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U.S. News names WilliamsMcCarthy LLP to Best Law Firms list

ROCKFORD — WilliamsMcCarthy LLP, a full-service Illinois-based law firm with locations in Rockford and Oregon, was recently ranked in the 2018 U.S. News — Best Lawyers Best Law Firms list.

This is the firm’s fourth consecutive year being ranked on the list.
 
WilliamsMcCarthy LLP received the metropolitan tier one ranking in the field of commercial litigation for the Chicago region. The firm’s litigation group concentrates its practice in complex litigation, at both the trial and appellate levels of the federal and state courts throughout the Midwest.
 
For information: bestlawfirms.usnews.com.

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UM Carey launches ‘diversity initiative’ with 4 law firms

BALTIMORE — In an effort to make the legal profession more diverse, the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law is partnering with four large law firms to help reach that goal right as people take their first step toward a legal career.

This fall, 11 first-year students received with financial and professional backing from DLA Piper US LLP, Gallagher Evelius & Jones LLP, Miles & Stockbridge PC and Pessin Katz Law P.A. as part of the inaugural Diversity and Inclusion Scholars Initiative.

“We are incredibly grateful to these firms for their leadership in addressing this challenge,” said Dean Donald B. Tobin. “Our profession has talked about the importance of increasing diversity for years. This new collaboration is a significant step toward achieving that goal here in Maryland. I hope every law firm in the state will join us.”

The participating law firms and the University of Maryland Baltimore Foundation (through matching funds) have collectively donated $700,000 to launch the program. The money provides scholarships for Diversity Scholars ranging from $5,000 to full tuition for all three years. UM Carey funded the remainder of the scholarships beyond the donated amount, said Heather Foss, assistant dean for development and alumni relations at UM Carey.

“Despite various efforts within the legal industry over a long period of time to diversity our ranks, most would agree that the results haven’t measured up to expectations,” said Guy E. Flynn, the partner-in-charge of DLA Piper’s downtown Baltimore office. “We, as a profession and as individual firms, therefore, have a lot more work to do if we are to achieve and maintain the levels of diversity and inclusion that we expect of ourselves.”

The initiative plans to select annually around 10 first-year students with strong academic records enrolling at UM Carey. The students must also have shown leadership skills and overcome challenges to reach their career goals, the school said.

The first class of Diversity Scholars has students who speak nine languages among them and hail from California, Texas and Maryland.

Among them students is Dominic Gilani, from Dallas. The 23-year-old learned about the diversity initiative when he applied and said it was a key factor in his decision to enroll.

“The fact that this program existed here assured me that the University of Maryland Carey Law School values a wide array of backgrounds, uniqueness, and personal characteristics,” he said.

Besides providing financial support, the participating law firms will give Diversity Scholars individual mentoring with attorneys who are part of the initiative, networking events hosted by the firms and the larger Baltimore legal community and mock interview and skills training.

“If there is a focus on inclusion and equality, not only will there be more successful legal professionals, but these professionals will also enrich the quality of services provided to clients.” said Camille A. Parker, a partner at Gallagher Evelius & Jones and one of the firm’s representatives for the program.

After graduation, Gilani, who is the son of a small business owner, wants to work in private practice and represent small business owners. His larger aspiration is become a judge and “take an objective and factual approach to the economic affairs of small businesses as a judge,” he said.

Law is among the least racially diverse professions in the nation. Eighty-eight percent of lawyers are white. Furthermore, while women make up a third of the profession, only 17 percent are equity partners, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The participating firms have taken steps to increase diversity in-house. In 2015, Miles & Stockbridge started a hiring practice modeled after the National Football League’s “Rooney Rule,” which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for each vacant coaching position. Miles & Stockbridge interviews at least one woman, minority or LGBT lawyer for each open position.

The firm has seen a dramatic increase in the diversity of its new hires. In 2016, 48 percent of the firm’s new lawyers were minorities, according to a Daily Record survey of the largest law firms in the state.

