The term “consumer protection” often conjures images of a recalled product or a warning label but it encompasses a wide array of laws and regulations. Especially with our pandemic-driven, increasingly online lives, consumer protection encompasses data privacy and security as they become ever more important for our clients, our firms and ourselves. Celine Guillou gives us a handy primer on the regulation of personal information and how organizations should approach protecting it. (For an excellent primer on protecting your own personal information, see George Usi’s article from our March issue.)

Consumer protection also extends to the challenging and often heartbreaking arena of elder scams. Cheating elders out of their savings is an enormous industry, estimated at well over $30 billion annually. By far the most effective way to reduce the damage is by raising awareness. Ella Krainsky, from the Marin District Attorney’s Consumer Protection Unit, educates us on some of the “popular” current elder scams and where to turn when someone has been victimized by one.

The pandemic reminded us of another way the unscrupulous take advantage of consumers: price gouging. I bet that most of you are not aware that Marin’s own Division of Weights and Measures is responsible for combatting price gouging in the county. MCBA board member Mary Sackett sheds some light on how this little-known agency protects consumers by regulating prices and packaging whether we’re in a pandemic or not.

I think it is fair to say that the pandemic is not related to the retirement of our beloved Public Defender Jose Varela. MCBA board member Karthik Raju profiles Jose, concentrating on the innovative approach Jose has taken throughout his career, and giving us an insightful glimpse of a remarkable lawyer, person and poet. And I promise that Karthik wrote the article after Jose stopped being Karthik’s boss!

If you missed (or even if you didn’t) MCBA’s May Town Hall with Judges Sweet, Adams, and Freccero regarding how Marin’s courts are faring under pandemic restrictions and what may be coming next, Deputy D.A. Andy Perez recaps the event, including questions and answers, so that you can be up to speed on how our courts are operating. Finally, we profile Michelle Christovich, business attorney and chair of MCBA’s Barristers Section. Get to know Michelle and see what’s in store for the Barristers.

I hope to see many of you in person sometime this summer, which I am very much looking forward to, even if I’m not entirely ready to give up the convenience of Zoom. If you have thoughts about how we hold in-person events but still utilize platforms like Zoom to enable some members to participate remotely, we’d love to hear from you with your ideas. With summer nearly upon us and pandemic restrictions easing, we've kept this issue short so that you can reacquaint yourself with the wider world. I wish everyone an enjoyable summer, whatever that may look like--we’ll be back in September with our next quarterly issue of the Marin Lawyer.