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PLP Pulse: News from the Frontiers of the Legal Profession
March 2012
 

Globalization

Foreign Lawyers Enter India on a Fly In and Fly Out Basis
Wall Street Journal

An Indian lawyer filed a lawsuit at the Madras High Court in 2010 alleging that allowing foreign lawyers to come into India to negotiate arbitrations, conduct seminars, or oversee legal outsourcing violates domestic laws. Among the defendants were thirty law firms including White & Case, Linklaters, Freshfields, Shearman & Sterling, Norton Rose, as well as the legal outsourcing company Integreon. The Madras High Court has ruled that foreign law firms, which are barred from establishing offices in India and practicing domestic law, can advise on international legal matters while in the country on a “fly in fly out” basis, and that legal process outsourcing companies, in the ordinary course of their activities, do not violate domestic laws.

Amarchand Launches a Virtual International Arbitration Center from India
Legally India

Indian law firm Amarchand & Mangaldas is launching a separate company that will offer virtual international arbitration services from India, which will also include its own arbitration rules and state-of-the-art technology. The company comprises the Universal Virtual Arbitration Centre (UVAC) for domestic arbitrations and the First Universal Virtual International Arbitration Centre (FUVIAC) for international disputes.

UK Law Firms Benefit from M&A in Spain
The Lawyer

While some may assume the trend of UK law firms opening offices in Spain during the 1980’s and 1990’s would lead to decreased profits from Spain in recent years, the opposite has proven to be the case. Law firms profited from M&A transactional work between 2007 and 2011, according to The Lawyer. If Spain continues to increase confidence by controlling debt, 2012 may see growth in the area of M&A transactions.

Mexico Draws Global Firms
The Wall Street Journal

According to DLA Piper’s US co-chairman Terry O’Malley, “We want to be where our clients are doing business, and they are doing business in Mexico.” Mexican companies are are not only looking to invest abroad, but also actively investing in an expanding local middle class. Such expansion appears bound to increase despite corruption and violence from within the country.

Sri Lanka, a New Legal Process Outsourcing Destination
The Nation

Sri Lanka is being seen by some as a desirable new destination for legal process outsourcing (LPO). The availability of legal resources, a common law tradition, competitive rates, and low rates of attrition are cited as reasons for the country being highly attractive. Speaking at an inaugural conference in Colombo, Reshan Dewapura, chief executive officer of the Information and Communication Technology Agency, highlighted the possibility for creating a system of global legal services to improve commercial law. This will involve opportunities for professionals to learn about legal practices and processes among other international jurisdictions.

McDermott Latest to Take Advantage of South Korean Trade Agreement
Bloomberg

With plans to open a Seoul office, McDermott Will & Emery will take advantage of a November 2011 trade agreement made by South Korean lawmakers. The agreement provides that US law firms can advise South Korean firms on international trade law. Work will primarily be in transactions, intellectual property, and international trade. This assists Korean companies who require greater global legal expertise to compete on the international market. Prior to the trade agreement, international law firms found it difficult to have a presence in South Korea.

Baker & McKenzie to Open India Office
The Asian Age

Baker & McKenzie has been engaged in India-related work for approximately fifty years and has advised many Indian companies on global operations and investments. While the law firm serves the majority of top corporate organizations in India, it is eager to open an office and hopes to reach an association with a local firm once the rules are relaxed. As Baker & McKenzie’s Asia Pacific Regional Council chairman Jeremy D. Pitts observes, “Indian regulations say that if an Indian lawyer is allowed to practice in a foreign country, then a lawyer from that country can practice in India, but the Bar Council has so far maintained that it is not satisfied with the reciprocity in any country, whether it is legal reciprocity or economic reciprocity.”

