Pessimistic security, embedded artificial intelligence and GDPR will reign supreme in the legal sector in 2018.
SME LAW FIRMS
Small firms can be more innovative but are less likely to pass the muster with GCs when searching for suitable law firms.
LUXURY LAW SUMMIT
Luxury and retail lawyers are meeting in New York next month to discuss the latest challenges faced by the industry globally.
The construction giant's high profile legal department, headed by GC and board member Richard Tapp, has an uncertain future ahead.
The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) could be used as a weapon against businesses by dissatisfied customers or protesters, says Collyer Bristow.
Bold innovation-and not just jumping on the latest tech hype-is a necessity rather than a choice, as smart legal providers up their game to deliver more than automation, says Wayne Ramsay, Chief Strategy Officer at Exigent.
The litigation law firm is also representing other members of the White House.
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Friday, 22 June 2012
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LAW FIRM FINANCES
'Moderate growth' for top UK law firms
The UK's top 100 law firms achieved reasonable growth in the final quarter of the 2011 financial year with a 6.3 per cent increase in fee incomes.
Big Four business advisory firm Deloitte reports that in the quarter ending 30 April 2012, the moderate growth was predominantly driven by a 5.6 per cent increase in fee earner headcount, with an increase in fees per fee earner of 1.1 per cent.
The results are largely in line with a relatively strong showing from the UK's legal sector. 'The figures for the year show a positive level of fee generation, especially when considering the current financial climate,' said Jeremy Black, partner in Deloitte's professional services group. 'Nevertheless, firms have continued to face challenges as a result of intense competition, pressure on rates, and a transfer of risk through the increased demand for fixed fees.'
Deloitte's research also found that, on average, law firms are expecting growth to continue over the next year at a similar rate. They are forecasting an increase of 6.7 per cent for first quarter and an annual fee income increase of 5.7 per cent.
Mr Black commented: 'Firms are predicting a modest rate of growth for the coming financial year. It is not surprising that the legal sector remains cautious given the broadly stagnant domestic marketplace and questions over the future of the Eurozone.'
Californian law firm latest to target Korean market
Los Angeles-based law firm O'Melveny & Myers has announced plans to open an office in Seoul, filing an application with the Korean Ministry of Justice.
Legal Week newspaper reports that the office will focus on competition and intellectual property litigation, as well as mergers and acquisitions.
The firm has already identified who will man the office after recruiting Sunyong Kang and Jinwon Park, both previously partner-level foreign legal consultants at Korean law firm Shin & Kim, specialising in cross-border investments, M&A, and international trade. Both are currently based in O'Melveny's Hong Kong office.
O'Melveny will join the queue of US law firms awaiting approval to open offices following the US-Korea free trade agreement last autumn, with Paul Hastings, Ropes & Gray, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton all in the running.
A handful of European firms, including London-based magic circle practice Clifford Chance, has already received approval since the EU-South Korea free-trade agreement took effect last July.
US LAW FIRMS
Firms shell out $87.5m to avoid Ponzi negligence claim
Miami-based law firm Greenberg Traurig and Milwaukee practice Quarles & Brady have agreed to pay out a combined $87.5 million to settle claims that they failed to stop a $900m Ponzi scheme carried out by two mortgage-industry clients.
According to the Am Law Daily, Greenberg has agreed to pay $61m to settle action brought in a Phoenix court by investors in Mortgages Ltd and securities dealer Radical Bunny. The plaintiffs filed settlement papers with US District Judge Frederick Martone on the same day the judge preliminarily approved a $26.5m settlement from Quarles & Brady.
The action was brought in May 2010, when the plaintiffs alleged that the firms violated Arizona state securities laws by aiding and abetting a Ponzi scheme run by Mortgages (Greenberg's client) and Radical Bunny (Quarles' client). It was claimed that Radical Bunny helped raise money for Mortgages by illegally operating as an unlicensed securities dealer. When Mortgages filed for bankruptcy in 2008, the Securities and Exchange Commission and Arizona regulators stepped in to conduct investigations.
Greenberg had been hired by Mortgages in 2006, and it was alleged that lead partner on the matters, Robert Kant, was aware of the illegal securities sales by Radical Bunny. It was also claimed that a Quarles partner questioned whether the relationship between the two companies had a 'Ponzi feel to it'.
A spokeswoman for Greenberg called the settlement 'a sensible step for the firm,' adding that 'we have always stood behind the work we did in this matter.' Greenberg is represented in the suit by Washington DC-based Williams & Connolly.
Quarles Phoenix managing partner Jon Pettibone said in a statement that neither federal nor Arizona securities regulators had found fault by Quarles in its representation of Radical Bunny. 'To avoid the burden, expense and uncertainty of continued litigation, Quarles & Brady agreed to settle the class action for $26.5 million,' Mr Pettibone said in the statement. Quarles was represented by Robert Gooding, who moved from defunct law firm Howrey to Philadelphia's Morgan, Lewis & Bockius early last year.
LAW FIRM NEWS
Addleshaw Goddard to cut 24 fee earners
London-based law firm Addleshaw Goddard is to lay off 24 fee earners to rebalance a 'top heavy fee earner structure', according to the UK's Legal Week newspaper.
The move comes after the firm announced that profits per equity partner for 2011-12 had risen by 37 per cent to £450,000.
According to the report, low natural attrition has seen the number of senior fee earners climb disproportionally, while overall lawyer headcount has fallen. The firm's financial results for 2011-12 show that turnover is up 5 per cent to £170m, with profits rising from £34.4m to £44.9m.
'Whilst our business is in a strong position, we are determined not to be complacent,' Addleshaw managing partner Paul Devitt told the newspaper. 'Particularly, our fee earner resources need to be a better fit for our business in order to support our long-term strength and competitiveness.'
Apple loses latest round of Samsung patent fight
Californian technology giant Apple has been ordered to pay damages to South Korean rival Samsung in the latest round of a long-running patent battle.
A Dutch court decided that Apple infringed a patent owned by Samsung that related to the way mobile devices connect to the internet, reports the BBC.
It is unclear how much Apple will pay in damages as the court did not specify an amount, saying instead that a figure will be calculated on sales of offending devices within the country.
'Samsung welcomes the court's ruling, which reaffirmed Apple's free-riding of our technological innovation,' said the company said in a statement to the BBC. 'In accordance with the ruling, we will seek adequate compensation for the damages Apple and its products have caused.'
Manoj Menon, managing director of the consultancy firm Frost & Sullivan, told the BBC: 'Both these companies need to understand that some cases will be won by Samsung and some by Apple. This will put an increased pressure on both parties to figure out an amicable business solution, rather than prolong these battles.'
In a separate case, Apple was fined £1.5 million in Australia for misleading customers over the 4G capabilities of its latest iPad.
LAW FIRM MANAGEMENT