News

New AIG Business Will Advise Corporations on Legal Costs

American International Group (AIG) plans to launch Legal Operations Company in 2016 to help corporations make their legal operations more efficient. Bloomberg BNA reports that the data-driven business will advise clients on how to set competitive pricing, how to identify areas of improvement within their legal operations and more. “The legal services marketplace … hasn’t been terribly good about delivering information about what the right costs for services are and the right value is for the services that are being delivered,” Aaron Katzel, AIG’s global head of legal operations, said.

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Bradley Arant is a Top Charitable Giver

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings was recently recognized by Law360 as one of the nation’s 10 most charitable law firms, making donations of more than $1.15 million in 2014. According to a Law360 survey, these firms gave back to their communities "by funneling millions of dollars into worthy organizations and programs to fund legal aid efforts, education programs and services for the disadvantaged." See the list and learn more.

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Don't Miss 'New Apps for Lawyers'

Check out new apps available for your iPad to help you organize and manage your virtual office during the upcoming TBA CLE webcast, "New Apps for Lawyers." Ben Vincent with The Vertical Group will show new apps to assist you in managing your practice. Watch this webcast live on Oct. 28, or through the TBA CLE online archive for up to one year.

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Baker Donelson Among 100 Best Firms for Women

Baker Donelson has been named one of Fortune’s 100 Best Workplaces for Women, the firm reported yesterday. It is ranked 66th and is one of only two law firms on the list. “Baker Donelson has long been committed to creating a workplace environment in which women thrive,” said Christy Tosh Crider, chair of the firm’s Women’s Initiative.

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ABA, Rocket Lawyer Test Partnership in 3 States

The ABA and Rocket Lawyer announced today that they have begun testing a joint venture that connects ABA-member lawyers in Illinois, Pennsylvania and California with small business-related legal questions posted on Rocket Lawyer’s cloud-based platform. The new service, called ABA Law Connect, will allow a small business owner or representative to ask a question and one follow-up question of an ABA-member lawyer for a nominal charge. Additional legal advice would be available through a traditional lawyer-client relationship.

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Fastcase Acquires Rival Loislaw

Legal research company Fastcase has acquired the competing service Loislaw from Wolters Kluwer, Bob Ambrogi reports in his LawSites blog. Ambrogi writes that the transaction will move Loislaw’s subscribers over to Fastcase, where they will maintain access to Wolters Kluwer’s library of some 125 treatises in areas of law such as bankruptcy, business, employment, insurance, intellectual property, real estate and others. Neither Fastcase nor Wolters Kluwer disclosed the purchase price. Wolters Kluwer, an information services company based in the Netherlands, had purchased Loislaw in 2000 for $95 million.

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New Firm Opens in Nashville

An item in Wednesday’s TBA Today incorrectly identified the name of the new Nashville law firm, Farmer Purcell White & Lassiter PLLC, with attorneys Bill Lassiter, Bill Farmer, Jonathan Farmer, Bill Purcell, John Belcher, Jim White, Elizabeth Sykes, Hank Hildebrand, Curtis Harrington and Tim Kappel. The firm is located at 150 Fourth Ave. North, Suite 1820.

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New Law Firm Opens in Chattanooga

A new law firm that specializes in criminal litigation representing individuals, businesses and municipalities has launched in Chattanooga, The Chattanoogan reports. Partners W. Gerald “Jerry” Tidwell and W. Adam Izell are joining with Michael E. Richardson to form Tidwell, Izell & Richardson. Retired Circuit Court Judge Jackie Schulten Bolton will serve as counsel and Todd A. Davis and Bart Mathews have joined the firm as associates. The firm is located in the SunTrust Bank building at 736 Market St., Suite 1550.

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Justice Department Pressing for Changes to Computer Crime Law

Justice Department lawyers are pushing to clarify a 1986 law that is intended to punish hackers, The Boston Globe reports. Critics argue the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is overly broad as federal prosecutors have struggled in applying it to people who have permission to access a computer but abuse that right by using it for an unauthorized purpose. "These are really hard issues of what should the law cover and what should it not cover,’’ said Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. ‘‘It’s totally understandable that we’re having this discussion and not sure what the answer should be, because this is a new kind of technological problem.’’

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Lawyers Launch 3 Middle Tennessee Firms

Three new or rebranded law firms are announcing their launch in Middle Tennessee.
• Nashville attorneys Bill Lassiter, Bill Farmer, Bill Purcell, Jim White, Jonathan Farmer, John Belcher, Elizabeth Sykes and Curtis Harrington have formed Purcell White & Lassiter PLLC. The firm is located at One Nashville Place, Suite 1820.
• Parks Snyder PLLC, a new firm formed by Houston Parks and Shawn Snyder in Columbia, will specialize in domestic relations and estate planning. Parks most recently served as a senior trust officer and previously practiced in the middle Tennessee region. Snyder has been serving as executive director of The Mediation Center in Columbia. The firm will practice at 813 South Garden Street, Suite 209.
• Williams B. Hawkins III and Miller Hogan are rebranding their firm as Hawkins Hogan PLC and relocating to 205 17th Avenue North, Suite 202, the Nashville Post reports. Hawkins, a founding partner at Jones Hawkins & Farmer PLC, and Hogan, a member at Jones Hawkins & Farmer PLC, have each practiced law in downtown Nashville for more than 15 years.

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Baker Donelson Announces New Practice Group Leaders

Nashville attorneys John H. Rowland and Courtney H. Gilmer were named new practice group leaders within Baker Donelson's Financial Services Department, the Nashville Ledger reports. Rowland was named chair of the firm’s Corporate Restructuring and Bankruptcy Group, a team of more than 50 attorneys. Gilmer was named co-leader of the firm’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Force (CFPB), which focuses on litigation, enforcement and regulatory issues related to the CFPB.

