Posts

Browne Jacobson appoints new IT Director

Law firm Browne Jacobson has announced that it has appointed Abby Ewen as its new IT Director.

Working closely with Iain Blatherwick, Managing Partner, and the Firm’s Executive Board, Abby will head up the firm’s award winning IT team.

The role will see her utilising her extensive strategic and operational expertise in developing and driving forward the firm’s technology strategy and spearheading an effective IT service, focused on delivering business efficiencies, technology driven solutions and exceptional client service for both end users and clients.

Abby will be the firm’s first female IT director, following on from Caroline Green’s recent appointment as the firm’s first female Senior Partner. Abby’s appointment increases the number of women on Browne Jacobson’s Executive to five of the eleven members.

She joins from law firm BLM where she was IT Director for more than six years. Prior to her time at BLM, Abby held various senior IT and change management positions over 10 years with law firm Simmons and Simmons.

As well as being a regular speaker at high profile industry events, Abby actively promotes the technology sector as an attractive career option to school children in her role as a STEM ambassador. She is also a Director of LITIG (Legal IT Innovators Group) and a member of the advisory panel at DELTAS – a group that promotes diversity & excellence in legal technology and security.

Speaking on her appointment Managing Partner Iain Blatherwick, said:

“We are delighted to have someone with Abby’s experience join us.

“She will play a crucial role in helping us to deliver our vision and strategy, drive business performance and create a high-performance culture and environment where talented people from diverse backgrounds are motivated and thrive.

“Abby’s appointment is a real coup for the business.

“She has an impressive track record and she will be joining a strong team that has been core to helping to meet the current and future commercial needs of the business.”

On joining Browne Jacobson, Abby Ewen commented:

“It is a really exciting time to be joining Browne Jacobson.

“I have been really impressed with the investment the firm has made in recent years and their vision for placing IT at the heart of their strategy for future growth.

“I am looking forward to using my experience to develop a best in class IT team and take advantage of the technological developments in the market to provide a truly unique experience for both its people and clients.”

If you would like to find out more information, please visit: https://www.brownejacobson.com/

Jehan Crump-Gibson

New powerhouse law firm opens in metro Detroit

Jehan Crump-Gibson and Ayanna Alcendor have joined forces to create the powerhouse law firm Great Lakes Legal Group PLLC in metro Detroit. The minority women-owned law firm was launched at the beginning of 2018, and will offer one-stop-shop service to a range of clients.

Crump-Gibson comes with a plethora of experience, as she’s been recognised three times by the Michigan Super Lawyers Magazine as a rising star. After earning dual bachelor’s degrees in political science and english from Michigan State University, Crump-Gibson then went on to earn her juris doctorate from Wayne State University Law School. Post law school, Crump-Gibson opened up her very own law firm, C&G Solutions, for a while before joining forces with Alcendor. She received the 2015 and 2016 Martindale Hubbell ® Client Distinction Award and was recognised as one of Michigan Chronicle’s ’40 under 40’. United States Senator Gary Peters appointed Crump-Gibson to the Michigan Senate Judicial Advisory Committee in 2017 and she was admitted to practice law in Michigan and before the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Alcendor also comes with an abundance of experience as well. Having received her Juris doctorate degree from Western Michigan Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 2013, Alcendor actually interned at C&G Solutions, Crump-Gibson’s law firm. She also interned at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan with Judge Mark A. Randon, the state appellate defender’s office, the Wayne County prosecutor’s office and a number of area boutique firms as well. At Ernst & Young, she served as a client servicing associate in the Detroit office. Alcendor also founded her own practice, Allied Legal Consulting, PLC., before teaming up with Crump-Gibson.

We had the opportunity to speak with these two dynamic women about the inspiration for launching their own firm in metro Detroit. We discussed the services that their new firm will specialise in and we also touched on the unique skillsets they collectively bring to the firm as a team. Check out the interview below and drop a line or two in the comments section to let us know what you think about this minority women-owned law firm.

What was the inspiration for launching a minority women-owned law firm?

