News

Vanderbilt to Offer 2-day Business Course for Lawyers

Two of Vanderbilt University’s graduate schools – the Owen Graduate School of Management and Vanderbilt Law School – are joining forces to offer a two-day program on Feb. 7 and 8 to help lawyers run more efficient businesses and achieve more ambitious goals. The university reports that faculty from both schools are working to create innovative new curriculum for the Legal Project Management course, which seeks to meet a need in the legal industry for “efficient, effective project management based on successful methods long established in other industries.”

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Report: Law Firm Diversity Slow to Change

A new report by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) indicates that diversity in law firms is moving at an “incredibly slow pace of change.” A review of the report by the ABA Journal indicates that the percentage of female and black associates at law firms increased slightly in 2016, though the representation is still below 2009 levels. The report also found increases in the percentage of female and black partners, as well as increases in Asian and Hispanic lawyers at the partner and associate levels. In releasing the report, NALP Executive Director James Leipold said, “While it is encouraging to see small gains in most areas this year, the incredibly slow pace of change continues to be discouraging.”

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Baker Donelson, Ober/Kaler Complete Merger

Memphis-based Baker Donelson and Baltimore-based Ober/Kaler have completed their previously announced merger, Memphis Daily News reports. The move creates one of the 50 largest law firms in the nation with more than 1,600 employees in 25 offices across 10 states. The combined firms will retain the name Baker Donelson. However, the combined health practice, now the third largest in the nation, will be known as Baker Ober Health Law with a strong presence in Baltimore, Nashville and Washington, D.C.

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Law Firm Hackers Accessed Networks, Made Insider Trades

Federal prosecutors have charged three Chinese nationals with securities fraud, insider trading, computer intrusion and other offenses after they hacked into the networks of multiple international law firms with offices in New York City. According to the Associated Press, the three made more than $4 million in profits by buying stock in companies that were about to be acquired and then selling the shares after the acquisitions were announced. The firms affected were working on the deals but have not been identified. The Memphis Daily News has more on the story.

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Have You Heard About the TBA Mashup?

Interested in observing a legal hackathon or getting a hands-on demonstration of the new Fastcase 7 platform? Both will be part of the first TBA Mashup, a full-day of activities and free programming set for Feb. 17 at the Tennessee Bar Center in conjunction with the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program.

In addition to the hackathon and Fastcase 7 demo, the TBA Mashup will feature sessions on: 

  • Current State of Health Insurance for the Small Firms
  • Professional Liability Insurance - What to look for in YOUR Policy
  • A Demo of Fastcase TopForm, a powerful bankruptcy filing software
  • Retirement Planning Guidance from the ABA Retirement Funds
  • Pro Bono in Action: How to help with pro bono events and how to take part in online options

At the annual TBA Law Tech UnConference CLE program, you can take as many or as few hours as you need. Registration will be open all day. Payment will be determined at checkout based on the hours you need. Topics will include: 

  • Bill & Phil Tech Show
  • Ethical Considerations for Cyber Security in Law
  • Evolution of the Legal Marketplace
  • Making e-Discovery Affordable 
  • Drone Law
  • Encryption for Lawyers

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Lexis Users to be Transferred to Lexis Advance

The legal research site Lexis.com will be shut down over the next year and users will be moved to Lexis Advance, the company has announced. The advanced site was launched five years ago, but Lexis kept the basic site operational for lawyers who were not comfortable learning the new features. The company has pledged to work closely with Lexis.com customers so they are fully aware of what is changing, the ABA Journal reports.

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ABA Reports on Top Legal Tech Trends

The American Bar Association (ABA) has released the fourth annual TECHREPORT, its annual report of top legal technology trends. The report explores how attorneys are using technology in their practices based on the results of a survey of practioners. The report is divided into 10 topics, each of which can be downloaded for free in pdf format. The topics are: planning and budgeting, technology training, security, cloud computing, mobile technology, practice management, blogging and social media, virtual law practice, litigation and T.A.R. and solo and small firm technology. One finding: 14 percent of respondents overall, and one in four from firms with 10-49 attorneys and 500-plus attorneys, reported a data breach.

