News

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Law Firm Growth Slow in 2012, Survey Says

Law firms in the U.S. saw only incremental growth in 2012, the JD Journal reports from the National Law Journal's annual survey that analyzes data from the nation’s 350 largest firms. Last year saw an overall growth in headcount of 1.1 percent in law firms tracked by the NLJ 350. While any growth is better than shrinkage, last year’s growth was lower than 2011, which saw law firms increase their hiring by 1.7 percent. Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens and Cannada was one bright spot, showing 35 percent growth.

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Reminder: Professional Privilege Tax Due June 1

All professional privilege tax returns filed on or after Jan. 1, must be filed electronically. Professional privilege tax returns can be filed electronically either by individuals, or by companies who file and pay for multiple individuals. The Tennessee Department of Revneue reports that it will not be mailing taxpayers a Professional Privilege Tax Return for the $400 tax due June 1. Click here for a step-by-step guide to electronically file an individual professional privilege tax return. If you are a company or firm filing and paying for multiple individuals, go here. Read more from the Department of Revenue.

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LSC Launches New Tech Blog

The Legal Services Corporation has launched a new blog focused on technology in the legal aid community. The first post -- “Hacking for Justice” -- discusses LSC’s open data initiative, including a plan to provide information for the National Day of Civic Hacking on June 1. The goal of the initiative is to make LSC’s current data more accessible to the public as well as increasing the amount of data available. Through civic hacking, developers build applications and invent new solutions using publicly-released data to solve the challenges facing communities, cities, states and countries.

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Law Firms Cautious on Adding Office Space

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average hitting record highs, home prices rebounding and interest rates remaining low, observers are watching to see when the office market will join the recovery. It might be a while. Experts believe that law firms, which take up about 17 percent of all U.S. office space and are typically the takers of the newest and best space in large markets, will remain cost-conscious and occupy less space than in previous years. “Our research people have told us that law firms will now be taking 25 percent less space on average,” says Elizabeth Cooper, an international director for brokerage with Jones Lang “I don’t think we’re going to see a day soon of a law firm taking excess space. It’s now all about being lean and mean.” The National Real Estate Investor has the story.

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Legal Sector Jobs Reach 4-Year High

Jobs in the legal sector are at their highest level in four years according to new data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Details released Friday show gains in the last two months as the legal sector added 2,100 jobs in April and 3,500 jobs in March (up from a predicted increase of 2,000 jobs). The total number of legal jobs now stands at 1.13 million, up by 10,000 from April 2012. At its pre-recession high in May 2007, the legal sector had 1.18 million jobs. AM Law Daily summarizes the findings.

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Butler Snow Showing Off New Nashville Office

Butler Snow O'Mara Stevens & Cannada has opened its new office and conference center at The Pinnacle at Symphony Place. The law firm occupies two floors and more than 46,000 square feet in the new downtown building. According to the Nashville Business Journal, Butler Snow is the sixth-largest law firm in Nashville, with more than 40 local attorneys. See a slideshow of the office on the journal’s website.

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Court Weighs in on Law Firm Suit

The Tennessee Supreme Court has sent back to the trial court a dispute between a Memphis law firm and a former partner and paralegal to determine whether arbitration is appropriate. The law firm of Glassman, Edwards, Wyatt, Tuttle & Cox filed a lawsuit against the two former employees, alleging fraud and breach of duties to the firm. Both asked the trial court to send their cases to arbitration. After the firm asserted arbitration was not required and other disagreements arose, the trial court expanded the scope of discovery and mediation to cover all aspects of the parties’ disputes. In an opinion issued today, the Supreme Court concluded that the trial court erred in expanding the case to issues other than enforceability of arbitration provisions.

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Best Websites for Lawyers

The ABA Techshow Saturday closed with the always-crowd pleasing section “60 Sites in 60 Minutes,” a session about the top websites for lawyers. The ABA Journal did a wrap-up, highlighting several favorite sites such as Vilvo, The Wirecutter, Meeting Wizard and more. Click here to view the list.

