Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Session Recordings: The A-to-Z of IG



Here are two more recordings from the annual ILTA conference worth a listen. These updates focus on information governance and feature several speakers we've featured at past Risk Roundtable events and webinars:

Build Enterprise Information Governance from the Ground Up
  • Enterprise information governance programs are often as complex as the problems they intend to solve, incorporating governance needs, requirements from various internal and external stakeholders, and tight budgets.
  • Here we’ll walk through best practices any organization can use to kick-start an IG program and make quick progress. We’ll discuss topics like assessing the current situation and capabilities, prioritizing risks and opportunities, gaining support from all stakeholders for an IG framework, and simple ways to start.

  • Learn to develop an information governance strategy that incorporates the four dimensions of information risk management (records management, privacy, cybersecurity and e-discovery.) Our panel will share examples of how they integrated setting controls, reduced costs and improved compliance at their firms.

 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Session Recordings: Open vs. Closed DMS, Data Security Regulations



Here are more recordings from the annual ILTA conference worth a listen:

  • Do you require all documents be stored in the firm's DMS, or do you let the user decide? How do you manage security? We'll hear from firms in both camps as they discuss the challenges and successes that influenced their decisions.
Privacy Laws and Enterprise Content: Can Your ECM Systems Facilitate Compliance?
  • Your ECM is bursting with private content awaiting prying eyes, both inside and outside your firm, and privacy concerns should be at the forefront of planning how your ECM evolves.
  • We'll discuss the challenges you face and provide practical tips to let you face them head on. Learn about the software, processes and policies your ECM offers to support your firm's and clients' privacy requirements.

Monday, September 29, 2014

HIPAA is Here – Is Your Law Firm in Compliance?


With the government starting to make noise about upcoming audits, and the September 22 deadline for all organizations to update grandfathered business associate agreements that have not yet been brought into compliance with the new Omnibus Rule having passed, the McLane Law Firm (a New England based firm with 90 lawyers) writes: "HIPAA One Year Later: Is Your Law Firm Complying?"
  • "Since nearly a year has passed since the compliance date for most provisions of the Final Rule6, this article focuses on assisting lawyers and law firms looking to evaluate the sufficiency of their compliance efforts to date. This article also underscores the potential impact of the Final Rule on lawyers and law firms in light of recent enforcement activity by the Office of Civil Rights ("OCR") of the HHS, the federal agency charged with enforcement and administration of HIPAA."
  • "The Final Rule also requires updated provisions in BAAs and now requires business associates to have BAAs with its subcontractors. BAAs must provide that the business associate (or subcontractor, as applicable)."
  • "The Final Rule should have been a wake-up call for lawyers and law firms which have access to PHI to ask whether they are considered business associates of covered entities and, if so, to take the steps necessary to comply with their duties and obligations as business associates by September 23, 2013."
  • "Therefore, if a firm represents a covered entity or a business associate of one and accesses PHI to do its job, it must comply with the HIPAA Rules... It is significant that business associate status attaches under the HIPAA Rules regardless of whether the firm has signed a business associate agreement."
  • "Since the release of the Final Rule, OCR investigation and enforcement activities have served to highlight the unfortunate consequences that can arise from failure to comply with the Final Rule. Moreover, the extension of certain covered entity responsibilities to business associates now makes civil and criminal liability possible for lawyers and law firms."
  • "Attorneys who represent healthcare clients are keenly aware of HIPAA compliance issues and routinely work with these clients to ensure compliance. These lawyers, however, are not always mindful of the fact that the Final Rule makes the same standards allegedly violated by APDerm applicable to the lawyers and law firms which receive PHI from covered entities."
Previously, we hosted a webinar on HIPAA compliance for law firms. Interested readers can watch a recording of that and learn more about how Intapp is working with many law firms to address HIPAA compliance.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

IP Matters: Navigating a Complex Conflicts Landscape



Law firms with IP practices normally develop separate matter and risk management processes to prosecute and litigate patents, trademarks and copyrights for their clients. Speed to matter opening is critical, particularly in competitive situations.

But with IP matters frequently cross multiple jurisdictions, firms often struggle to develop efficient practices to open matter families across international jurisdictions and track progress throughout the matter lifecycle.

And IP practices face other unique challenges, including the need to manage subject matter conflicts. These arise when a firm simultaneously prosecutes patents for two different clients whose inventions or technology could merit the same or similar patent.

Identifying a subject matter conflict requires more nuanced and detailed analysis than standard ethical conflict. Firms are often forced to painstakingly examine information scattered across information repositories to identify a conflict, or leave the decision in the hands of lawyers familiar with the practice.

Both approaches invite risks and errors that could potentially generate costly litigation.

Intapp Open specifically addresses the complex and evolving intake landscape. It provides a modern workflow interface and data integration capabilities that make it easy for IP lawyers and staff to open patent matter families across jurisdictions.

The software enables firms to include patent and subject matter information in standard conflicts searches (including data integrated from systems including CPI and PATSY), grouping patent families together for faster resolution and alerting the firm of the hits with the highest risk. And it centralizes financial, ethical and subject matter into a single application to encourage risk management decisions that support firm strategy.

Read more at Intapp.com and access an abridged recording of the recent webinar on IP Conflicts management, featuring a law firm case study (Lathrop & Gage) and insights from legal ethics maven Bill Frievogel, and expert IP management consultant, Chris Kave (Aurora North).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Session Recordings: KM vs. Security Shootout (and More)


The folks at ILTA always do an amazing job at their annual conference, producing panels and seminars on a variety of topics, including IT, finance, risk and more. In keeping with their mission to foster collaboration and knowledge exchange, they kindly share recordings of many of those presentations.

