Monday, April 29, 2013

Clearing Conflicts & Disqualification Disputes

New updates and articles to share. First: "Fourth Circuit says no conflict of interest in law firm’s appointment" --
  • "A federal appeals court has found no conflict of interest in a bankruptcy trustee’s appointment of a law firm that represented another party in a separate debt collection action against one of the bankrupt partnership at issue’s general partners."
  • "On July 6, 2010, the bankruptcy court approved the trustee’s employment of his law firm – McNeer, Highland, McMunn and Varner – as special counsel. The law firm had also been representing Wells Fargo Bank in an unrelated action to collect an outstanding debt of $208,000 from Rahmi."
  • "On April 1, 2011, Rahmi filed a Motion to Remove Trustee for Conflict of Interest based on the law firm’s involvement in both actions concerning him. The bankruptcy court denied the motion and Rahmi initially appealed to the district court, but then voluntarily dismissed the appeal."
And continuing developments following the disqualification in the matter of 3M and the state of Minnesota (covered previously). Bloomberg law reports:
  • "But the issue is not yet settled: 'Covington & Burling LLP sought to overturn a judge's ruling disqualifying the firm from working for Minnesota on a lawsuit alleging 3M Co. polluted state waters.'"
  • "'Disqualification of Covington would be a devastating and quite possible fatal blow to the state’s case,' Minnesota’s lawyers wrote in court filings."
  • "The appeals panel included judges Randolph Peterson, Edward Cleary and John Smith, according to Lissa Finne, a spokeswoman for the court. The court has 90 days to issue an opinion."
Continuing the theme of local media picking up coverage of these issues, see the Star Tribune's coverage as well: "3M, Minnesota spar over ousted law firm."

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Law Firm Information Security & Governance – ISO 27001 + Expert Opinion

We've commented previously on how several law firms are leveraging ISO 27001 certification as a competitive and business development asset. Via The Lawyer, comes another example: "Anderson Strathern awarded world’s highest accreditation for information protection and security" --
  • "Scottish firm Anderson Strathern has announced that it has achieved the prestigious ISO 27001 certification across its entire business. ISO 27001 is the world’s highest accreditation for information protection and security, and is the only international benchmark for information security management verified by an independent audit."
  • "'The security of our clients’ information is of paramount importance to us. Our clients include governments, commercial organisations, and private individuals whose most sensitive information has to be strictly safeguarded in accordance with world-class standards. ISO 27001 confirms that our clients' sensitive data is robustly secure,' said Andy Lothian, Managing Partner. 'We are committed to maximising the trust and confidence our clients have in our quality of service, our security capabilities and in our sustainability.'"
And, in the US, comes an article from the ABA Journal: "As more hackers target lawyers, here’s how to protect client data" --
  • "Most major U.S. law firms have been victims of security breaches, and the unwelcome threats likely operated covertly for 8 to 9 months before they were discovered. For many firms, the first whiff of insidious action comes from a knock on the firm’s door by the FBI."
  • "…the U.S. government labeled New York City’s 200 largest law firms 'the soft underbelly' of hundreds of corporate clients, two experts warned at an ABA Techshow session on data security for lawyers. Even midsize, boutique and solo firms are at risk…"
  • "Updated ethics rules require lawyers to make reasonable efforts to make sure client data is secure. The new rules also require lawyers to be competent with technology or to hire someone who is. Judges will no longer buy arguments that tech and its threats are evolving too quickly for lawyers to keep up, Nelson said."

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Law Firms + HIPAA Compliance – Could This Happen at Your Firm?

A reader sent word of a timely and relevant update, given the industry focus on complying with the new HIPAA requirements.

And while this story concerns a direct provider of health services and not a law firm, and is an example of (alleged) extreme malfeasance, it does highlight the risks and implications of making Protected Health Information (PHI) generally available to firm personnel and staff, particularly when enforcers put things under a microscope.

