What’s Trending for The Holidays?

Are you entertaining this holiday season?

Let Food Network make your holiday more festive with fun holiday baking recipes from their expert chefs.   http://www.foodnetwork.com/holidays-and-parties/packages/holidays/holiday-central-baking/best-holiday-baking-recipes.html

sugar cookies

Better Homes and Gardens provides you with clever Christmas Hackshttp://www.bhg.com/christmas/planning/christmas-hacks/

Christmas Hacks

Try adding a personal touch by making homemade Christmas gifts! http://www.homemade-gifts-made-easy.com/homemade-christmas-gift-ideas.html

body scrub

Or purchase hand-made presents from Etsy! https://www.etsy.com/ 

etsy christmas gift

 

GLI/Global Legal Recruiting Network wishes to spread the holiday cheer and make your holiday season relaxing, special and fun!  We hope you find these links helpful in that endeavor!

Whether your Thanksgiving includes a beautiful family meal…

Thanksgiving

watching your favorite holiday special…

Charlie Brown

 or your favorite team in a high-stakes football game…

Turkey Football

or doing something else…

 Black Friday

The GLI team wishes you a very happy holiday,

doing whichever of these means the most to you. 

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

 

Merger

Bingham To Go Bust In Wake Of Morgan Lewis Raid

By: David Lat

226 out of the roughly 300 partners at embattled Bingham McCutchen will be joining Morgan Lewis by the end of this month. The Bingham partners will be followed to Morgan Lewis by an undetermined number of other lawyers and staff. After the dust settles, Morgan Lewis expects to be a 2,000-lawyer firm with offices in 28 cities and $2 billion in annual revenue.

So yay for Morgan Lewis, which has a history of raiding flailing firms for talent (most notably Brobeck, from which it acquired about 150 lawyers, including 50 partners). But what is the fate of Bingham? To that sad subject we now turn….

The key point to understand about what’s taking place between Bingham and Morgan Lewis is that it is not a merger. The firms had been in merger talks for months, Bingham prepared itself for a union by squaring away a messy malpractice claim, and the Bingham partnership not surprisingly voted in favor of being rescued. But in the end, Morgan Lewis opted for cherry picking over eating the whole burrito (to mix culinary metaphors). Several astute ATL readers predicted this turn of events.

Yes, MLB is picking a lot of cherries — about three-quarters of the Bingham partners — but it’s still leaving a fair amount on the tree. The passed-over Bingham partners must be feeling pretty sad, like rotten (or at least bruised) fruit. And the likely fate of Bingham won’t lift their spirits. Casey Sullivan of Reuters has this report (sub. req.):

“By the end of the month, Bingham McCutchen, a 123-year-old law firm once thriving off work like the litigation stemming from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, will be no more….

When the [Morgan Lewis] deal closes, which is expected to happen in the next couple of weeks, the Bingham partnership will be dismantled, according to two sources, putting an end to Bingham’s two-decade push to transform itself from a regional Boston firm into a global one.”

Consider this an object lesson in the dangers of ambition. If Bingham hadn’t binged by gobbling up other firms, maybe it wouldn’t find itself about to enter dissolution. (On the other hand, hindsight is 20/20; defenders of Bingham’s expansionist strategy would probably argue that the firm wouldn’t have fared well by merely standing in place.)

What will happen to the Bingham partners who don’t migrate to Morgan Lewis? They will (hopefully) find homes at other firms. For example, according to Reuters, Seyfarth Shaw is hiring four litigation partners in Boston, including William Berkowitz, former co-chair of Bingham’s antitrust and trade regulation practice.

What will Morgan Lewis be picking up besides the 226 partners? The precise contours of the deal aren’t clear, but reports suggest that Morgan Lewis will assume some of Bingham’s liabilities, including certain leases for office space. Am Law reports that Morgan Lewis also might use some of Bingham’s accounts receivable and work-in-progress to pay down Bingham liabilities — but if this is really not a merger, that would have to be handled very, very carefully.

If many of the Bingham lawyers and staff find new professional homes, at Morgan Lewis or elsewhere, who is the real loser here? Perhaps Citibank, which held some of Bingham’s reported $100 million in debt, if that debt ends up not being repaid in full over the course of Bingham’s dissolution (which could take years). But according to Reuters, many Bingham partners joining Morgan Lewis will be borrowing from Citi for their capital contributions — recall that Bingham didn’t require its partners to put in capital — and some of those contributions will be used to pay down some of Bingham’s debt with Citi. Presumably bankruptcy lawyers are quite involved in this process; if Bingham ends up being insolvent, other creditors of Bingham will surely complain if Citi gets preferential treatment, especially because of a banking relationship with Morgan Lewis as a firm or individual Bingham-turned-Morgan-Lewis partners.

