Legal Industry Trends, Law Firm Moves and New Legal Technology: August 26, 2019
August is almost over, and with Labor Day comes the start of school, the promise of fall, and the beginning of the end of 2019. The legal industry keeps on humming with new developments, as law firms, attorneys and legal technology keep innovating and making moves that make the legal world more efficient, interesting and a better place to be.
Read on to learn more about the developments across the industry.
Law Firm Attorney and Advisor Hires and Diversity
Ice Miller LLP, a full-service law firm with over 340 legal professionals recently welcomed Sarah Pollock, Ph.D. as a technical advisor in the Intellectual Property Practice. Pollock will partner with the IP team on the technical requirements for patent applications, both in the US and abroad, and on patent interference and litigation proceedings, and research and analysis on matters before the USPTO. Her expertise will be put to use in case preparation during the patent prosecution process, reviewing and analyzing patent and technical documents. Steve Humke, Chief Managing Partner of Ice Miller praises Pollock’s research background, and called her a “skilled and knowledgeable scientist.”
In its most recent move to support diversity and inclusion efforts, Porter Wright has recently announced it joined the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) as a corporate partner. As part of this decision, Porter Wright will expand its supplier diversity program to include certified LGBT Business Enterprises. This comes on top of the firm joining the third cycle of the Mansfield Rule Pilot program. Robert Tannous, managing partner of Porter Wright says diversity is a responsibility across the firm. He says, “With our involvement in the NGLCC, the Mansfield program, and other efforts, we are embodying our serious commitment to being strong allies to our partners and staff, our clients, and our communities.”
Chicago based Kaveny + Kroll announced that Zachary Hofeld joined their staff as a Junior Trial Attorney. Hofeld attended the University of Minnesota Law School, earning his MBA as well as his JD. While in law school, he served as a judicial extern for Judge Donovan Frank of the U..S District Court for the District of Minnesota. Additionally, he briefed, argued and won an appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Hofeld is eager to put his training to work on behalf of his clients. (Image)
Environmental law firm Beveridge & Diamond strengthened its Pacific Northwest presence with the addition of two attorneys to their Seattle office.
One of the attorneys to join the firm is Of Counsel Allyn Stern, she was previously the Regional Counsel at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 10 office. Stern’s experience with such federal environmental laws as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA); the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); and the Clean Water Act (CWA) will be an asset as she counsels clients through environmental issues stemming from real estate development, permitting or general business operations.
The second attorney to join Beveridge’s Seattle team is Megan Withroder, she joins the firm as an associate. Withroder previously worked in-house at Rocky Mountain Power. In her role at Rocky Mountain Power she worked with coal supply contracts, operations and management agreements and retirement and decommissioning agreements, and CWA applicability and air pollution litigation, among other things. She has experience interfacing with federal and state authorities and alternative compliance agreements, and she will assist clients on Coal Combustion Residuals Rule compliance, New Source Review compliance and the ever-important risk management.
Seattle Managing Principal Dave Weber points to both attorney’s previous experience, and how it will be an asset to the firm’s clients as they negotiate compliance requirements and navigate environmental law and litigation. He says, “Allyn’s decades of experience at EPA will be invaluable to clients as they address challenges arising from environmental compliance requirements and enforcement actions. Megan’s in-house counsel experience at a major utility enhances the complexity and depth of the environmental law and litigation services we offer clients on the West Coast and nationwide.”
Boutique insurance recovery and entertainment firm Pasich LLP recently announced that Peter A. Halprin is joining the firm as partner. Halprin previously worked as a shareholder in Anderson Kill’s New York office in insurance recovery and working with Cyber Insurance Recovery; focusing on recovery strategies in areas including captive insurance, cyber-crime, natural disasters, technology disputes, and regulatory investigations. Halprin also has experience in domestic and international arbitrations in ad hoc and institutional arbitration forums, and he is a member of the AAA National Roster of Arbitrators.
Halprin calls the move “a fantastic opportunity.” He says, “The firm [Pasich] is frequently engaged in international arbitration and I am excited to continue building and growing the practice in New York and around the globe.”
Attorney Recognitions, Law Firm Awards and Pro Bono Achievements
Global law firm Mayer Brown recently announced that Finance partner Jon Van Gorp was named chair of Bottom Line’s Chicago Regional Advisory Board. Bottom Line is a non-profit organization focused on creating a ripple effect by supporting first generation college students from low-income backgrounds in college and graduate school success. The organization focuses on college completion and support throughout the student’s educational experience, and recognizes the unique challenges faced by first-generation college students in academic environments. Since the organization began operating in Chicago in 2014, more than 1,600 students have been served with 97% of Access students accepted to a four-year college and nearly 90% of Success students completing their college education. Van Gorp has a long history of community involvement, and previously served on Bottom Line’s Fundraising and Visibility Committees. Mayer Brown’s office in Chicago has a commitment to community involvement that dates back decades, and Van Gorp is continuing the tradition.
