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Emerging Lawyers List: We introduce Catherine “Cat” McCulle

Catherine “Cat” McCulle started at Lindy Korn PLLC as a legal assistant. She is now an associate there and a new member of the Erie County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Committee Executive Council. This fall she will become a board member of the Evans Senior Center.

McCulle grew up in Angola, resides in Derby and is a labour and employment attorney specialising in employment discrimination, wage and hour matters and class-action lawsuits.

To help with time-management, she uses Excel spreadsheets with color-coded to-do lists.

When not in the office, she enjoys cooking, fishing, playing ice hockey and golf, going to the beach and spending time with her dog.

What bit of advice do you wish you had known before entering the workforce? Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make friends. You need to find light where you can.

Do you prefer working from home, in the office or somewhere else? It depends on the task but I love having the flexibility to do work from home or in the office. Overall, I prefer being home so I can work alongside my beloved dog.

Where do you see yourself in your career in 10 years? Honestly, I have no idea. I just want to be doing something I love and (hopefully) doing so successfully and I will be content.

What is your ideal type of workplace? Diverse, with interesting people. Working with people who have different opinions or outlooks on life and on legal matters is incredibly beneficial for growth and successful collaboration.

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Attorney: Montville council, not mayor, should hire labour lawyers

After a monthlong dispute between Town Council members and Mayor Ron McDaniel, an outside law firm recently found that the council has the authority to pick an attorney for all town matters, including labour issues.

For years, the issues were handled by lawyers selected by the mayor’s office.

A majority of councillors last month objected to any continued use of Suisman Shapiro, the former town attorney, beyond some ongoing personnel matters for which the firm had already provided legal assistance. The councillors argued that according to the charter, the Town Council-selected Halloran Sage law firm should handle all town matters moving forward, including labour and personnel issues.

McDaniel and councillors Joe Jaskiewicz and Billy Caron argued the charter authorizes the mayor to pick a legal team for labour matters.

In a letter sent to Town Council Chairman Tom McNally and McDaniel last week, which Advisory Excellence obtained Friday after filing a Freedom of Information Act request, Jerome O’Malley of Tobin, Carberry, O’Malley, Riley and Selinger provided an outside opinion on the divergent charter interpretations.

O’Malley argued that while the charter allows the mayor to hire a professional labour negotiator for collective bargaining agreements, “The broad and plain authority conferred upon the Town Council (by the charter) to appoint a town attorney for ‘all matters affecting the town’ exceeds the limited authority of the mayor.”

McDaniel on Friday said while he maintains “that 99 percent of the labour issues that require legal assistance stem directly from collective bargaining agreements,” he would abide by the third opinion provided by O’Malley.

The mayor noted he is not bound to use Halloran Sage as a labour negotiator.

“I will make that decision when the time comes, but I will use the town attorney for other labour issues,” he said.

O’Malley said that “a professional labour negotiator need not be an attorney,” and added that the council’s final call on a town attorney superseded the past practices of the mayor’s office.

“It sounds like this firm has agreed with what the five of us have been saying since day one,” McNally said Friday, referencing the Republican majority on the council.

Wills Pike, deputy Town Council chairman, said he thought the third opinion was the right one.

“The council always trumps the mayor in terms of the charter,” Pike said. “I think the charter’s pretty clear.”

The manner in which the dispute was resolved, however, could arise again between councillors.

McDaniel noted that McNally chose Tobin, Carberry, O’Malley, Riley and Selinger without consulting him, and Jaskiewicz and Caron argued the Town Council should have voted on the choice of outside legal counsel for the third opinion.

“This item was discussed and tabled in August,” Jaskiewicz said, arguing it didn’t matter whether McNally had discussed getting a third opinion with the mayor. “The legislative body votes on this.”

McNally countered that “additional use of attorney” is within the budget “and does not require a special vote.”

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Napthens selected to help farmers with legal advice

Napthens solicitors has been reappointed by the National Farmers’ Union as one of just two panel firms for the North West, meaning it will continue to work with members across Cumbria.

