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."