That same survey found that Towson-based Pessin Katz Law has one of the highest percentages of women partners in the state, and offers flexible work policies, mentorship and career growth opportunities.


Information from: The Daily Record of Baltimore, http://www.thedailyrecord.com

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CHE report alarmist – UCT Law Faculty

Issues of excellent, ethics and equity raised by council are ones it is deeply immersed in and almost takes for granted

UCT Law Faculty challenges alarmist  CHE report and is confident of retaining LLB accreditation

The UCT Law Faculty is surprised and concerned by the outcome of the National Review of the Bachelor of Laws (LLB) programme. As a global top 100 law school and as the top law school in South Africa, we note that our graduates are in high demand from law firms across the country, and the findings are at odds with the performance of our graduates. This long-standing reputation stands in stark contrast with this first ever accreditation process of law degrees by the CHE.

UCT further notes with concern that as this process is not yet completed, the releasing of this information needlessly places the institution in a bad light which could have been managed with greater sensitivity in these troubled times.

We note that the Faculty of Law has until May 2018 to respond to the Council on Higher Education’s findings.   The faculty is confident that we will be able to respond to the concerns raised, and retain our accreditation and continue to improve upon the excellent programmes offered within the faculty, including the LLB programme.

The faculty will be submitting its revised improvement plan within the next few weeks. We note the Council for Higher Education’s particular focus on excellence, ethics and equity,  and the critical need for transformation across the industry.  

These are all issues that the faculty has been deeply immersed in and almost takes for granted, and we suspect that our initial submission may not necessarily have captured those activities, discussions and reflections. We will certainly address the concerns raised in the report and we look forward to further engagement with them to continue improving upon our excellent LLB programme. 

Statement issued by UCT Law Faculty, 16 November 2017

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Global 100 Australian Law Firm Allens Selects iManage Work Product Management

Chooses document and email management designed for improved professional productivity, advanced security

CHICAGO, Nov. 16, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — iManage, the company dedicated to transforming how professionals work, today announced that Allens – a prestigious global law firm based in Australia, serving 55 of the world’s top 100 companies and more than 75 of Australia’s top 100 companies – has selected iManage for Work Product Management.

/EIN News/ — Allens undertook a strategic review of their technology platform that included input from their people. They were not looking for a simple upgrade; they wanted a fresh approach to engage staff and clients in a mobile world while also improving security and unlocking access to prior work product through advanced search and AI technology.

“When we started our journey of selecting a replacement for our current system, we took a fresh approach with no bias for any vendor,” said Bill Tanner, acting Chief Information Officer, Allens. “During our extensive evaluation of available enterprise-scale products, it became clear to us that iManage offered the most advanced solution for addressing our productivity, mobility and security needs.”

iManage consolidates multiple point applications for managing content, security and knowledge that simplifies the experience for end users and reduces IT complexity.

iManage Work will replace Allens’ existing document management system, bringing a powerful and user-friendly solution for document and email management to more than 1300 users. The firm also selected iManage Mobility to enable staff to access the entire electronic file from any device or location delivering a productivity gain that was not previously possible.

“iManage provides practical options for meeting the security requirements demanded by our clients and, with 25 of the top 30 global firms using iManage today, they are also the most experienced and proven in working with firms of our size,” said Rachel O’Connor, Chief Knowledge Officer, Allens. “Given the quality of the overall user experience that iManage Work 10 offers and the integration with RAVN Systems, we anticipate rapid and broad adoption of iManage throughout the firm. We are delighted to join the iManage community and look forward to a sustaining partnership with a visionary vendor who understands the challenges that large law firms face today.”

iManage partner Phoenix Business Solutions was chosen to assist Allens with the design and delivery of its iManage implementation based on the company’s depth and breadth of expertise as a global information management solutions provider for the professional services industry.

“Leading professional services firms are being challenged to deliver greater value to clients while enhancing their governance and security over critical client work product,” said Dan Carmel, Chief Marketing Officer, iManage. “After its own extensive evaluation, Allens has come to the same conclusion as over 75% of the world’s leading law firms – iManage delivers the features, performance and security to address today’s challenges.”