We'll be bringing you several risk-related recordings of note, starting with:

KM and Security and Compliance: Fist Fight or Compromise?
  • Clients demand compliance with strict information security guidelines vis-à-vis protection of legal work product. But the "need to know" security model could hinder information access and collaborative KM processes, including, but not limited to, accessibility of enterprise search. Clients are under regulatory pressures and are cracking down on what they consider lackadaisical law firm security. Is there a right balance or compromise that can address the concerns of all involved — clients, KM and security officers? Come watch the fight unfold!
  • Prioritizing and implementing information security initiatives within the law firm environment can be next to impossible without full buy-in and support from senior firm management. In addition, while many IT security personnel have expert knowledge on how to design, build and deploy the best security-based technology available, many lack the business insight required to identify what is most important from an overall information security risk perspective.
  • Three law firms (Foley & Lardner, Ropes & Gray, and Blank Rome) will share how they've been successful in shifting some or all of the strategic focus, decision-making and prioritization of information security initiatives from the IT department and into the hands of firm business leaders.
  • Our speakers will share some of the tools, techniques and approaches they’ve used to help make this important transition within their firms. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Business Intake – Unlocking New Potential

 
Very interesting essay at 3 Geeks and a Law Blog on new opportunities for enhancing new business intake by incorporating new data, new process and new insight: "We Cannot Keep New Business Intake In a Vacuum" --
  • "Very little in the NBI reform/reinvention process is about better data. It focuses more on faster input of information to speed up the time to open a new matter, thus creating a faster turnaround on when attorneys can start (legally) billing time to a matter."
  • "Many of us depend upon the information gathered in the NBI process. Toby's group [pricing and project management] attempts to analyze matter budgeting, matter management, and costs to take on a matter using details gathered in the NBI process. Marketing uses the data gather during the NBI process to determine big matters for Public Relations news releases, and submissions to third parties like Chambers. Business Development uses this information to determine what types of work the firms is strong and weak. Conflicts uses the information to determine what work we may not be able to take on in the future. Incomplete, or bad information gathered during NBI can have a long-range negative impact on the firm."
  • "I'm reminded of a post we did a couple years ago on firms needing to do After-Action Reviews for matters. If we don't ask ourselves what happened, and how can we get better, we tend to continue to act in a similar fashion (good or bad) in the future. If we misidentify information, and never incentivize partners to correct that information, we'll continue to misidentify."
  • "Most firms have absolutely no incentives for partners to identify when information gathered during NBI process needs to be clarified or corrected. We also give almost no incentives to close matters. Yet, both of those processes are key pieces in our quest to better know our clients (KYC), gather BI/CI information, assist in identifying cross-selling opportunities, and gathering historical information to better plan how we price and staff similar matters in the future. I would think that the return on investment in beefing up a mid-matter review (MMR), and the closing matter process (CMP) would be substantial."
  • "Perhaps we stop thinking of the New Business Intake in a vacuum. Instead we combine the NBI, MMR, and CMP into an overall process of cradle-to-grave matter management. The NBI is step-one, and should be improved to help speed up the process of getting matters opened, conflicts checked, people assigned, and have the firm start working on behalf of a client. But it is step one only. If we ever want to leverage our prior work in order to improve or gain new work, then the NBI cannot be the first and only step."
Of course, Intapp is enthusiastically on this path, integrating intake, conflicts and other information flows directly into the act of new business inception – under an ambitious vision of "new business acceptance." That vision includes providing lawyers with an interface and experience (including mobile access) that encourages them to provide critical data at the point of entry.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Morning Conflicts Quarterbacking?


A reader sent word of a conflicts allegation making big news. Whether the discussion involves team names or player health, the NFL has faced its share of controversies this year.

These latest allegations relate to the recent appointment of an independent investigator to review the way the Ray Rice domestic abuse matter has been managed. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell appointed former FBI director and current partner at an AmLaw 20 firm, Robert Mueller. That move brought immediate controversy, which the league defended last Friday, and the media continues to analyze.

Here's what commentator Mike Florio thought, writing on the NBC Sports web site: "How independent will Robert Mueller be?" --
  • "When I saw that two old-guard owners would oversee what would otherwise be an independent investigation, I became a little concerned that the investigation wouldn’t truly be independent."
  • "When I realized that the man hired to do the investigation works for WilmerHale, the law firm that helped the NFL recently negotiate a multi-billion-dollar contract with DirecTV, any hope of true and genuine independence evaporated.  As explained by ESPN.com, the firm previously has represented Washington owner Daniel Snyder, and several members of the firm have taken jobs with NFL teams."
Florio's later update includes details of to Goodell's more recent explanation : "Goodell defends Mueller’s investigation" --
  • "'The law firm that he works for is a law firm with extremely close ties to the NFL,' CNN’s Rachel Nichols said to Goodell. "You guys paid that law firm to help you negotiate some television deals. The president of the Ravens, who will be key in this whole investigation, worked at that law firm for more than 30 years. Why hire someone with even the appearance of impropriety and how do you expect us to accept everything?'"
  • "'I respectfully disagree,' Goodell said. "You are questioning the integrity of the director of the FBI. Yes, that firm has represented us in the past. They have also been on the other side in litigation against the NFL. So this is a highly respected individual, the longest serving director in the FBI.'"
  • "'Part of the idea of this is to restore public trust,' she said. 'So even if he does a flawless investigation isn’t there an element here of your leaving the door open for doubt?'"
  • "'Well, Rachel, unfortunately we live in a world where there is a lot of litigation,' Goodell said.  'A lot of law firms and maybe people have had some interaction with us in the past. Robert Mueller has not. The law firm may have. We are hiring Robert Mueller, his credentials to do an independent investigation reporting to the owners and I’m confident that will be the case.'"
And then Florio adds his own commentary:
  • "But there are thousands of law firms and thousands of lawyers capable of doing a fair and impartial investigation. Mueller’s appointment gives the investigation credibility on the surface, because he ran the FBI. The failure to pick a lawyer from a firm with no past connection and, most importantly, no aspiration for any future connection to the NFL prevents the investigation from having the appearance of independence."
  • "Ultimately, the decision to pick Mueller was just another mistake in the chain of blunders that has turned the NFL on its head. At a time when it’s become very popular for people connected to the NFL to talk about getting it right, how about we stop saying it and start doing it?"
Which is echoed by other commentators, such as Steve Rosenbloom at the Chicago Tribune: "Yes, Roger, I am questioning Mueller's standing" --
  • "Yes, Roger Goodell, as a matter of fact, I am questioning Robert Mueller’s integrity. Yours is gone, Roger. Long gone. Way gone. But sad to say, so is Mueller’s."
  • "Everybody watching the NFL should question Mueller’s integrity, which disappeared when he accepted the invitation to investigate Goodell’s horrible handling of the Ray Rice case. Mueller, a former FBI director, works for a law firm that has represented the NFL, specifically negotiating a broadcast deal. Mueller’s firm also has worked for two NFL teams, the Cowboys and Redskins, in cases against the NFL."
  • "This is a clear conflict of interest. Even the appearance of conflict of interest is a conflict of interest. Even a pinhead lawyer like Goodell could make that argument in court."
Ethically permissible or not, the relationships and history underlying this situation present yet another example of the sound bite appearances, coupled with external attention create challenges.

