June 28 Event: Experts Explore Ways to Control Litigation Costs

Bloomberg BNABig Law Business and Catalyst will present a complimentary event in San Francisco, Successful Legal Department Management: Innovation to Control Litigation Costs and Ensure Compliance to discover how today’s top law firms are pairing innovation with technology to move litigation control in-house and on-budget.

The event will be Wednesday, June 28, 2017, 3:30-5:30 p.m. at the Bloomberg LP office at 3 Pier #101 in San Francisco 94111.

Leading in-house and outside counsel will discuss where they believe legal departments face the most pressure and how to successfully transform the management of litigation.

In addition, this event will explore:

  • The necessity of developing new and innovative approaches for managing departments to keep litigation costs low
  • How to prepare teams, departments and businesses to identify the benefits of technology
  • How to effectively prepare for litigation, from initial investigations to trial

Register for the event.



Invitation: Summer Legal Conference, Berlin

BerlinKnowledge Nomads’ Summer Legal Conference in Berlin July 23-29, 2017, will feature sessions on law in the age of hyperconnectivity, legal issues in the sharing economy, and the legal fallout from Volkswagen’s emissions scandal.

The event will be at Berlin’s Radisson Blu Hotel.

The CLE-qualified sessions will feature a diverse group of speakers, including a broad range of nationalities, backgrounds and ages.

Interspersed with the the presentations will be an arts and culture day with a choice of seven tailor-made tours, a trip to the home of Volkswagen, and a closing dinner on top of the German Federal Parliament Bundestag building.

Other side events will include guided tours, dinners, receptions, concerts, a gallery tour and more.

Register or get more information.



Bookkeeper Embezzled More Than $850,000 From Law Firm, Suit Alleges

The family of the late Daniel Lilley, Maine’s highest-profile lawyer, is accusing a former bookkeeper of embezzling more than $850,000 from his law firm over a little more than four years, reports the Portland Press Herald.

Plaintiffs allege that Jaime Butler, the bookkeeper for Lilley’s Portland law firm, repeatedly wrote checks to herself totaling $844,000 and also improperly diverted $12,000 in cash.

The family’s lawyer said  that “Butler issued herself ‘dozens of checks’ in some months and that the alleged embezzlement began almost immediately after she was hired as the law firm’s bookkeeper in early 2013,” writes .

Read the Press Herald article.


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Biglaw Firm Lays Off Associates, Staff and Partners

Layoff - dismissal - firedLabor and employment law firm Seyfarth Shaw has conducted a round of layoffs that affect both attorneys and staff, according to reports from Above the Law and Bloomberg Law.

“One source who was briefed on the layoffs said the downsizing affects 40 lawyers, including associates and counsel, as well as 27 staff members,” reports Bloomberg’s . “The cuts at least affect the firm’s New York City and Washington, D.C. office, according to the source.”

A Bloomberg source attributed the downsizing to a slow real estate practice, and said layoffs were mainly for “low billable associates,” but noted that some counsel and senior counsel were laid off in the firm’s employee benefits department.

Read the Above the Law article.

Read the Bloomberg article.



Fear of Career Damage Led Woman to Sue Proskauer Anonymously

Bloomberg Law is reporting that Proskauer Rose has become the latest Big Law firm to be hit with a gender discrimination lawsuit by a female partner.

The plaintiff brought the case against her employer under a pseudonym. 

“According to the redacted complaint filed Friday, the plaintiff, an unnamed partner in Proskauer’s Washington, D.C. office, was objectified by male partners who made inappropriate comments about her physical appearance, paid less than male partners who were similarly or less productive than she was, and excluded from projects and client development activities once she began complaining,” writes reporter .

The defendant responded by saying the suit is “groundless” and “meritless.”

Read the Bloomberg article.


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Planning Key to Handling the Death of a High-Profile Attorney

Making sure you’re prepared on all fronts for the death of a law firm founder or influential firm attorney is something that no one looks forward to, points out Bruce Vincent in a blog for Muse Communications. But failing to take a few necessary steps beforehand is a recipe for potential confusion and consternation among the attorneys at your firm, the firm’s clients, and, importantly, the lawyer’s family.

“Although the notion of strategizing for someone’s eventual death may seem macabre, those who do so are much more likely to emerge from a terrible situation in such a way that shows their compassion and dedication to the memory of their lost colleague,” he writes.

The article discusses the initial steps a firm will need to take after the lawyer’s death, various ways of respecting the deceased’s memory, and dealing with the somewhat mundane chores that follow the loss. These can include monitoring the lawyer’s email, changing stationery, online directories and more.

