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Chicago Partners Again Honoured as Notable Minorities in Law

For the second consecutive year, Crain’s Chicago Business has named partners Zulf Bokhari, Roderick Branch, and Robert Fernandez to its Notable Minorities in Accounting, Consulting, and Law 2020 list. The honourees are recognised for having “overcome challenges and bias to rise to the top of their professions” through both their practice work and efforts to advance diversity and inclusion.

Bokhari, a member of Latham’s Banking Practice, represents leading commercial and investment banks in the syndicated loan markets, often advising on cross-border financings for working capital, acquisitions, and other purposes. A profile published by Crain’s highlighted his recent representation of a major US bank on multiple transactions, including as lead agent/arranger and lender in US$2 billion revolving credit facilities for a global health care company and related financings for its European operations. Crain’s also noted his role on the advisory board of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame.

Branch, a member of Latham’s Capital Markets and Latin America Practices, advises on capital markets transactions, with a focus on securities offerings by non-U.S. issuers. His published profile featured Branch’s recent representations of IEnova, Mexico’s largest private-sector energy company, in an US$800 million bond offering, Aon in a US$1 billion senior note financing, Hyatt Hotels in bond financings of US$1.65 billion, and Cars.com in its debut US$400 million high-yield financing. Branch is the immediate past Chicago office leader of Latham’s Hispanic/Latin American Lawyers Group, and he leads the firm’s International Visiting Associate program, through which law firm associates join Latham full time for a year. In 2020, Branch was also named to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra board of trustees.

Fernandez, a member of Latham’s Real Estate Practice, specialises in financings, acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures, commercial leasing, and real estate development. His profile in Crain’s noted his recent advise to institutional investors on joint ventures in connection with multifamily, student housing, industrial, and large mixed use developments. For example, he advised a hedge fund in connection with a large office tower lease in Chicago, and a real estate investment and hospitality management company on a joint venture to acquire a Las Vegas hotel and casino. Fernandez is a member of Latham’s Global Diversity Leadership committee and is Chicago office leader of the firm’s Hispanic/Latin American Lawyers Group. He also serves on the Civic Federation board in Chicago.

In addition to the trio being selected among the 2019 Notable Minorities in Accounting, Consulting, and Law honourees, Bokhari and Branch were also previously included in Crain’s predecessor lists of the Most Influential Minority Lawyers in Chicago in 2017 and 2018.

Cathy Birkeland Honoured in Inaugural Women in Law Report

Cathy Birkeland, the Office Managing Partner of Latham & Watkins in Chicago, has been featured in the inaugural Women in Law report by the Chicago Law Bulletin, which profiled “50 exceptional women leaders in the law… who have achieved success while mentoring and promoting other women and have been shining examples of leadership.” 

Her published profile highlighted both Birkeland’s leadership roles in Latham’s Chicago office and her market-leading practice as a member of the firm’s Capital Markets Practice. It also cited her dedication to mentoring young lawyers and deep commitment to diversity, as well as her active involvement in the Chicago community — including her current leadership of Latham’s Chicago Taskforce for the Commitment to Racial Justice and Economy, which is dedicated to fighting racial injustice and promoting equality through pro bono efforts, programming, and financial support for Chicago-based organisations.

Latham is dedicated to working with clients to help them achieve their business goals and overcome legal challenges anywhere in the world. From a global platform spanning 14 countries, Latham lawyers help clients succeed.

Duane Morris receive Women’s Impact Network for Success awards

The Duane Morris Women’s Impact Network for Success (WINS) has honoured three attorneys for their efforts to advance women in the legal profession. Manita Rawat, managing partner of the firm’s Silicon Valley office, and Chicago partner Lisa T. Scruggs received the Cheryl Bryson Leadership Award. Philadelphia partner Linda B. Hollinshead received the Margery Reed Professional Excellence Award. Rawat, Scruggs and Hollinshead received the awards at Duane Morris’ virtual annual firmwide meeting.

The Cheryl Bryson Leadership Award recognises significant contributions, including professional development, leadership and mentoring, made by a lawyer to women in the legal profession. The award is named in honour of the late Cheryl Blackwell Bryson, a Duane Morris partner in Chicago who died in January 2012 after a long battle with cancer. Bryson was a leader in many significant civic and community causes, and she was repeatedly honoured throughout her career as a major pioneer, both as a female lawyer and as a lawyer of colour.

Likewise, Margery Reed spent her entire professional career as an attorney at Duane Morris, including 24 years as a partner of the firm. As demonstrated by her numerous awards, including her admission as a fellow in the prestigious American College of Bankruptcy, Reed was repeatedly recognised as one of the best commercial bankruptcy lawyers in the country. A consummate partner, Reed was incomparably selfless in giving of her time and talents to assist her colleagues and mentor junior lawyers. She was a true professional in every sense, and her unwavering commitment to her clients and colleagues, the firm and the profession of law is the reason this award for professional excellence is given in her name.