Friday, September 19, 2014

More Notes from BNA on Conflicts


Two updates of notes from ABA/BNA:

"If Job Hunt Extends to Client’s Adversary, Risk of Personal Conflict Must Be Assessed" --
  • "A nuanced analysis rather than any bright-line test must be used to determine whether a conflict of interest exists when a lawyer wants to be hired by a client's opponent or the law firm representing the adversary, the District of Columbia bar's ethics committee advised in July."
  • "The comprehensive opinion explains how lawyers should judge whether and when a job hunt may create a conflict. It also outlines what options a lawyer has if a conflict does exist, and discusses the responsibilities of supervisory lawyers when an associate's employment search gives rise to a conflict."
  • "When a lawyer in a private firm is seriously angling for a job with a law firm or litigant she is opposing in a client's matter, the lawyer's representation of the client may be materially limited by the lawyer's personal interests. Model Rule 1.7 cmt. [10]. The lawyer facing such a conflict must let the client know so that the client can make an informed decision about whether to continue the relationship."
  • "'There is no ‘bright line' test for determining the point during the employment process when a personal interest conflict arises, and that point may vary,' the committee stated."
  • "The opinion identifies two criteria to consider in determining whether a personal interest conflict exists. One is whether the lawyer has a material and active role in representing the client, either by having contact with the client regarding the matter, having contact with the adversary or adversary's lawyer in the course of working on the client's matter or doing work on the substance of the matter."
  • "The second criterion is the extent to which the lawyer's interest in the adversary or the adversary's lawyer is 'targeted, communicated and/or reciprocated.'"
Read the full article for additional cases, ethics opinions, and suggested options for addressing these scenarios.

"Trying to Shift Sanction to Client Alone Creates Unwaivable, Disqualifying Conflict" --
  • "An attorney who argues that a sanction imposed jointly on his client and himself should be paid solely by the client creates an unwaivable conflict requiring the lawyer's disqualification even if no party has complained, the Washington Court of Appeals, Third Division, held Aug. 12.'"
  • "The panel disqualified the lawyer in question on its own initiative, saying that courts have inherent authority to order an attorney's removal even when no other participant has sought it."
  • "Moreover, the court said the lawyer cannot continue to represent his own interests in this matter. He must obtain independent counsel to argue that the client alone should pay the sanction, and he may not reveal confidential information to that attorney except in response to any accusations the former client asserts against the lawyer, Judge George B. Fearing said."
  • "The appeals court said that Caruso violated “the supreme commandment of attorney ethics”—undivided loyalty to the client and the shunning of any self-interest at odds with the client's interest—by contending on appeal that the sanction should borne entirely by Wixom if it is upheld."
  • "The court found that Caruso was representing both himself and Wixom in challenging the sanction, and that the lawyer's personal interest in shifting the sanction entirely to Wixom was directly adverse to Wixom's interests."
  • "Although no Washington cases have addressed this issue, Fearing said that, based on general principles of attorney ethics and several federal decisions, 'we possess authority to disqualify an attorney, whose representation of a client poses an actual conflict with himself or another client.'"

Lateral Lawyer Movement, Lawyer vs. Client Contlicts


Two updates of notes from ABA/BNA:

"If Job Hunt Extends to Client’s Adversary, Risk of Personal Conflict Must Be Assessed" --
  • "A nuanced analysis rather than any bright-line test must be used to determine whether a conflict of interest exists when a lawyer wants to be hired by a client's opponent or the law firm representing the adversary, the District of Columbia bar's ethics committee advised in July."
  • "The comprehensive opinion explains how lawyers should judge whether and when a job hunt may create a conflict. It also outlines what options a lawyer has if a conflict does exist, and discusses the responsibilities of supervisory lawyers when an associate's employment search gives rise to a conflict."
  • "When a lawyer in a private firm is seriously angling for a job with a law firm or litigant she is opposing in a client's matter, the lawyer's representation of the client may be materially limited by the lawyer's personal interests. Model Rule 1.7 cmt. [10]. The lawyer facing such a conflict must let the client know so that the client can make an informed decision about whether to continue the relationship."
  • "'There is no ‘bright line' test for determining the point during the employment process when a personal interest conflict arises, and that point may vary,' the committee stated."
  • "The opinion identifies two criteria to consider in determining whether a personal interest conflict exists. One is whether the lawyer has a material and active role in representing the client, either by having contact with the client regarding the matter, having contact with the adversary or adversary's lawyer in the course of working on the client's matter or doing work on the substance of the matter."
  • "The second criterion is the extent to which the lawyer's interest in the adversary or the adversary's lawyer is 'targeted, communicated and/or reciprocated.'"
Read the full article for additional cases, ethics opinions, and suggested options for addressing these scenarios.

"Trying to Shift Sanction to Client Alone Creates Unwaivable, Disqualifying Conflict" --
  • "An attorney who argues that a sanction imposed jointly on his client and himself should be paid solely by the client creates an unwaivable conflict requiring the lawyer's disqualification even if no party has complained, the Washington Court of Appeals, Third Division, held Aug. 12."
  • "The panel disqualified the lawyer in question on its own initiative, saying that courts have inherent authority to order an attorney's removal even when no other participant has sought it."
  • "Moreover, the court said the lawyer cannot continue to represent his own interests in this matter. He must obtain independent counsel to argue that the client alone should pay the sanction, and he may not reveal confidential information to that attorney except in response to any accusations the former client asserts against the lawyer, Judge George B. Fearing said."
  • "The appeals court said that Caruso violated “the supreme commandment of attorney ethics”—undivided loyalty to the client and the shunning of any self-interest at odds with the client's interest—by contending on appeal that the sanction should borne entirely by Wixom if it is upheld."
  • "The court found that Caruso was representing both himself and Wixom in challenging the sanction, and that the lawyer's personal interest in shifting the sanction entirely to Wixom was directly adverse to Wixom's interests."
  • "Although no Washington cases have addressed this issue, Fearing said that, based on general principles of attorney ethics and several federal decisions, 'we possess authority to disqualify an attorney, whose representation of a client poses an actual conflict with himself or another client.'"

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Insider Trading Charges Leveled at Another Wilson Sonsini Employee

 
With coverage breaking across major media, including the New York Times, CNBC, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, eyes turn once again to Wilson Sonsini on the topic of insider trading.

