News

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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Butler Snow to Expand Memphis Office

The Memphis Business Journal reports that Mississippi-based law firm Butler, Snow, O’Mara, Stevens & Cannada will invest about $1 million into its East Memphis home at Crescent Center with the anticipation of hiring as many as 25 new attorneys within the next three years. The firm, according to the paper, is just a few employees shy of maxing out its capacity on the building’s fifth floor. The new space will accommodate 20 to 25 offices on the fourth floor. Construction is expected to begin around April 1.

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Report: Waller Again Nashville's Biggest Firm

The Nashville Business Journal ranked Nashville’s law firms by their number of local attorneys, including the number of partners, associates, and non-lawyer employees. Waller again this year edges out Bass, Berry & Sims for the top spot. Information about the number of attorneys of counsel, paralegals and each firm’s top three areas of practice can be found in this week’s print edition of the Journal.

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Dickinson Wright Expands in Phoenix

Detroit-based law firm Dickinson Wright PLLC is merging with the law practice of Mariscal, Weeks, McIntyre & Friedlander PA in Arizona, and will operate under the name Dickinson Wright/Mariscal Weeks. In addition to Michigan and Arizona, the firm has offices in Tennessee, Nevada, Ohio, Washington, DC, Toronto, and Ontario.

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Law Salaries to Rise in 2013

A new Robert Half Legal Salary Guide anticipates that lawyers across the country will receive a salary increase in 2013, the Birmingham Business Journal reports. The average salary for attorneys with four to nine years of experience is expected to increase 4.55 percent, while attorneys with 10-12 years experience will see an average 3.68 percent raise. Lawyers with one to three years experience and first-year associates are projected to receive a 2.6 percent and 1.9 percent increase, respectively.

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Law Firm Associates Take Brunt of Recession

Researchers at the Memphis Business Journal reported today that Memphis-area law firm associates have taken the brunt of the recession, with the total number decreasing nearly 15 percent from 2008 to 2012. Partner numbers were stable during that same period, spiking above 400 in 2009 and 2011.

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Miller & Martin PLLC Announces New Leadership

Chattanooga-based law firm Miller & Martin PLLC recently selected John R. Bode to chair the firm’s Labor & Employment department and John Y. “Jay” Elliot III to assume the role of department vice chair. "We are delighted to have each of these talented individuals serve as leaders of our firm. Their depth of expertise and dedication to outstanding client service will greatly support the continued success of the firm," said Miller & Martin Chairman Jim Haley. Read more in the Cleveland Daily Banner.

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Ogletree Deakins Announces Plans for International Expansion

Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart will soon open two offices in Europe, the ABA Journal reports. The firm, which specializes in labor and employment law, has offices in Nashville and Memphis and plans to open the Berlin office Dec. 1 and the London office soon after. The move is a significant step toward greater global practice by the firm, which presently has no other international offices, according to its website.

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