Many questions remain about the fate of Bingham. Will the firm wind up in bankruptcy as the dissolution process unfolds? What will happen to Bingham’s costly back-office operation in Lexington, Kentucky? What about benefits for retired Bingham employees? As one of them recently told Above the Law:

“Above the Law has been told by Bingham benefits that if the [transaction] with Morgan Lewis goes through, Bingham retirees will no longer be able to get health insurance coverage through the firm for both future retirees and current retirees. Right now open enrollment for everyone is on hold pending the merger/non-merger. This is in spite that a letter was sent to select Bingham employees a few years ago who met certain qualifications (years of service, age at that time) stating that the recipients would be able to get health insurance coverage through the firm in their retirement.”

Lat, David. “Bingham To Go Bust In Wake Of Morgan Lewis Raid.” Above the Law. Above the Law, 17 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

How to Build Your Book of Business From the Inside

Top Legal Recruiter, Nancy Grimes agrees with Above the Law author, Kevin McKeown, that the best way to increase your business is to focus on your existing clientele.  Like Gina Rubel states: these clients already trust you with their business.  As mentioned below, it is 50% easier to sell to existing clients than to new clients.  Nancy believes your best bet is to network with other attorneys within your firm in order to locate new opportunities and provide additional services to existing clients.  If your clients trust you, and you vouch for the attorneys who would be taking over their other business needs, it will build their credibility and bring more business under your origination belt into the firm.  You should also consider networking with other attorneys within your firm to determine if their clients have needs with which you may assist. Below is Kevin McKeown’s article:

This mash-up is inspired by a lawyer I know who thinks that signing new clients solves all his problems. He’s certainly not listening to Gina Rubel:

business orignation

“As a legal marketer, I am constantly reading articles for lawyers about business development. Common titles are “Biz Dev for Lawyers,” “How to Be a Law Firm Rainmaker,” “How to Bring Business to Your Law Firm,” “Using Social Media to Grow Your Book of Business,” and so on. While everyone is pushing the acquisition of new business, how about focusing on the low-hanging fruit — the clients who already trust you with their business.”

Smart businesses don’t chase new clients at the expense of keeping and growing existing clients. And, law firms shouldn’t either. Consider:

  • 80% of future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing clients–Gartner Group
  • It’s 50% easier to sell to existing clients than to new clients–Marketing Metrics
  • Existing clients convert at 60-70% compared to new prospects at 5-20%–Marketing Metrics
  • Repeat clients spend 33% more compared to new clients–CMO.com
  • Boosting client retention by 5% can raise profits by 75%–Bain and Company

A 10% rise in customer retention yields a 30% increase in the value of the company–Bain and Company

Look to the business world for how they view the significance of an existing client relationship. Here’s a sampling of the research I complied:

From It’s Cheaper to Keep ‘Em by Karl Stark and Bill Stewart:

“Growing businesses tend to spend so much of their time and money acquiring new customers that they often overlook their best source of growth: retaining and growing their existing customer base. It’s cheaper, easier, and more effective to retain current customers than it is to acquire new ones.”

existingclientsFrom To Sell More, Focus on Existing Customers by Rick Reynolds:

“Seeking new sales without strong account management and operating teams is like pouring water into a bucket with a hole in it. Identifying and fixing the holes — the gaps in customer satisfaction — can help your company retain existing accounts and increase new sales. When attempting to generate a sustained increase in sales, the first place to start is with existing customers. Your selling investment is lower, you have an existing relationship…”

From Five Customer Retention Tips for Entrepreneurs by Alex Lawrence:

“   …[M]any entrepreneurs are so focused on gaining new clients and customers that they fail to effectively address the need to retain those they already have. This is counterproductive… …[B]eing passive about customer retention only leads to greater attrition.”