Readers may remember that in 2011 a Wilson Sonsini lawyer was charged with and later plead guilty to insider trading. In that case, the individual was accused of gathering information by numerous methods, including searching the firm's document management system.

Now news of allegations that an IT staffer used access to electronic repositories including time entry, billing and conflicts software systems to collect and act on inside information:

"Wilson Sonsini Employee Is Charged With Insider Trading" --
  • "A computer systems engineer at the Silicon Valley law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati was charged with trading on inside information about potential mergers and acquisitions he learned on the job."
  • "Dimitry Braverman, 41, is the second employee in three years at the Palo Alto, California-based firm to be charged with insider trading."
  • "Braverman used computerized records at the law firm to identify companies involved in possible acquisitions, including Gymboree Corp., Drugstore.com Inc., Epicor Software Corp. and Seagate Technology Plc, according to charges made public today in Manhattan federal court. He was arrested this morning at his home in San Mateo, California. Braverman temporarily suspended his illicit activity when a Wilson Sonsini lawyer was arrested for an unrelated insider-trading scheme in 2011, according to prosecutors."
  • "Braverman made almost $300,000 from the illegal trading, the U.S. said. He had access to billing records and attorney time sheets created when the firm opened new accounts or checked for conflicts of interest, according to the government."
  • "According to court documents, Wilson Sonsini's general counsel emailed employees after Kluger's arrest to remind them of the firm's policies on insider trading."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Business Intake & Conflicts – Wiggin Goes to the Cloud


 
Media and technology law firm Wiggin has implemented Intapp Open for new business intake (NBI) and conflicts management. Pinnacle, a provider of specialist consulting services, executed the Intapp Open implementation as part of a broader Wiggin initiative to virtualise and host its entire IT infrastructure in a private cloud environment.

Wiggin, a highly regarded boutique firm with an innovative approach to legal services delivery, is well known for its strategic approach to outsourcing key aspects of its operations. Pinnacle completed the project, which included integration of Intapp Open with Creditsafe for conflict reports, within 35 days.

 
 
Said the Firm's Chief Executive Officer, John Banister:
  • "Intapp Open has transformed how we evaluate new business and manage potential client conflicts – a sensitive issue in the fast-paced media and technology industries. The product’s integration with Creditsafe has streamlined our process for new business review, and the ability to apply business rules to conflicts reports enables us to quickly identify and prioritise issues that need to be addressed."
  • "Migrating our IT infrastructure to a private cloud has been a major priority for our business, and we’re thrilled with the work that Pinnacle did in accelerating the implementation and integration of Intapp Open with our virtual environment."
Intapp Open was chosen to replace Wiggin’s legacy workflow system for NBI, which was difficult to maintain and could not be virtualised. Faced with the prospect of a costly and complicated upgrade of its existing system, which would have required re-implementation of business processes from scratch, the firm seized the opportunity to adopt a fresh approach to new business intake with Intapp Open.

Pinnacle worked with Wiggin to configure the Intapp Open forms and flows to fit the firm’s unique business model; managed integration with other applications that were part of Wiggin’s new virtual environment including Elite Enterprise; and coordinated with its cloud services provider throughout the project.


Said the Intapp Risk Practice VP,  Pat Archbold:
  • "Increasingly, new business intake is about improving client selection and financial performance for firms as much as it is about risk management. The work that Pinnacle and Wiggin have done to integrate Creditsafe for client review is a great example of how the Intapp Open platform is changing the way law firms take on new business."
 
Visit Intapp.com for more information on Intapp Open new business intake and conflicts management software, or to request a demonstration.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Conflicts Allegations & Disqualification Attempts


"Drugmakers Seek to Disqualify Counsel in Opioid Lawsuit" --
  • "Purdue Pharma L.P. and two affiliated companies are seeking to disqualify a former District of Columbia attorney general from representing the city of Chicago in its lawsuit against several drugmakers for allegedly seeking to misinform the public about the risks and benefits of opium-like pain medications."
  • "According to Purdue, attorney Linda Singer and her law firm law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll should be disqualified because Singer served as attorney general between Jan. 2, 2007, and Jan. 5, 2008. The District and 26 other jurisdictions reached a $19.5 million settlement with Purdue over the marketing of OxyContin on May 8, 2007, the drugmakers said."
  • "Singer personally and substantially participated in the older lawsuit by approving the consent judgment, the defendants argued. She was briefed on the settlement more than a month before any court filings were made; edited the proposed press release about the consent judgment; and lobbied to increase the statutory caps on D.C.’s consumer protection fund to accommodate the $950,000 the District recovered in the lawsuit, the pharmaceutical companies said."
  • "Singer also has entered a contingent-fee agreement with Santa Clara and Orange counties in California to pursue a similar lawsuit.
 Patrick Fitzgerald and R. Ryan Stoll of Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom in Chicago filed Purdue’s motion."
[Updated: See this story, which include the firm's response to the disqualification motion.]


"Blackstone's law firm worked with Michael O'Flynn: Arthur Cox has advised Nama and the State" --
  • "Michael O'Flynn's legal showdown with US buyout fund Blackstone over its attempt to gain control of the O'Flynn Construction Group brought him face to face with a former adviser - law firm Arthur Cox. The Magic Circle solicitor firm, which represented Blackstone subsidiary Carbon Finance in the High Court case, had worked for Mr O'Flynn in the past. They had acted for one of his companies in a judicial review as recently as June of this year."
  • "When contacted for comment, Mr O'Flynn said: 'It's disappointing when a professional firm acts against you so recently after acting on your behalf, particularly given the nature of this case.'"
  • "The law firm's decision to represent Blackstone in its vicious legal dispute with Mr O'Flynn, designed to oust him as a director and wrest control of his construction group, has severed those ties. A further personal relationship between Arthur Cox and Mr O'Flynn existed beyond a lawyer-client relationship."
  • "Arthur Cox has previously denied suggestions that it faced potential conflicts of interests, having acted for the banks, developers and other state bodies in major cases. It has provided advice to the Government and state bodies, including Nama and the Department of Finance..."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Client Conflicts Allegations in the News

A few stories of conflicts allegations making news, each with complex fact patterns worth a click-through for those looking for a more complete picture:

"Ex-Client Sues, Alleges Conflict of Interest Against Thompson & Knight" --
  • "A former client of Thompson & Knight seeks at least $1 million in damages in a Sept. 8 lawsuit that alleges that the firm had a conflict of interest when it represented him and a third-party investor in the acquisition of a Houston company."
  • "Richard Slaughter of Houston alleges in a petition he filed in state district court in Harris County that he was 'shocked' to discover that Thompson & Knight had filed paperwork in the deal that identified the third-party investor as the 'sole manager' of Sivco Holdings..."
  • "Slaughter alleges in Slaughter v. Thompson & Knight that no one at Thompson & Knight, including former partner Bryan K. Brown, who allegedly worked on the deal, ever disclosed to him that the corporate formation documents excluded him as a manager of the company."
  • "Slaughter alleges that only after Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, of Rusty Hardin & Associates, 'expressed his concern' on Slaughter's behalf did the firm withdraw from representing the third-party investor and affiliated entities in connection with a postpurchase dispute with Slaughter."
  • "As alleged in the petition, Slaughter 'sought legal advice' from Brown, who was then a partner in Thompson & Knight in Houston, and Brown represented him in connection with the acquisition from late 2011 through the acquisition in December 2012."\
  • "When asked for a response to the allegations in the petition, the firm provided a written statement from Thompson & Knight partner L. James Berglund II of Dallas. Berglund wrote that the firm will vigorously defend itself... 'The claims in the lawsuit are simply incorrect. Thompson & Knight has a long history of honoring our legal and ethical obligations at every turn, which is exactly what occurred in this case. We regret that the plaintiff has elected to file litigation, and we are confident that a full examination of the facts will confirm that Thompson & Knight handled the matter appropriately,' Berglund wrote."

"Sparks fly as Cassels Brock rejects GM conflict claim" --
  • "Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP was 'hopelessly conflicted' when it represented the Canadian government in its bailout talks with General Motors of Canada Ltd. in 2009 while simultaneously acting for the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, counsel for dealers who launched a class action over the matter told a Superior Court judge last week."
  • "Before some 180 dealers signed GM’s wind-down agreement in 2009, Cassels Brock “did nothing” to help them get a better deal from the company, said Bryan Finlay, one of the counsel for the dealers, as the trial got underway on Tuesday. The class action seeking $750 million in damages names GM and Cassels Brock as defendants. None of the allegations have been proven in court."
  • "The interests of the dealers were adverse to those of Canada, said Finlay, adding that instead of advising the dealers of their rights, Cassels Brock told some of them the wind-down agreements weren’t negotiable."
  • "For its part, Cassels Brock argues the association, and not the individual dealers, had retained the firm. When the wind-down notice went to a group of GM dealers, the association advised them to seek legal advice from their individual lawyers."
  • "Cassels Brock didn’t present its opening statement on the first day of the class action trial on Tuesday. Earlier in the day, another lawyer for the plaintiffs, David Sterns of Sotos LLP, argued GM had made the dealers sign the wind-down agreements during the financial crisis through 'ambush, deception, and divide-and-conquer tactics.'"
  • "The trial continues with hearings set for six weeks in Toronto."

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another Law Firm Trumpets ISO 27001 Security Certification

We've covered law firm adoption of the ISO 27001 information security standard over the years. Many firms see this as a quick path to addressing client concerns about managing sensitive data, and several view it as a competitive differentiator, including: "Aberdein Considine achieves ISO 27001:2013 certification"--
multiple times
  • "Aberdein Considine (18 offices and 400 staff), has had its commitment to high standards of information security across all of its practice areas and locations recognised with a national accreditation."
  • "The firm has achieved the prestigious ISO 27001:2013 certification which acknowledges the implementation of robust procedures and processes relating to information security management after it recently underwent a comprehensive independent audit of its systems."
  • "The certification standards set out a strict framework for managing the security of assets, including financial information, intellectual property, employee details and information entrusted to an organisation by third parties."
  • "Jacqueline Law, a corporate partner at Aberdein Considine, has welcomed the certification and believes it is reward to the high importance placed by the firm on the security of its own and its clients’ information: 'To achieve ISO 27001:2013 certification – one of only a handful of law firms in Scotland to do so – is incredibly pleasing and recognises our commitment to high standards of information asset security.'"

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Law Firm Conflicts Allegations in the News

A few interesting stories making news. First: "The mysterious case of Hewlett-Packard’s Autonomy deal"--
  • "...one of the law firms that represented the shareholders in their case against H-P directors, Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP, now working with H-P, is being accused of a conflict of interest. Cotchett was previously the lead counsel in another class action against H-P. That suit, which also recently settled, alleged that the company’s inkjet printers falsely warned consumers when they were out of printer ink."
  • "Theodore Frank, of the non-profit Center for Class Action Fairness, has filed a motion contesting the ink jet settlement, seeking to disqualify the Cotchett firm... 'It’s just a black letter ethical violation,' Frank said... 'The inkjet litigation has no bearing on the Autonomy settlement,' an H-P spokeswoman said in an email."
  • "Rodney Cook... has his own separate derivative action against H-P regarding the Autonomy deal, also seeks to remove the Cotchett law firm as the lead plaintiff’s counsel, citing conflict of interest."
  • "One challenge has been filed by Autonomy’s former chief financial officer, Sushovan Hussain, who contends that the proposed settlement H-P poses a threat to his own legal rights... Hussain’s motion brings up a bigger question about the Autonomy acquisition. He states in his motion that with the settlement, 'H-P seeks to forever bury from disclosure the real reason for its 2012 write-down of Autonomy: H-P’s own destruction of Autonomy’s success after the acquisition.'"
  • "How this became a multi-billion-dollar write-down is a big question among investors. Perhaps these legal maneuvers will shine some light on the mystery. But it probably will be a long time before investors know what really happened."


