Legal Industry News February 2021: Law Firm Awards, Legal and Professional Services Moves and Recognition
Hello, legal and professional services industry fans. We’re closing out February with the latest legal and consulting industry news, focusing on firm hires and advancements, awards and unique recognitions, and innovations from law firms in these unusual times. Please read on:
Law and Professional Services Firm Moves
Mayer Brown appointed Amol Bargaje as the firm’s first global chief innovation officer. Bargaje joined Mayer Brown in 2018 as the global director of IT Practice & Client Solutions. He also served as one of the co-leaders of the firm’s client-centered global innovation initiative, embrio.
“Amol’s extensive experience working on process improvement, agile development and client-centered technology will help us accelerate the pace of innovation while further promoting a culture of innovation within the firm,” said Jeremy Clay, Mayer Brown’s managing partner.
Before joining Mayer Brown, Bargaje held senior leadership roles in innovation and technology in the legal and software industry.
Covington has elected Phyllis Jones and Lisa Peets to the firm’s eight-member Management Committee which includes three women including two women of color. Jones and Peets replace Catherine Dargan of the firm’s Washington, DC office and Louise Nash of the firm’s London office, who each served two terms on the firm’s Management Committee. Dargan will now serve as chair of Covington’s Corporate Practice, and Nash will lead the firm’s EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) strategy group.
Doug Gibson, Covington’s chair stresses that gender and ethnic diversity of the firm’s Management Committee is “critical because we see diversity and inclusion as an essential element of our culture and community.”
Gowling WLG recently announced Andrew Bratt as the next leader of the firm’s Employment, Labour and Equalities (ELE) Group in Canada, assuming the role from Bettina Burgess of the firm’s Waterloo Region office.
Per Burgess, “As the outgoing leader, I am delighted that Andrew will be the person to take over the helm, particularly as our clients continue to endure the myriad challenges caused by the pandemic. Andrew brings to our team and to our clients, years of substantive expertise, experience and understanding of our clients’ businesses. He has been instrumental in expertly assisting our practice group and our clients through the rapidly changing issues of 2020, and I know that he will continue to do so through his term as practice group leader.”
BKD CPAs & Advisors named East Region Managing Partner Rob Pruitt as the company's first chief practice officer effective June 1, 2021. Pruitt will join the National Office executive leadership team and will be a member of the Management Committee.
“Rob has done a tremendous job leading the East Region, and we’re grateful for his work in helping the region flourish. Thanks to Rob’s track record of trusted leadership and his experience as a national tax director, MP and regional MP, he has the right blend of expertise and firm understanding to lay the groundwork for this new role,” said CEO-elect Tom Watson.
In his new role, Pruitt will focus on internal firm growth initiatives and will provide executive leadership, sponsorship, coordination and guidance of national industry partners and practices.
Law Firm Honors and Recognition
World Trademark Review recognized Morgan Lewis in the 2021 edition of WTR 1000 in the areas of enforcement and litigation and prosecution and strategy. The WTR recognized Morgan Lewis across the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia, highlighting 13 Morgan Lewis attorneys for their depth of expertise, market presence and positive reviews from clients and peers. Calling Morgan Lewis’s trademark practice “well-developed, rigorous and fully comprehensive in a way that is uncommon among full-service outfits.” Since its inception in 2011, Morgan Lewis has consistently been honored by the WTR 1000. You can see the full list of attorneys recognized here.
Bradley announced Ale Dalton and Kya Henley were selected as 2021 LCLD (Leadership Council on Legal Diversity) Pathfinders. Robert Ford, a partner in Bradley’s Houston office, is a Fellow in the program, and Dalton and Henley are associates in the firm’s Nashville and Washington office.
The LCLD Fellows and Pathfinder Program is a legal talent development program, designed to augment diversity in leadership at law firms and corporate legal departments. Established in 2009, the LCLD has over 350 members and programming designed to nurture talent and help a new and more diverse generation of attorneys attain leadership positions. Participants are connected with resources and training, focusing on leadership skills and professional development, and provided with opportunities to develop and strengthen their professional networks.