Ropes & Gray partner, Michael Littenberg, was again named to Assent Compliance’s Top 100 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Influence Leaders list. Littenberg was ranked 17th on the 2019 list, and he is the only attorney in private practice to appear on the list for multiple years. Achieving a rank on the list indicates an individual is committed to using their knowledge and influence to help further CSR principles and programs to help companies and individuals make positive decisions on a global supply chain level. Littenberg is a part of Ropes & Gray’s ESG, CSR and supply chain compliance practice.
With recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton dominating the news cycle, a recent Proskauer Rose pro-bono victory seems especially timely. Last month, a Proskauer team was able to persuade a Florida state trial court to strike down a Florida gun law as unconstitutional. The Florida law preempted “the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition,” meaning cities and counties and other municipalities could not pass gun regulations without the fear of having those regulations pre-empted. A law passed in 2011 resulted in significant financial penalties for any municipality that implemented legislation that was later preempted, and any legislator that voted for such municipal legislation would also be held financially liable. In April of 2018, a team from Proskauer, in conjunction with Everytown for Gun Safety, filed suit challenging the Florida penalties on behalf of four cities surrounding Parkland, Florida.
This move became necessary after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when nearby cities and towns were moved to enact commonsense gun regulation but were blocked by the threat of pre-emption. Proskauer attorneys worked with lawyers from Everytown for Gun Safety and took on formidable opponents (the NRA filed an amicus brief) in court, challenging the preemption statutes. Eventually, a Florida Circuit declared the law unconstitutional, saying it violated both legislative and government function immunity. This decision will allow for more local control over gun regulations in Florida such as requiring the reporting of failed background checks and prohibiting the sale of large capacity magazines, paving the way for potentially meaningful change in these communities marked by gun violence.
The legal team from Proskauer included Michael A. Cardozo, Chantel Febus; associates David Bayer, Jennifer Tarr, Amanda Johnson, Kelly Landers Hawthorne, Carl Mazurek, and Lucy Wolf; and legal assistants Ethan Gibbs and Laura Geary; with assistance from attorneys and legal assistants in the Proskauer Boca Raton office.
AI Tools, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Certification and NAMWOLF Annual Meeting
Last week at ILTACON, Intapp announced its new AI-powered conflicts resolution capability that can help law firms clear this bottleneck quickly and accurately. Law firms typically spend an average of just over 8 person-hours on conflict-clearance efforts, and by harnessing the power of AI to comb through the data more efficiently, quickly identifying areas that require attorney attention so lawyers can get to work. Research indicates this tool could cut the time spent on conflict clearance by 60%, freeing time for lawyers and support staff to focus on revenue-growth and saving millions.
The University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce School of Law starts its fall term of an online certificate in Blockchain, Cryptocurrency and Law Program. This program professionals interested in implementing these game-changing technologies with access to a line-up of experts on cryptocurrency and blockchain implementation across a variety of industries. The line-up includes Jimmy Song (Bitcoin Educator, Developer and Entrepreneur), Robby Greenfield (Global Social Impact Lead Consensys , Jacob Kostecki (Massive Adoption), Ed Moy (former US Mint Chair), Sandra Ro (Global Business Blockchain), David Burt (Bermudan Premier), Caitlin Long (Wyoming Blockchain Project), Meltem Demirors (CoinShares), Hester Peirce (SEC Commissioner), and more.
Samson Williams, adjunct professor and blockchain expert, says, “Students will learn about the intersection of the law and emerging technologies, and they’ll discover what the future of banking, finance, compliance, technology, emerging technology, and intellectual property looks like." This program is aimed at professionals working in fields that will be impacted by blockchain and cryptocurrency, and is designed to provide a solid foundational understanding of the technologies and how they can change industries and the legal underpinnings. Students can earn a single course badge in one semester, and a certificate can be earned across two-semesters.
The National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms, or NAMWOLF, will hold its annual meeting in Los Angeles in September. This event is designed to facilitate networking between minority and women-owned law firms and companies that wish to diversify their outside counsel. NAMWOLF is known for their inventive events that promote networking through meaningful experiences, such as The Amazing Race where participants race across LA completing tasks and making connections. Speakers include Vernā Myers, the Vice President of Inclusion Strategy at Netflix and Yara Shahidi, actress, model and activist, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.