Next: "DOJ: Hacking suspect's lawyers may face conflict"--
  • "Two attorneys representing the son of a prominent Russian lawmaker may face a conflict of interest because their firm represented victims of a hacking scheme he's accused of running, the U.S. Justice Department said Wednesday."
  • "Ray and Goldin are attorneys with Fox Rothschild, a national firm with 600 attorneys and 19 offices, according to its website. Ray succeeded Kenneth Starr in 1999 as the independent counsel on the Whitewater investigation. Seleznev is also represented by Seattle defense attorney Larry Finegold."
  • "'We feel strongly that our representation comports with all applicable rules of ethics and that Mr. Seleznev is legally entitled to vigorous defense - which we intend to provide,' Goldin wrote in an email Wednesday."
  • "Assistant U.S. attorney Norman Barbosa said the government was not implying any wrongdoing by the defense attorneys, only raising the question of whether they should continue to represent the defendant when at least one other attorney in their firm represented the pizza chain Z Pizza in connection with a breach in late 2010 and early 2011 that resulted in the theft of thousands of its customers' credit card numbers. Seleznev was responsible for the hack, prosecutors say."
  • "The government noted that if Seleznev is ultimately ordered to pay restitution in the case, Fox Rothschild could wind up representing both the defendant and the people he is required to pay. And if anyone from Z Pizza is called as a witness in the case, the firm could wind up cross-examining its own client.'
For more detail (and intrigue) on the case of an alleged hacker the US Secret Service calls "one of the most prolific in the world," see: "Accused Russian hacker must stay in custody, judge says," which covers details such as an arrest at the Maldives airport, a seized laptop containing over 2 million stolen credit-card numbers, and Russian allegations that the suspect was kidnapped...


Sunday, August 17, 2014

Information Security Policies & Practices -- Protecting Client Information


via Law Technology News "Law Firm Data Breaches: Protecting Clients --  Maintaining diligent protocols and educating personnel are crucial tools to protect client data" --
  • "Data threats against law firms can be generated from internal or external sources... Imagine a disgruntled employee who wants to get even with the employer and has unrestricted rights to  client data kept on the firm’s network folder."
  • "Some ways a firm can safeguard against internal data theft include:
  • Be careful about which users are given access to data systems.
  • Monitor user access control to each data source on a regular basis.
  • As users within the firm change positions and/or departments, ensure that system access is verified so that users only have access to the systems they need.
  • Promptly disable all system access (both internal and external) for terminated employees."

For those attending the ILTA conference this week, see also: "Security Policies and Procedures: Why You Need Them and How To Decide Which Ones Matter Most" --

8/21/2014 2:00 p.m. (Event Code:SOSPG6,  Presidential Ballroom B)
  • In response to client guidelines and regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, law firms are increasingly developing and documenting central policies and procedures for managing information security. But policies are only effective if they are living documents accepted by firm stakeholders and honed to match the business issues of greatest risk to the firm. This interactive session will include an overview of the drivers behind security policies as we teach participants how to use a risk-based methodology to develop security policies aligned with firm business goals and encourage buy-in from lawyers, management and staff.

Speakers:
Karen Campbell - Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP
Michael Johnson - Security Grc2
Kathryn Hume - Intapp

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Conflicts Story Update: $270k in Sanctions

 
 
Law360 (subscription required for full article) reports that: "Boies Schiller Fined For Conflict In $350M Antitrust Suit" --
  • "Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP was ordered by a New York federal judge Friday to pay Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. about $270,000 in sanctions for failing to bow out of a $350 million antitrust suit over a scheme to keep Marriott International Inc.'s flagship New York hotels union-free."
  • "U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon, who initially ordered the law firm sanctioned in October for ignoring a conflict of interest that "could not have been clearer," awarded Host a sanction of $271,063 in legal fees for work..."
For non-paywalled history and detail on this matter, see also this article from 2013 for additional background, as the facts and accusations in this matter are complex and worth attention:
  • "On March 8 [2013], Boies Schiller filed a motion to withdraw from the case after Host Hotels threatened to file a motion to disqualify the firm from the litigation. Host Hotels hired the firm in 2000 to examine the company's business relationship with Marriott, which manages some of its hotel properties."
  • "Boies Schiller's outside ethics counsel informed Host Hotels that it would not reimburse it for any portion of its costs associated with drafting the motion because it made attempts to withdraw after the company presented the firm with documents solidifying the conflict, Host Hotels said."
  • "Host Hotels seeks reimbursement for its attorneys' fees and expenses associated with investigating Boies Schiller's conflict-of-interest. The company denies that it participated in any unlawful conduct in its dealings with Marriott."
At the time this matter first made news, we pointed out additional detail, commentary and analysis worth reviewing as well. (Including interesting details on the specific timing, scope and suitability of the searching performed by the firm.)

Monday, August 11, 2014

BB&K Improves Business Intake, Conflicts Management and Matter Evaluation

 
Best Best & Krieger LLP, a full-service law firm with nearly 200 lawyers in nine offices across California and in Washington, D.C., has selected Intapp Open to automate processes related to new business intake. BB&K, which represents many recognized public agencies and businesses, is using Intapp Open to enhance conflicts checks and accelerate new client matter inception.

 
Said the Firm's IT Director,  Tim Haynes:
  • "BB&K’s public agency, business and individual clients rely on us to quickly and efficiently help them solve their legal issues. Intapp Open allows us to identify, manage and clear any conflicts of interest that arise, and also provides our attorneys with a holistic view of the client, enabling us to be more strategic and responsive in our representation."
BB&K selected Intapp Open following a thorough evaluation by a panel that included firm management and lawyers, as well as representatives of the firm’s finance, conflicts and IT teams. Of all the products evaluated, Intapp Open was the most comprehensive and the most user-friendly – offering role-specific views and to-do lists for key stakeholders involved in new business intake, and eliminating duplication of effort. Intapp Open also allows designated users to create and modify processes to support firm- and practice-specific matter evaluation procedures.

Said the Intapp Managing Director,  Kerry Stivaletti:
  • "Having worked with Best Best & Krieger as an Intapp customer for more than nine years, we know that making the most of the data available throughout the firm has been a long-standing priority for executive management, finance and IT. Intapp Open supports this by providing firms with visibility into the strategic implications of new business acceptance."
  • "By introducing Intapp Open for new matter inception, as well as conflicts management, BB&K is bringing a new level of agility, efficiency and governance to its business intake processes."
 
Visit Intapp.com for more information on Intapp Open new business intake and conflicts management software, or to request a demonstration.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Risk News & Updates (Screening, Conflicts & Security)

 

First, from Bill Frievogel comes another Canadian pro-ethical screening/information barrier decision: Province of Ontario v. Chartis Ins. Co. of Canada, 2014 ONSC 4221 (Ont. Super. Ct. July 16, 2014) --
  • "We are simplifying the history somewhat, but the essentials for this audience are this: Lawyer worked at Firm A to some considerable extent on cases for the Province against InsCo. Lawyer wound up at Firm B, which is representing InsCo against the Province in those same cases. Firm B erected in advance a screen essentially in compliance with ethics rules of the Law Society of Upper Canada. Nevertheless, the Province moved to disqualify Firm B. In this opinion the court denied the motion, finding that the screen was satisfactory. Excellent discussion of the judicial history of screening in Canada."

