Working Notes: Boston Globe on unpaid internships, Marketplace on terminations gone viral, and more

Good morning! Here are a few items that I’ve been connected with:

Boston Globe Magazine cover story on unpaid internships

Sunday’s Boston Globe Magazine ran a substantial cover story on unpaid internships by Melissa Schorr. She did her homework and then some for this piece, interviewing a wide range of individuals and incorporating a span of viewpoints. Here are two snippets:

In what activists envision as a nascent social movement — and some bosses see as ungrateful whippersnappers unwilling to pay their dues — a slew of unpaid interns have filed suit against their former employers, including high-profile companies such as Fox Searchlight Pictures, Hearst Magazines, Gawker Media, NBCUniversal, Sony, and Conde Nast, claiming they were, in fact, employees under federal labor laws and demanding back pay.


THE UNPAID INTERN is a longstanding figure on the bottom of the corporate ladder, particularly in so-called “glamour industries” such as media and showbiz, where multiple applicants jockey for each spot and have even been known to pay thousands of dollars for the privilege.

Here’s a part of what I had to say:

Yamada has come to view [unpaid internships] as not just a legal but also a moral issue, informally advising a group of New York activists who have formed an intern labor-rights network. “I think in the for-profit sphere, most of these unpaid internships are not only against the law but are exploitative,” he says. “We now have this intermediate stage between classroom education and entry-level full-time employment. We’re adding another level of training and education that involves real work, slapping this label of ‘intern’ on it, and assuming one has to donate their time instead of being paid.”

American Public Radio Marketplace on “Burning bridges while going viral”

Last week I wrote about non-disparagement clauses in separation agreements, and it led to a short interview with Marketplace’s Carmen Wong Ulrich on job terminations in the digital age and options for laid-off workers:

“I think what you’ve seen over the recent years is the internet becoming that megaphone,” says David Yamada, Professor of Law at Suffolk University in Boston. “You’ve got sites like eBosswatch and Glassdoor, and general sites such as YouTube and Yelp, where people are posting about their workplace experiences.”

You can catch the full interview (5 minutes) here.

Boston program on therapeutic jurisprudence, Friday, April 11

Therapeutic jurisprudence (or “TJ”) is a school of legal thought that examines the therapeutic and anti-therapeutic properties of law, legal systems, and legal practice. On Friday, April 11, the New Workplace Institute will host a free morning-to-afternoon workshop for lawyers, law faculty, and law students, “The Study and Practice of Law in a Therapeutic Key: An Introduction to Therapeutic Jurisprudence.” It will be held at Suffolk University Law School in downtown Boston.

The workshop will feature two panels and a luncheon, covering applications of TJ to legal writing & drafting and various practice areas. It will feature, among other notables, law professor David Wexler, one of the co-founders of therapeutic jurisprudence.

I’ll be posting full information and registration info on this blog. In the meantime, if you’d like to explore the vast TJ literature, please go to the website of the International Network on Therapeutic Jurisprudence. I’ve written about TJ in many blog posts; go here to read more.

The first issue of Bearing Witness is now available online

And speaking of good works and the law, during the past year, I’ve been serving as faculty advisor to a terrific group of Suffolk law students who are starting a new, non-traditional journal, Bearing Witness: A Journal on Law and Social Responsibility. In a departure from the law journal norm, Bearing Witness features short articles & essays, art & photography, short stories, and poetry.

The inaugural issue has been published, and I couldn’t be more pleased and proud of these students. For a flip book of the first issue, go here. And if submitting an article or artistic work for possible publication appeals to you, go to the journal webpage for more information.

I contributed an essay to the inaugural issue, “If It Matters, Write About It: Using Legal Scholarship to Effect Social Change.” You may download a pdf copy here.

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