Follow iManage via:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/imanageinc
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iManageinc/
Blog: https://imanage.com/blog/
Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/imanage
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/imanage

About iManage
iManage transforms how professionals in legal, accounting and financial services get work done by combining the power of artificial intelligence with market leading document and email management. iManage automates routine cognitive tasks, provides powerful insights and streamlines how professionals work, while maintaining the highest level of security and governance over critical client and corporate data. Over one million professionals at over 3,000 organizations in over 65 countries – including more than 2,000 law firms and 500 corporate legal departments – rely on iManage to deliver great client work.

Press Contact Information:
Manjul Gupta
Head of Corporate Communications
iManage
Phone: 669-777-3430
press@imanage.com


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Disruptive influence: Law firm Keystone reveals £50m float plans

Disruptive law firm Keystone today announced plans for a £50m float to boost its brand and enhance growth prospects.

Founded in 2002, Keystone was one of the first so-called “platform” firms. The company sits as an umbrella, allowing smaller firms to operate out of their own offices but under Keystone’s brand.

Lawyers do not receive a fixed fee from Keystone, instead, the firm passes down between 60 and 75 per cent of fees charged to individual lawyers.

Keystone will be admitted to the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) on 27 November, with the IPO raising £15m. The Chancery Lane-headquartered firm had previously eyed £10m of funds but upped its target after original plans were oversubscribed.

The majority of the funds will be used to pay down £9m of debt, with existing shareholders in line for a £5m payout.

Chief executive James Knight said the float would “provide us with the most resilient and stable platform to support our ambitious growth plans long into the future”.

He added:

The UK legal services market is the second largest in the world and I believe the Keystone model is well placed to take advantage of this significant opportunity. I look forward to continuing with our strategy of quality-centric growth, providing a superb standard of legal service to our many clients and delivering value for our shareholders.

Read more: City Moves – who’s switching jobs?

“Ripe for disruption”

Keystone said the £8.8bn mid-market law sector was “is ripe for disruption” with dissatisfied lawyers keen to shun ongoing fee pressure. The firm works across 23 service areas and over 50 industry sectors.

Over the last three financial years, the firm has generated revenue growth of over 20 per cent per annum. Most recently revenues totalled £25.6m generating earnings of £2.1m. The board said it intends to adopt a “progressive dividend policy” that reflects the expectation of future cash flow generation.

Keystone umbrella covers 250 lawyers, with 40 support staff. It converted to an alternative business structure four years ago, supported by a £3.2m cash injection for private equity firm Root Capital.

The 2007 Legal Services Act allows external investment in law firms. Scottish lawyer Gateley was the first to break ranks and float on the stock exchange in 2015. London-based Gordon Dadds listed in August.

Read more: Gateley gets blue chip backing for first UK law firm IPO

Behind the deal – with Panmure Gordon’s Andrew Potts

Who advised?

Panmure Gordon were investment bankers, supported by law firm Field Fisher. Squires provided legal support to the company, while RSM Tenon acted as reporting accountants.

How long did the deal take?

The idea of a float was first considered around nine months ago. But the formal process, which identified the November date, did not start until late summer.

Where did negotiations take place?

Generally at Keystone’s London offices. But the Potts said the strange thing was there were lots and lots of lawyers. This was to be expected given the company in question, he added.

Was it stressful, were there any late nights?

Potts said there are always late nights in this kind of work. A big stress was earlier in the summer when Sunderland – Potts’ football team – was relegated from the Premier League. He managed to work off plenty of the stress by preparing for a 10km swimming marathon at the London Aquatics Centre.


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Half of UK consumers do not trust firms with personal data

Businesses face far more than just fines for non-compliance with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, a survey has revealed.

Half of UK consumers polled said they do not trust companies with their personal data, and many are willing to take legal action against those who do not comply with the GDPR, according to a study commissioned by security firm Thales.