Next, from James Tallon, litigation partner at Shearman & Sterling, comes an interesting article: "Ethics Corner: When Conflicts Rules Conflict" --
  • "Consider the following hypothetical: Lawyer A is admitted to practice in New York and resident in his firm's New York office. Currently, A represents Del Corp., a Delaware corporation headquartered in New York City, as borrower negotiating a significant credit facility from a bank syndicate. Lawyer B is A's partner; B is admitted as a solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales and is resident in the London office of the firm in which A and B are partners. Euro Corp., a long-time client of B, has asked her to represent it in connection with the purchase of Del Corp.'s wholly-owned English subsidiary. B would like C, who also is admitted in New York, but resident in the firm's London office, to work on the transaction. Can B take on the engagement for Euro Corp.? If so, can C work on the deal?"

Finally, from Bill Caraher, CIO at von Briesen & Roper, comes: "Different Data, Different Security" --
  • "'Privacy' and 'security' are two terms taken very seriously in law firms. When it comes to e-discovery and client-matter data, privacy and security are paramount. But, in practice, these two types of data are often treated differently."
  • "Let’s ask this again: Why is the cloud acceptable for one type of law firm data but not the other? It comes down to control and the agreement between parties. When a firm’s DMS data are outside the control and watch of senior management and IT, people get nervous. You also have cloud providers that run shared infrastructure and shared storage between multiple clients."

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Information Governance Report Focuses on Law Firm HIPAA Compliance


The folks at Iron Mountain have published the results of their 2014 Law Firm Information Governance Symposium. These events brought together industry thinkers and leaders to discuss and develop best practices.

Industry experts Brian McCauley and Ann Killilea (McDermott), Rudy Moliere (Morgan Lewis), Charlene Wacenske (MoFo), Scott Christensen (Edwards Wildeman), Grant James (Troutman Sanders), Sharon Keck (Polsinelli) and Intapp's Kathryn Hume collaborated on: "HIPAA Omnibus Task Force Report" --
  • "The following report summarizes and analyzes key components of the HIPAA Omnibus Rules that affect law firms as HIPAA business associates, i.e., in their role as custodians of HIPAA protected health information on behalf of their clients."
  • "After presenting the elements of the HIPAA Omnibus Rule for which law firm business associates are liable, the report outlines the framework for a law firm enterprise data protection program comprehensive enough to satisfy the multiple data privacy and security requirements imposed by HIPAA. The report concludes by recommending a set of industry best practices for achieving HIPAA compliance in a law firm environment."
  • "Especially when considered alongside emerging state data privacy and security laws and transitive requirements imposed on firms from clients in regulated industries like financial services, the Omnibus Rule is significantly impacting the way law firms develop and implement a culture focused on regulatory compliance, client data privacy, and client confidentiality. To achieve compliance with the new HIPAA rules, many firms have little choice but to enhance their confidentiality controls and to adopt more stringent security measures to prevent unauthorized disclosure of any information protected under HIPAA’s rules."

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

UK Risk Roundtables Set: London & Jersey


We're pleased to announce two more Risk Roundtables.  Our London event is set for September 9th:
  • Guest speaker Heather McCallum, former Head of Risk & Compliance at Allen & Overy, will overview the challenges firms face in managing terms of business in client RFPs, outside counsel guidelines & questionnaires, and suggested best practices to negotiate terms and achieve firm-wide compliance.
  • A panel of experts from leading firms will debate staffing models for new business inception and conflicts management, weighing up the benefits and setbacks of managing conflicts centrally, and complying with requirements across jurisdictions.
  • Intapp experts will then showcase Intapp Open & Intapp Wall Builder, fresh approaches to simplifying and streamlining new business acceptance, and securing client information.

Set for September 10th, the Jersey session will cover moderate a general forum on topics of interest, enabling risk, IT and related professionals to connect in a collaborative environment and gain insights on:
  • Strategies for negotiating terms of business in client Request For Proposals 
  • Increasing expectations around achieving, managing, and positively demonstrating appropriate controls around client confidentiality and information security
  • Achieving firm-wide compliance
  • Demonstration of Intapp business acceptance and information barriers software

Attendance is by invitation only and is limited to qualified law firms and personnel. Please contact info@riskroundtable.com for more details.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

More on Security: ISO 27001 and GRC for Law Firms


Previously, we noted that ILTA has posted the recordings of several sessions at their recent Law Firm Information Security Symposium (LegalSEC). Here are more relevant and interesting sessions:

ISO 27001 for Law Firms
ISO 27001 can be a powerful tool for law firms interested in demonstrating information security maturity to both their firm management and clients. Whether you plan to get certified or just leverage ISO 27001 standards, this session will provide information on how the standard can benefit your organization and help you respond to client outside counsel guidelines and security audits.

A 360-Degree Look at eGRC
A paradigm shift is happening in regard to enterprise governance, risk and compliance (eGRC) — we want to be proactive instead of reactive. Legacy and siloed approaches no longer will be successful. Organizations need to plan and implement GRC efforts that are truly "enterprise" and involve all key players and departments in a coordinated organization-wide effort. What does it take to have a successful implementation of a systematic, well-planned, coordinated enterprise approach? What are the overall benefits?

Learn more about the overarching goals of an eGRC program and how it can improve strategic and timely decision-making, enhance the focus and effectiveness of internal audits, and assist in identifying key performance metrics and risk indicators. No angles here...we're giving you a 360-degree look!

What To Do When (Not If) Data Breaches Occur
When security threats emerge, quick response is imperative to contain risk and protect data assets. Often, the expertise and pace with which an event is managed can make as much media buzz as the data breach itself. Come walk through a mock data breach incident and see how well-defended law firms and corporate legal departments are those that prepare for the unexpected.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

There is Only One Lord of the (Risk) Ring?