From Customer Retention Should Outweigh Customer Acquisition by Jerry Jao:

“Customer retention and customer acquisition don’t have to be two parallel lines that never meet. In fact, when done right, customer retention campaigns can actually bring in new business. How? Through word-of-mouth and referrals, of course. By implementing smart retention strategies and treating your customers well, you are increasing the likelihood of getting referrals. Referrals are priceless to just about any type of business…”

From Customer Retention: The First Pillar of Social Media by Debra Ellis:

“When people have good relationships with individuals within an organization, they are more loyal. The only way to guarantee a loyal customer base is to create unbreakable bonds. This is done one person at a time. Social media changes the playing field because it provides a venue for the one-to-one connections that create unbreakable bonds.”

comic

Here are some practical strategies from client-retention expert Ross Beard that will help you improve client retention and raise your bottom line:

  • Set client expectations: set expectations early and deliver faithfully on those expectations to build retention.
  • Be the expert: trusted advisors proactively communicates with clients about issues in their industry that will affect them.
  • Build trust through relationships: client relationships must be based on trust and shared values; blog about issues that help your clients and signal your interest in their business.
  • Implement anticipatory service: avoid negative client experiences by being proactive: stop problems from happening by checking in with your clients each quarter.
  • Make use of automation: standardize your processes and set expectations for service levels to increase client loyalty.
  • Build KPIs around client service: measure and incentivize your firm based on levels of service/performance tied to the client’s goals.
  • Build relationships online: your clients are online so build relationships with them while they are fixed to their computer screens via Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc.
  • Go above and beyond what’s expected: look for opportunities to woo your clients to build long term loyalty.
  • Listen to your clients: implement client surveys, etc.

Read Beard’s 9 Customer Retention Strategies For Companies for more insights, strategies and examples.

How are you building enduring client relationships? How do you retain your clients for the long haul? How are you managing your client accounts? How do you deal with that buffoon lawyer who chases clients away?

McKeown, Kevin. “Focus On Keeping And Growing Your Existing Clients.” Above the Law. Above the Law, 12 Nov. 2014. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.

goal-setting

Chart Goals to Create a Road Map to Your Success

Many people suffer from being rational dreamers. They want to achieve a big dream but hold themselves back by being risk averse. They don’t want to disrupt the status quo and play things safe.

To coax themselves out of their comfort zones, people learn to set goals. I consider the process of goal setting to be like arranging checkpoints along the way to a desired end. Setting and meeting small goals can serve as a thermometer check on progress, measuring advancement and indicating an overall plan’s viability.

Approach goal setting like creating a customized road map to chart your success. Think about when you take a really long road trip with your friends. Most often, you start off knowing the destination, but since road trips can be fairly long, making pit stops along the way is necessary.

Before venturing out, you might decide to stop a quarter of the way along for food, then at the halfway point for gas, at the two-thirds mark to stretch and perhaps 100 miles beyond that for more gas.

You’re meeting smaller, more immediate goals that build on your efforts to reach the final destination.

Create a personalized road map for arriving at your desired destination by setting the following types of goals: immediate, intermediate and stretch goals.

1. Set a stretch goal.

Start by developing a stretch goals, a long-term objective that will take years to accomplish. Determine your stretch goal first because this choice will influence the selection of intermediate and immediate goals.

A stretch goal should be big. Some stretch goals are more specific than others. One person’s specific goal might be “to become the CEO of Google.” Another individual’s vaguer stretch goal would be “to produce a national television show.” An extremely vague goal would be “to work in the fashion industry.”

It’s OK, though, to leave room for interpretation.

Be as specific as possible and allow yourself to adjust a goal. Once you establish a stretch goal, you can sketch out checkpoints along the way.

2. Set immediate goals.

I like to create immediate goals that are small and assign a deadline that’s very soon. I suggest setting up these goals as activities that can be accomplished in a week.

Ask yourself, What do I need to get done this week that will contribute to and move me along my desired trajectory? What small thing can I do this week that will move me an inch closer to my goal?

For writers, an immediate goal might to write six pages of a script or participate in a weekly writing class. It could also be to start reading a book about a field you’d like to enter. Be realistic. Accomplishing immediate goals should be like taking small baby steps: They contribute to your overall development and growth and set you up to complete intermediate goals.

3. Pick intermediate goals.

Intermediate goals are broader than immediate goals and can have monthly or yearly time frames for their accomplishment.

Perhaps an intermediate goal might be to apply to an apprenticeship or training program. If a desired outcome requires your relocation, more schooling or quitting a job, set a timeline for taking one of these intermediate steps.

Meeting intermediate goals can help propel you forward along your trajectory. Achieving them might push you outside your comfort zone more than completing immediate goals and that’s great. It’s through discomfort that people grow and become who they want to be.