Worth noting, as material to the fact pattern are allegations of failing to implement security controls and monitoring – both explicitly required by the 2013 HIPAA Omnibus Rule. For more the complete story, see: "Health Data Theft Case Prompts Lawsuit - Suit Alleges Adventist Health Failed to Protect Information" --
  • "The class action lawsuit, filed April 9 in the U.S. District Court in Orlando, Fla., alleges that 'Florida Hospital breached its statutory obligation and express promise by maintaining its patients' sensitive information in an electronic database that lacked crucial - and statutorily required - security measures and protocols, in addition to failing to adequately train and monitor its employees access to sensitive information.'"
  • "The lawsuit alleges that Florida Hospital employees were "able to easily gain access to the sensitive information of thousands of patients across 22 campuses using nothing more than employer provided log-in credentials, even though they were not authorized to access such information."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Streamlining New Business Intake – Lewis Silkin Deploys IntApp Open

Lewis Silkin, a full service commercial firm based in London, has deployed IntApp Open as part of a strategic initiative to streamline new client review and accelerate new matter inception.

The firm partnered with IntApp on its new business acceptance initiative in 2012, joining an industry advisory consortium focused on identifying industry trends, responding to industry requirements and shaping an industry-changing approach to client and matter intake. 

On the choice to deploy IntApp Open, Lewis Silkin Director of IT & Operations, Jan Durant remarked:
  • "We implemented our first IntApp product, Time Builder, two years ago and found IntApp great to work with – they are open, collaborative and highly responsive. IntApp products are first-rate – clever technology, slick user interface and straightforward delivery. Quite simply, IntApp are one of my favourite suppliers."
With market forces putting new pressures on firms to improve the way they engage new business, organizations are looking to increase the sophistication, efficiency and agility of their intake processes to better align client selection and terms of business with overall strategy, service models and internal policies.

IntApp UK Managing Director, Kaye Sycamore added:
  • "We’re delighted to see the continuing adoption of IntApp Open by the legal community and are particularly pleased to highlight our collaboration with Lewis Silkin, an acknowledged IT innovator. Jan Durant has time and time again demonstrated a knack for identifying emerging trends and responding with winning technology approaches that deliver significant value and competitive advantage for her firm."
IntApp Open is a true new business intake application. It doesn’t require firms to wrestle with development or write a single line of custom code. It offers unique features, including a flexible business rules engine that enables effective management of practice-specific matter evaluation procedures and an integrated question library that provides visibility into the practices and insights developed by industry peers.

Visit IntApp.com to learn more about the philosophy behind the product and how it can simplify law firm new business intake.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Conflicts Allegations in the Public Eye

It’s been interesting to watch the public reaction to conflicts allegations regarding the appointment of a former law firm partner as Detroit’s emergency city manager, while his former firm providers services to the city. The evening news covered the issue and legal ethicists have opined "no conflict." Now a Detroit Free Press Columnist weighs in: "Don't be too quick to judge Jones Day Detroit contract" --
  • "The temptation is to call it an outrageous conflict of interest… I get it. The connection, the relationship ... it all sounds a little hinky. But ask around, and you’ll find that legal experts don’t see anything wrong with this deal. Orr resigned from Jones Day after his appointment as emergency manager, which he wasn’t required to do. Oftentimes, legal ethics consider acknowledgment of a potential conflict, with all parties declaring themselves satisfied, as a remedy for any possible conflict."
  • "Could this matter have been handled better? Sure. It’s the type of needlessly created controversy in which Snyder, state Treasurer Andy Dillon and Detroit Mayor Dave Bing sometimes seem to specialize. But the deal’s done now, and no one questions that Jones Day is eminently qualified to perform the work."
And in keeping with today's theme, another city government conflict issue covered by local media: "Delray Beach fires lobbying firm, nicely" --
  • "Delray Beach no longer has ties to the law firm of Weiss, Handler & Cornwell. Mayor Cary Glickstein said the lobbyist firm the city hired in December also employs Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, who has launched an aggressive audit of the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency — an action that may be perceived as a conflict of interest."
  • "'If there's a perception of conflict, that's enough,' said Glickstein at a Tuesday special meeting scheduled to consider terminating the contract between the city and the law firm."
  • "Glickstein then said he was uncomfortable with the city's relationship with the lobbying firm Abruzzo works for and ordered City Attorney Brian Shutt to bring the contract to the commission for review. But at Tuesday's meeting, Henry Handler, a principal of the firm, tendered the firm's resignation, saying he didn't want to create any kind of "awkwardness or potential distraction" for the city."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Report from Recent Roundtable Sessions (Atlanta, Houston & Philadelphia)