Shareholder Litigation Migrates North to Canada Creating “Miniboom”
Wall Street Journal

Although securities class-action lawsuits may be decreasing in a number of US states, they are steadily increasing in Canada with US firms looking for Canadian collaborators. By the end of 2011, there were 45 active securities cases in Canada, more than double the number of active cases in 2007, and four times as many as in 2000. Although Bill 198 in Ontario makes it easier for groups of investors to sue Canadian publicly traded companies, such lawsuits are not without risk. Canada’s “loser pays” system means that law firms must be selective as to which cases they will take on to avoid paying costs.

Emirati Lawyers against Renewing Licenses of Expatriate Lawyers
Gulf News

Emirati lawyers have urged the government not to renew the licenses of expatriate lawyers in order to prevent them from litigating in the lower courts. According to the Gulf News, statistics from the Ministry of Justice reveal there are 725 registered lawyers in the United Arab Emirates: 77% are nationals and 23% are expatriates. Expatriate lawyers are allowed to work only in the primary courts, but given that there are a number of jobless Emirati lawyers who have no other source of income there is a push for the “emiratisation” of the profession.



Law Firms & Practice Management

As Partners Retire, Unfunded Pension Plans are Re-Examined
Wall Street Journal

According to the Wall Street Journal, the next clash over unfunded pension plans may take place in law firms. This type of benefit, which has been phased out or stopped completely at many corporations and in the public sector, allows retired partners with a certain number of years of experience to collect a percentage of their top compensation. As the retiree population grows and law firms find it more difficult to increase earnings, a “significant burden” falls on younger partners, according to Dan DiPietro of Citi Private Bank’s law-firm group. Although some law firms, such as Akin Gump, have cancelled unfunded pension plans in favor of alternatives such as funded pension plans, 401ks, or profit sharing programs, other law firms such as Cravath continue to offer unfunded pension plans in an effort to establish loyalty and retain top talent.

Top UK Law Firms Showing FTSE 100 Potential
Wall Street Journal Law Blog & Europa Partners Limited & Law Society Gazette

According to a new report by investment advisory firm Europa Partners, ten UK law firms—including Allen & Overy, Freshfields, and Linklaters—would make the FTSE 100 index if they were stock exchange listed, or publicly traded companies. No UK law firms have yet established the new ownership structure permitted under the Legal Services Act for non-lawyers to invest in law firms. The report finds that “the top UK firms are well placed to grow and extend their competitive advantages” and warns that US firms are aware of the developments and see “an opportunity to exploit the regulatory changes in the UK and to press for deregulation in their domestic market.”

Indian Law Firms Hiring Consulting Companies
Law.com

There is a trend among India’s top law firms in employing consulting companies such as McKinsey & Company and Boston Consulting Group to modernize their law firms’ business models. Other consulting companies are advising law firms on how to establish a modified lockstep structure and whether to phase out salaried partner rank. According to Mumbai-based Amarchand & Mangaldas’ managing partner, Cyril Shroff, “Our ambition is to be the largest and most professional law firm in India and this requires changes to our internal structures.”

Washington Law Firms’ Revenue Growth in 2011
The Washington Post

Washington’s largest law firms are reporting single digit gains in revenue and profits-per-partner for 2011. Seven of 10 of the largest firms reported an overall revenue growth between 1 and 9%. According to Bruce McLean, chairperson of Akin Gump, “for the law business, 2001 to 2007 was a very good period. There was a lot of demand for legal services…that demand situation has changed dramatically and we don’t expect it’s going to return to that level in the foreseeable future.” Despite the modest growth among many Washington firms, Arnold & Porter was the only firm to reach double-digit growth in revenue and profits per partner.

“Spear Phishing” and Law Firms
Law.com

Law firms are potential targets for cyber attacks among individuals seeking to obtain sensitive information illegally. According to digital risk consultant Stroz Friedberg, law firms need to adopt a risk-oriented approach to protecting their clients’ information. “We’re advising law firms to segregate that data, and put much more security around that data,” says Friedberg. Lawyers need to remain alert to a method known as “spear phishing,” where an email arrives from what appears to be a secure source with a link or attachment but when opened allows a hacker instant access to one’s computer or internal network. Among the strategies offered to avoid such attacks are instilling a culture of security at the firm; ensuring lawyers use complex passwords on workstations and servers; and providing anti-phishing training.

