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The Supreme Court tackles business issues

In-house lawyers should keep a close watch on the high court's docket.

In-house attorneys have packed schedules and ever-growing “to-do” lists. We need to focus on the day-to-day challenges of our organizations, assist with strategic planning and handle all of the emergencies that seem to crop up whenever it’s most inconvenient. With all of that hustle and bustle, it can be easy to think of the Supreme Court (when we have time to think of it at all) as something of interest solely to law students and academics. That would be a mistake. The Supreme Court is more relevant than ever to in-house counsel, and your entire legal team can benefit from making time to follow its docket. 

We live in an era of rapid change and the Supreme Court has been changing with us. Of the nine seats on the court, one was filled less than a year ago by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and another held by the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens is expected to be filled in the next few months. Given that two other seats also have relatively new occupants (Chief Justice John Roberts started in 2005 and Justice Samuel Alito in 2006), almost half of the Supreme Court will have turned over in the past five years. That’s a great deal of change in a very short time. If your view of the Supreme Court hasn’t kept up, this is a perfect time to rethink its relevance to your practice.    

Janice Block

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