Only one in five (20%) of UK consumers claimed to trust financial institutions with their information; 23% said they trusted healthcare providers, but retailers are trusted by just 6%.

Thales eSecurity’s 2017 Data Threat Report revealed that two in five retailers globally have experienced a data breach in the past year, and a third had suffered more than one.

More worryingly, 70% of UK consumers believe their information has been made available for sale online by cyber criminals.

However with the EU GDPR’s implementation just over six months away, three-quarters of UK consumers (76%) believe increased regulation will improve the privacy of their online data.

The research revealed more than a third (37%) of UK consumers had heard of the GDPR and almost two-thirds (57%) of these could explain it to some degree.

Privacy of consumer information

Aware of the GDPR, and what it means for the privacy of their information, the study report said consumers appear to be willing to take a stand against those organisations that fail to comply, with 58% of UK respondents claiming they would consider legal action.

More than three-quarters (79%) of respondents said they would consider taking their business to another company if the one they were dealing with did not comply with the regulation, while 69% suggested they might report a non-compliant organisation to the relevant industry watchdog.

More than three-quarters of UK consumers (77%) suggested a failure to comply with the GDPR would negatively impact their perception of an organisation.

Intended to improve personal data protection and increase accountability for data breaches, the GDPR presents a significant challenge for organisations that process the personal data of EU citizens, regardless of where the organisation is headquartered.

The survey reveals businesses are concerned the new data privacy regulations will have a negative impact on their operations and international relations, and that there are a number of reasons why organisations may have more to fear from the GDPR than just consumer action and fines.

Some 63% of UK-based organisations believe implementing measures to become GDPR-compliant will increase the level of complexity and bureaucracy in their business.

Almost half (49%) are concerned the GDPR will hinder their organisation’s innovation to some degree, and one in five (21%) expect GDPR to have a negative impact on relationships with their international partners.

While 22% of UK businesses believe the GDPR will lead to fewer data breaches, almost a third (32%) are concerned its implementation will actually result in an increased number of breaches.

GDPR’s effect on business operations

Despite these concerns, more than a third of UK organisations (37%) remain optimistic that the GDPR will have no effect on their business operations.

“As a result of recent and ongoing data breaches, digital privacy remains top of mind for consumers,” said Jim DeLorenzo, solutions manager for GDPR at Thales eSecurity.

“With the deadline for compliance with the GDPR fast approaching, law firms and compensation companies will begin to focus their efforts on fighting for consumer rights, and organisations could find themselves facing multiple legal challenges in addition to the hefty fines provided by the regulation.

“The GDPR is a change of legislation that well and truly puts the onus on organisations to get their houses in order, and the clock is ticking,” he said.

DeLorenzo said that to help businesses make sure they are ready for GDPR, Thales eSecurity has compiled some guidelines and resources.

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Toronto lawyer’s website ‘trivialized’ sex crimes, law society alleges

The website of a Toronto criminal-defence lawyer trivialized sex crimes and violated the legal profession’s rules on advertising, the Law Society of Upper Canada alleges.

Veteran defence lawyer Craig Penney faces disciplinary proceedings before a law society tribunal over what he called “case studies” that were posted between 2014 and 2017 on his website to appeal to prospective clients, mostly men, who were charged with sexual assault.

The law society alleges in a notice filed with the tribunal that the material Mr. Penney posted “tended to trivialize crimes of a sexual nature and minimalize the experience of members of the public who have complained of crimes of a sexual nature.”

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On web pages that now appear to be offline, Mr. Penney recounted the stories of former clients such as “Rico,” who was described as “exploring a woman’s home” when his “wardrobe malfunctioned, and his penis made a brief escape.”

According to a police report posted with this account, the accused had claimed to be a plumber looking for the source of a water leak to gain entry to the woman’s home before rubbing up against the victim and undoing his pants to expose himself.

The “Rico” case study, along with similar material on Mr. Penney’s website and those of other defence lawyers, were the subject of a 2014 academic paper by Elaine Craig, an associate professor of law at Dalhousie University in Halifax. Her research looked at the websites of criminal-defence firms in Canada that specialize in sex-assault charges.

