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Legal Industry News for May 2021: Law Firm Moves, Philanthropy & AAPI Heritage Month

Spring is in the air and we’re back with the first installment of our legal industry column for May. Read on for the latest news on law firm promotions, legal industry philanthropy, research and Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. 

Law Firm Moves & Promotions

Carlton Fields named Shareholder Jason J. Quintero as the Tampa office managing shareholder. Mr. Quintero succeeds Tampa Shareholder Lori Baggett in the role.

“Jason will be instrumental in continuing the strategic growth and direction of the office, as well as continuing to develop Carlton Fields’ strong relationships within our vibrant city. He brings a positive and dynamic approach to this role and I am confident that he will build on the remarkable contributions of his predecessors,” said Gary L. Sasso, President and CEO of Carlton Fields.

Mr. Quintero practiced at Carlton Fields for 16 years, and held leadership roles in the firm and The Florida Bar. He practices in the Construction Practice Group at Carlton Fields, which represents a variety of clients in the construction industry.

“Carlton Fields is a wonderful firm and I’m honored to serve in this new role. The firm is client-focused and actively engaged in the community. I look forward to working with Tampa’s business and community leaders, who genuinely care about our area’s growth, health, prosperity, and success,” Mr. Quintero said. “Our firm’s opportunistic mindset and commitment to excellence, diversity, and collaboration will serve as the driving factors of our success as an invested market leader in the Tampa Bay region, and as we emerge into a post-COVID world.”

Brittain A. Rogers joined Akin Gump in New York as a partner in its corporate practice.  Mr. Rogers represents clients in mergers and acquisitions (M&A), financing and corporate matters.

“Britt’s ability to lead complex M&A and financing transactions as well as his deep ties to the investment management industry are a perfect complement to our leading corporate practice,” said Akin Gump chairperson Kim Koopersmith. “His past credit-side work will also resonate loudly with our special situations and financial restructuring clients, and I am delighted to welcome him to Akin Gump.”

Mr. Rogers previously served as a managing director of Fortress Investment Group, where he served as lead internal counsel for more than $15 billion in completed M&A and financing transactions.

“Akin Gump enjoys a strong reputation for traditional M&A work and for its leading private equity practice as well as for its deep roots across the investment funds world,” Mr. Rogers said. “I was drawn to the firm because of the opportunities I saw to contribute to the growth of its corporate team by working with its investor client base. This is an exciting move, and I am very happy to be here.”

Joseph G. Tirone joined Baker Donelson as a leader of the firm's Energy Transactions Team and as the chair of the Power and Renewable Energy Team.

Mr. Tirone has nearly 30 years of experience in energy project and infrastructure development, and advises clients in the power and renewable energy, oil and gas, biofuels, and transportation sectors. Before joining Baker Donelson, Mr. Tirone was a leader of the energy team for a transatlantic law firm.

"Joe has established himself as a leading energy transactions attorney. His emphasis on energy project and infrastructure development and finance is a tremendous addition to our Firm's offering as we position our clients to take advantage of the anticipated surge of infrastructure opportunities," said James E. Edwards Jr., managing shareholder of Baker Donelson's Baltimore office.

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) named Venable’s Director of Career Development Traci Mundy Jenkins as the 2021-2022 President at the association’s business meeting on April 30th. Ms. Jenkins spent one year as NALP’s president elect.

Ms. Jenkins will serve as chief volunteer and as the leader of the NALP board of directors.  She will work with other officers to prepare the association’s annual budget, and will oversee the development of short and long term plans.

During her 18 years at NALP, Ms. Jenkins served as vice chair of the Annual Education Conference, vice chair of strategic planning for the Lawyer Professional Development Section, and as an elected member of the Nominating Committee, among other roles.

Ms. Jenkins’ legal recruiting and development experience includes serving as the president of the Washington Area Legal Recruitment Administrators Association (WALRAA), as well as being a founder and managing partner of a recruiting and consulting company and as assistant dean at the American University Washington College of Law.

Law Firm Philanthropy and AAPI Heritage Month:

The St. Louis Journal named Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) a 2021 Innovation in Philanthropy Award winner for its partnership with Concordance Academy of Leadership, which provides reentry services to individuals released from incarceration. BCLP hires law school graduates for two-year assignments in the program, where they split their time between the Concordance fellowship and with their work for the firm.

“Many people who come out of prison face arrest for outstanding warrants, traffic violations or child support cases that occurred before they went in,” said BCLP Partner Bob Newmark, who served as St. Louis office managing partner when the Concordance collaboration began and helped grow the partnership. “They were never resolved once they were incarcerated, so we try to get them a clean slate.”

