Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Business Intake – Choosing the Right Software Approach

The latest issue of "Briefing," published by the UK-based Legal Support Network includes a an industry analysis feature on law firm business inception by Sam Suri of Intapp: "Outcomes-focused Business Intake."

She outlines the many trends putting pressures on firms to enhance business intake, lays out the risks and dangers of relying a general business process management (BPM) or workflow tools to address today’s evolving complexities, and then explores how software designed specifically for business acceptance and modern conflicts management needs provides firms with a competitive advantage:
  • "Selecting the right technology requires analysis and  foresight: demands for data-driven intelligence will grow, compliance obligations will evolve and the firm may change. Getting stuck with the wrong product could seriously impact the firm’s ability to stay competitive – choosing the right one will help the firm thrive as business needs evolve."
  • "When evaluating technologies to update NBI, firms should consider that the system will likely be in place for years, so it will need to support unforeseeable business and risk management challenges. It should empower the firm to make future changes on the fly to increase ownership and cost effectiveness."
  • "An unsuccessful BPM implementation could end up amplifying the risks it is supposed to mitigate. By contrast, when coupled with a services approach that’s attentive to the firm’s culture and process needs, the right technology can transform NBI into a fulcrum to drive business success and firm-wide compliance."
  • "Firms should look for technology built specifically for intake, which also entails situating intake into the overall matter lifecycle. As practically everyone in the firm engages in some way with intake, the right system can be a vehicle for inter-department synergy and collaboration. And by enabling firms to take on the right clients, address their requirements,  protect their confidentiality and staff their matters accurately, the right NBI technology enables firms to address the SRA’s core principle – that firms focus first and foremost on client success."
See the complete article for more detail.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Canadian Conflicts Cleared in Corporate Case

Interesting resolution to an interesting story: "Lawyers cleared of conflict-of-interest charges over Hollinger newspaper deals" --
  • "Two Toronto lawyers have been cleared of any wrongdoing in a corporate case that dragged on for years after they were accused of conflict of interest."
  • "A Law Society of Upper Canada panel has ruled that there was no evidence Beth DeMerchant and Darren Sukonick acted improperly in their roles related to non-compete clauses, a small part of massive deals to sell Hollinger newspaper assets to CanWest Global Communications Corp. and Osprey Media Holdings Inc. more than a decade ago."
  • "The two lawyers had been fighting allegations that they violated the legal profession’s conflict-of-interest rules while acting for Conrad Black and his executives, as well as Hollinger International Inc. and subsidiaries."
The Legal Post adds additional detail and context, including a link to the complete ruling:
  • "Ms. DeMerchant and Mr. Sukonick worked on the matters at the law firm of Torys LLP from 2000 to 2003. The law society initiated proceedings in 2006. Hearings ran for 130 days over a period stretching from April 2010 to last summer."
  • "The discipline case collapsed due to a lack of evidence on the part of the prosecution, according to reasons released Thursday night. The law society’s evidence was simply 'incomplete,' the decision states."

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cooper Grace Ward Sees Success with Intapp Open for New Business Intake

 
Cooper Grace Ward, a leading Australian law firm, has chosen Intapp Open to replace its legacy business intake software and has successfully implemented the product.

 
Said the Firm's IT Director, Jason Mills:
  • "Delivering outstanding service to our organisation is the mission of our IT team. The Intapp Open foundation services approach allowed our team to quickly learn the intake platform, and then quickly build, modify and update workflows to respond to our changing requirements, without relying on the vendor or expensive consultants. The 'teach to fish' services model is a breath of fresh air in the industry."
Today, multiple trends are pressuring firms to improve how they evaluate and engage new business. These trends include clients with increasing expectations, and a risk landscape with evolving regulatory rules, compliance requirements and professional standards. In response, firms are looking to increase the sophistication, efficiency and agility of their business inception and conflicts management processes to enhance internal efficiency, reduce risk and improve lawyer productivity.

Intapp Open delivers a fresh approach to new business acceptance (intake business process management and conflicts clearance). It offers 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 centralised, distributed among lawyers and practice heads, or both, depending on firm preferences. It doesn't require firms to wrestle with development tools or write a single line of custom code, while providing an architecture that simplifies change management, data integration and system automation.