Read the article.


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Former Executive at Bankrupt NYC Law Firm Convicted of Fraud

The former chief financial officer of Dewey & LeBoeuf, once one of the nation’s largest law firms, has been convicted for hiding “severe financial challenges” that eventually led to the firm’s bankruptcy, reports The New York Times.

“A jury in Manhattan convicted Joel Sanders, the law firm’s former chief financial officer, on three criminal counts arising from what prosecutors said was a scheme to hide the firm’s failing finances from financial backers,” write Matthew Goldstein and Liz Moyer.

The jury acquitted the firm’s former executive director, Stephen DiCarmine, of the same charges.

Sanders’ guilty verdicts came on charges of securities fraud, scheme to defraud and conspiracy.

Read the NYT article.


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BigLaw Headhunter’s Sexist Rant Leads to Apology, Leave of Absence

Apology - sorryHarrison Barnes, managing director at BCG Attorney Search, recently posted an article advising law job applicants how to deal with not hearing back after an interview.

But, as Joe Patrice of Above the Law explains, Barnes somehow managed to describe “most legal recruiters” as women who “are quite attractive and fit,” as well as “a little ditzy and [who do] not have the other sorts of qualifications that would make them qualified for the job.”

The passages, now deleted from the company’s website, continued:

“Not only do they sometimes have more beauty and fewer brains, but they also may have more beauty and less interest in people, less ability to connect with people, and similar negative characteristics. This means they expect people to treat them as if they are special and sometimes are more focused on themselves than their jobs.

“It is not uncommon for recruiting coordinators to use their workspaces as a hunting ground for mates—and it works.”

After the inevitable uproar, Barnes announced that he was sorry and would be taking an extended leave of absence from BCG Attorney Search.

Read the Above the Law article.


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Five Takeaways From Annual BigLaw Financial Report

Banking - investing - money - advisorsBloomberg Law has put together a summary of five takeaways from Thursday’s release of The American Lawyer‘s annual report on the top 100 law firms, ranked by gross revenue.

In the section on revenue and profits per equity partner, the report found that Latham & Watkins took the top spot with $2.823 billion in gross revenue.

And Wachtell Lipton posted $5.8 million profits per partner, despite the firm having a decline in overall revenue and profits per equity partner.

The takeaways also covered headcount and revenue, the gap between the top 50 firms and the bottom 50, three firms joining the list for the first time, and the increase in the value of equity partnership.

Read the Bloomberg article.


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Your Professional Portrait Is Much More Than a Picture

Photographer - cameraMost attorneys make their first impressions online rather than face-to-face, so the photo that accompanies a lawyer’s online presence is their first chance to impress prospective clients, employers and referral sources, advises Amy Boardman Hunt of Muse Communications.

In a post on her company’s website, Hunt explains that professional photos have uses beyond the firm’s website, including social media profiles, online lawyer directories, speaking engagements, and more.’

She includes a question-and-answer exchange with professional portrait photographer Vanessa Gavalya. They discuss the importance of choosing the right attire, how to keep the session within a budget, and how to show how the portrait subject feels inside.

Read the article.


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4th Big Law Business Diversity Symposium Set for May 10

Diversity - employmentBloomberg Big Law Business is convening leaders of corporate legal departments and law firms to address the diversity and inclusion challenge at a unique invitation-only event – the 4th Big Law Business Diversity Symposium.

The event will take place 8-10 a.m. Wednesday, May 10, 2017, at Bloomberg Government, 1101 K St NW, Suite 500, in Washington, DC 20005.

Request your invitation today to attend sessions such as:

Leading the Profession: Success Stories
Corporate legal departments see the most successful relationships when their goals and their law firm’s priorities are aligned. Hear how peers are approaching this effort and measuring success.

Inspiring Accountability: A Workshop
Big Law Business will facilitate a workshop on how to have the tough conversations on accountability for diversity and inclusion measures. Explore solutions to inspire leaders to create the incentives, models, and structures to increase diversity and stronger inclusion of ideas and skills in the profession.

Symposium Wrap-Up
Accountability measures that resonate: how the workshop results match back to traditional measurements of progress in the diversity of the legal profession.

The event is sponsored by Major, Lindsey & Africa and Quarles & Brady.

Request an invitation.



The Repeat Ethical Offenders of Social Media

Social mediaSocial media offer many benefits through its hyper connectivity, but it also can cause problems in the business world for those whose viewpoints may conflict with their clients, employees or colleagues, writes Christina DiPinto of Muse Communications.

