News

Memphis Litigation Support Firm Announces Merger

Memphis-based Alpha Legal Solutions announced this week that it has merged with Litigation Resource Group, a legal technology company founded by Robb Helt in Fort Smith, Ark. According to Kathy May, founder of Alpha Reporting Corporation and CEO of Alpha Legal Solutions, the merger will widen the company’s trial technology client base and heighten the level of capability demanded by attorneys to better service their clients in trials, mediations and arbitrations. Helt has relocated to Memphis and will serve as president of Alpha Legal Solutions. He brings significant experience to the table having supported 500 jury trials, mediations and arbitrations including the massive BP oil spill litigation and serving as lead trial technology consultant for Halliburton.

read more »

Experts Predict Top Law Firm Trends for 2014

On the eve of the New Year, legal trend watchers predict that alternative billing arrangements, new research and development programs, and lateral hiring will be among the top trends affecting law firms in 2014, reports the Nashville Business Journal. The paper cites a LexisNexis blog, which features 21 law firm managers, legal marketers and consultants offering their best predictions for practice management, technology and business development trends for the legal profession.

read more »

Celebrate Cyber Monday at the TBA

Spend Cyber Monday (Dec. 2) at the TBA for a CLE program on “Old Law New Technology.” Sessions include discussions on Internet technology, intellectual property and related issues, the Global Online Freedom Act, recent ethical issues pertaining to computers and the Internet, and how attorneys can avoid becoming victims of cybercrime and protect their law practice. Lunch will be provided in addition to free Starbucks coffee and free Wifi. Can’t make it in person? Learn more or sign up now for the live webcast. Contact CLE Director Mindy Fulks for more information.

read more »

Lawyer Offers Scholarship Not to Go to Law School

Chicago attorney Matt Willens is offering a $1,000 “Anything But Law School” scholarship for a college graduate who goes on to graduate school, but avoids law school. Willins told the National Law Journal the scholarship is not a stunt, but an attempt to raise awareness about the rough job market for law graduates and to encourage students to pursue less risky careers. He also warns about the dangers of new graduates heading out on their own unprepared. “Becoming a good lawyer takes years of training," he said. "You have people out there who are practicing without training. They’re doing the best thing they can. Sometimes they do the right thing, and a lot of times they don’t. It’s a black mark on the profession of the law.”

read more »

Stites & Harbison Opens Memphis Office

Regional law firm Stites & Harbison has opened a new office in Memphis that will specialize in patents and intellectual property. The move adds a third office in Tennessee for the Louisville, Ky.-based law firm. Intellectual property law and health care attorney Cong ‘Connie’ Ding, who joined the Nashville office earlier this year, will be based in Memphis. Additional attorneys will follow soon. The new office is in the UT-Baptist Research Park at 20 South Dudley St., Suite 802, Memphis, TN 38103.

read more »

Email Scam Targets IOLTA Accounts

The Tennessee Bar Foundation reports that an email scam is popping up across the country warning lawyers that their IOLTA account has “insufficient funds” to pay an outstanding check. Barri Bernstein, executive director of the foundation – which administers the IOLTA program in Tennessee – said today that the sender claims to be National Bankruptcy Services LLC of Dallas. And that while several different names are used to sign the email, all versions refer to a check of approximately $19,000. Anyone who receives such an email should not open it or click on the attachment, which is presumed to contain malware.

read more »

Angry Clients May Cause Toxic Work Environment

Angry and entitled clients can set the tone for a toxic work environment within law firms, business psychiatrist and consultant Mark Goulston writes in the Harvard Business Review Blog Network. Goulston says he sees an increasing amount of toxicity in law firms and offers advice on how to handle rude clients. The Careerist, however, takes issue with many of Goulston's suggestions. The blog notes some of the suggested comebacks to client outbursts could "inflame the guy further," and it is often better to say nothing. The ABA Journal has more.

read more »

Professor Guides Law Firm Incubator Movement

Fred Rooney is director of the Touro College law schools’ International Center for Post-Graduate Development and Justice, a New York-based national clearinghouse for the law firm incubator and legal residency movement. Rooney works to support recent graduates developing small and solo firms. Much like the incubator recently established in Memphis, lawyers pay rent for shared office space and training in business skills and professional development. The ABA Journal has more.

read more »

