⏩ The Facebook and Apple Cold War

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This week: Facebook, the target of antitrust lawsuits, may file one of its own, and the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are feuding in court. Plus: a new study reveals the real economic damage of 2020 to big law firms.

🍎 Facebook has an Apple problem 

It’s not just the government going after Big Tech for antitrust issues. Big Tech companies are now going after each other. 

Facebook and Apple are fighting over privacy issues, and a lawsuit may be coming

  • Apple is switching things up with the new iOS: Unlike previous incarnations, users will be able to easily opt out of data tracking systems from apps. Facebook doesn’t like this because the vast majority of its revenues are tied to tracking and collecting data. 

  • Mark Zuckberberg went after Apple: On an earnings call in late January, he claimed Apple wasn’t making the change to help consumers but instead to harm Facebook and increase a competitive advantage.

  • Tim Cook responded quickly: The next day, at a conference, he said, “If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all, then it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform.” 

A lawsuit?

The Information reported Facebook was preparing an antitrust action against Apple, joining other companies who have sued Apple over its App Store policies. 

The Verdict 

Even with a public disagreement and a potential lawsuit, Apple and Facebook depend on each other. Apple still wants Facebook’s apps, and Facebook still wants to be on Apple’s iPhones.

🗣️ A scout’s honor lawsuit 

Anybody know if there’s a courtroom badge for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts? Because a surprising amount of litigation is starting to pop up between the two institutions. 

  • This actually started as a result of other lawsuits: The Boy Scouts have faced many lawsuits over sexual predators in their ranks, and, with enrollment numbers declining amid the controversies, they began admitting girls in 2017.

  • This caught the Girl Scouts by surprise: Their organization is smaller than the Boy Scouts. In early 2017, they reached out to the Boy Scouts and heard that they were planning to continue enrolling only boys. That changed by the end of the year, spurring the Girl Scouts to take legal action, believing the group was using deceptive practices to carve out a competitive advantage. 

What’s happening now

In recent weeks, the two sides have been trading court filings back and forth, revealing some juicy details. (For instance: The Girl Scouts allegedly edited Wikipedia pages and sat on social media usernames to interfere with the Boy Scouts’ online presence). 

The Verdict

In the organizations’ long history, there has never been anything like this. 

But we don’t know if a trial is coming. A federal judge has yet to decide whether the Girl Scouts can continue their case.      

🤷‍♀️ Actually, 2020 was as bad as the Great Recession for Big Law

After the initial economic shocks of the pandemic last March and April, most of the news in the legal industry was fairly positive. Layoffs tapered off, and legal jobs were outpacing job additions at large by the end of the year. 

But when you take a closer look, according to a new Thomson Reuters study, the data shows that Big Law got hit as hard as it did after the financial crisis in 2008. Here are some of the most interesting findings:  

  • Big Law firms employed about 1.6% fewer attorneys by the end of 2020 as they did in 2019. That was about the same drop as between 2008 and 2009.

  • Most of the cuts involved associates. They lost their jobs because of the drop in business for firms, as well as an increase of clients choosing to go with more experienced lawyers in the midst of the pandemic 

  • The lawyers who were still employed had to work more. Billing rates and productivity actually went up 1.4% despite the staff reductions. They also got paid more: With associates and other expenses being cut, a Thomson Reuters metric that essentially measures profitability among big firms hit a level in Q4 2020 that was the highest it had been since 2006.

💌 What else we’re forwarding 

ABA Journal’s list of the 25 Greatest Legal movies: It’s a good time to recycle this, given we’re all still at home. 

Privacy law and public trust are colliding over the vaccine rollout: Whymass vaccinations could very well lead to new legal questions about the sharing of medical data.

🎧 Songs we’re concentrating with

Illuminine is a Belgium artist crafting ambient and neo-classical soundscapes, with strong influences from Sigur Rós and Buckethead. His 2020 album Baptism of Solitude, consists of processed guitar in synth textures with heavy reverb. Hope you enjoy it.

Baptism of Solitude - Illuminine (40m)

Spotify / Apple Music / Amazon Music / Tidal

See ya next week!

🧐 Raad