Last week, we held Risk Roundtable events in Atlanta, Houston and Philadelphia. Many thanks to Kilpatrick Townsend, Vinson & Elkins and Post & Schell for hosting. The events brought together speakers from multiple disciplines to address the three core aspects of a successful information security strategy: technology, people and processes. Kathryn Hume, who manages and moderates the Risk Roundtable Program, sends this update:
  • Dan, I'm pleased to report back a successful Risk Roundtable series in multiple US firms. Kilpatrick Townsend, Vinson & Elkins and Post & Schell generously agreed to host our group of risk and technology leaders. A special thanks to Chris Ward, Director of Information Security at Vinson & Elkins, who gave an expert take on risk assessment protocol in law firm environments, and to Andrew Allison, Chief Compliance Officer at Post & Schell, P.C., who prepared material on his firm’s information security strategy.
  • In Atlanta and Houston, Gina Buser and Joe Buser of Traveling Coaches joined us to discuss techniques and methodology for developing a security training initiative that can effectively change lawyer and staff behavior and foster firmwide security awareness. Firms in both cities were keenly interested in sharing best practices to mitigate risks arising from new technologies. To reduce risk and protect client confidentiality, multiple organizations are shifting from a system-centric security strategy to a data-centric security strategy, where confidential information is selectively locked down within the document management system to meet “need-to-know” access requirements required by clients and regulations.
  • Firms across the country increasingly receive pressure from clients to implement stricter security controls. Firms are looking to their peers to set industry guidelines for satisfying audits in a way that does not compromise knowledge management and collaboration. Many firms report that client questions are becoming increasingly targeted: whereas firms previously had to check general yes/no answers on audit questionnaires, clients are now asking targeted questions like “how many people in your offices can potentially access my documents?”
  • With the September 23 HIPAA Omnibus enforcement deadline looming, every firm that has a healthcare practice or a litigation practice that receives Protected Health Information (PHI) is taking swift steps to achieve compliance. We spent much time discussing what effective HIPAA compliance looks like in a law firm environment, focusing on how firms can identify incoming PHI during the new matter intake process, how firms can implement access control models to meet the “minimum necessary” standard of the Privacy Rule, and how firms are using activity monitoring tools to achieve compliance with the Security and Breach Notification Rules.
  • Finally, in Philadelphia, Eric Mosca of InOutsource led a spirited debate about the choice to implement a centralized conflicts clearance process. Can firms entrust the entire conflicts process to a non-lawyer, administrative committee? Does this break professional responsibility standards as specified by the ABA model rules? Different firms have different responses and this is clearly an evolving area of disucssion.
We're looking forward to upcoming Roundtables scheduled in Los Angeles (April 30), San Francisco (May 1), London and Toronto.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Risk Roundtables Set for UK and Canada


We're please to announce our upcoming UK Risk Roundtable session. Scheduled for Friday, May 17th, the topic is: "What do you need to know to implement "need-to-know" information security."

This briefing will provide a collaborative forum for Risk & Compliance and IT professionals to discuss how emerging information security concerns are forcing law firms to improve their defenses. Attendees will learn best practices for successfully implementing a “hybrid” security model, which restricts access to highly sensitive data within core systems to a need-to-know basis.

