Congratulations (or maybe condolences) are in order. Boston broke the seasonal snowfall record last night with an all-time high of 108.6 inches. It marked the snowiest winter season since the start of record keeping for the city in 1872.
Nearly a decade earlier, Boston saw a similarly snowy season with 107.6 inches in 1995-1996, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts [via Yahoo!News]. However, it seems this year’s Boston wasn’t ready to give up a chance at the title yet. And, with a wintry mix blanketing the streets around 7PM last night, it was finally time to celebrate a very cold clutch hit from the clouds.
There was, in fact, a parade in Boston. But, it wasn’t for the weather. It was for St. Patrick’s Day, which—coincidentally—fell on the same eve as the infamous record snowfall.
Speaking of records, just three years ago, fewer students sat for the February 2012 LSAT than for any LSAT administration in over 10 years, reported the LSAT Blog and The Law School Admission Council. Not only that, it was the biggest percentage decrease of all time, dropping by 16 percent.
Most thought that this was the answer to a declining legal market for jobs and over-supply of lawyers.
Today, however, that tide may be turning. After four years of a steady decline, there is now an increase in the number of LSAT test-takers, up by 4.4 percent to 20,358 total aspiring lawyers.
Why the change?
Some speculate that the well-advertised decline of law school applicants is now encouraging people to pursue a career in law—which may now give them a better chance at admittance to a top school. Since recent grads are still complaining about the job market, law school seems as attractive as any other choice in graduation education.
Law firms face difficult hiring decisions. When it comes to human resources, it’s hard to put a price on your legal help. With so much supply in the form of recent graduates and experienced lawyers who were laid-off, sometimes nitty-gritty paperwork falls through the cracks.
Unfortunately, The U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) is going all-out in its “bold new audit initiative” to crack down on employers who violate immigration laws; and administrative I-9 audits are ICE’s tool of choice.
If your firm were audited, how would it fair?
Non-compliance exposes employers to a wide variety of potential penalties, including:
Hiring or Continuing to Employ an Unauthorized Worker:
- First-time violators can be fined between $275 and $2,200 for each unauthorized worker
- Second-time offenders can be fined between $2,200 and $5,500
- For every offense thereafter, offenders can be fined between $3,300 to $11,000 per employee or worker
- Failure to complete, retain or present documents can result in fines of $110 to $1,100 per employee
- The second violation can cost $220 to $2,200
- Pattern and Practice Violations
- $3,000 per alien and six months in jail
Total fines handed out by ICE are now 13 times higher than in 2009. Plus, ICE has made a big effort to publicly emphasize its investigations of employers that hire undocumented workers. In just one year, ICE arrested 238 corporate executives, managers and even HR professionals.
Luckily for law firms, C4CM has a tutorial in “I-9 Compliance Procedures: New Rules and Best Practices of Employee Verification” on March 24, 2015, from 2PM to 3:15PM EST here.
It will help ensure your firm is in compliance, including:
- Step-by-step overview of the Form I-9
- Record retention: Pre and Post audit notification
- Steps to perform an internal I-9 review process to examine your company’s processes
- Awareness training for personnel who handle I-9s
- Policies and procedures for acceptable documentation
- The latest on the use of electronic forms and proper record keeping/storage
- Penalties for non-compliance
- I-9s and independent contractors: who’s responsible?
- Strategies for when you do not have I-9s for all current employees and no supporting document copies
- If you hire employees from outside the US for overseas contracts, do you need to complete an I-9?
- Anti-discrimination provision: Are you in violation?
- When you must reverify, and when reverification is not needed
- Your liability when contracting out work
There’s still time for Bostonians, too. Luckily for those who insist on putting “win” in winter, the season snowfall record is measured from July 1 to June 30. So, with a mid-week high of 30 degrees, here’s to hoping.