You have to be the change you want to see. This is why we thought it was so important to start the firm. Minority women continue to be underrepresented in equity positions in law firms and the legal field as a whole. A minority-woman owned law firm like Great Lakes Legal Group is uniquely positioned to aid in the ongoing efforts to address this disparity. Minority women serving in such critical leadership roles are integral in diversifying the legal profession. In turn, this diversification has a direct impact on the communities we serve.

With these roles, we have a responsibility. As important as it is to command a seat at the table, you have to leave the door open to the room for those to come in behind you. We do this by continuing to feed the pipeline. Recruiting talented young women of color and providing opportunities for exposure to young women in firms’ aids in augmenting representation in the industry. We are fully committed to these efforts at Great Lakes.

About Great Lakes Legal Group PLLC

There, you will find detailed information about the owners’ backgrounds, the services we offer and the areas we serve. You can also sign up for our newsletter on the home page to stay connected with us. We are on social media as well: Instagram: @gllegalgroup and Twitter: @gllegalgroup. If you need more information, please visit our website http://www.gllegalgroup.com/

CS PHOTO

Chris Hanslik Begins Term as Chairman of SEARCH Homeless Services

Chris Hanslik became Chair of SEARCH Homeless Services on July 1, after serving on the board of directors and on various committees since 2010.

“Homelessness hurts. So many in our community live on the streets or in shelters,” said Chris. “SEARCH and our community partners have accomplished a great deal, and while we believe a Houston without homelessness is achievable, there is still work to be done.”

Each year, SEARCH Homeless Services helps thousands of individuals and families move from the streets into jobs and safe, stable homes through many services and support programs.

“SEARCH is an organization that captures my passion for helping others and giving back because we are making a difference in improving our community and individual lives,” said Hanslik. “As clients move into homes, we also support them with programs to help them become job ready and gain employment. It’s transformative.”

SEARCH services go beyond meeting basic needs to ensuring that clients obtain permanent housing, increase their income, and live a more healthful life. Once clients are placed in a stable home, SEARCH provides extensive case management and support services to help them stabilize their lives in order to remain housed.

“We really work to break the cycle of homelessness,” said Hanslik. “By investing in children and families, SEARCH provides them with a brighter future. I feel very fortunate for our family’s blessings and the opportunities we have been given. So supporting SEARCH is my way of helping to create change and opportunities for others to have a better life.”

About BoyarMiller

BoyarMiller is a mid-size Houston-based law firm that advances client business goals by bringing new possibilities into focus with confidence and clarity to achieve extraordinary outcomes. Since 1990, we have been providing practical and smart business solutions. Our firm is comprised of two practice groups—business law and litigation—and we serve multinational companies, middle-market businesses and entrepreneurs in need of collaborative and strategic representation. See https://www.boyarmiller.com/ for more information.

About SEARCH Homeless Services

SEARCH pursues a mission of providing hope, creating opportunity, and transforming lives of men, women, and children who are trying to break free from the cycle of poverty and homelessness. We bring this mission to life every day by helping our clients obtain permanent housing, increase their income, improve their health, develop their children, and ultimately achieve independence. For more information, visit https://www.searchhomeless.org/.

WLG PHOTO

Staying in the technology race, avoiding protectionist pitfalls

It is vital for law firms and in house counsel that they are at the forefront when advising on the specifics and legalities of the technology supply chain, which increasingly relies on mining raw materials for use within the manufacturing process of ‘smart’ products. However, an acute awareness of the barriers is also essential.

As such, Gowling WLG’s Protectionism 2.0 Report highlights how protectionist domestic policies from country to country can stifle the commercial overseas collaboration opportunities that technology offers.

Given the increase in protectionist policies, and the inherent link that exists between these and mining essential raw materials, it has never been more important that in house teams work closely with their advisers to anticipate market changes and implement strategies to manoeuvre through what can be difficult events and circumstances.