Despite her extremely busy schedule, Manita Rawat was chosen for going out of her way to work with young female lawyers and serve as a mentor to them in terms of “work product, marketing and what it means to be a good firm citizen.” She is committed to having open and honest discussions with young attorneys related to practice and personal issues.

Rawat is the managing partner of the firm’s Silicon Valley office and a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property Practice Group. She counsels clients on a variety of issues related to intellectual property, working primarily with software, mechanical and aerospace technologies. Rawat also has significant experience with patent office post grant proceedings (including inter-parts review and re-examination). She also has substantial experience in supporting intellectual property issues related to corporate deals, such as mergers and acquisitions and investment funding. Rawat also assists clients in patent licensing and transactional matters, including structuring, negotiating and drafting agreements. She has significant experience with providing technical support on patent litigation matters at various stages of a case as well. In 2020, Rawat was honoured with a Women of Influence Award from Silicon Valley Business Journal. She is a member of the firm’s governing Partners Board and serves on the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Lisa T. Scruggs was chosen for her dedication to mentoring young female attorneys. “In a profession that can often be dominated by competitiveness and egos, she goes out of her way to provide kind leadership.”

A core member of the Education Industry group at Duane Morris, Scruggs provides litigation and counselling services for education and school reform organisations, including individual charter and private schools, early childhood centres, charter school networks, charter and education management organisations, school districts and other education non-profit and for-profit organisations and service providers. She has handled a wide range of litigation, regulatory and policy matters for clients relating to new school development, teacher evaluation, credentialing and certification reforms, public/private education ventures, virtual education/remote learning, school finance and parent and student civil rights. Scruggs has been recognised by Crain’s Chicago Business on its listing of Notable Minorities in Law (2019) and as an Illinois Super Lawyer (Business Litigation and Education Law) for eight years running. She was awarded the firm’s Pro Bono Leadership Award for her work handling a legal challenge to the school funding system in Illinois and is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow, joining a cohort of leaders who are “reimagining America’s public schools.”

Although employment issues surrounding COVID-19 have left Linda B. Hollinshead incredibly busy, she is still taking the time to support her colleagues during these unexpected times. She was chosen for the “advice, resources and humour she has contributed to fellow parents these past few months while coping with the new normal.”

Hollinshead practices in the area of employment law. She provides training and counselling to employers throughout the country on a variety of subjects, including monitoring employee attendance, FMLA compliance, medical and religious accommodations, leaves of absence policies, harassment and discrimination prevention, responding to harassment and discrimination claims, FLSA and wage and hour compliance, including employee misclassification, diversity and inclusion, termination of employees, hiring practices, performance appraisals and performance management. Hollinshead also advises public accommodations as well as recipients of federal financial assistance on program accessibility and other compliance obligations. She advises clients in numerous industries, including colleges and universities, manufacturing and retail companies, hospitals and other healthcare organisations, technology companies, financial services organisations, energy companies and not-for-profit entities. Hollinshead is also a member of the firm’s Cannabis Industry Group. She also assists employers by drafting employees policies and handbooks, confidentiality and restrictive covenant agreements, employment agreements, termination and severance agreements as well as independent contractor agreements. Hollinshead is a member of the firm’s COVID-19 Strategy Team.

Eversheds Sutherland tax practice expands SALT team

Eversheds Sutherland is pleased to announce the addition of Breen M. Schiller and Nikki E. Dobay to the firm’s Tax Practice Group as State and Local Tax (SALT) partners. Ms. Schiller will join the firm’s Chicago office and Ms. Dobay will join the firm’s Sacramento office in the next few weeks.

Ms. Schiller is joining the firm from Horwood Marcus & Berk in Chicago, where she had been the Chair of the SALT practice group. In addition to Ms. Schiller’s Illinois tax experience, she has consulted with clients on state and local tax issues across the country, including for several of Eversheds Sutherland’s existing clients. She regularly consults and represents some of the largest taxpayers in the US.

Ms. Dobay is joining from the Council On State Taxation (COST), where she had been senior tax counsel. Ms. Dobay joins former COST lawyers Jeff Friedman and Todd Lard, both of whom represented COST’s members on state tax matters before joining Eversheds Sutherland. She has extensive Oregon tax experience, including with the state’s newly imposed Commercial Activity Tax. Ms. Dobay also has represented clients on state tax policy matters across the US. Her legislative and regulatory experience will add to the firm’s considerable state tax policy practice.

“I am excited to welcome Breen and Nikki to the firm and our Tax Practice,” said Mark D. Wasserman, Co-CEO of Eversheds Sutherland. “Their outstanding reputations and experience will further elevate our SALT services and expand our capabilities in important geographic regions for our clients. We plan to continue to grow our tax practice and the firm overall through internal promotions and additional strategic lateral hiring.”

