Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Report from CNA Risk Management Roundtable Event in New York

"CNA Hosts Risk Management Roundtable for Law Firms" --
  • CNA hosted a roundtable panel yesterday (co-sponsored by Intapp) in New York to address the emerging risks facing law firms. The roundtable began with a discussion of significant claim trends for law firms, such as the expansion of claims by non-clients of the law firm, claims involving allegations of conflicts of interest, fraud and misrepresentation, and claims arising from the Trusts & Estates practice area.
  • In a discussion led by CNA Claims and Risk Control, a diverse group of law firm personnel, comprised of general counsels loss prevention partners, conflicts attorneys, and information technology directors, shared their professional experience with respect to effectively managing the client intake process and handling conflicts of interest at their respective law firms.
  • Participants also heard directly from the general counsel of three prominent law firms on mitigating risk in several key areas: managing the lateral hiring process, compliance with outside counsel guidelines and maintaining law firm data security.
Said Michael Barrett, CNA Director of Risk Control, Professional Services, Lawyers --
  • "Identifying and managing the risks associated with a successful lateral hire is a difficult exercise. With lateral hiring continuing to outpace entry level-hiring, the risk is now commonplace in law firms.  Having general counsel from several prominent law firms lead the discussion about successful strategies to avoid these potential risks was invaluable."
Said Kathryn Hume, -- Intapp Senior Risk Practice Specialist --
  • "We know that to truly help law firms control risk, the new business intake, conflicts management and information security software we deliver must continuously evolve to address real-world priorities. We're proud to partner with CNA and support this event as part of our ongoing investment to stay abreast of industry risk trends and foster peer dialogue on response strategies."
CNA also noted the publication of two of their white papers: Taking Stock of a Potential Fee Collection Suit and Logistics of a Lateral Move Between Law Firms.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Webinar Recording: Lateral Moves & Hacking - Addressing Information Risk

We saw tremendous interest in the recent webinar produced with ILTA (Anomalies, Hacks and Lateral Moves: Monitor & Address Information Risks). A recording of the session is now online and available for viewing.

This session featured two law firm speakers and presented an overview of how Intapp information security software enables firms to control and monitor use of sensitive information, enabling intervention early enough to prevent unwanted outcomes).
  • Client guidelines and security audits mandate that firms have visibility into who does what with their data, new regulations like HIPAA require activity monitoring on personally identifiable information, lawyers increasingly use unsanctioned cloud tools without notifying IT and, with lateral movement on the rise, firm management needs a means to identify unauthorized activity to avert potential problems.
  • In this session, we will explore how firms can leverage technology to monitor and address information risks. Hear from panelists who will present diverse perspectives, ranging from cyber insurance and regulatory trends to process and technical best practices.

On this same topic, John  Guyer, Director of Information Technology at Hinckley Allen, wrote in noting that recent best practices released by the Department of Homeland Security: "Combating Insider Threat" recommend that those managing price sensitive and insider information leverage this class of software to: "Build a baseline based on volume, velocity, frequency and amount based on hourly, weekly, and monthly normal patterns."

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Conflicts: You Can Run, But You Can't Always Hide...

Interesting story via the New Jersey Law Journal: "Firm's Exit From Lawsuit Not Enough To Cure Conflict, Appeals Court Says" --
  • "Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, a major New Jersey law firm that withdrew from representing one side in a lawsuit just before oral argument on whether it had a disqualifying conflict of interest, still appears to have one, a state appeals court ruled on Wednesday."
  • "The firm’s representation of the landlord and a tenant in the commercial lease that lay at the heart of the lawsuit “presented prima facie evidence of a concurrent conflict of interest, waivable only by informed written consent, which has never been presented,” the court said in Comando v. Nugiel."
  • "Although the firm mooted any conflict by getting out of the case, its continued relationship with two parties outside the litigation continues to be a problem. Its representation of the tenant 'impinges upon its allegiance to protect' the landlord’s interests, 'raising a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients would be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client,' the court wrote. 'This may not continue.'"
In other conflicts news, expert Bill Freivogel highlights two interesting recent conflicts cases, including a Canadian decision:
  • "Koloff v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80322 (E.D. Cal. June 10, 2014). Suit for employment benefits. Plaintiff had earlier filed another suit for the same benefits in 2011 (Case 1), but it was dismissed without prejudice on procedural grounds. Plaintiff then filed this case (Case 2). Defendant was aware of a possible conflict of Plaintiff’s law firm during Case 1 but made no motion. Moreover, Defendant waited four months before filing a motion to disqualify in this case. In this opinion the magistrate judge denied the motion because of the delay."
  • "Jajj v. 100337 Canada, 2014 ONSC 3411 (CanLII) (Super. Ct. Ont. June 5, 2014). In this opinion the court held that lawyers acting 'in association' are subject to the same rules on conflicts and disqualification as lawyers in the same law firm."