What is becoming evident, as set out in the report, is that there is a startling correlation between countries that pursue digitally protectionist policies (laws that prevent the overseas collaboration that is needed for technology to properly develop) as well those that are protectionist in relation to their natural resources – in particular China, Russia, India, Vietnam, Argentina and Turkey – six key global players in both areas of the economy. Given that countries like these are the very same which house the essential raw materials that need to be mined to fuel the development of technology, it is crucial to understand how to anticipate the impact of such behaviour on the technology supply chain.

General Counsel could be forgiven for focusing more on the operational and trading aspects relating to the existing uncertainty surrounding Brexit and global trade – and simply seeing digital protectionism as a side-line issue to focus on at a later date. This would be a mistake, given that these measures pose as much a threat to international trade and development as the more traditional tools of trade protectionism that seem to be most in focus at present.

Not only do the identified countries above have a strong track record in imposing trade barriers and tariffs on imports, they also have a high number of restrictive data laws and large deposits of the vital raw materials needed to make smartphones, connected devices and batteries for electric vehicles.

While this is happening in real time, many technology focused brands – focused on the manufacturing side of the industry – may not yet have anticipated how this will affect their sourcing and subsequent supply chain partners and processes. This makes it even more important that General Counsel communicate the effect of this on the output of their businesses in order to assist internal relationships or indeed, using the foresight of their selected legal advisers.

SM PHOTO

Exclusive: A lawyer’s guide to keeping it professional on social media

In today’s environment, social media allows people to instantly share their opinions with the world. However, given the many heated issues that dominate our national discourse, there can be a tendency to post (or tweet) in anger or passion, which can lead to regrets later.

This risk is especially dangerous for attorneys. While attorneys may sometimes view their presence on social media to be in a “personal” capacity, the reality is that the line between personal and business can be blurred, or may not exist at all. In particular, with respect to an attorney’s ethical obligations, it may not be a very effective defence for an attorney to claim that she was acting in her personal capacity, and not as a lawyer, when she violated an ethical rule.

Recognising the rise of these issues in the age of social media, the State Bar of California issued a Formal Opinion in 2012 that addressed the interplay between postings on a supposedly personal social media page and the ethical rules governing attorney advertising. State Bar of California Formal Op. No. 2012-186. At issue were certain posts on an attorney’s personal social media page that highlighted the successes the attorney had on other cases, such as “Another great victory in court today! My client is delighted. Who wants to be next?” The California Bar concluded that, even among posts relating to the attorney’s personal life, such posts and others constituted the solicitation of clients or otherwise “concern[ed] the availability for professional employment,” and thus were required to comply with the rules for attorney advertising set forth in the California Rules of Professional Conduct.

Another potential issue exacerbated by the rise of social media is the potential for “positional” conflicts. Such a conflict may typically exist where, for example, an attorney argues for a certain interpretation of a statute in one lawsuit because it is in the best interests of one client, but then at the same time argues for the opposite interpretation of the same statute in another lawsuit on behalf of a different client. Comment 6 to Rule 1.7 of the California Rules of Professional Conduct (as effective Nov. 1, 2018) provides that such circumstances typically do not create a conflict requiring the client’s informed written consent unless certain factors are present.

However, it is arguably less clear how positional conflicts may function in the context of positions taken on social media. Comment 4 to Rule 1.7 provides that a conflict of interest requiring informed written consent) exists “if there is a significant risk that a lawyer’s ability to consider, recommend or carry out an appropriate course of action for the client will be materially limited as a result of the lawyer’s other responsibilities, interests, or relationships, whether legal, business, financial, professional, or personal.” Interpreting similar provisions, at least one bar association has stated that attorneys sharing information on social media sites should exercise caution “when stating positions on issues, as those stated positions could be adverse to an interest of a client, thus inadvertently creating a conflict.” See District of Columbia Bar Ethics Op. 370.

Although some commentators have suggested that the D.C. Bar’s opinion goes too far to limit attorneys, social media posts can also create sticky client relations issues even if the posts do not rise to the level of a traditional conflict of interest. Below are some tips for avoiding issues when using social media.