The news comes after a six-month review by the NFU of its panel firms, looking at factors including services, fee structures, commitment to NFU members and feedback.

This year is a landmark one for the NFU panel, which was established in its current format 10 years ago, with Napthens as one of its founding firms.

Napthens, which has an office in Kendal, will remain a panel firm for a further three years.

Andrew Holden, head of the rural team at Napthens, said: “As one of the original panel firms we are delighted to continue our relationship with the NFU and its members by being reappointed to the legal panel.

“We understand the challenges faced by the sector when planning, sometimes decades in advance, for succession and look forward to working with NFU members in the region for a further three years.”

NFU North West regional director David Hall said: “Our members are facing an ever-increasing regulatory burden so it’s essential we have the right firms in place on our legal panel, with strong agricultural and rural teams, to provide the support they need.

“Napthens has strength and depth of expertise in both farming and non-agricultural issues.”

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First female New York attorney general appointed by state Legislature

Barbara Underwood officially became the first woman to serve as attorney general in New York after she was appointed to the role in a joint legislative session Tuesday.

Underwood took over as the acting attorney general for New York after Eric Schneiderman resigned earlier this month amid allegations of assault by multiple women.

She will serve in this position until the end of the year. An election for the next attorney general will be held in November. Underwood has previously said she does not anticipate running for a four-year term in November.

On Tuesday, Underwood released a statement thanking the Legislature for the “privilege” of holding the position of attorney general.

“I want to thank the legislature for entrusting me with the privilege of serving as New York’s 66th Attorney General,” she said. “I’ve served in many roles in government throughout my career. But I believe this job — at this moment in history — is the most important job I have ever had.”

New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo hailed the appointment, calling Underwood a “brilliant legal mind” in a statement.

“She is a brilliant legal mind and an extraordinarily qualified attorney who has argued 20 cases before the Supreme Court, and she will provide strong leadership and important continuity in the office of attorney general during these challenging times,” Cuomo said.

Kathy Hochul, the New York state lieutenant governor, highlighted the historic nature of the appointment on Tuesday.

“Congratulations to Barbara Underwood, the first woman to hold the position of @NewYorkStateAG. Another #glassceiling shattered,” Hochul tweeted.

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Q1 rankings see resurgence of UK firms, as Freshfields rises up tables

UK law firms have returned to dominance in the Q1 M&A tables after playing second fiddle to the US elite last year, with Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer rising up the rankings following a busy quarter for the firm.

Figures from Mergermarket show Freshfields topped the European deal value ranking for the first quarter of the year, after acting on 37 deals worth a total of $121bn (£86bn).

While last year the Q1 European M&A rankings were dominated by US firms, this year the top five spots were taken by four magic circle firms and Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF).

Freshfields’ strong showing also saw the firm rise to second in the global M&A rankings, up from ninth last year, after acting on 45 global deals worth a total of $141bn (£100bn).

Skadden topped the global and US deal value tables for Q1, after advising on 47 global deals worth a total of $194bn (£137bn) and 39 US deals worth $170bn (£121bn).

Slaughter and May came top for UK M&A by value, having acted on 12 deals worth a total of $37bn (£26bn), with Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF) second and Clifford Chance (CC) third.

Meanwhile, DLA Piper took the top spot for European deal volumes, acting on 50 deals worth a total of $52bn (£37bn). Kirkland & Ellis took first place for global deal count, acting on 112 deals worth $67bn (£47.5bn) during the quarter, with CMS top for UK volumes with roles on 21 deals.

Total global deal value increased by 18% on Q1 last year to $891bn (£632bn), although global deal volume dropped 19% to 3,774, the lowest quarterly figure since Q3 2013.

Deal count in Europe also fell by 22% year on year to 1,409, the least active quarter since Q1 2013. Despite the fall in deal numbers, total deal value across the continent rose to $256bn (£182bn), a 22% increase on last year’s Q1 total of $211bn (£148bn).

The same trend was seen in the UK, with a fall in the total number of deals coming against an increase in deal value. UK deal numbers for Q1 fell 31% year on year from 386 to 266, alongside a 41% increase in total deal value across the same period to $59bn (£42bn), up from $42bn (£20bn).