Prof. Craig argued many of the websites she found relied on “outdated assumptions” about sexual assault and might be violating the profession’s codes of conduct. Her paper prompted some in the criminal-defence bar to change their websites.

Mr. Penney, who graduated from York University’s prestigious Osgoode Hall law school in 1992, has represented a wide variety of defendants in his career, including a security guard who shot and killed two men at an East End McDonald’s in 2015.

Mr. Penney did not respond to requests for comment this week. In 2014, asked to comment on Prof. Craig’s original article, Mr. Penney responded in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail by defending his website while acknowledging that he used “levity in my case studies.” He accused Prof. Craig of cherry-picking from his material.

“The information on my websites exists as a resource for people who have been charged with a criminal offence,” he said in his 2014 e-mail. “It should not come as a surprise that that information does not appeal to everyone.”

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The Law Society of Upper Canada’s rules ban lawyers from advertising that is “not in the best interests of the public,” is “inconsistent with a high standard of professionalism” or that brings the profession into disrepute.

In its brief notice in the case, issued in September, the law society also says Mr. Penney’s website portrays him as “aggressive,” which is considered off-limits for legal advertising. When contacted by The Globe and Mail, the law society would provide no other specific information about its allegations.

In an e-mail, law society spokeswoman Susan Tonkin said the regulatory body also set up a new “strategic priority team” in its professional regulation division to investigate and prosecute lawyers who break the rules on advertising. The law society would not say if other lawyers with similar advertising aimed at those charged with sexual assault were also facing professional discipline.

The law society’s tribunal can mete out reprimands and suspensions or strip a lawyer of his licence to practice.

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Offshore oil service firms dominate North American energy bankruptcies

HOUSTON (Reuters) – Offshore oil drilling and service companies, hurt by the energy industry’s shift to lower-cost shale and away from deepwater projects, are dominating the year’s energy bankruptcies in North America, according to law firm Haynes and Boone.

There were fewer oilfield service companies seeking protection this year than last but those that did have had larger debts. Through October, 44 oilfield services companies filed for bankruptcy in the United States and Canada owing creditors $24.8 billion, compared with 72 companies and $13.48 billion for all of 2016.

Just two offshore companies accounted for 45 percent of the total owed creditors this year, the law firm’s figures show. Deepwater offshore services firm Seadrill Ltd’s (SDRL.OL) September filing was the largest bankruptcy this year with $8 billion in debts, while Ocean Rig UDW Inc ORIG.O filed owing $3.6 billion.

On Nov. 12, another offshore driller, Pacific Drilling [PDSAX.UL], filed for bankruptcy protection with $3.2 billion owed to creditors. That filing was not included in the survey.

Oil prices have rebounded this year with the U.S. benchmark CLc1 up 22 percent in the last 52 weeks to about $55 a barrel. That gain has stirred onshore drilling and production but has not been enough to boost the more costly offshore and deepwater drilling.

“If you’re going to get $50 a barrel oil you want the cheapest way of getting that barrel and offshore isn’t it,” Ian Peck, chairman of Haynes and Boone’s restructuring practice group, said in an interview.

The law firm’s survey of energy bankruptcy filings in the United States and Canada also shows a sharp reduction this year in the number of bankruptcy filings by oil and gas producers and by energy pipeline and storage firms.

Twenty North American oil and gas producers have filed bankruptcies so far in 2017 owing creditors $5.6 billion, down from $56.8 billion owed across 70 filings for all of last year.

“The noise has died down quite a bit on the producer side,” Peck said.

Only four energy processing, transportation and storage companies have filed for bankruptcy through October, with debt totaling $2.71 billion, compared with 13 filings in all of 2016 for a tally of $11 billion. There were no bankruptcy filings by North American gathering, transportation and storage firms since April, the law firm said.

Reporting by Bryan Sims; Editing by Gary McWilliams and Steve Orlofsky

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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