She explains that, while there are a variety of these social media ethics violators, there are three types that all lawyers should know about and avoid emulating: the double agent, the rebel, and the frenemy.

The post concludes with some helpful hints, strategies and tips to make sure a firm’s social media experience is free of ethical concerns.

Read the article.


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Dallas-Based Bailey Brauer Earns Spot Among BTI’s ‘Best Branded’ Law Firms

BTI Brand Elite 2017Dallas-based litigation boutique Bailey Brauer PLLC has been recognized by BTI Consulting Group as one of the law firms with the “best brand standing” in the country, based on a survey of corporate counsel and executives at the world’s largest organizations.

In a news release, the firm said Bailey Brauer is among the smallest and youngest firms to earn this prestigious recognition, which is an indicator of how likely it is a firm will be considered for new work. The three-lawyer firm has enjoyed noteworthy successes in complex commercial litigation and appellate matters since its opening in 2013.

Selection to the BTI Brand Elite 2017 list is based on in-depth interviews with more than 600 corporate counsel and executives at the world’s largest and most influential companies. Respondents are asked about the law firms they hire and why. Final selection is based on intangibles that differentiate the law firms.

Read the release.



U.S. District Judge Sounds Off on Law Firms’ High Billing Rates

Banking - investing - money - advisorsThe invisible hand of the free market hasn’t been able to exert much control over law firm billing rates, U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff said at a Cardozo School of Law panel discussion about the high cost of the legal system, reports Bloomberg Law.

Rakoff cited a 2016 report that showed average hourly rates for partners rose from $122 in 1985 to $532 in 2012, as average associates rates grew from $79 to $370.

Reporter  quotes Rakoff as asking: “Why isn’t the free market operating?” The  answer, he said, lies in the fact that the legal profession operates much like a guild, with “substantial barriers to entry,” not least of which is the cost of a legal education.

Read the Bloomberg article.


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Companies Use Diversity Data to Hold Law Firms Accountable

Diversity - employmentLegal departments aren’t just asking their outside law firms to field diverse groups of attorneys — they’re asking those firms to put attorneys in leadership positions, and they’re asking for data to back it up, reports Bloomberg Law.

Facebook bow requires outside counsel working on its projects to have at least 33 percent women and ethnic minorities. In addition, the firms must show they are actively creating “clear and measurable leadership opportunities for women and minorities” in the company’s legal matters, The New York Times reported.

“Facebook’s new policy comes on the heels of HP’s announcement in February that it would start withholding fees from law firms that don’t meet diversity requirements,” writes .

Read the Bloomberg article.


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Notes on a Law Firm Pitch From an In-House Attorney

PresentationDennis Garcia, Microsoft Corp, assistant general counsel, offers an insider’s perspective on how in-house counsel trying to “sell” themselves to their business clients and senior legal department leaders. His observations are published on the Bloomberg Law website.

He starts at the beginning: “Start Strong:”

“Make sure to capture the hearts and minds of in-house counsel at the  very beginning of your pitch. If you do not generate a high level of enthusiasm, energy and compelling reason for in-house counsel to focus on your message early on in your presentation, you will not command their attention and they will lose interest.”

Other observations come under headings such as: know your audience, keep it simple,differentiate, the technology factor, highlight client references, don’t forget cybersecurity, and post-pitch activity.

Read the Bloomberg article.


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Legal Marketing Lessons for Real People

Two Dallas lawyers are good examples of professionals who have found clever ways to make their personal passions part of their legal marketing efforts, writes Amy Boardman Hunt in a post on the website of Muse Communications, LLC.

These two role models show that — rather than insisting on keeping our work and non-work lives separate — we should find ways to incorporate the personal into what we do professionally, within reason, Hunt writes.

One of the examples is is Amy Elizabeth Stewart, founder of Amy Stewart Law, an insurance coverage law firm.

“Next to deciphering insurance policies, Amy’s other passion is an organization called Attorneys Serving the Community, a volunteer group of Dallas women lawyers,” Hunt writes. “Every year, ASC selects a beneficiary organization whose programs benefit women, children or families. The group spends the year fundraising for the non-profit, including a fun run and an annual luncheon.”

The other example is  Michelle May O’Neil , a founding partner in O’Neil Wysocki, a prestigious family law boutique. “For several years, Michelle has been active with Team in Training, a fundraising arm of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She runs in their events, holds periodic fundraisers in her home and makes her support of the organization an integral part of her work and personal life.”

