Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Laterals, Conflicts, Small Screens & Disqualification



Several stories and updates to start the week off:

"Time for a Change? Lessons for Avoiding Lateral Mistakes" --
  • "As the number of moves continues to climb–reaching a post-financial crisis high of nearly 2,900 moves last year—the regrets seem to be piling up faster too. Recruiters and consultants say lawyers change their minds in about 1 in 20 lateral moves. That doesn’t include partners who arrive at a new firm only to second-guess their decision, and either suffer the consequences or plan yet another move."
  • "In most cases, such cases stem from either emotional unpreparedness, failures of due diligence, or both, according to consultants, recruiters and attorneys.  Sometimes a client conflict went undetected. Sometimes the original firm comes back with a persuasive counteroffer."
  • "A 2014 survey by Major Lindsey showed that surprisingly few lateral partner candidates look closely before they leap to another firm: Only 36.6 percent of lateral partner candidates reviewed their new firm’s financial statements, and just 40 percent met with the new firm’s chief financial officer. Financial due diligence 'remains shockingly inadequate,' the report concluded, making it more likely that potential conflicts go undiscovered until too late."

"Former Reed Smith Partner's Hire DQs New Firm From IP Suit" --
  • "In a decision highlighting a risk of lateral hiring, a federal judge has disqualified an entire law firm in copyright litigation after finding an ethical wall separating a former Reed Smith partner from the rest of his new firm was not sufficient to guard against confidence sharing. Southern District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in mid-July disqualified 13-attorney intellectual property boutique Powley & Gibson, just months after Keith Sharkin joined the firm from Reed Smith."
  • "In May 2016, Cowen moved to disqualify Powley & Gibson as plaintiffs counsel on the ground that Powley partner Sharkin had previously represented Cowen on a substantially related matter while at a different firm."
  • "In concluding that Powley's ethical wall was insufficient, Buchwald said Powley is a 'very small firm consisting of four partners and about 10 other attorneys in a single office, which by its nature imperils an ethical screen.'"
  • "The judge further found the ethical wall was inadequate because Sharkin did not inform Cowen before he joined Powley that he was doing so, despite the fact that he and Powley knew of both representations. Powley waited three weeks after Sharkin joined to inform Cowen."

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