Bounassar, Natalie. “Chart Goals to Create a Road Map to Your Success.” Entrepreneur. Entrepreneur, 8 Oct. 2014. Web. 07 Nov. 2014.

15 Phrases Successful People Do Not Say

If you want to become more successful as an entrepreneur or in your career, you can start by making a habit of talking and thinking more like the people you know or read about who are already successful.

Here are some phrases you’ll never hear a successful person say:

1. “We can’t do that.”

One thing that makes people and companies successful is the ability to make solving their customers’ problems and demands their main priority. If a need arises repeatedly, the most successful people learn how to solve it as quickly as they can.

2. “I don’t know how.”

Instead of automatically shutting down solution-finding, successful people learn what they can in order to succeed in a project or in their career. For example, you would never see a truly successful international business consultant who travels to Italy multiple times per year refusing to learn Italian.

Shrug

3. “I don’t know what that is.”

Pleading ignorance doesn’t make the problem go away. It just makes the asker find someone who is able to work with them to solve the problem. While’s it’s always good to be honest with those you interact with, finishing this phrase with “but I’ll find out” is a surefire way to become more successful.

4. “I did everything on my own.”

The best people know to surround themselves with others who are smart, savvy and as dedicated as they are. What makes this work is always giving credit where it’s due, as due credit to you will always come back in hand. Recognize those that have helped you or made an impact and you’ll continue to earn success and recognition yourself.

5. “That’s too early.”

You would never hear Benjamin Franklin or someone such as Steve Jobs say, “that is too early for me to be there.” If there is a networking meeting, project launch or interview opportunity at the very beginning of the day, the most successful people do what it takes to be there. Part of being successful is being at the right place at the right time, no matter if you’re a morning bird or night owl.

too early

6. “That’s too late.”

Along the same lines, if you’re asked to a 9 p.m. dinner by a potential business partner, and you can make it, definitely go. You may be tired the next day, but the connections you will make during a small dinner or after-hours meeting can make all the difference when it comes to your career or next project.

7. “It’s too bad we couldn’t work together.”

Truly hitting it off with someone can be a rare occurrence, but if you truly connect with someone and want to work with them, find a way to make it work. Finding people that you really enjoy communicating with don’t come along too often, so whether it’s a case study or a new business, successful people know that working with those who truly align with your personality and interests are the path to true success.

8. “Let’s catch up sometime.”

Many times, this phrase is said as filler, without any true follow up. Successful people know that if they really want to catch up with someone, they follow up to make it happen. This also builds on the idea that the most successful people have worked hard to build genuine connections and relationships within their network, without any hidden agenda. Nurturing your network means being thoughtful of others, while keeping your relationships with them on top of your mind.

9. “I’m sorry, I’m too busy.”

If an opportunity comes their way, successful people do what it takes to make it happen. Sure, this might mean longer hours occasionally, but if you want something to work, that is what it takes. After all, according to Lao-Tzu: “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.’”

10. “That was all my idea.”

Again, as mentioned in number four, the most successful people spread the wealth when it comes to doling out praise from a successful project. No idea is truly one’s own — it’s a sum of their experiences from interacting and building off of collaborative ideas with a team. Doling out praise and encouragement is a crucial part of building a successful company and culture.

11. “I never read books.”

Tom Corley of Rich Habits found that rich people read (and listen to) books at a much higher rate than poor people: “63 percent of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3 percent of poor.” Also, “63 percent of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5 percent of poor people.” Reading non-fiction (as well as fiction) can help reduce stress, enhance creativity and boost your memory.

Book

12. “I’m not good enough.”

Part of being successful is having a high sense of self-worth. Being yourself is one trait that promises success in business and your personal life. Follow your true interests. What you would do in your life if you didn’t need money?

13. “It’s OK.” (over and over)

Successful people know when to walk away and stop taking excuses from others. If there is a bottleneck and something (or someone) is preventing you from completing a project on time, build up your business, or move you forward in your goals, then it’s time to set boundaries and decide to limit your involvement.

14. “If our competitors don’t have it, then we don’t need it.”

Copying competitors is one of the many possible deaths for most companies. True innovation comes from the flip side: figuring out what competitors aren’t doing and fill that niche to answer a need in the industry.

15. “Time off is for suckers.”