This one-hour session will provide practical advice for connecting a law firm’s ethical, client, and compliance requirements to everyday security practices. Topics will include:
  • Drivers behind the shift from systems-based to content-based protection models
  • Examples of security models employed at law firms around the world
  • A stage-by-stage guideline – based on practical steps – for implementing a risk-based, content-centric protection model
Attendance is by invitation only and is limited to qualified law firms and personnel. Please contact info@riskroundtable.com for more details.

For past participants of Roundtable sessions in Canada, we have reserved June 19th for our next meeting in Toronto. Please save the date and watch this space for more information.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

New Business Intake: IntApp Open Provides Law Firms with a Fresh Approach

Yesterday, IntApp announced the available of IntApp Open, a fresh approach to new business acceptance that replaces conventional "build it yourself" workflow software with an application specifically designed to streamline how new clients are evaluated and new matters are created.

Today, law firms face serious pressures to transform the way they evaluate and engage new business. Remaining competitive requires a simplified, refined and innovative approach to new business inception. This innovation must address not only how intake processes are designed and executed, but also how they are updated and adapted over time in response to changing needs, how individuals interact with the software used to administer them, and how the entire system enables management of the complete client engagement and matter lifecycle. In short, inception must evolve.
  • "We looked at several software options to improve the way our firm evaluates and accepts new clients and matters before deciding to partner closely with IntApp," said Paul Caris, Chief Information Officer, Eversheds LLP. "We have been very impressed with the scope of functionality and product design IntApp delivers, and have found them to be a most responsive and straightforward vendor to work with."
IntApp Open is a true new business intake application. It doesn’t require firms to wrestle with development tools like Visual Studio and Windows Workflow, or write a single line of custom code. It doesn’t complicate process design and management by requiring the use of Visio, SharePoint or other third-party tools or plug-ins. And it doesn’t rely on a vendor services model that backs promises of “templates” and “ease of use” with a consulting team eager to design, build and bill for custom development and change orders (both during initial implementation and throughout the life of the project).

IntApp Open leverages input from an advisory group comprising law firms, insurance providers and other industry experts. This collaboration resulted in  unique features, including a flexible business rules engine that enables effective management of practice-specific matter evaluation procedures as well as conflicts clearance practices that may be centralized, distributed among lawyers and practice heads, or both, depending on firm preferences.

The product also includes an integrated question library that provides visibility into the practices, standards and insights developed by industry peers. And it delivers unique value for IT, with an architecture that simplifies change management, data integration and system automation.
  • "We’ve been working closely with IntApp for many years to successfully address a variety of risk management challenges at our firm," said Ann Ostrander, Sr. Director of Loss Prevention, Kirkland & Ellis LLP. "We were pleased to expand that partnership and help support the evolution of IntApp Open because new business acceptance continues to top the list of law firm risk management concerns, and IntApp brings the right mix of experience, technology and skill to tackle this important challenge."
Visit IntApp.com to learn more about the philosophy behind the product and how it can simplify law firm new business intake.

Monday, April 15, 2013

LTN on HIPAA Compliance for Law Firms

Law Technology News invited Kathryn Hume (who's been on the road, moderating the latest round of Risk Roundtable meetings) and Pat Archbold (risk practice group head) at IntApp to weigh in on HIPAA: "2013 HIPAA Omnibus Rules Increase Risks for Law Firms" --
  • "Important new rule changes to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 now force law firms that come into contact with protected health information to revisit internal policies and practices, and  enforce information security controls, protect confidential information, monitor workforce information access and track compliance."
  • "Certain provisions of the Omnibus Rule, such as restrictions upon the marketing and sale of PHI, are unlikely to affect law firms. There are, however, three key portions of the new rule for which law firms will be held directly liable and to which they should pay the most attention."
  • "To build compliance, law firms should revisit contractual agreements with covered entities and/or relevant subcontractors, educate lawyers and staff about the changes, and implement the information security policies and protocols required by the rules."
  • "One clear place to start is to implement the access control and auditing technical safeguards required by the Security Rule. HHS tends to focus investigations on compliance with the minimum necessary standard, so firms should take steps to minimize possible disclosure within their firm systems. Still, compliance efforts may require a cultural adjustment in many firm environments, where lawyers and staff are often granted open access to client information to promote collaboration and knowledge management."
  • "With the right access control security technology, however, firms can minimize the cultural impact of achieving compliance. Software that automates access control rights based upon business rules and regulatory needs can reduce the investment required to address culture shock and frustrations. Coupled with a directed effort to promote firmwide awareness of the changes, a reliable and intelligent access control tool is a solid step towards achieving full compliance."
For more information about how the new Omnibus rule impacts law firms and steps firms are taking achieve compliance featuring presentations from Hunton & Williams and industry security experts: http://j.mp/lfrHIPAA.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