BCLP fellows helped clear more than 500 warrants, attended more than 500 court appearances and commuted more than $12,000 in fines for Concordance program participants since 2016. BCLP’s partnership with Concordance helped reduce re-incarceration rates in St. Louis by 44 percent over the past five years.

Proskauer launched a new partnership with the Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC) and its “Learn and Earn” youth-focused programming, which empowers Asian American, immigrant, and low-income communities in New York City through helping provide equitable access to resources and opportunities. CPC is the nation’s largest Asian American social services organization, and supports 60,000 individuals and families.

Their “Learn and Earn” program helps high school juniors and seniors be actively engaged in college preparedness, career exploration, community service, leadership development and more. Proskauer associates Bowon Koh, Scott Tan and Annie Zhang recently participated in a panel discussion moderated by Pro Bono Partner Bill Silverman with over 75 students on public service, careers in law and social justice. Proskauer plans to continue their workshops with CPC into the summer of this year.

DLA Piper  joined more than 45 law firms and a number of Fortune 100 general counsel to form the Alliance for Asian American Justice. The Alliance will support Asian American communities through pro bono legal services such as providing victims of anti-Asian hate crimes with counsel, as well as supplying community support.

“The Alliance for Asian American Justice aims to support and stand up for marginalized, low-income and under-represented Asian Americans who have historically been denied due process and access to crucial legal remedies,” said Cathryn Le Regulski, chair of DLA Piper’s Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders resource group.

DLA Piper will also provide financial support to the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) to help them take on anti-Asian cases and provide community based programs.

Legal Industry Research & Technology

The law firm market stabilized as it emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor Economic Index (PMI) for the first quarter of 2021.

Rate growth remained high while demand fell and law firms cut costs to increase profitability. Office related costs dropped by 37 percent, while lawyer headcount remained stable. Litigation continues to lag, but could increase as courts begin to address case backlogs.

While the Thomson Reuters PMI slipped by seven points to 62, there were indications that the market is returning to pre-pandemic levels. The PMI showed an increase in mergers and acquisitions activity which led to a surge in corporate work. Demand was down by 1 percent compared with the first quarter of 2020.

However, the report concludes that the relatively small decrease in demand is a positive sign that the legal market is continuing the recovery it began in the third quarter of last year.

“While some of the data remains mixed, most signs point to a large law market that is moving towards more normal levels of activity,” said Mike Abbott, vice president, Market Insights and Thought Leadership for Thomson Reuters. “Strategies employed over the last year − such as expanding flexible working arrangements, supporting higher rates and reducing costs − have generally put firms in a good position as the trends show a continued recovery through the first quarter.”

As of Dec 31, 2020, women held 23.7 percent of the board seats among the largest publicly-traded companies on the Russell 3000 Index, according to data from the 50/50 Women on Boards (50/50WOB) Gender Diversity Index.

For the first time, 25 states with 20 or more headquartered companies now have 20 percent or more women directors on their boards. Additionally, 50/50WOB found that within the past six months, 425 companies added 469 women to their boards, and 77 percent did so by expanding their boards.

50/50WOB also found that out of 1,021 women who joined a board in 2020, 23 percent identified as a woman of color, two percent identified as white and 75 percent did not identify.

“The sustained increase and progress for women is positive, but there is work to be done to achieve gender balance and diversity on corporate boards,” said Stephanie Sonnabend, Co-Founder and Chair of 50/50WOB. “In addition to women holding 50 percent of all the corporate board seats, we call for women of color to hold at least 20 percent of all the corporate board seats.”

Wilson Sonsini launched a new digital hub for its Emerging Companies Practice, providing founders, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists with access to a wide range of free legal resources and insights. The digital hub’s launch coincides with a growth in venture capital valuations, fundraising and deal volume.“Helping entrepreneurs thrive is at the heart of everything we do at Wilson Sonsini,” said Raj S. Judge, partner at Wilson Sonsini and co-lead of the Emerging Companies Practice. “Whether it's leveraging proprietary technology for efficiency in our practice, providing free resources like those found in our Knowledge Bank, or widening access to the global network of banks and VCs we’ve built over the past six decades, Wilson Sonsini aims to arm early-stage start-ups with the very best counsel so that they succeed and win.”

The newly launched site centers around a knowledge bank where Wilson Sonsini Emerging Companies Practice legal experts answer more than 200 of the most common questions from  entrepreneurs and start-ups, including those on IP protection, tax, governance, formation and financing.

Rachel Popa also contributed to this article.

Copyright ©2022 National Law Forum, LLCNational Law Review, Volume XI, Number 136

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