. It is just not efficient or cost effective to do so anymore. Companies are taking the alternate route of retaining a lawyer with not only specific legal talents, but also specialized knowledge of the industry the company works in. This is the trend because a company is not just getting a lawyer, but also getting someone who knows your business intimately. CEO’s are starting to recognize that when you retain a lawyer to act as in-house counsel (outside general counsel), they start to understand the business more. To be most effective, outside general counsel should not only have a full understanding of the organization’s business and office culture, but short and long term goals as well.

In the American business environment, every company will need a lawyer at one point or another, but just how to find and retain that legal counsel can be source of debate.We all know that one person, or perhaps you are that person, who started a company from nothing and grew it into a successful business. Start-up companies often need assistance with basic contract review or understanding compliance procedures. As the company grows from a start-up into a profitable corporation, many executives take the next step of either retaining outside counsel in the form of a law firm or the company may instead pick the in-house counsel route. Both options can be very expensive. The alternative is to retain a lawyer who is not an employee of the company, but a retained lawyer who acts as outside general counsel. A sort of in-house counsel that is an independent contractor, but devotes a large portion of their time to the company and its needs.

For many companies, consideration of this outside general counsel arrangement is a worthwhile step. Not only may there be potential legal cost savings, but bringing someone onboard and inside the executive team may also help ensure the company’s vision is maintained. When searching for such counsel, a company will also be wise to select a candidate who actively maintains social connections and ties to local legal counsel and law firms. This is important because, as many companies fail to anticipate, hiring outside general counsel does not necessarily eliminate the need to retain outside counsel for specific projects or actions. Thus, the ideal outside general counsel will be able to easily access and coordinate with appropriate outside counsel.

When a legal matter is sent outside the company, the outside general counsel serves not only to select the best outside firms for specific case types, but serves as a watchdog on those cases, ensuring that the company is not being over-billed and that matters are being handled properly. A company needs to understand that rather than being a hired gun brought in to consult on individual problems after the fact, an outside general counsel is, or should be, part of the team before, during and after company projects. The outside general counsel should be able to understand the company’s long-term objectives in order to tailor advice to the best interests of the company. A good outside general counsel working in a proactive manner instead of reactive will help a company anticipate and prevent legal problems before they arise, while maintaining company values.To foster this working environment, a company should encourage its executives to keep outside general counsel in the loop by discussing and brainstorming plans and strategies with them regularly. This has the potential to reduce future legal expenses, which most companies should cite as a goal.

The right outside general counsel does not just bring experience to the table. Once they are part of your staff, they bring peace of mind. Having immediate access to a licensed attorney who is focused on your business is truly unbeatable. It can also be the difference between success and failure on not just a given deal, but the difference between success and failure of the business itself.

 

An Ounce of Prevention is Surely Worth a Pound of Cure

One of the main jobs of outside corporate counsel is to manage risk along with handling the business of managing the entire spectrum of employer-employee relationship issues. From employee hiring, through to employee exit, being entrusted to manage the clients' most sensitive and complex issues. Good corporate counsel will also provide exceptional support by combining real-world human resource guidance, all informed by relevant employment law provisions.

The Shanker Law Firm, P.C. acts as outside corporate counsel and advises clients on the full spectrum of complex human resources and employment law issues. We provide strategic, operational and legally privileged advice to help our clients deliver effective business solutions to manage their employees. Clients turn to us to help them manage employee risks and provide strategic, board level advice on crucial employment-related issues, as well as counsel on day-to-day operational support.

Our unique business model allows The Shanker Law Firm, P.C. to provide clients with practical responses to new employment legislation, case law, and regulatory changes, and an ability to strategically advise on a wide range of contentious and sometimes non-contentious human resources and employment law matters, including:

  • Drafting and Negotiating Employment and Employee Documentation

  • Employment Disputes and Dismissals

  • Human Resources Policies and Procedures

  • Redundancies and Restructurings

  • Outplacement Services

  • Remuneration and Benefits

In the world of big business today, most corporate owners and CEO’s are just not as versed as they should be in the sensitive nature of employer-employee relationship and employment law matters. I always believe in the old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The only question is whether you, as a business owner or CEO, wants to pay now to protect your business later…or to pay later and hope that the problem, that could likely have been prevented, will be able to be ameliorated in the face of either costly litigation or the threat thereof.