Creative Perk for New Associates Allows Smaller Firm to Compete With Big Law Firms
Wall Street Journal Law Blog

Adam Leitman Bailey, widely known for defending Park51’s right to build a Muslim community center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, has created a benefit for new associates at the firm. The firm purchases new associates suits so they can “put their best foot forward” claiming that “it’s not about looking flashy, it’s about being credible.” Bailey explains how certain styles and colors can change the way associates are perceived by other professionals.



Attorney Regulation & Ethics

Changes in Legal Landscape Push ABA Commission to Update Model Rules
Bloomberg BNA

As the legal profession becomes more globalized and lawyers keep up with advancing technology and increased cross-border practice, the ABA Commission on Ethics 20/20 has responded to an increased desire by many to revisit the Model Rules for Professional Conduct. Currently, six groups of proposals have been submitted to address and ultimately update the rules on a wide range of subjects including legal outsourcing, conflicts-checking, safeguarding client confidences, and being admitted to practice after moving to a new jurisdiction.

When Lawyers Take Law into Their Own Hands
BBC News

Lawyers clashed with journalists and police outside a courthouse in the southern city of Bangalore. The violent clash is reported to have erupted because the lawyers resented the way they were portrayed in a strike they undertook in January. Violence broke out as journalists gathered to cover a prominent case involving illegal mining activities in the state. According to reports, lawyers were seen throwing stones from the top floor of the courthouse.

Advertising as a Lawyer Specialist
Wall Street Journal Law Blog

ABA guidelines state that a lawyer must be certified by an organization that is approved by the state or accredited by the ABA. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has held that Rule 7.4 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct stating who can be called a “specialist” and whether the organization is prominently advertised is unconstitutional and does not survive a First Amendment scrutiny. The New York grievance committee questioned the specialist disclaimer used by a lawyer because the font size did not satisfy the “prominently made” criteria. Judge Jon Newman ruled that the language was unconstitutionally vague.



Corporate Counsel

In-House Externships for Law Students Offers Win-Win Solution
Corporate Counsel

To deal with the challenge of cutting costs of hiring outside law firms, some legal departments of companies have started working with students in law schools to handle specific legal projects. The result is a win-win solution; in-house counsel can have necessary work done at a fraction of the cost and law students obtain real-world experience. For example, the global health care company Baxter International has teamed up with a corporate lab at the University of Chicago Law School to allow students the opportunity to learn practical skills including how to set up a venture-type arrangement, draft simple contracts, and establish a compliance program. At least eleven companies have set up such labs, including Microsoft Corporation who was the first to conceive of the idea.



Diversity

Working Around the Law to Promote Diversity
Corporate Counsel

Public schools have been working to establish creative ways to boost their minority enrollment by examining race and ethnicity in the admissions process. As an alternative to considering race as an admissions factor, schools such as Berkeley Law School have been developing new measures for admitting a greater proportion of minority students. Such measures include increasing minority outreach initiatives, taking into account socio-economic status during admissions, providing more student support services during and after law school, and recruiting more minority faculty members.

DuPont’s Minority Counsel Survey Highlights Strengths, Weaknesses
Diversity and the Bar

DuPont recently released its annual survey of minority counsel. Successful diversity initiatives included the promotion of recruitment and retention of minority attorneys as well as ensuring that minority attorneys have equal partnership opportunities as their non-minority colleagues. Approximately 85% of respondents participated in a mentoring program, but 58% of these noted that the programs were “of no benefit” or only “somewhat useful” to them. A second weakness was the perception that leaders at the firm do not support diversity.