Commenting on Cooper Grace Ward's Successful Implementation, Intapp Risk Practice Group Head Pat Archbold Added:
  • "We're delighted to see the success of Cooper Grace Ward, the latest firm to implement Intapp Open for new business intake. With Intapp Open, we aim to empower firms to easily configure, manage and extend business inception processes themselves, without forcing dependency on external vendors and requiring constant professional services investment. And this approach, which puts customer interests first, continues to resonate across the legal industry."
Visit Intapp.com for more information on how Intapp Open enhances law firm new business intake  and to request more information or a demonstration.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Dude, You Might Be Totally Getting Disqualified

(Apologies to those not immediately recalling the old Dell commercials, referenced in the title.)

As Law360 reports (further apologies for the paywall link, free trial available): "Dell Wants Adaptix Lawyers DQ'd In Patent Fight" --
  • "Dell Inc. asked a Texas federal court Friday to disqualify for conflict of interest Hayes Messina Gilman & Hayes LLC and the Tadlock Law Firm PLLC from representing technology licensing company Adaptix Inc. in a patent infringement suit against Dell over data encoding technology."
  • "Dell argued that certain Hayes Messina attorneys, including Kevin Gannon and Jonathan DeBlois, had previously represented Dell in a separate patent suit launched against it by Lodsys Group LLC over Dell printers made by Lexmark that’s still pending in the same Texas federal court, posing a significant conflict of interest in the instant case with Adaptix, according to its motion to disqualify."
  • While the five-partner firm argued for screening, Dell declined, stating: "'Where, as here, the entire Hayes Messina firm appears to be working on Adaptix matters in the same small office, no comfort exists that the conflicted lawyers Gannon and DeBlois can avoid collaborating, speaking with or otherwise communicating with their colleagues who represent Adaptix in this case against Dell,' the company said. 'Under the authorities cited above, any screen will not allay the conflict of interest and client confidentiality concerns that lie at the heart of the ABA Model Rules.'"
For more detail, read Dell's Motion to Disqualify

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Client Information Security & HIPAA Compliance Response: Hinckley Allen Snyder Leverages Intapp

 
 
Hinckley Allen, a full-service law firm with offices across the northeast United States, uses Intapp Wall Builder and Intapp Activity Tracker to secure client data across firm systems, monitor internal use of sensitive information, respond to client outside counsel guidelines and audits, and address new HIPAA compliance requirements.
 
 
Said the Firm's IT Director, John Guyer:
  • "Like most law firms, we are experiencing an unprecedented number of information security audits from our clients. Traditionally, clients accepted firm assurances about information governance practices, but today more and more clients require explicit proof that firms have technical controls in place to properly restrict internal access to their sensitive business information."
  • "Intapp Wall Builder gives our firm a competitive edge when responding to client RFPs and enables us to confidently face client audits. The product also enables us to address the compliance requirements mandated by the new HIPAA Omnibus Rule."
  • "Information loss during lateral departures is another key risk affecting firms, but most organizations have no way to manage this risk because they lack visibility into how lawyers and staff use information."
  • "Intapp Activity Tracker provides our firm daily reports on usage patterns across our core systems. The product enables us to investigate abnormalities, address areas of concern before they become serious problems, comply with regulatory monitoring requirements, and, ultimately, provide firm management with greater peace of mind."
Commenting on Hinckley Allen's success, Pat Archbold, head of Intapp's Risk Practice added:
  • "We're delighted to highlight Hinckley Allen's success using our products to tackle a diverse range of information security and compliance requirements. Firms like Hinckley set the standard of care across the industry and inspire our team to extend our products' capabilities."
Visit Intapp.com for more information on how Intapp supports HIPAA compliance and client audit response.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Report from New York Roundtable