Monday, June 16, 2014

Legal Industry Consultants Ally to Improve Law Firm New Business Intake

"Project Leadership Associates and HardingLowe Announce Partnership to Provide Consulting and Implementation Services for Intapp Open" --

Project Leadership Associates (PLA), the largest business and technology consulting firm focused on the legal market, and HardingLowe, a boutique strategy and management consultancy serving top-tier law firms, have teamed up to implement Intapp Open, a true New Business Intake (NBI) application for law firms. 

The partnership combines PLA’s holistic expertise in defining NBI and conflicts strategy, processes and best practice and delivering NBI systems to dozens of law firms over the past 10 years, with HardingLowe’s specialty in law firm process and business integration, along with its deep NBI experience.  Intapp has selected the PLA-HardingLowe team to be a preferred implementation provider for Intapp Open.

Said Michael Lowe, HardingLowe President --
  • "This partnership was born from the realization that law firms need a holistic solution to NBI – one that combines changes to policies, people, processes, and technologies. We saw in each other the opportunity to offer that complete solution, as well as the scale and reach to serve all sizes of firms in all regions of the country. Together, we have the best positioning and experience in the global legal marketplace."
Said Dan Safran, PLA Executive Vice President, Legal Solutions -- 
  • "Having worked with a majority of the NBI technology leaders over the past decade, we believe that Intapp Open offers the superior NBI technology today, and we are very pleased that Intapp has selected the PLA-HardingLowe team  as implementation partners.  We are already delivering Intapp Open to top-tier, mid-sized and small firms, and have built the tools and methodologies necessary to enable these firms to gain the most benefit from their technology investment in an expedited and cost effective manner."

Said Dan Tacone, Intapp President --
  • "Many firms are using Intapp Open as part of a broader strategy to transform their new business intake and conflicts management processes. Intapp Open streamlines new matter inception, as well as client and matter evaluation – all while ensuring alignment with firm-wide business objectives."
  • "Partners such as PLA and HardingLowe offer insight into best practices that can be adapted to the needs of individual firms. We’re excited about the momentum behind Intapp Open, and welcome the collaboration of two of our preferred implementation and consulting partners in supporting the success of our customer community."

Friday, June 13, 2014

Law Firm Information Security: Guidelines, Advice & Best Practices

Managing Partner magazine presents an interesting write up on the topic of firm information security and cyber defense, including detailed advice and guidelines. See "Web of Trust" --

"Law firms are increasingly at risk of cyber security breaches by staff, vendors and hackers. Elizabeth A. Ferrell, Shari L. Klevens and Alanna Clair suggest five steps to protect your business:
  1. How to implement a cyber security programme
  2. How to adopt a robust incident response plan
  3. How to test whether your firm’s systems are secure
  4. How to protect your firm’s breach assessments
  5. How to deal with client guidelines on data security

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Conflicts in its Pocketses, Precious?