Making Partner in Bermuda Law Firms: Why do Women Lag Behind?
The Royal Gazette

Statistics from the Bermuda Bar Association released in early 2012 reveal that there are 441 practicing members and 49% are women. Approximately 136 of these members are partners in firms and only 39 of these individuals are women. One lawyer cited in the article recommends openly acknowledging the attrition and disparity of women and focusing on the value of mentoring.

Mandatory Diversity Session Leads to Uproar
JD Journal

A recently proposed diversity program at the Idaho College of Law has turned into a heated dispute that centers on mandatory attendance for the sessions. In an effort to promote diversity and professionalism, as suggested by the ABA accreditation committee, the college will place a memorandum in the file of any student who is not in attendance when the roll is called. Their absence will be cited as disregard for school policy. According to the JD Journal, students are upset that they are being forced to participate in extracurricular activities and that their freedom of choice is being curtailed through a mandatory attendance policy.



Public Interest Lawyering

Singapore Sees an Increase in Pro Bono Work
Straits Times Singapore

Pro bono work in Singapore is on the rise. The Straits Singapore Times reports that lawyers took on about 10% more pro bono cases in 2011 compared to 2010. In addition to lawyers, students and non-practicing volunteers also reported an increase in pro bono work. Because the Law Society provides lawyers an opportunity to report their pro bono work when renewing their certificates, they have been able to track the increased number of hours. Lawyers have volunteered at organizations such as the Legal Aid Bureau, the Supreme Court’s Legal Assistance Scheme for capital offenses, and the Association of Criminal Lawyers among others.



Innovation & New Models

Law Firms Embracing Social Media
The Am Law Daily

The legal industry is showing more interest in the benefits of social media according to a new report from ALM Intelligence. Lawyers, marketers, and administrators who were surveyed shows that 85% of law firms use social media and networking tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Nearly 90% of respondents report that integrating social media into their firms is an “important priority.” Furthermore, 40% stated that blogging and social networking helped them to secure new work.



Legal Education

Professor John Coates Profiled in The Deal
The Deal

John Coates IV, John F. Cogan Jr. Professor of Law and Economics and Research Director at the Program on the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School, was recently profiled in The Deal Magazine. Coates began his career at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, making partner in 1996, and then coming to Harvard Law School as a professor in 1997. A recent article by Professor Coates entitled “Managing disputes through contract: evidence from M&A” analyzes terms used in merger and acquisition agreements that “provide for the resolution of disagreements arising from a deal.” Another article, “Hiring teams, firms and lawyers: evidence of the evolving relationships in the corporate legal market,” co-authored with PLP colleagues Michele DeStefano Beardslee, Ashish Nanda, and David Wilkins, examines how Fortune 500 companies hire and fire outside counsel.

A Growing Number of Law School Supreme Court Clinics Capitalize on Student Interest
Associated Press (Washington Post)

Providing students an opportunity to apply what they have learned in class to the practice of law has sparked the growth of legal clinics. Since the first Supreme Court clinic was created at Stanford Law School, they have started to emerge at other law schools. Students are provided skills and guidance to research issues, draft briefs, and consult with lawyers actually presenting the case before the court. Students and instructors alike find that their writing skills and ability to argue cases improve as they conduct the necessary work required to put together a legitimate case.

Where to Go to Law School for Biglaw Jobs
Above the Law & Philadelphia Business Journal

The National Law Journal’s annual survey reveals telling facts about leading law schools in the US and the percentages of students in so-called Biglaw jobs. University of Pennsylvania Law School leads the list, followed by Northwestern, Columbia, and then Harvard. These statistics, however, do not account for the fact that a significant number of graduates from Harvard take up judicial clerkships. The NLJ survey indicates that although the economy is improving, the hiring of law school graduates has seen a downward trend.


Editor: Daniel L. Ambrosini
Managing Editor: Nicola Seaholm
Contributing Editors: Amanda Barry, Nathan Cleveland, Hakim Lakhdar, Pavan Mamidi, Mihaela Papa, Erik Ramanathan


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