Considering Staying Neutral

Social media is generally not a place for balanced, well-reasoned assessments of issues but is used by many to express visceral reactions to news events. While attorneys may feel the urge to immediately share their thoughts with the world, they do so at their own risk.

For example, if Congress is considering passing a law that may impact a client, an attorney may be inclined to immediately offer her or his opinion on that law without regard to whether that position is aligned with the client’s. Even if the attorney’s posting does not create an actual conflict, a client certainly may be less than pleased to see its law firm advocating for a position if that position stands to harm the client’s business, financial or legal interests.

Likewise, commenting on ongoing cases can also be risky, but attorneys who feel compelled to do so can limit their risks by avoiding taking a definite stance and instead presenting a balanced analysis. That could help avoid creating any potential positional conflict with the interests of a client of the attorney and her or his law firm.

Avoid Unprofessional Conduct

Attorneys (typically) understand that their correspondence and briefs should be consistent with the level of decorum expected of members of the bar. Too often, that level of decorum is thrown out the window on social media. However, despite the informality of social media, it should not be considered as a free zone for unprofessional conduct.

A good rule of thumb is to ask whether the comment made on social media would be appropriate if standing outside a courtroom or at a dinner party. Many times, attorneys post comments on social media that they would never say in a face-to-face conversation, much less one with a client.

In some respects, comments on social media are worse than face-to-face conversations, as they are generally broadcast to the world and preserved for posterity. Courts and bars are increasingly taking notice of these issues and applying the same bar rules to social media as they do to traditional legal correspondence.

Think First

The most obvious tip can often be the hardest in practice. Before posting on any substantive issue (e.g., legal or political issues), it is helpful to stop and think practically about the post and the possible response from their firms, clients, and potential clients. Where practical, it may be a good idea to first run the posting by a colleague or firm leadership to ensure that it does not create any unintended conflicts or client relations issues.

Too often, attorneys instead let their emotions take over and fire off a post without a second thought. While attorneys certainly can use social media effectively in establishing a presence in their community or in a certain practice area, the undisciplined use of social media can unfortunately create the wrong kind of presence very quickly.

Shari L. Klevens is a partner at Dentons US and serves on the firm’s US Board of Directors. She represents and advises lawyers and insurers on complex claims, is co-chair of Dentons’ global insurance sector team, and is co-author of “California Legal Malpractice Law” (2014).

Alanna Clair is a partner at Dentons US and focuses on professional liability defence. Shari and Alanna are co-authors of “The Lawyer’s Handbook: Ethics Compliance and Claim Avoidance.”

DLA PHOTO

DLA Piper boosts trainee salaries to £77k, as pay rises continue

DLA Piper has upped the salaries of its trainees and newly qualified (NQ) solicitors, as City law firms continue to chuck extra cash at their rookie ranks.

The global titan has confirmed that first years will now receive a salary of £45,000, up 2% from £44,000, while those in year two of their TCs will earn £50,000, again a rise of £1,000 or 2%. There’s extra cash for DLA’s NQs, too. The firm’s new associates will now receive £77,000, an extra £2,000 or 3%, putting them on the same remuneration levels as their peers at Baker McKenzie and Norton Rose Fulbright.

The firm, which offers around 70 training contracts each year, has also bumped pay across its offices outside London. First year trainees in the English regions and Scotland now earn £28,000, while those a year ahead will now receive a salary of £31,000 — an extra £1,000 across the board. Regional and Scottish NQ pay now sits at £44,000, up from a previous figure of £42,000.

News of the uplifts come just weeks after it emerged that DLA Piper had ditched a policy which ensured its London and regional trainees were paid the same while completing secondments overseas. Speaking at the time, a spokesperson for the firm said the “adjustment to the secondment policy for our UK regional offices” was part of a “new international graduate programme”.

A host of City firms have confirmed salary rises in recent weeks. A full breakdown of what they pay (and much, much more) can be found on the 2018 edition of our Firms Most List.