Last week, we held a Risk Roundtable in New York City. Many thanks to Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP for hosting. The event featured an engaging debate about recent case law affecting advanced waivers for conflicts. Drawing upon their analyses of the various opinions, our presenters then suggested strategies for composing waivers that would avoid future litigation along with technologies to manage client and matter intake effectively. Kathryn Hume, who manages and moderates the Risk Program, sends this update:
  • Dan, I'm pleased to report back a successful New York Risk Roundtable. Cravath generously agreed to host a large and engaged group of risk and technology leaders. A special thanks to Jeff Franchetti, Cravath CIO, for his hospitality.
  • Roy Simon, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Legal Ethics at Hofstra University, began the discussion by commenting upon McKesson vs Duane Morris (Georgia, 2006), Celgene vs KV Pharmaceutical Co. (NJ, 2008), GSI vs BabyCenter (NY, 2010), and Galderma vs. Actavis Mid-Atlantic (Texas, 2013). In his commentary, Roy elicited and analyzed multiple key issues:
    • How specifically should a request for an advanced waiver communicate the information, risks and alternatives of a potential future conflict in order to be defensible as having elicited the clients’ informed consent?
    • Should “blanket” waivers, open waivers that do not specify the types of matters (e.g. high-stakes IP litigation versus low-stakes transactional law) or clients, be admissible? What about for sophisticated clients, especially those with an experienced in-house counsel that firms can reasonably assume have the capacity to assess more opaque terms of engagement?  
    • Within complex corporate families (e.g. the McKesson group) is a well drafted provision defining the client as a specific, named entity (and excluding any parent, subsidiary, or other affiliate in the corporate family) equivalent to a broad advanced waiver provision from all other members of the corporate family?
  • Anthony Davis, Partner in Hinshaw and Culbertson’s Lawyers for the Profession Practice Group, continued the discussion by commenting upon Brigham Young vs. Pfizer (Utah, 2010) and Macy’s vs. JC Penny (NY, 2013). Anthony highlighted the following:
    • The need to specify whether a waiver affects all new matters, from existing as well as new clients, or simply new matters under the “continuing” representation of existing clients. 
    • The surprising provision in the Jones Day waiver for the JC Penny case that the client can “silently consent” to the conditions of the waiver by simply engaging the firms services, without ever actually signing a contract.
    • After analyzing the case law, Anthony highlighted the four key tasks a perfect new business intake system and process should accomplish: clearing conflicts of interest, informing future client selection strategy, vetting client financial reliability and inciting easy and accurate data input from lawyers and staff.
  • James Edwards, Intapp Solution Consultant, concluded the session by demonstrating how the Intapp Open software platform is architected and designed to address precisely these challenges, enabling law firms to update forms and processes on the fly to stay competitive and manage complex waivers from sophisticated clients effectively. 
Kathryn is hosting a session in Washington DC today, with remaining events set for Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Monday, October 14, 2013

ILTA Webinar: Law Firm Compliance with HIPAA "Minimum Necessary" Standard

Frightened by the new HIPAA compliance requirements now in effect? ILTA is hosting the third in a series of HIPAA-related events for law firms, set for Halloween (Thursday, October 31st at 9am PDT / 12pm EDT) --

Complying with the Minimum Necessary Standard of HIPAA
The minimum necessary standard, a key protection of the HIPAA Privacy Rule, mandates that protected health information should be used or disclosed only to satisfy a particular purpose or carry out a particular function.
 
Complying with the minimum necessary standard poses particular challenges to law firms, often forcing them to modify practices for collecting client information and securing it throughout the matter life cycle.
 
This presentation explains why the minimum necessary standard is important and how it impacts common law firm operations. Suggested processes, procedures and technologies to satisfy compliance obligations will be provided.

Speakers:
  • Kathryn Hume is a member of Intapp's Risk Practice Group and focuses on law firm information security, data governance and HIPAA compliance. She analyzes how emerging technologies are influencing and being affected by evolving standards of professional responsibility and care, including the new HIPAA rules.
  • Brian Donato, Chief Information Officer at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP, has worked in information technology for over 27 years. Brian serves on ILTA's Risk and Records Management Peer Group Steering Committee, as well as the LegalSEC Steering Committee. He is also a Task Force leader for the Law Firm Information Governance Symposium work group. Brian is a frequent author and speaker on the use of mobile devices, security and information governance issues.
To attend this webinar, visit ILTA's registration page.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Legal Ethics: Vereins, Professional Rules & Accountability

Hat tip to the Legal Ethics Forum for pointers to two interesting articles on law firm organization and legal ethics discussions:

"The Legal Ethics of Verein-Style Law Firms" --
  • "In a nutshell, a firm set up as a verein typically uses a common name (e.g., DLA Piper), but each office is administratively and financially separate from the other offices.  The ABA Journal column notes that this kind of structure raises possible problems under Model Rule 1.5(e), depending on how the firm handles the origination of business and the referral of matters among offices."
  • "Another interesting question -- not directly addressed in the column [link] -- relates to Rule 5.4.  For example, imagine that a verein-style firm has offices in New York and London, and the London office has nonlawyer partners.  The New York office may be asked to make certain cost contributions to a common fund for, say, marketing that benefits all offices.  Depending on how the common fund is administered (e.g., Is it just for marketing?  Or is "cost" sharing used in such a way that it rewards particular offices or lawyers for their origination of business?), such contributions could raise problems under Rule 5.4."