Read the article.



BigLaw Layoff Watch: 60 Staff Positions Across 22 U.S. Offices

Employment - hiringAbove the Law is reporting on another big layoff of BigLaw staff, asking the question: Has the Great Associate Pay Raise of 2016 ushered in the Not-So-Great Staff Layoffs of 2017?

David Lat writes that “approximately 60 staffers at Dentons were informed that [March 10] would be the last day at the firm. We heard from a number of the affected individuals, and some of them speculated that the layoffs were caused in part by the need to trim expenses in the wake of increased costs for associate compensation.”

Lat’s reporting found that the cuts appear to be centered on support staff. Also, bonuses and raises expected for remaining staff on April 1 will be delayed.

Read the Above the Law article.

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Boosting Legal Marketing Through Targeted Emails

Email marketingSuccessful law firm marketing in today’s electronic environment can include everything from online banner ads to Twitter feeds to Facebook pages and more, writes Bruce Vincent in a blog post for Muse Communications.

Amid the many available options, one of the most effective tools for attracting the attention of referral sources can be found in a well-orchestrated email campaign, he says.

In a question-and-answer format, Vincent’s post recounts a discussion he had with Dennis Weber , founder of General Counsel News.

Some of the questions they discussed included: What makes email marketing effective fo the legal industry? Aren’t people so buried in email that they might simply tune out? What are the key elements of a solid email marketing campaign?

Read the Muse Communications article.



Freeborn & Peters and Hargraves, McConnell Announce Combination

Freeborn & Peters LLP announces that it is combining with the New York City firm of Hargraves, McConnell & Costigan P.C. The development, which establishes Freeborn’s first office in New York, represents a further geographic expansion for the Chicago-headquartered Freeborn, which last year combined with the Richmond, Va.-based Brenner, Evans & Millman P.C.

“A common client of the two firms urged the combination. We are always pleased when clients’ needs result in continuing strategic growth for the firm and for our internationally acclaimed insurance/reinsurance practice,” said Joseph T. McCullough IV, Leader of the Insurance/Reinsurance Practice Group and member of the Freeborn Executive Committee. “With the firm’s growing emphasis on international arbitration and litigation for other industries, New York is an ideal location in which to offer our sophisticated litigation capabilities. A presence in New York enables us to better serve our international, as well as domestic, clients.”

In a news release, the firm said:

The combination with Hargraves, McConnell & Costigan P.C. advances Freeborn’s strategy of geographically expanding its strongest practice areas when faced with demonstrable client demand. This objective is fulfilled through Hargraves’ strong reputation in the insurance and reinsurance industries in litigating and arbitrating disputes arising out of both domestic and international contracts. The combination also serves Hargraves by extending the scope, reach and depth of its practice.

“In seeking a partner for growth, there were very few other firms that had the same depth of knowledge and experience in insurance/reinsurance as Joe McCullough and his large team at Freeborn & Peters,” said Daniel Hargraves, Founder of Hargraves, McConnell & Costigan P.C. “We look forward to this combination and to collaborating with our new colleagues to the benefit of all our clients.”

Hargraves and his team in New York have extensive experience in complex commercial litigation and arbitrations across many industries, including reinsurance. He also has the unique distinction of being admitted to practice across three continents: before the Courts of the State of New York, U.S. Court of Appeals (Second and Third Circuits), and U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York; High Court of Justice of England and Wales; and Supreme Court of Queensland, High Court of Australia and Federal Courts of Australia.

According to Freeborn’s Co-Managing Partner Michael A. Moynihan, Freeborn has been able to maintain its independence and stature in a rapidly evolving profession by focusing on its strengths and expanding opportunistically from its legacy offices in Illinois. This is a testament to the firm’s dedication to its cultural identity, which enables it to attract well-credentialed attorneys with similar values.

“Our combination with Hargraves is a great example of our philosophy on growth,” Moynihan said. “We believe that practicing together with attorneys who share similar values produces superior legal results and best serves our clients. We anticipate additional expansion in other key markets for the firm.”

Freeborn plans to expand the New York office’s practice areas to include real estate, where the firm will draw on its existing national footprint to serve investors and developers in the multistate region in and around New York, and corporate law, where Freeborn will leverage its considerable experience with buyers and sellers of varying sizes to service clients with merger and acquisition needs in this region.

The combination will be complete on March 1, 2017. At that time, Freeborn will have four offices: Chicago; Springfield, Ill.; Richmond, Va.; and New York.


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