A bunch of little things, LegalZoom, and contractor immunity -

Things are still going well at NCSC! Not much to report this week: a bunch of little projects cropped up that have been taking up most of our time - processing a temporary employee order, reconciling some level of effort numbers for a few subcontracts, and the like. I’ve also been focused on researching LegalZoom's business model, and how it has shaped its business practice to focus on international audiences in deregulated markets such as the UK and Canada. Plus I've been compiling the recent and pending court activity in various states linked to claims that LegalZoom is engaged in the unauthorized practice of law depending on each state’s definition of what the “practice of law” actually amounts to, something that is disturbingly ambiguous.

For our learning session this week, we chatted about the bounds of government contractor immunity overseas. The discussion was framed around a discussion of the U.S. v. Slough case, in which several Blackwater contractors operating under a contract with Department of State in Iraq are accused of charges related to a shooting incident in Baghdad in 2007. Those indicted Blackwater contractors contend that they were responding to a valid threat when they opened fire, but multiple witnesses including Iraqis on site as well as certain members of the Blackwater convoy contend the fire was not provoked. The case has had a kind of insanely terrible procedural background due to various Kastigar and Garrity issues, which ultimatley have played out so the trial is only this month commencing, almost seven years later. Anyhow, we are planning to go sit in on part of the trial next week, so this was an interesting, timely discussion.  

There was also a little cookout for the building tenants set up by our friendly management company on Friday with burgers and hot dogs and such – it was a welcome break from work, and good to chat with a few of the younger people in the office to hear some background on how each approaches their work and how they all ended up at NCSC International Programs. 

Super excited for next week (and maybe getting out of work a bit early to go watch the US/Belgium game Tuesday!) More to come.