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State's New Business Court, Design Patent Law Featured

The new issue of the Tennessee Bar Journal is out today, featuring everything you need to know about Tennessee’s new Business Court. Chief Justice Sharon Lee and Justin Seamon give you the details. Also, get up to speed on the design patent awards under "Apple v. Samsung” in an article by Nashville lawyers James M. Starling, Seth R. Ogden and Ryan D. Levy. Find out what else is in the September issue.

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Some Hourly Rates Going Up, New Survey Says

An article in The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog said some law firms are increasing hourly rates to increase or maintain revenue despite dropping legal demand. According to a survey by Wells Fargo Bank’s Legal Specialty Group, revenue rose 4.1 percent at 60 of the nation’s highest-grossing firms, while the number of hours logged by the firm’s attorneys rose just 1.7 percent. The research group also found the average rate increase across the board was 3.3 percent.

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Mobile Law Firm Webcast, 1 Hour of CLE

Learn technology tips and tricks for practicing law while out of the office in the Sept. 22 webcast scheduled to begin at noon CDT. The one-hour presentation will include information on securing mobile devices and connecting to an unsecured WI-FI connection. The program offers one hour of CLE.

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Crowdfunding Could Help Young Lawyers with Startup Costs

The American Bar Association says lawyers may be able to use some type of crowdfunding to help with firm start-up expenses. The lending model may help recent grads with substantial loans to avoid further borrowing. A June 29 opinion by the New York Bar Association included five approaches to crowdfunding, moting that lawyers cannot use any funding that gives an investor an interest in the firm or a share of its revenue.

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Comments Sought on Appellate E-Filing Rule

The Tennessee Supreme Court today released proposed changes to Rule 46, which governs e-filing. The court is considering the establishment of a new voluntary e-filing system in the appellate courts. Comments on the proposal are due by Sept. 28.

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Law Firms Reserving New .Law Domains

Some prominent law firms are among the early adopters of the new .law domain name extension. DLA Piper; Russell and Goldstein; and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom have each already reserved their new names. Firms that have registered trademarks with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – the nonprofit responsible for coordinating the monitoring and creation of naming conventions on the Internet – are eligible to reserve a new address through Oct. 12. According to the ABA Journal, additional domains such as .attorney, .esq and .lawyer also will be available soon. Learn more at http://nic.law.

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Bass Hikes Associate Pay

Nashville's largest law firm is boosting first-year associate pay in Tennessee to $120,000. Starting Sept. 1, Bass Berry & Sims will boost pay from the $110,000 mark that had stood since before the 2007 recession, the Nashville Post reports. The nine percent increase puts the firm -- along with an increase in new parent leave -- will help Bass compete against firms in larger cities and in-house opportunities.

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The Power of Video in Legal Branding

Learn about the new ways lawyers are using video to reach clients during this two-hour ethics CLE webcast available now on the TBA website.

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UT Law Prof’s Book Examines Changes to the Legal Profession

University of Tennessee College of Law Professor Benjamin Barton argues that the struggles today’s legal professional faces may transform the practice of law and benefit American consumers. In a new book, “Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession,” published this month by Oxford University Press, Barton explains his prediction: “It is true that the legal profession and law schools are in for tough sledding for the next few years, but there is a significant upside to these changes,” Barton said. For example, he argues that soon lawyers may earn lower incomes but devote their time to more fulfilling work and become more efficient in how they use their time.

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‘Soaring Rhetoric’ Doesn’t Save Jacoby’s Suit Challenging Ban on Outside Ownership in Law Firms

A federal judge in Manhattan has dismissed a suit challenging New York’s ban on outside equity ownership in law firms, deeming arguments by Jacoby & Meyers to be “frivolous” and lacking “logical coherence.” Jacoby’s arguments — that the ban violated the First and 14th amendments and the dormant commerce clause — are “entirely without merit,” U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said in a decision on Wednesday. The ABA Journal has the story.

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Shuttleworth Williams Moves Nashville Office

The Nashville office of Shuttleworth Williams has moved to the L&C Tower at 401 Church St., Suite 2700, Nashville, TN 37219. The firm previously was in the Wells Fargo Bank building on Fourth Ave. North. The phone number remains the same at (615) 833-3390.

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Law Firm Mergers Continue at Blazing Pace

Law firm mergers are taking place at a record rate, according to a survey by Altman Weil Inc. A total of 19 were announced in the U.S. during the second quarter of 2015. Add that to those announced in the first quarter of the year, and the total rises to 48, the highest in the nine years that the Pennsylvania-based legal consultant has been compiling the law firm M&A list. The ABA Journal has the story.

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National Firm Opens Ooltewah Office

The national law firm Hudson Cook has opened an office in Ooltewah, Nooga.com reports. The firm’s senior partner, Ron Gorsline, said the new office is a prime location because it is close to both Chattanooga and Cleveland. “[It’s a] perfect fit for the firm’s growing legal team in Tennessee,” he said in a statement. The practice initially will have six attorneys and an administrative staff, but the space, which overlooks the public square, has room for expansion. Hudson Cook is a 65-lawyer consumer financial services law firm with offices across the nation.

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ABA Releases Ethics Opinion on Client File Materials

The American Bar Association today issued a new Formal Ethics Opinion addressing what file materials belong to client under the ABA Model Rules. The scenario examined for context details a client teminating sevices of a long-time lawyer. The opinion addresses the ethical duties of a lawyer when responding to a former client’s request for papers and property in the lawyer’s possession that are related to the representation. Read the opinion here.

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