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ABA Releases Program to Help Achieve Pay Equity

Firms seeking to address gender-based pay inequities have a new resource in the ABA Toolkit for Gender Equity in Partner Compensation. In explaining the initiative, ABA President Laurel G. Bellows said the proposal is intended to encourage law firm leaders to talk about potential changes in both compensation and hiring models, and provide practical ways to help firms deal with the issue. Read more about the initiative.

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Learn about the Costs and Budget for eDiscovery

With the continued growth of eDiscovery, the manner in which corporations and law firms assess vendor budgets can be a challenge. Join John Burchfield and Austin Maddox as they educate counsel on eDiscovery costs and budgeting to determine what eDiscovery program is best for them. The pair will discuss these and other issues during a one-hour webinar next Thursday, March 21.

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Woman Embezzles $300,000+ from Law Office

Former law office comptroller Lisa Potter was sentenced to a year in jail and 30 years on probation for allegedly embezzling more than $300,000 from attorney Tony Seaton to support a cocaine habit. Potter had pleaded guilty to the crime last year. Washington County Criminal Court Judge Robert Cupp ruled Monday that if Potter repays the remaining $157,000 owed to Seaton, her probation would end after the original sentence. She will report to jail to begin serving her sentence May 3. The Johnson City Press has the story.

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Study: Alternative Fee Arrangements on the Decline

When the slowing economy forced companies to curb legal spending in recent years, alternative fee arrangements were touted as a solution, but the billing trend has been slow to take hold in Nashville, and a new survey of in-house counsel shows that alternative fees are trending downward nationwide. A study by the Houston-based law firm Fulbright & Jaworski, found a 10 percent drop in companies using alternative fee arrangements and a 13 percent drop in firms planning to use alternative structuring in the coming year. The Nashville Business Journal reports on the study.

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Review Gives Thumbs Up to E-Discovery Book

Knoxville lawyer Chris McCarty says one way to alleviate e-discovery anxiety is to read Electronic Discovery in Tennessee: Rules, Case Law and Distinctions, a new book by Nashville lawyer W. Russell Taber III. In his review in the March Tennessee Bar Journal, McCarty recommends you read this book, among other reasons, to keep from drowning in the high seas of data, cloud computing, claw-back agreements and non-waiver orders.

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March TBJ: Tablets Make Partner for Trial Work

Online tools and software geared toward lawyers aren’t new, but in the Tennessee Bar Journal's March issue Stephan Futeral says we are past the days of dragging the laptop into court. In the “Post-PC” era, tablet computing is a game-changer for the 21st-century practice of law -- and you need to be in the game. You can end your week with a laugh as Bill Haltom looks back fondly on the days when he wasn't carrying an iPad, but took the World Almanac to court in his briefcase. Read these and more in the new issue of the TBJ.

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Show Your Practice A Little Love This Valentines

Loving your law practice means accepting all its different sides. This CLE on Thursday will help you tackle a number of practice management challenges. Topics include how to protect yourself when moving from one firm to another, making the decision to retire, how to make a move to an in-house position, keeping up with current technology, and using social media for marketing and winning cases. The program will run from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Central time on Valentines Day. Choose between the live program at the Tennessee Bar Center or a live webcast of the seminar.

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Bills Give AOC Power to Name Statewide E-Filing Vendor

Most states do not yet have court e-filing and the few that do usually do not mandate a single vendor or e-filing system, instead leaving it to local courts to decide, Gavel to Gavel reports. Tennessee legislators are taking a different approach however. Bills introduced recently in the House and Senate would give the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) power to identify a single provider that must be used in all courts in the state. The bills, HB 418 by Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, and SB 1050 by Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, give the AOC until January 2014 to identify an e-filing provider and ensure that all courts in the state are utilizing the same system.

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TBA Unveils New Benefit for Members

LawPay: Credit Card Processing has just joined the lineup of companies offering TBA members special programming and pricing. Members who sign up for the program before Feb. 28 will see the $150 virtual terminal fee and the program fee for the first three months waived. LawPay has experience working with lawyers in 34 states and can help you easily accept credit and debit card payments from clients while being confident that transactions between trust and operating accounts are handled correctly. Learn more about this new TBA member benefit.

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