Stephanie Resnick, Managing Partner of Fox Rothschild’s Philadelphia Office will receive the AJC’s 2021 Judge Learned Hand Award from the American Jewish Committee. The award recognizes an attorney whose accomplishments, humanitarian efforts and dedication embody the Honorable Learned Hand, who spent more than five decades on the bench and set a high standard defending civil liberties. Resnick, with decades of leadership and legal industry achievements, is being honored for her lifelong contributions to the Philadelphia community.
Throughout her legal career, Resnick has worked to ensure justice is accessible to all, the judiciary is independent and to advance women in the legal profession. Resnick has served as a Chair of the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association, where she helped vet federal court judicial nominees and one Supreme Court Justice. She has also served on the Chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Federal Courts Committee, and Chair of its Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention. She also worked on Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter’s Advisory Task Force on Ethics and and Campaign Finance Reform, and she was appointed to the Philadelphia Court of Common Please Gender Fairness Task Force. Resnick has also worked with Fox Rothschild to champion diversity and inclusion within the firm, and has taken on several leadership roles.
Resnick has achieved Lifetime Achievement awards from Corporate Counsel and InsideCounsel, the Legal Intelligencer and was named as a recipient of the “Women of Distinction Award from the Philadelphia Business Journal. Resnick also received the Sandra Day O’Connor Award presented by the Philadelphia Bar Association, in recognition of her professional excellence and support of other women attorneys.
Law Firm Innovation and Research
Levenfeld Pearlstein released their 2021 Illinois Community Associations Legal Update Booklet which includes a plain English guide on the most recent legislative updates to the Illinois’ Condominium Property and Common Interest Community Association Act. The 80+ page guide includes the contributions of partners Howard Dakoff, Patricia O'Connor, and Adam Kahn and Molly Mackey of the firm.
Norton Rose Fulbright issued its 16th annual Litigation Trends Survey, highlighting the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on legal departments across the country.
Norton Rose Fulbright polled nearly 200 corporate counsel on disputes-related issues and concerns, with 31 percent of corporations reporting an increase in litigation as a result of COVID-19. The pandemic resulted in an increase in workloads for nearly 70 percent of respondents, with 45 percent of respondents expecting a further increase in the number of pandemic-related disputes for the next year.
“It is clear that the pandemic has led to a buildup of cases that is taxing our respondents’ legal departments. On larger matters, in-house legal teams are being asked to assume additional responsibility to lower the amount of spend on outside counsel. There is more pressure than ever for in-house teams to do more with less, and fewer than 20 percent of our respondents expect to add lawyers to their staff,” said Richard Krumholz, Norton Rose Fulbright’s Global Head of Litigation and Disputes.
Additionally, approximately half of respondents said that disputes around discrimination and social justice have lead them to consider strengthening their diverse recruitment policies and educating employees on the legal implications of discrimination.
The full survey can be read here.
Seyfarth has issued a 2020-21 edition of their 50 State Non-Compete Desktop Reference which surveys the most frequently asked questions related to restrictive covenants and trade secrets in all 50 states. The guide is an invaluable resource for in-house counsel, business owners, or HR professionals, providing a starting point to answer questions about trade secret/non-compete issues and restrictive covenants.
The guide was edited and coauthored by partner Katherine Perrelli of the firm’s Boston office along with Robert Milligan of the firm’s Los Angeles office and Michael Wexler, of the firm’s Chicago office who co-chair Seyfarth’s national Trade Secrets, Computer Fraud, and Non-Compete group.
News Updates from the National Law Review
The National Law Review is on track to see well over 1.75 million visits in February 2021 after continuing to show impressive traffic growth in January 2020 with over 2.5 million unique page views.
On February 16, 2021 Operations and Projects Manager Eilene Spear presented a webinar focusing on SEO concepts and lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic with Guy Alvarez of Good2bSocial and authored the first installment of an eight-part series on Good2bSocial’s Digital Marketing Academy Certification program addressing Inbound Marketing and Client Journey Mapping for Law Firms
Jennifer Schaller, Managing Director of the National Law Review, will be featured on Berbay Marketing’s Law Firm Marketing Catalyst Podcast along with Sharon Berman and Megan Braverman, discussing moving to a fully remote workforce and the unique challenges that come with managing a remote team. The podcast will be released in the next few weeks and will be available across all podcasting platforms.
Rachel Popa also contributed to this article.