"Warner Bros Wants Bert Fields’ Law Firm Tossed From ‘Lord Of The Rings’ Case" --
  • "The $80 million legal battle between Warner Bros and the Saul Zaentz Company and the estate of The Lord Of The Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien over copyright and digital merchandising just took another turn – this time against some of the lawyers. The studio and its partner in this case this week filed a motion to have Fourth Age’s lawyers Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP disqualified from the case."
  • "'Warner and Zaentz bring this motion to disqualify Greenberg as counsel of record for the Tolkien/HC Parties in this litigation and for other relief, because the firm impermissibly gained access to privileged information in violation of Rules of Professional Conduct,' said the motion filed yesterday in federal court."
  • "The other side says this is all a smokescreen. 'There is absolutely no basis for the motion filed by WB and Zaentz yesterday,” said Greenberg attorney Bonnie Eskenazi today. ”Greenberg Glusker acted properly in all respects at all times.  The motion was filed for purely and transparently tactical and strategic reasons. We look forward to the Court vindicating our position.'"
  • "To the point of the disqualification motion, the 33-page filing says that Fourth Age’s law firm hired former United Artists in-house attorneys Alan Benjamin and William Bernstein as experts and potential witness for $10,000. The duo represented UA in negotiations concerning the matter."
  • "'Greenberg thereby placed itself in the position of representing not only the key witnesses on both—and opposite—sides of the contracts at issue, but also its adversaries’ former counsel who worked on the very contracts at issue,' it adds. 'In doing so, Greenberg invaded the attorney-client privilege now held by MGM, which controls UA, positioning UA’s former lawyers to be adverse to the interests of MGM and UA’s successors-in-interest, Warner and Zaentz.'"
Of course, the key question is whether this matter will be settled quickly, or whether it will be drawn out over several cycles comprising multiple, three hour hearings, complete with heavy use of exhibits (in the form of musical renditions and battle reenactments). On that note, an anonymous editor submitted the following commentary, dedicated to fellow enthusiasts:

Three risks for the cloud services under the sky,
Seven for the internationals joined in vereins,
Nine for the clients and their strict guidelines,
One for the dark lord on his dark throne
In the land of legal, where great change does brew
New risks to rule them, new risks to find them,
New risks to bring them all and in the model rules
bind them

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Risk Updates: Law Firm Privilege, Client Relationships

"Oregon Supreme Court holds conversations within law firm are privileged in malpractice case against the law firm" --

"Law firm stayed on McDonnell case despite being let go, newly released invoices show" --
  • "The private law firm representing current and former Virginia employees in the federal corruption case against the state’s former governor never stopped working for their clients or billing for their services — even as Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D) announced in January that he was letting the firm go, according to recently released invoices."
  • "The day after Herring announced in a news release that he was dismissing Baker & McKenzie, those at the firm spent more than an hour corresponding with clients 'regarding continued representation' — and billed the state accordingly, the invoices show. The firm continued to work throughout January, February, March and April, charging the state a little more than $23,600, the invoices show."
  • "Kelly said that Herring cut ties with Baker & McKenzie 'because the conflict the previous attorney general had did not apply to him.' The governor, though, decided that their services were necessary to spare state employees the potentially 'exorbitant' cost of hiring their own attorneys, according to Coy and the invoices."

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Law Firm Risk Survey - Last Call!

Response continues to be strong for the 2014 Law Firm Risk Survey. Over 150 firms have participated to date. (Across four geographies: US, Canada, UK and Australia.)

The survey will be open through the end of the week for participation and then will close.

As a reminder an incentive, copies of the final published report are distributed to those firms who participate.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Conflicts News and Updates

"Lateral Hire’s Brief Role in ‘Dormant’ Case Doesn’t Require New Firm’s Disqualification" --
  • "A law firm representing defendants in a copyright infringement suit need not be disqualified even though one of its lawyers never formally ended her representation of the opposing party in a 'long dormant' matter at her former firm, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled May 12."
"Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit decides case on conflicts in class action representation" --
  • "…the Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit dismissed a settlement agreement reached in a class action case citing a laundry list of what it said were conflicts of interest on the part of the plaintiff lawyers and inequities in the agreement itself, which the court called 'scandalous.'"
  • "'Class counsel sold out the class,' Judge Richard A. Posner wrote for a three-member panel of the court. The case is called Eubank v. Pella Corp. and the opinion is available here."