HSF M&A partner Caroline Rae said: “Several of the issues we faced in Q1 2017, including Brexit, remain unresolved, but many UK corporates now have the confidence to plough on and execute their M&A strategies despite the ongoing uncertainty.

“One of the key trends in 2018 will be technology as an important factor for M&A strategy. Technology is having an impact across sectors and we are seeing a lot of clients who are looking at how they are going to keep up with their competitors. They are looking to M&A as a way to acquire technology.”

Allen & Overy (A&O) global co-head of corporate Richard Browne added: “The market is strong across a broad base, and we are not seeing any sign of it slowing up. Quite a lot of significant deals have been announced in the quarter, including a lot of good-sized private M&A deals. There are a lot of political macro events out there that can affect the market, but the fundamental dealmaking environment is still strong.”

The rankings are notable for the resurgence of UK firms in the top 10 European advisers by value, with six making the top 10.

Freshfields, Linklaters, CC, A&O and HSF ranked first to fifth respectively, with DLA Piper in eighth. For 2017, the Q1 rankings saw just three UK firms make the top 10 European and UK advisers by value.

The largest UK deal of the quarter was GlaxoSmithKline’s $13bn (£9bn) purchase of a 36.5% stake in its consumer health joint venture with pharma giant Novartis. Freshfields advised Novartis while Slaughters represented GSK.

Slaughters also won a role on the second largest UK deal, representing FTSE 100 engineering business GKN on its bitterly contested takeover by Melrose. Its initial £7bn bid was rejected, but Melrose won support of more than half of GKN’s investors and its subsequent $12.1bn (£8.6bn) bid was accepted last week (29 March).

Meanwhile, the biggest European deal this quarter was E.ON’s €46.6bn (£33bn) deal to acquire a controlling stake in renewable energy business Innogy from German rival RWE. That deal handed key roles to Freshfields for RWE, Linklaters for E.ON and Hengler Mueller for Innogy.

Going forward, partners believe activity levels will continue to hold up, despite Brexit looming on the horizon.

Skadden M&A partner Scott Simpson says: “Everyone saw a slowdown of M&A activity during the time of the Brexit vote and thereafter, but M&A activity has returned. It doesn’t mean the uncertainty is behind us, but people are getting on with their plans and probably concluding Brexit is not going to disturb their long-term investment plan for Europe.”

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Family and consumer law ‘need greater attention under Brexit’

Family law is heading for “the wilderness of uncertainty” under current Brexit proposals, a senior member of the Faculty of Advocates has told MSPs.

A second member called for consumer protection issues to be moved up the Brexit agenda.

Janys Scott QC, chair of the Advocates’ Family Law Association, and James Mure QC, convenor of the Faculty’s International Committee, along with advocate Peter Sellar, a member of the International Committee, gave evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee.

The committee was examining Brexit in relation to family law, and to civil, commercial and consumer law.

Mrs Scott gave an example of a divorce where a wife was in Scotland and the husband was in France. Currently, the wife could start proceedings in Scotland and the French court could not intervene. However, under the EU Withdrawal Bill as currently drafted, courts in the two countries could each deal with the case, and possibly come to conflicting decisions.

“One cannot defend the EU system as perfect, it is a work in progress. But what is proposed is to set us off into the wilderness of uncertainty when we are on a course bringing us greater certainty, albeit it is not perfect,” said Mrs Scott.

Family law was “a long way down the list” of Brexit issues, she added, but it was an important issue for citizens of Scotland and the UK, and she asked the MSPs to help raise the profile of family law.

Her plea was echoed by Mr Mure in relation to consumer protection. He said concern had been expressed widely that consumer protection had not figured sufficiently in UK government papers on Brexit.

“I think there is a need for people to articulate consumer protection particularly…the answer is to bring it up the agenda. These are real issues that will affect people,” added Mr Mure.

Watch the evidence session at https://www.scottishparliament.tv/meeting/justice-committee-january-30-2018