Adams and Reese Moving to East Memphis

Adams and Reese is moving its offices from the downtown Brinkley Plaza to the Crescent Center in East Memphis. It will occupy 13,500 square feet on the building’s seventh floor according to the Memphis Business Journal. “We look forward to our move to one of the city’s most prestigious and recognizable buildings,” Memphis partner in charge Jeffrey C. Smith said. “The Crescent Center’s sleek appearance and unique features were important factors in attracting us.” The firm says it does plan to maintain a small downtown Memphis office for those lawyers who physically need to go to court. Read more in a release from the firm.

read more »

Incubator Will Assist Young Lawyers in Memphis

The University of Memphis School of Law, in partnership with the Memphis Bar Association and the Service Corps of Retired Executives, has launched a new solo practioner incubator program for young lawyers. ESQ.BUILD, as it is known, is designed for attorneys in their first three years of practice. The idea of the program is not only to teach lawyers how to practice law, but also how to manage a law office. Program organizers say participants will have access to reduced price office space, mentoring and a range of logistical services. Participation will be limited to no more than 10 lawyers, who will be required to handle pro bono cases and donate a certain number of hours of service to the bar association in exchange for the opportunity. The Memphis Daily News reported the story.

read more »

Reports: 'Lawyer' Not Such a Dream Job, Though Contentment Surges

According to U.S. News, being a lawyer is ranked fourth among dream jobs that are not so dreamy: lawyers have to make it through three years of law school and a “daunting” bar exam and then face a market that "is not expected to boom over the next decade.” Ironically, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports that survey results from the American Lawyer magazine show a surge in contentment among junior lawyers. The magazine polled third-, fourth- and fifth-year associates at major firms on issues such as job satisfaction. The study found that junior lawyers gave their firms “the highest composite scores...in almost 10 years,” the magazine said. The ABA Journal links to other stories on the issue.

read more »

Reaction Mixed to President’s Call for 2-Year Law Degree

President Barack Obama’s comments last week that law school should be limited to two years is drawing reaction from both sides of the issue. A number of law professors praised discussion on the idea, but most of those blogging about the concept found fault with it. Berkeley Law professor Dan Farber warned that a two-year program would not leave time for specialized courses, such as environmental law, that are not tested on bar exams. Albany Law School professor Mary Lynch suggested the president is confusing unpaid interning with a true clinical experience, and that he does not understand that clients no longer want to pay for on-the-job training of new attorneys. And Matt Bodie with the Saint Louis University School of Law argued the idea would not automatically lower tuition as schools could just increase the cost per credit hour. Read a wrap up of reactions at TaxProf Blog.

read more »

ABA Releases Road Map to Close Pay Gap

The pay gap between male and female partners at U.S. law firms is widening, according to a 2012 study conducted by Major, Lindsey & Africa and ALM Legal Intelligence, the Careerist reports. To combat the problem, the American Bar Association's Presidential Task Force on Gender Equity, along with its Commission on Women in the Profession, have released a report titled "Closing the Gap: A Road Map for Achieving Gender Pay Equity in Law Firm Partner Compensation." Tips include being transparent, jumping on the metrics bandwagon, creating a succession plan and diversifying your compensation committee.

read more »

Fears of Surveillance Shutter Legal Technology Blog

The founder of the legal technology blog Groklaw has decided to shut down the service over fears that email communications could be subject to government surveillance. Former paralegal Pamela Jones founded Groklaw in 2003 to cover legal news of interest to the free software and open source community. In her final post Jones says she made the decision after learning that the government captures emails sent to and from foreign countries. Groklaw won the most reader votes in its niche in the ABA Journal’s 2012 Blawg 100. Jones says in the final post that she is now using an email service in Switzerland, where the laws offer greater privacy. ABA Journal links to several sources for the story.

read more »

Birmingham Firm Expanding to Nashville

The Birmingham-based law firm of Wiggins Childs Quinn & Pantazis announced today it is expanding to the Nashville area with an office in Brentwood. Josh Wilson, who has been with the firm since 2003, will manage the office, reports the Nashville Business Journal. According to a news release obtained by the journal, the firm is the largest plaintiffs firm in Alabama focusing on consumer protection, product liability, mass torts, personal injury and employment law. It also has offices in Mobile, Ala., and Deland, Fla.

read more »

Study: 'Strategic Flirtation' Common at Firms with Competitive Culture

According to a survey of 281 female lawyers at 38 law firms in the southeast, “strategic flirtation” is more common at law firms with stereotypical masculine cultures that emphasize competition, ambition and assertiveness. The more masculine the culture, the more strategic flirting takes place, the study found. Yet, masculine cultures were less forgiving of flirts than feminine cultures. “Bottom line from the research: Flirting at work—even if it’s more common in some cultures—isn’t such a good idea,” the Washington Post writes. “But you probably didn’t need a study to tell you that.” The ABA Journal has more.

