Overlawyered has news of labor regulations that would require financial disclosures from various professionals, including lawyers, if the professional is involved in campaigns to persuade workers not to sign union cards. (Overlawyered links to Labor Union Report, and it's fair to say that both sites have strong views on the topic.) According to Overlawyered, the old rules required disclosure only from those who meet directly with employees, but the news rules would cover those who draft the materials that would reach the employees. From the unions' point of view, they want to know who's working against them so that they can apply political pressure. I don't imagine that a management-side law firm specializing in labor law could easily be intimidated by being publicly identified as such — indeed they might consider it advertising — but perhaps some general practice firms might want to avoid public controversy. These sorts of issues have been popping up in lots of places, now that the federal agencies are increasingly flexing their regulatory power over lawyers "appearing and practicing" before the agency. The distinction Overlawyered described sounds similar to the sorts of distinctions made about securitiees lawyers: broadly speaking, the lawyers who interact directly with the SEC are covered by the SEC's rules, the ones who draft documents to be submitted to the SEC are covered as well, but the lawyers who merely talk to the drafters typically are not. This issue also confirms my sense that we're seeing lots of DC-based regulations that don't make any special accommodation for lawyers and, at least so far, the Roberts court doesn't seem motivated to read lawyers out of the new laws and regs.
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