True success should be seen as a well-rounded approach, one with vacations, weekends with friends and family and hours of downtime on the weekdays. While workload varies for everyone at times, taking vacation can make you better at your job.

Sometimes to get to where you want to be, the best and easiest thing to do is to simply follow the examples that others set for you.

What phrases are you going to eliminate from your day-to-day conversations and thinking?

Patel, Sujan. “You’ll Never Hear Successful People Say These 15 Phrases.” Entrepreneur. Spark Business, 27 Oct. 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.

global expansion

Two Am Law 100 Firms with California Roots Expand Abroad

Nathalie Pierrepont, The Am Law Daily

Article originally appeared on The American Lawyer

Two longtime Am Law 100 firms with home bases in the Bay Area announced additions to their global platform Monday.

Littler Mendelson’s growing Latin American presence is poised to get a boost with a new office in Peru on Nov. 1, while Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is planting its first flag in Africa with an affiliated office in Abidjan, the capital of Cote d’Ivoire, also known as the Ivory Coast.

Orrick’s new office, which will operate under the name Orrick RCI, comes despite an Ebola virus pandemic that has claimed almost 4,500 lives in the region. The Am Law Daily reported last week that Orrick was one of several Am Law 100 firms seeking to cope with the outbreak’s effect on their work in Central and West Africa.

With a client roster that includes Actis Capital, the African Development Bank, Enel Green Power, General Electric, OPIC, Millicom and the Republic of Guinea, as well as several leading Chinese investors in the region, Orrick has been planning to set up shop in Western Africa for a few years, says Pascal Agboyibor, a native of Togo and the Paris-based head of the firm’s Africa practice.

“It was a strategy decision to support the business we already have,” he adds. “[Firm chair Mitchell Zuklie] was clear in his mind, before he proposed anything to the partnership.”

Orrick also considered planting its flag in the continent in Togo and Ghana, but the San Francisco-based firm sharpened its focus on the Ivory Coast last year after the Africa Development Bank announced its decision to relocate to the country from Tunisia. “It was a signal that the situation had improved there,” says Agboyibor of the Ivory Coast, which is recovering from almost a decade of civil war.

Counsel Karamoko Fadiga, who prior to joining Orrick RCI was the director of West African regional financial regulatory agency Conseil Régional de l’Epargne Publique et des Marchés Financiers, and Sydney Domoraud-Operi, of counsel in Orrick’s energy and infrastructure group in Paris for the past five years, will helm the firm’s new office in Abidjan.

Senior associate Doux Didier C Boua, who joined Orrick from Magic Circle firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer earlier this year, will transfer to Abidjan in mid-November. Orrick RCI will largely concentrate on capital markets work, infrastructure and natural resources in the region.

Orrick RCI will work closely with members of the firm’s 50-lawyer Africa team, including recent additions Jean-Jacques Essombè, a Cameroon native who came aboard earlier this month from the former Parisian affiliate of defunct Canadian firm Heenan Blaikie, and Colin Graham, a Hogan Lovells energy and infrastructure partner who joined Orrick’s London office in September.

The American Lawyer and Am Law Daily have previously reported on Africa’s allure as one of the world’s final frontiers for high-end legal services. A recent survey conducted by Freshfields found that the number of African private equity deals are on the rise, with transactions nearly doubling in value during the first six months of this year.

Orrick itself wasn’t the only global firm ramping up its Africa operations Monday.

Leading French firm Gide Loyrette Nouel and Iberian legal giant Cuatrecasas, Gonçalves Pereira announced the combination of their operations in Morocco. The expanded team, led by Gide partners Julien David and Jean-Francois Levraud, will have 17 lawyers and legal consultants focused on M&A, banking and finance, real estate, tax and commercial and public law in one of the continent’s most stable countries.

Africa isn’t the only emerging market to have cornered the interest of global and Am Law 100global-dev firms. The Am Law Daily reported in September on Cuatrecasas rival Uria Menendez’s acquisition of a 30 percent stake in Philippi, Prietocarrizosa & Uria, the product of the first cross-border law firm merger in Latin America, as well as Dentons’ interest in evaluating merger opportunities in the region.

On Monday, San Francisco’s labor and employment legal giant Littler announced plans halfway across the globe to combine with Lima-based specialty boutique Estudio Gonzalez & Asociados (EGA), which was founded in 1991.

Littler’s Peruvian expansion comes a year after the firm announced its absorption of firms in Colombia and Costa Rica. Littler’s international offices, including its locations in those two countries and the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela, operate under a Swiss verein structure known as Littler Global.