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Lawyers Targeted with Fake Email Complaint

Officials in multiple states are warning lawyers against opening and clicking on links in emails that may contain fake complaints, the ABA Journal reports. The emails contain a hyperlink to view the complaint but when clicked on installs malicious software or ransomware on the computer. Ransomware typically blocks computer access until the computer user pays money to get it unlocked. Officials in New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida are among those warning about the scam. Lawyers who receive such an email should delete it immediately and should not click on the link, they advise. The emails have been from “The Office of the State Attorney” with a subject line of “The Office of the State Attorney Complaint” or “see you in court.”

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CLE Examines Legal Services Management Companies

The TBA Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market (ELM) held its second CLE in the Modern Law Practice Series this morning. The program covered legal services management companies, such as Counsel on Call, Latitude and Cobra Legal Solutions, and their role in the changing legal market. Professor Milan Markovic from Texas A&M University School of Law also spoke on the ethics of alternative legal service providers like LegalZoom and Avvo. The program is available on demand as oniline video.

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TBA President Urges Unity, Consensus Building in Profession

In the new Tennessee Bar Journal, President Jason Long discusses our divided country after the recent election, urging lawyers to be “united now more than ever in our commitment to the profession and its bedrock principles.” He writes that “we can provide that opportunity in a controlled and structured environment, operating within the framework of our democratic institutions. If there is an opportunity for consensus building and unity in today’s political climate, the legal profession can and should facilitate that.” Also in this issue, learn if you are protecting your clients’ electronic information enough, in the cover article by Trey Forgety. Brian Dobbs writes to help you understand the law of construction in Tennessee. Read the December issue.

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CLE Series Kicks Off with Look at Online Dispute Resolution

The first CLE in a four-part series hosted by the TBA’s Special Committee on the Evolving Legal Market (ELM) premiered Thursday to overwhelmingly positive reviews. The program, part one of the “Modern Law Practice” series, covered online dispute resolution (ODR) and its influence on the practice of law. It is now available on demand from TBA CLE. Learn more about this program and others in the series.

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Are Legal Services Management Companies Changing Law Practice?

The second installment in the TBA’s ongoing Modern Law Practice CLE Series is planned for Dec. 2 as both an in-person and webcast program. During the three-hour session, speakers will examine the ways legal service management companies -- including those outsourcing work and those providing temporary staff -- are expanding and affecting the modern law practice. The course will be offered at the Bar Center in Nashville and as a live video stream.

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Gullett Sanford Names New COO

M. Suzanne Hartness has been named the new chief operating officer at the Nashville law firm of Gullett Sanford Robinson & Martin. She replaces Maureen Wylie, the firm’s first COO, who is relocating to Oregon. Hartness will oversee daily business and administrative operations and work with firm management to implement strategic initiatives. She also will be responsible for finance, human resources, hiring, information technology, business development and marketing. Prior to joining the firm, Hartness served with Ricoh Managed Services as a liaison to Middle Tennessee law firms in need of document and mail services.

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TBJ Columns Cover History, the BPR and What Not to Tweet

The Tennessee Bar Journal this month includes regular columns by Russell Fowler, Wade Davies and Bill Haltom. In "History’s Verdict," Fowler writes about Will Thomas, a lawyer who was embraced by and relentlessly defended the Cherokees in the 1800s. Davies, who is wrapping up his term on the Board of Professional Responsibility, details in his column "Crime & Punishment" some of the ways lawyers get into hot water -- and the relatively easy steps to take to stay out of trouble. In "But Seriously, Folks!" Haltom looks at the series of events that unfolded after University of Tennessee law professor Glenn Reynolds tweeted just three words: “Run them down.” Nick McCall reviews the book Almighty: Courage, Resistance and Existential Peril in the Nuclear Age. Read the November issue.

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Report: Number of Women Partners Rising

The percentage of women promoted to partnership in law firms reached a five-year high of 37.3 percent this year, according to an analysis by Diversity & Flexibility Alliance. The group looked at 134 law firms, including 98 of the nation’s top 100 firms. At 32 of the firms, at least half of the lawyers promoted to partnership were women. Read more from a press release or access the full report. The ABA Journal also has a story on the findings.

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Legal Staffing Group Releases 2017 Salary Guide

The legal staffing company Special Counsel has released its 2017 Salary Guide. The publication includes detailed job descriptions, salary data, industry trends and insights on attracting, hiring and retaining talent. The group predicts that with an improved economy, firms are having to compete for a dwindling pool of skilled talent and associate salaries will begin to rise. “The legal industry finds itself in a period of dynamic change, which is creating new opportunities within corporate legal departments and law firms alike."