 
  
 
As first covered in June (poetically), we noted a disqualification motion tied to a matter involving a fight over merchandising rights to the "Lord of the Rings." Now, fresh off the pages of Variety, comes an update: "Judge Refuses to Disqualify Tolkien Attorneys in ‘Lord of the Rings’ Dispute" --

  • "A federal judge is refusing to disqualify Greenberg Glusker as the law firm representing the estate of “The Lord of the Rings” creator J.R.R. Tolkien, which is engaged in a legal tangle with Warner Bros. and the Saul Zaentz Co. over merchandising rights to the lucrative franchise."
  • "Last month, Warner Bros., represented by Dan Petrocelli of O’Melveny & Myers, filed a motion claiming that Greenberg Glusker had “invaded” attorney-client privilege by hiring former MGM studio lawyers as expert witnesses."
  • "Warner Bros.’ claim is that Greenberg Glusker attorneys, led by Bonnie Eskenazi, contacted Alan Benjamin and William Bernstein, who represented UA as in-house lawyers at the time, to serve as expert witnesses, offered to represent them for free as 'percipient witnesses' and 'had direct communications with them.'"
  • "Collins wrote that in making her decision, she considered the Tolkien estate’s right to chosen counsel, Greenberg Glusker’s years of work on the litigation, the length of time that had passed since Bernstein and Benjamin were involved, and the “extremely attenuated relationship” between Warner Bros., the Zaentz Co. and United Artists. UA and MGM had filed a “joinder” to the Warner Bros. motion to disqualify Greenberg Glusker, even though they are not parties in the case."
  • "Collins also denied Warner Bros. and Zaentz’s request for an order of disclosure of Greenberg Glusker’s communications with Benjamin and Bernstein and for a deposition of Eskenazi. She wrote that the discovery is 'likely to be costly and fruitless, and will not advance the litigation.'""

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Law Firm CIO Responds to Suggestions Industry Security is Lacking

Industry expert, Judith Flournoy, CIO at Kelley, Drye & Warren and chairwoman of ILTA’s legal security working group, takes to the pages of Law Technology News to address frequent stories suggesting that law firms are a juicy and attractive target for hackers: "Law Firms Respond to Security Risks in Client Data: After being dubbed the "soft underbelly of American cybersecurity," law firms embrace robust security programs." --
  • "So, we may have been characterized as the 'soft underbelly' but we are no softer than any other industry, government or institution.  On behalf of my colleagues around the world in firms large and small, we understand the call to arms and we are engaged."
  • "Law firm clients in the financial services industry heavily scrutinize their outside counsel with vendor security audits. Governed by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency and the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council in compliance with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, all law firms who have financial institution clients are required to respond to a comprehensive security audit."
  • "The audit process is detailed, and in many cases includes questionnaires with several hundred questions, on-site interviews and or on-site physical security assessments covering everything from hard-copy file security to data center security."
  • "Why does this matter?  For the first time in the history of our industry, we find ourselves in a position where we not only have to provide highly detailed information about our security programs but we are also required to remediate any risks identified in the audit process.  The end result for many firms is to redirect efforts and funds for security based projects and policies, including security education programs, resulting in a battle for resources."
  • "Law firms continue to adjust to the 'new normal' business model based on client demands. Prior to 2008, firms provided services to clients based on the billable hour and what the lawyer believed was the value of the work performed. Since 2008, clients have been demanding alternative fee arrangements, fixed fee projects and have been generally unwilling to pay for the work of junior attorneys.  Combine the new normal with clients requiring outside counsel firms to adhere to a much more stringent security practice.  These are the newer set of demands we find ourselves adjusting to."
  • "The good news is that many firms have already begun the complex process of implementing a more robust security posture.  As previously mentioned, many firms have acquired, or are in the process of obtaining, ISO 27001 certifications."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Couple of Compliance Chronicles: Screens Standing & Waivers Working


Two updates to share today. First, from Canadian Lawyer Magazine comes: "Court approves law firm’s ethical screen: Lawyer from opposing side allowed to stay on case at new firm," which is noteworthy as it involves successful screening by a 14-lawyer firm --
  • "When a lawyer for an opposing party joined its firm, Lloyd Burns McInnis LLP faced a real possibility of removal from a case due to a conflict of interest. But in an exemplary case of a timely ethical screen, the firm was allowed to stay on the case this week despite its small size and close working relationships between its lawyers."
  • "Lloyd Burns McInnis is representing AIG Insurance Co. in a class action coverage dispute with the Ontario government. The firm’s new lawyer, Michael Foulds, represented Ontario in the same matter while he worked at Theall Group LLP. Foulds now spends 50 to 60 per cent of his time working with his colleague Douglas McInnis, who is representing AIG in the Ontario-AIG matter. In fact, McInnis and Foulds work together on other files involving AIG."
  • "Despite the province’s argument there’s a high risk of an inadvertent leak of confidential information from Foulds to McInnis, Justice Alfred O’Marra found Lloyd Burns McInnis put up a sufficient ethical screen at the right time to significantly reduce this risk."
  • "'In considering the timely and comprehensive compliance by LBM with the institutional measures set out in the guidelines, in addition to appointment of a supervising senior partner, and isolating Mr. Foulds from any Ontario-AIG matters, I find that a reasonably informed person would be satisfied that the use of confidential information had not occurred or would likely occur, and it is in the interests of justice to allow Mr. McInnis to remain as AIG’s counsel of choice.'"
  • "Davis LLP lawyer Gavin MacKenzie, who represented Lloyd Burns McInnis, says even large law firms can take notes from the steps the firm took in this case. 'I think it’s a good example for small firms and large,' he says, adding if large firms follow the same approach, 'it’s highly likely' that the courts will be satisfied."
Next comes our waiver story: "Attorneys from same firm represent Wilmette, park district in negotiations" --
  • "Sometimes being one happy family comes with a few complications, as Wilmette Park Board members learned when they heard the attorney who represents them in negotiations with the Village of Wilmette belongs to the same law firm as the attorney who represents the village."
  • "That won’t be a problem, district Director Steve Wilson assured board members at their July 14 meeting, before recommending they let him sign a so-called conflict of interest waiver so the negotiations could go forward."
  • "Wilson explained the situation originally occurred because the law firm of Tressler LLC acquired the separate practices of attorneys who had been working as outside counsel for the village and park district: Raysa and Zimmerman, in which village attorney Michael Zimmerman was a partner, and the practice of park district outside counsel Charlene Holtz. Tressler merged with Raysa and Zimmerman in 2012; Holtz joined Tressler in 2009."
  • "Negotiations between Wilmette and the park district are friendly, Frenzer said, so it makes sense to waive any suggestion of conflicts of interest. Otherwise, both governments would have to hire new attorneys to handle the issues, which could prove expensive for everyone."