Jeremy Roth, the firm’s comanaging director, says Littler would still like to be in Chile, Argentina and Guatemala. By expanding throughout South America, the firm is hoping to better serve Fortune 500 companies that “operate in every country on the planet,” Roth says. “All of those companies—to the extent they’re not franchises—want to reduce the number of law firms they use.”

Littler aims to position itself as a “single-source solution that offers one bill, one quality control … the first-stop shop,” Roth adds.

The six-lawyer Estudio Gonzalez team, which includes two partners, is led by César Gonzáles Hunt, who has represented several entities of the Peruvian government on employment issues, including the National Pension Office, the Congress of the Republic and the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Experienced Legal Recruiter, Nancy Grimes says that global expansion is not just for law firms – but is also for YOU!  GLI continues to help shape the future of our law firm clients and candidates by keeping them informed about what other law firms and attorneys are doing.  We have waded into the midst of placing world-class partners and other attorneys globally.  We work in areas such as Australia, UK, Europe, Asia, South America, Spain and so many more!  Our mission is to work closely with clients in their global expansion, adding depth and dimension to global practices.  If you are an attorney, who wishes to be placed abroad, please submit your request here.  Likewise, if you are looking to expand your firm abroad, please submit your request here.

Renowned Labor and Employment Partner Joins Litchfield Cavo

GLI is a global legal recruiting network which prides itself in efficiency.  When we were approached by a stellar candidate such as James “Jimmie” F. Hendricks, top legal recruiter, Nancy Grimes knew he would be a fast placement due to his tremendous skill set and experience.  A very short time following contacting Nancy Grimes, Jimmie, who was previously a partner with Lewis Brisbois, joined forces with Litchfield Cavo in Chicago.   His practice includes providing advice and counsel to operations and human resource executives regarding: developing and implementing employment policies and procedures; labor and employment issues involved in mergers, acquisitions and divestitures; personnel transactions; preventive labor and employment strategies and training; wage and hour assessments; and employment litigation analysis and defense.  In the course of practicing in labor relations and as a labor and employment lawyer, he has handled hundreds of union organizing campaigns across the country. 

James HendricksLitchfield Cavo LLP is a litigation defense law firm founded in 1998 on one principle — client service comes first.  The firm prides itself on being relatable and developing personal relationships with their clients.   They blend the vast resources of a nationwide law firm with the responsive service and reasonable billing practices typically found only at small firms.

Their attorneys and staff value client relationships. They encourage communication that is open and honest.  Most importantly, integrity and professionalism are visible in every action.

GLI is a Global Recruiting Network dedicated exclusively to the recruitment of attorneys for law firms and companies.  GLI recruits and places world-class talent for outstanding law firms of any size, location – partners, practice heads, practice groups, mergers – for over 25 years.  At GLI, we conduct an array of searches ranging from top tier Am Law 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, to companies and firms emerging onto the scene and everything in between.  With coast-to-coast contacts and a network of highly skilled recruiters, we use our unmatched experience to exceed your expectations every time.  Jimmie put our years of experience and expertise to work for him, it may be time you did too.

Cooley_Law_School

Troubled Law School to Cease Operations At One of Its Campuses

This summer, Above the Law began reporting on the uphill battle the Thomas M. Cooley Law School faced with regard to its declining revenue and student enrollment. In early July, they were the first to break the news that Cooley Law would stop accepting first-year students at its Ann Arbor campus as part of a “financial management plan.” At the time, James Robb, the law school’s associate dean of external affairs and senior counsel, said there were no plans to close the campus.

Plans apparently changed quickly, because at the end of July, they learned that Cooley Law was considering consolidating the Ann Arbor campus with other Cooley campuses by the end of the fall 2014 semester. Once again, Robb assured the media that no definitive plans had been made yet.

Now that we’re almost halfway through the fall 2014 semester, it seems that Cooley Law has begrudgingly decided to lie in the bed that it has made. This may be the first law school campus closure since the public started learning that legal education wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be…

Late this afternoon, Cooley Law students were greeted with the following message on their web portal:

Notice of Intent to Cease Operations at Ann Arbor Campus

Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School intends to cease operations at its Ann Arbor Campus on December 31, 2014, subject to the approval of teach-out plans submitted to its accrediting agencies, the Higher Learning Commission and American Bar Association – Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar. Students are requested to contact their Enrollment and Student Services Coordinator with any questions or need for assistance they may have.