“We are fortunate to attract Breen and Nikki to our Tax Practice,” said Jeffrey A. Friedman, Partner and Chair of the firm’s Tax Practice Group. “Adding Breen and Nikki also reflects the firm’s focus on growing our Midwest and West Coast tax presence. Their skill sets and unique backgrounds are a natural fit for our group.”

Eversheds Sutherland’s Tax Practice is comprised of more than 100 attorneys representing many of the world’s largest corporations—including more than 35 of the Fortune 100—in every industry sector and in virtually every area of tax law, on the federal, international, state and local levels. By virtue of the size of its tax practice and its varied client base, Eversheds Sutherland is active in every area of taxation—from planning the most complex corporate tax transactions to representing taxpayers in administrative and judicial tax controversies.

Four DLA Piper lawyers join WILEF leadership

DLA Piper is pleased to announce that four of its lawyers have joined the leadership of the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (WILEF). Ellen Scordino, a member of WILEF’s Global Advisory Board, will now also become a WILEF Boston co-chair, and Mariah DiGrino, Colleen Carey Gulliver and Holly Lake will join WILEF’s Global Advisory Board.

Scordino, a Boston-based partner in DLA Piper’s Intellectual Property and Technology practice, focuses on patent litigation, commercial matters and client counselling in the pharmaceuticals, biologics, diagnostics, biofuels and medical device industries.

DiGrino, a Real Estate partner based in Chicago, concentrates her practice in the areas of land use and zoning, public-private financing, public incentives, historic preservation, and community and economic development, as well as general real estate.

Gulliver is a New York-based partner in DLA Piper’s Litigation and Regulatory practice. Her practice includes the defence of class actions in various substantive areas, such as consumer, privacy and securities litigation, for many different industries, including consumer goods and retail, transportation and technology, as well as corporate litigation and counselling, business litigation and securities enforcement matters.

Lake is a Los Angeles-based partner in DLA Piper’s Employment practice. She is an employment litigator and advisor. She has a breadth of experience defending clients across industries, not only in single/multiple plaintiff cases, but also defending employers in wage-and-hour class, collective and private attorney general representative actions under California laws and the Fair Labour Standards Act (FLSA), Title VII and the Fair Employment and Housing Act. She also advises clients on all matters related to employment, including OFCCP compliance and affirmative action program development.

WILEF is the premier organisation for women in law exclusively dedicated to women from the largest law firms and corporate law departments in the United States.

Duane Morris launch Meals for Healthcare Heroes program

Duane Morris’ Meals for Healthcare Heroes program provided meals for more than 20,000 medical professionals in 16 cities. Duane Morris’ COVID-19 Strategy Team established the initiative, funded by donations from Duane Morris attorneys and staff, to honour healthcare workers and support local restaurants.

The medical facilities and restaurants included:

  • Atlanta: Piedmont Hospital, Kale Me Crazy
  • Austin: St. David’s Medical Center, Rudy’s
  • Baltimore: University of Maryland Medical Center, Miss Shirley’s
  • Boca Raton: Boca Raton Regional Hospital, Shake Shack
  • Boston: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Saltie Girl
  • Chicago: Saint Anthony Hospital, Wishbone Chicago
  • Houston: Ben Taub Hospital, Los Tios
  • Los Angeles: Memorial Hospital of Gardena, Panda Express
  • Miami: Doctors Hospital – Baptist Health South Florida, Chick-fil-A
  • Newark: Saint Michael’s Medical Center, SuzyQue’s BBQ & Bar
  • New York: Mount Sinai West, Shake Shack
  • Philadelphia: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Murray’s Deli
  • Pittsburgh: UPMC Shadyside, Market Street Grocery
  • San Diego: Stepping Stone of San Diego, Sisters Pizza
  • San Francisco: Laguna Honda Hospital, West of Pecos
  • Wilmington: ChristianaCare, Olympic Subs and Steaks

About the Duane Morris COVID-19 Strategy Team

The Duane Morris COVID-19 Strategy Team advises clients on all aspects of the legal issues and implications of the COVID-19 pandemic including contractual, employment, insurance and healthcare issues. Duane Morris attorneys are fielding inquiries and providing advice in a wide range of areas, including human resources, travel and transportation, immigration and border entry, hospital and healthcare operations, medical and pharmaceutical supply, FDA, food handling and preparation, OSHA, ADA compliance, data privacy, HIPAA, environmental and EPA, international transactions, shipping, supply chain and logistics, financial reporting, insurance liability, real estate issues, including landlord and tenant matters, and all types of contracts and quasi-contracts. Duane Morris has established a blog dedicated to COVID-19 issues and is distributing Alerts and sharing information via webinars and media interviews.