When Conflicts Allegations Make the Evening News (Update on Detroit Story)

More news regarding the situation in Detroit we covered previously. From ALM (h/t to Legal Ethics Forum) comes: "Ethics Experts: No Conflict in Jones Day's Detroit Role" --
  • "The pending retention of Jones Day to help financially crippled Detroit as it attempts to stave off what would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history is getting fresh scrutiny this week from local politicians, who claim that hiring the firm to advise the city may create conflicts of interest given the recent appointment of former Jones Day restructuring partner Kevyn Orr to serve as the city's emergency manager."
  • "'People can raise objections if they want, but that doesn't make them true,' says the spokesman, Bill Nowling, who adds that Orr went to 'great lengths' to separate himself from discussions with Detroit while still at Jones Day and that the contract has been negotiated exclusively with the mayor's office."
  • "A trio of ethics experts contacted by The Am Law Daily Wednesday agreed that Orr's ties to Jones Day do not by themselves create a conflict of interest and that the city's decision to employ a firm that Orr is familiar with and knows to be experienced in restructuring work is a smart one."
What's fascinating about this story is that it made the local news, under its "CITY IN CRISIS" banner. Again, illustrating yesterday's theme that external perceptions are important to weigh in such matters, in addition to professional and ethical considerations.

One doesn't often see these issues covered with headline banners. Here's a video of the segment:


For more local coverage on this, see also the Detroit Free Press.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Alleged Law Firm Political Conflicts

In Connectcticut the Journal Inquirer published an editorial which highlights how appearances matter, regardless of what professional rules and regulations permit: "Law firm’s lobbying compromises Cafero" --
  • "When a member of a law firm, a former speaker of the state House of Representatives, is paid to lobby the General Assembly and the House Republican minority leader is also a member of that law firm and they both proclaim that this is not a conflict of interest — and apparently the state Ethics Committees agrees — we are living in a world of make-believe."
  • "If that former House speaker, Thomas Ritter, of the Hartford law firm Brown Rudnick, a prominent Democrat, lobbies his law partner, Norwalk Rep. Lawrence Cafero, the House Republican minority leader, and Cafero happens to agree with Ritter’s requests on behalf of one of the firm’s clients and goes on to support legislation benefiting that client, then any claim by Brown Rudnick, Cafero, or Ritter that they are impartial is absurd."
  • "Apparently belief that even the appearance of conflict of interest should be avoided in government has died out in Connecticut. If Cafero and Ritter are both paid by the law firm and the law firm is lobbying for clients before the legislature, members of the law firm who remain in the legislature are compromised."

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Information Security & Screening as Enablers of Law Firm Business Development and Growth

LeClairRyan, a corporate law and litigation firm with offices across the United States, leverages IntApp Wall Builder as an important part of a business development strategy designed to support the acquisition of high-value clients and lateral hires to its growing firm.