read more »

Best Law Firms for Women Named

Working Mother and Flex-Time Lawyers today released their list of the 50 Best Law Firms for Women. Of the firms on this year’s list, 78 percent have one or more women among their top 10 rainmakers, up from 69 percent last year. The list is based on factors such as representation of women in the workforce and leadership positions, flexibility, compensation and development and retention of female lawyers. All 50 firms offer flex-time and reduced hours and 48 allow lawyers working reduced hours to be eligible for equity partnership. The ABA Journal has the full list plus links to a press release and executive summary.

read more »

Legal Sector Added 2,800 Jobs in July

The legal industry added 2,800 jobs in July after suffering major losses on the employment front during the previous two months, The AM Law Daily reports. The seasonally adjusted preliminary data was released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Initial figures issued last month showed the legal sector shedding more jobs in June than it had during any single month in two years. Those revisions and July's job growth notwithstanding, the legal sector has lost 2,000 jobs since April, when it employed 1.129 million people—the highest total since 2009.

read more »

ABA Hosts Virtual March for Gender Equity

The ABA is hosting "Click Your Heels" – a virtual march for gender equity this Saturday. Held in conjunction with the ABA's Day of the Woman, the effort is designed to raise awareness about gender inequality in the workplace, including at law firms where studies show women are not compensated at the same levels as men. To participate in the “march,” visit the ABA's gender equity page, and vote "yes" for gender equality. Learn more about the issue and the work of the ABA task force on the group's website.

read more »

Vault Ranks Baker Donelson Among Top 10 Firms

Baker Donelson has been ranked in the top 10 firms to work for in Vault Inc.’s 2014 edition of “Best Law Firms to Work For.” The firm also received a first place ranking in the category of transparency. The rankings are based on feedback from thousands of associates across the country who were asked to rate their law firms on a number of quality-of-life categories. Read more on the firm's website.

read more »

ABA President Weighs in on Inequality in BigLaw

The percentage of female equity partners at America’s top 200 law firms “remains stalled at an unacceptable 15 percent, with little progress over the past 10 years,” according to ABA President Laurel Bellows. In a panel discussion on CNN, Bellows, National Association of Women Lawyers President Beth Kaufman, and four other lawyers weighed in on the problem—and solutions— to the lack of women in leadership and the unequal compensation between men and women equity partners. The ABA Journal also highlighted a story by the Daily Beast on the “female lawyer exodus” that drives women to leave the legal profession later in life.

read more »

Female Firm Leaders Say Time is Ripe for Women to Rise

Seven female firm managers said changes in the legal profession are making the time right for would-be female managers to strive for the boss’ chair. Speaking yesterday at an ABA seminar, the women said that despite filling less than 5 percent of BigLaw’s firmwide leadership roles, women lawyers need to recognize their own unique skills and values and take advantage of opportunities that can lead to management positions. Law360 has the story (Subscription required).

read more »

Butler Snow Opens London Office

The Mississippi based law firm of Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada – with offices in Memphis and Nashville – has opened its first international office in London. According to a press release from the firm, the office will “provide practical, solution driven U.S. tax advice for high net worth families, their businesses and their advisors.” London-based attorney Brad Westerfield will head the new office.

read more »

Nashville Attracting ‘Upmarket’ Firms as Profile Grows

A Nashville Ledger article suggests that as Nashville’s star rises nationally, local law firms are in expansion mode and outside law firms are looking to move into Music City. The growth in health care, technology and real estate is driving most of the momentum, the piece suggests. And because of the city’s strong supply of recent law school graduates, firms are having no trouble recruiting attorneys. Finally, the article suggests that homegrown law firms have become hot prospects for mergers with outside firms looking to establish roots in the midsouth. Read more about how the Nashville legal market is changing and how that compares to the national picture.

read more »

Polsinelli Enters Tennessee Market with Chattanooga Office

The Kansas City, Mo., based law firm Polsinelli has opened a regional office in Chattanooga to serve clients from Nashville to Atlanta in corporate, finance, mergers and acquisitions, and real estate matters. The firm, which has offices around the country, works with a variety of industries including chemical manufacturing, health care, oil and gas exploration and real estate. Gregory M. Leitner, formerly with Husch Blackwell, will lead the Chattanooga office. Joining him are K. Chris Collins, Ralph M. Killebrew Jr. and Dustin J. Manning. Read more on the firm’s website.

read more »