North America

New Jersey Enacts Legislation Providing Job Protections To Volunteer Emergency Responders

January 2010


On January 14, 2010, acting Governor Steven M. Sweeney signed into law the New Jersey Emergency Responders Employment Protection Act. The Act prohibits employers from terminating, dismissing or suspending an employee who fails to report for work because he or she is serving as a “volunteer emergency responder” who is either: (1) actively engaged in responding to an emergency alarm; or (2) volunteering as an emergency responder during a state of emergency declared by the President of the United States or the Governor of the State of New Jersey. The Act will take effect on April 1, 2010.

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New Statistics: Part-Time Lawyers Are Small in Number and Mostly Women

I just read a new press release by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) that I would like to share with you. Entitled “Most Lawyers Working Part-time Are Women – Overall Number of Lawyers Working Part-time Remains Small,” the release highlighted statistics featured in the 2009-2010 edition of the NALP Directory of Legal Employers. NALP discovered that 5.9 percent of lawyers worked part-time in 2009, up from 5.6 percent in 2008. This information was based on data from 1,475 individual law offices and firms and more than 140,000 lawyers. (By the way, the percentage of part-time lawyers is far below the percentage of part-time employed individuals in the U.S. workforce as a whole, which was estimated to be nearly 14 percent in 2008.)

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Two Surveys Look at the Number of Women Partners at Law Firms

As 2009 draws to a close, I’ve noticed a proliferation of annual surveys. Two, in particular – one by The National Law Journal (NLJ) and the other by Law360 – captured my attention because they’re focused on the number of women partners at law firms. The survey results were a mixed bag. While the number of women partners rose slightly in 2009, only 18.47 percent of all partners are women, according to the NLJ. In the article “Women Still Number Too Few in Partner Ranks,” Law360 expressed concern that while women make up approximately half of law school graduating classes, many women are “leaking out” of the pipeline, whether due to family reasons or unfair stereotypes. However, Law360 also pointed out that some corporate clients are applying pressure on law firms to become more diverse, which will benefit women attorneys. 

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Update: Section 5 Transmission Inquiry Suspended

Following up on an earlier blog post, on Tuesday, the Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources sent a letter to the British Columbia Utilities Commission advising it that the Section 5 Transmission Inquiry has been suspended until May 31, 2010.

Here is a copy of the Minister’s letter to the BCUC.

As the Minister explains in his letter, the reason for the suspension is in part due to the role of the Green Energy Advisory Task Force which is currently sitting and the Government’s consideration and policy responses to the impending recommendations from the Task Force as they relate to the development of the electricity industry and thus, BC’s long-term transmission and generation infrastructure needs.
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Update: Public Submissions Invited by Green Energy Advisory Task Force

The BC Government announced today that it wants to hear from the public about its ideas on the future of clean and renewable energy in British Columbia.

The Green Energy Advisory Task Force met for the first time over two days at the end of last week and it now invites submissions from the public on any of the four task force groups topics:

  • clean energy procurement and regulatory reform;
  • carbon pricing, trading and clean energy export market development;
  • community engagement and First Nations partnerships; and
  • clean energy resource development.
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BC’s Green Energy Advisory Task Force

Following up on the BC Government’s August 2009 throne speech and the Premier’s announcement on November 2, 2009, today, the BC Government announced the members of, and the terms of reference for, BC’s Green Energy Advisory Task Force.

Here is the weblink for public submissions, which can be made on any of the four task force topics until December 31.
I am very pleased to have been appointed to be a part of a team that will advance BC’s long-term vision for green energy.
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Update: BC’s Clean Power Call – BC Hydro Narrows the Field

BC Hydro announced today that it has narrowed the field of proponents for its 2008 Clean Power Call and intends to award EPA’s in December.

According to BC Hydro’s press release, of the 68 proposals submitted in the response to the Call:

  • 21 were eliminated either through proponent withdrawal, they did not meet the CPC requirements or were considered too high a risk;
  • 13 were identified as the most cost-effective and are now moving forward with direct post-proposal discussions with BC Hydro with the goal of signing electricity purchase agreements (EPA’s); and
  • 34 still remain possible, provided the proposals are made more cost-effective.
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Sponsoring Events that Enlighten and Empower Women

During my career, I have encountered many worthwhile non-profit organizations that promote the interests of women. It’s vital that for-profit firms and companies become involved with women’s organizations—especially as event sponsors. Sponsorships not only provide the women’s organization with critical financial assistance, but also help in marketing the event.

I am very pleased that my firm, EpsteinBeckerGreen, has been involved with numerous women’s organizations, such as the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) and Corporate Counsel Women of Color (CCWC). NAWL is the leading national voluntary organization devoted to the interests of women lawyers and women’s rights. The CCWC promotes the career advancement and success of women attorneys of color, as well as global diversity in the legal profession and workplace. 

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Public Health Insurance Option Still Alive in the Senate

With the rejection in the Senate Finance Committee of two separate proposals to create a substantial public health insurance option and, instead, the approval of the relatively weak co-op proposal (which the CBO estimates to be unlikely to establish a meaningful presence and will result in only half the budget amount of $6 billion will be spent) it seemed as though the public option had breathed its last breath.  However, new developments indicate that the public option, in various forms, is still alive.

Senator Schumer (D-NY), having failed to pass his “level playing field” public health insurance option proposal in the Finance Committee, is pushing a new public health insurance option that would allow states to “opt out” of the public plan.  The opt-out proposal is gaining fans in the Democratic Caucus, even amongst conservative Democrats who are worried the effects a public plan could have on their state.   

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Using A Returnship Program to Relaunch Your Career

I just found an interesting article on theglasshammer.com called “Goldman Sachs Returnship (SM) Program Helps Top Women On-Ramp Into Finance.” In it, we learn about Goldman Sachs’ “returnship” program, which lasts eight weeks and begins on October 19, 2009. The program will offer training and guidance to help highly skilled women return to the financial workforce after having taken voluntary breaks that may have lasted anywhere from a few years to a couple of decades. While participants are not guaranteed jobs at Goldman Sachs at the end of the program, Goldman Sachs has hired more than half of the participants from last year’s returnship program.

What are “returnships”? They are similar to internships, except that returnships are targeted toward experienced workers who want to return to the workforce full time. The returnship program may or may not pay the participants, and it may last weeks or months.

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