Said LeClairRyan Director of Conflicts Resolution and Client Intake, Lisa Womack:
  • "We made a strategic decision to purchase Wall Builder to prepare our firm to respond to client concerns about ethical screens and confidentiality. In addition to enhancing client service, Wall Builder frequently contributes to our ability to take on important lateral hires when effective screens are necessary."
LeClairRyan also uses Wall Builder to help manage how contract lawyers access internal information. The firm occasionally engages contract lawyers to meet spikes in client demand in a cost-effective manner, but found that providing contractors with access to unrelated client information and firm work product created potential ethical concerns. Blocking access, moreover, created significant administrative burdens.

Wall Builder’s isolation barriers let LeClairRyan easily restrict contractors from accessing material otherwise generally open to partners, associates and staff. The net result is that contractors only see information for the matters they’re assigned to, enabling the firm to manage contract resources more effectively.

Pat Archbold, Head of IntApp's Risk Practice Group added:
"We’re very pleased to highlight LeClairRyan’s success with Wall Builder. In leveraging the product to support its business development objectives, the firm is demonstrating a commitment to client care and strategic growth that many peer firms seek to emulate."

For more information, see the official news release.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Mad about Data Privacy, Compliance and Risk Management

The long awaited return of Mad Men last night has inspired a good amount of creative reflection and activity -- and not just by your loyal risk editor, who once hosted Mad Men-themed Halloween party. Though rumaki, sampled that evening by the brave, has not stuck around as a modern culinary staple, Morgan Lewis partner Ryan McConnell, and associate Charlotte Simon, have offered a relevant and timely reference, more suitable for this blog. Via Law Technology News: "Don Draper of 'Mad Men', Data Privacy Compliance Role Model" --
  • "As companies design privacy compliance programs to protect against data breaches and the unintended use of personal data, each year countries revise privacy legal requirements and increase enforcement."
  • "Don Draper says, 'Change is neither good nor bad, it simply is.' Draper's advice is spot-on for data privacy compliance, because data privacy compliance programs have the same key components as all programs designed to effectively address compliance risks on a variety of topics, such as trade controls or anticorruption. The evolving focus of data privacy isn't inherently positive or negative, but the targets do and will keep changing."
  • "While there is no 'one size fits all' privacy program, an effective privacy compliance program has the buy-in of business leaders and key individuals in the organization — such as HR and IT professionals — and appropriate division of responsibility for the success of the program. A privacy compliance program is built on a framework that ensures employee and other sensitive data is only used and transferred for legitimate business purposes and retained for appropriate periods of time. Such a program also includes comprehensive data management procedures and sets forth written policy and IT security measures to limit access and use of protected information."
  • "Finally, Draper always does the hard work when it comes to protecting secrets. Your company's privacy program should have mechanisms for auditing data collection, use, and transfers, and clear protocols for responding to data breaches or unintended uses... Just like government-mandated airbags and cigarette warning labels eventually became the standard for addressing the kinds risks faced by our heroes in Mad Men, privacy regulations are here to stay."
As regulations like the recent HIPAA rule changes raise the requirements and stakes for law firms, organizations are taking additional steps to limit their exposure. (Of course, long time readers will recognize that these cyclical, repeating patterns -- and agree that carousel-like nostalgia for simpler times does little to obviate the need to respond to evolving challenges.)

And for those who've had enough pop culture references, see also, from LTN: "Four Threats to Confidential Data on Mobile Devices."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Conflicts Waiver & Law Firm Disqualification News

Via BNA comes a story about another interesting disqualification: "Dormant Role as Patent Counsel Gets Firm Disqualified in Infringement Action" --
  • "A law firm is disqualified from representing a plaintiff in a patent infringement action against a company because the firm did not clearly end its quiescent role as the company's patent opinion counsel before filing suit, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware held March 4 (Parallel Iron LLC v. Adobe Systems Inc., D. Del., No. 12-874-RGA, 3/4/13)."
  • "Adobe moved to disqualify Russ August & Kabat, Parallel Iron's lead counsel, on the ground that the firm faced a concurrent conflict of interest because it was serving as Adobe's opinion counsel at the time Parallel Iron filed suit. RAK never represented Adobe in litigation; rather; the firm's alleged conflict was grounded in three engagements in which RAK partner Marc A. Fenster prepared opinion letters for Adobe."
  • "RAK contended that each opinion letter was a discrete engagement with an agreed-upon budget, and that its relationship with Adobe ended with the final conference call. Fenster said that when he delivered the final opinion letters to Adobe, he asked if any additional work was needed or requested, and Adobe said no."
  • "The history between the firm and the company made it reasonable for the company to expect that their attorney-client relationship was ongoing even though no active matters were underway, Judge Richard G. Andrews reasoned."
And from the prolific Bill Freivogel comes another two cases regarding waivers:

In re Stagliano, 2013 N.J. LEXIS 194 (N.J. March 13, 2013) --
  • "In this order the court reprimanded Lawyer for violating New Jersey's version of MR 1.7. This is the only state ethics rule, of which we are aware, that specifically prohibits a governmental unit from waiving a current client conflict. Lawyer represented a municipality while at the same time assisting persons with whom he was affiliated in acquiring tax delinquent properties. This was all done with the knowledge of municipality officials. The facts are in the decision of the N.J. Disciplinary Review Board, Docket No. DRB 12-226, decided December 20, 2012."
Sharma v. VW Credit, Inc., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38859 (C.D. Cal. March 20, 2013) --
  • "The defendant waited sixteen months to file a motion to disqualify. In this opinion the court denied the motion. The court was not persuaded by the fact that the defendant had been making noises about the conflict for a year. The court did find that the plaintiff was prejudiced by the delay because deadlines were running."

Monday, April 1, 2013

Law Firm Conflicts Charges in the News

Several stories of alleged conflicts in the news:

"Latham & Watkins faces conflict charge in antitrust class action" --
  • "Latham & Watkins is facing conflict of interest allegations from a former client that is seeking to keep the firm out of one of the biggest pending antitrust class actions."
  • "Since last summer, Latham has been defending Union Pacific Railroad Company in the case, which alleges a conspiracy among railroad companies to impose artificially high fuel surcharges on customers."
  • "But Oxbow Carbon & Minerals LLC and a number of related entities, which have been Latham clients, have moved to disqualify the law firm from the case. Oxbow, which has filed its own antitrust lawsuit against Union Pacific over surcharges, has argued in court papers filed last month that Latham's representation of Union Pacific in the class action 'presents a classic conflict of interest situation.'"
"Law firm's role in Detroit's financial recovery questioned" --
  • "Global law firm Jones Day could have a crucial — and perhaps lucrative — role in the fight to save Detroit from insolvency, prompting concerns about possible conflicts in the emotional debate about the city's restructuring."
  • "Jones Day was retained by the city to serve as its restructuring attorney three days before one of its partners, Kevyn Orr, was appointed emergency manager by Gov. Rick Snyder. The firm is expected to work closely with Orr to renegotiate Detroit's nearly $15 billion in long-term debt."
  • "Orr resigned from Jones Day the day after his March 14 appointment. He told The Detroit News that bankruptcy trustees typically hire their own law firms and argued that partnering with Jones Day will help because of its expertise in restructurings."
  • "Critics question both the timing of the deal and relationship to Orr. Troy attorney Ben Gonek said Michigan has several qualified firms that could do the work for less money… 'The question is: Is he using his position to generate money for his old firm?' Gonek asked."
"CBA and Gadens at centre of conflict of interest dispute in federal court"--
  • "CBA and Gadens law firm Sydney-based barrister are at the centre of major conflict of interest allegations by an aggrieved bank customer, according to News Ltd."
  • "Geoff Shannon, who is locked in a legal battle with the CBA’s BankWest over the collapse of his property development company, claims he was cross-examined in the federal court last month by a barrister who had acted for him in related matters in 2010."
  • "According to Shannon, the barrister had confidential information relating to his personal and business affairs, telling reporters the barrister’s sister worked at the law firm he was using."