"Large Law Firms, Regulation and Accountability"
  • "There has long been a debate over whether lawyers should be more accountable. Much of the discussion has focused on the validity of the principle of non-accountability, particularly in the transactional setting. This important question focuses on what we want to hold lawyers accountable for."
  • "However other important questions require attention, namely, why we might wish to hold lawyers to account, that is, what purpose does accountability serve, and how we might wish to make lawyers accountable."
  • "This paper addresses these questions, focusing on how they play out in the context of large law firms in the UK and their lawyers. It will argue that one reason to make such lawyers accountable is to deter unethical but strictly legal behaviour and to address the problem of creative compliance."
  • "This is a pressing concern since one cause of the global financial crisis was the lack of integrity displayed by those participating in the markets, and transactional lawyers were a part of this."
  • "The paper will consider whether regulatory reforms in the UK will be effective in promoting desirable forms of accountability in large law firms, given the Legal Services Board’s view that large law firms and their lawyers should be subject to light touch and market regulation. Although focusing on UK regulation the paper’s conclusions on accountability and accountability mechanisms are of general application."

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Webinar Recording: Client Information Security Audits

For those who missed the live presentation and panel discussion, we have a recording of our recent webinar on preparing for and responding to Law Firm Client Information Security Audits.

This session presented key client priorities and strategies for effective response. We were pleased to welcome a panel of speakers from Liberty Mutual, Security GRC2, Bradley Arant and Intapp.

Topics covered:
  • Analysis of how changing regulation are impacting client expectations
  • Overview of the top client information security priorities
  • Exploration of client audit questionnaires, reviews and processes
  • Discussion of common mistakes made by firms
  • Review of best practices and reference security frameworks
  • Review of technologies available to address compliance gaps, and to enhance firm response to RFPs from potential clients and audits from existing ones

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Disqualification Avoided: Judge Rules in Class Action Conflicts Allegation

We noted this story earlier this year: "Latham & Watkins faces conflict charge in antitrust class action." Now comes an update: "Latham to Continue in Antitrust Case" --
  • "Latham represents Union Pacific Railroad Co., one of four U.S. freight rail companies accused of conspiring to raise customer rates through fuel surcharges. After Latham entered the multidistrict litigation last fall, several now-ex-clients who were unnamed class members—petroleum byproducts distributor Oxbow Carbon LLC and its subsidiaries—moved to disqualify the firm, arguing it suffered a conflict of interest."
  • "U.S. District Senior Judge Paul Friedman found that Latham's participation didn't create conflicts requiring the firm to step aside. As unnamed members of the potential class, the Oxbow companies weren't considered "parties" for the purposes of conflicts checks..."
  • "Friedman said there could be circumstances under which the relationship between an unnamed class member and a law firm was "so substantial that it raises questions about the firm’s ability to zealously represent the defendant, or where there is a risk that the class member’s confidential information could be used by the firm in preparing the defendant’s legal strategy," he said. 'But such circumstances are not present here.'"

Monday, October 7, 2013

Legal Ethics & IT: Lawyer Email Management

Jeff Brandt, editor of the Pinhawk Law Technology Digest writes:
  • "Has your risk partner come to your recently telling you of the latest in ethic opinions that could impact your IT work flows or procedures? Have you sought out your risk partner recently to ask if there have been any ethics rulings that might influence your IT operations? Let's take for example your departing attorney routines. Upon their departure, do you delete their user account and let emails bounce back to clients as undelivered? If you operate in Philadelphia, you may want to review that process. If you're not sure, you may want to check in with the Bars that govern where you operate."
Read more: "Ethics: How To Handle A Departing Lawyer’s Email Account" --
  • "On the contrary, the Committee finds that it would problematic, and in violation of the law firm’s duties, to acquiesce to B’s request and just automate a bounceback reply, without actually reviewing the emails."
  • "It is made clear that any email “that is clearly meant for the departing attorney” must be forwarded to the departing attorney, and that the sender of the email must be informed of the departing attorney’s updated contact information."