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Baker Donelson, Ober|Kaler to Combine

The law firms of Baker Donelson and Ober|Kaler have announced plans to join forces effective Jan. 1. Ober|Kaler is a national law firm with health, litigation, business, construction and finance practice areas. The firm has more than 110 attorneys with headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, and offices in Washington, D.C., and Falls Church, Virginia. The combined firm will maintain the name of Baker Donelson. It will be one of the 50 largest law firms in the country and the third largest health practice in the country.

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Wyatt’s Nashville Office Moving Downtown

Louisville-based law firm Wyatt Tarrant & Combs will move its Nashville office from West End Ave. to the downtown AT&T building. Effective Nov. 14, the firm will occupy 10,000 square feet in the tower. Its new address will be 333 Commerce St., Suite 1400, Nashville 37201. All phone numbers and email addresses will remain the same. Wyatt entered the Nashville market in 1989 when it merged with Gilbert & Milom – making it the first firm to move into the city from out of state.

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Opinion: Cabs, Law Firms Traveling Same Road

Lawyer, law professor and legal innovator Mark A. Cohen writes in Legal Mosiac that the taxicab and legal industries share eight commonalities, including that both are in the throes of “disruptive innovation.” What Uber is doing to the taxi industry, Legal Zoom is doing to the traditional law firm, he suggests. Lawyers can learn a number of lessons from the Uber experience: it has created a paradigm shift in business structure; changed the way providers work, customers buy and technology is used; connected buyers directly to providers; decentralized control of delivery; and aligned the interests of buyer and seller. Law is headed down the same road, he predicts

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Lawyers Included in Most Admired CEO List

The Nashville Business Journal has released its list of the 2016 Most Admired CEOs. Legal leaders on the list are Charles Bone with Bone McAllester Norton and Gary Houspian with Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands.

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Fastcase Founders Talk Success, Work to Do

In an ABA Journal Legal Rebels podcast, Fastcase founders Phil Rosenthal and Ed Walters talk about their past success and future challenges. The duo, both formerly with the law firm of Covington & Burling, have made legal research more accessible and more affordable, but are not satisfied yet. “We’re very gratified by all the work that’s been done. But man, there’s so much more work to do,” says Walters. The company continues to fight for access to public laws and regulations, often against companies that have exclusive publishing rights with states. Tennessee lawyers receive premium access to Fastcase online resources as part of their TBA Complete Membership.

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Study: Female Partners Earn 44% Less than Men

At big American law firms, female partners still earn 44 percent less in pay than their male counterparts, according to a new survey by the legal search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa. The survey found that female partners earned an average of $659,000 annually compared with an average of $949,000 for male partners. Those surveyed attributed the disparity primarily to men bringing in more big-ticket legal cases or being better at getting credit for doing so. Secondary causes included continued existence of an “old boys network” and the number of hours worked. The New York Times has a summary of the findings.

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Partners Facing Increased Pressure to Perform, WSJ Reports

Law firms are increasing assessing performance of partners and some are moving to demote those who do not bring in enough business or bill enough hours, the Wall Street Journal reports. Citing a survey from American Lawyer magazine, the WSJ reports that 56 percent of law firm leaders say they plan to take away equity from partners in the coming year and 67 percent say they plan to ask partners to leave.

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Vanderbilt Team Takes Title at Hackathon

Vanderbilt Law’s Music City Legal Hackers recently brought home first prize at the Georgia Access to Justice Legal Hackathon. The group, sponsored by Vanderbilt Law School’s Program on Innovation, was challenged to address the technology needs of four Georgia pro bono programs that want to extend their capabilities through low-cost legal apps. “The event was a great opportunity to explore how law and technology can combine to provide legal services ‘better, faster and cheaper’ to benefit clients who could not afford it otherwise,” Vanderbilt adjunct professor Larry Bridgesmith said. The team included Lori Gonzales, Andy Seavers, Nick Lorenson, Will Norton and Shannon Collins.

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Bradley Expands to Southwest

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP is opening its first Southwest office in Houston, the Birmingham-based firm announced today. “Our new Houston colleagues are recognized for their quality and service within the construction industry,” Bradley board chair and managing partner Beau Grenier said, “and they will be a solid anchor for us as we serve clients across many practice areas throughout the state from our new location.” Bradley operates eight offices in the Southeast, including one in Nashville.

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