One has to wonder what the American Bar Association’s reaction to this announcement will be. Law schools across the nation are in trouble, and the ABA had an implicit hand in their downfall. By failing to institute measures that would keep law schools from deceiving their students as to their likely employment and salary prospects after graduation until the last minute, the ABA invited disasters like this to occur. Law schools were inevitably going to suffer once prospective students learned that all was not as good as it appeared — and was marketed — to be. Cooley Law School just happens to be one of the schools that has suffered the most, deservedly or not.

As we noted in July, Cooley Law is offering a number of concessions to students in exchange for their enrollment at one of its other campuses in Grand Rapids, Auburn Hills, and Tampa, Florida, including:

  •     Early registration for the January 2015 term, continuing through graduation;
  •     Retention of financial aid packages, regardless of campus chosen;
  •     A $1,500 cash payment for their troubles; and
  •     A $3,500 bar review stipend to be advanced during the final semester.

Above the Law reporters reached out to Cooley for comment, but have yet to hear back. We will update this post if they do.

Once again, Above the Law asks that students at this beleaguered law school take the time to consider their options wisely. Please think long and hard about your decision, because your financial future depends on it.

As of October 6, 2014, the Thomas M. Cooley Law School has updated the Ann Arbor campus section of its website with its Statement of Intent to Close. A Cooley student contacted Above the Law about the school’s impending campus closure, and was none too thrilled by the news. Here’s what that student had to say:

“I think this was a long time coming. Cooley teachers do provide a good education, but the administration unfortunately makes Cooley a joke. The expansion that they have done was clearly unsustainable and they are paying the price now. Students have been questioning the expansion for years, and the response has been that they did it with a long-term goal and have been dismissive of students concerns. I hope in the future when students express their apprehensiveness, the administration actually listens.”

Zaretsky, Staci. “Troubled Law School To ‘Cease Operations’ At One Of Its Campuses.” Above the Law. Above the Law, 3 Oct. 2014. Web. 08 Oct. 2014.

The Compleat Bank Lawyer

In 1653, Isaac Walton wrote “The Compleat Angler” a book that is still read by avid fishermen desiring to learn all they can about the sport. One might ask today what makes a complete bank lawyer. The answer is usually not understood by bank senior management. They often fail to differentiate between legal and compliance. Both functions are critically important and they must work together as a team; however, while the lawyer should be a resource to compliance officers in helping them interpret complex or ambiguous regulations, it is not the lawyer’s responsibility to make sure they are followed by bank personnel. This is the role of law librarycompliance.  Why is it important for senior management to be aware of the differences between the two functions and the scope of their respective responsibilities? Because these are key functions and, as in the case of other key functions, they should know what they do, and the knowledge and experience required of the individuals they hire to fill these key positions.

To become a complete bank lawyer, it is necessary to have both curiosity to learn new things and to have been presented, over time, with the opportunity to provide counsel to all areas within a bank as well as a bank’s board and senior management. Unfortunately, in this age of specialization, young lawyers are not afforded the opportunity to gain this broad based experience. This is why banking generalists are a dying breed. Large banking organizations can afford to hire specialists who concentrate on specific areas of the bank’s operations. Small banks cannot. One solution for them may be to hire a semi-retired generalist on a part-time basis. If this is not possible, outside counsel with experience in the various areas discussed herein, whether found within a single firm or in multiple firms, should be engaged.

It is important for all banks, large and small alike, to have a lawyer present at all board meetings, and not in the capacity of a director. This does not mean just any lawyer, but one that has some expertise in banking law. Some lawyers claim to be bank lawyers because they represent banks in connection with loan transactions, but this, alone, is not enough to qualify one as a bank lawyer. That individual need not be knowledgeable about the full range of legal issues that may be encountered by a bank, but should be conversant with laws such as the following:  Bank Merger and Change in Control Acts; Bank Holding Company Act; laws and regulations governing financial subsidiaries, operations subsidiaries and other permissible investments; dividends; management interlocks between banks and public utilities;  securities law restrictions regarding insider trading; and banking laws and regulations regarding restrictions on transactions with affiliates and insiders. The individual must also be knowledgeable about laws relating to corporate governance. In addition to their general oversight responsibilities, directors are required to review or approve of specified policies and procedures. The lawyer should know what specific reviews or approvals are required and ensure that each director receives an adequate executive summary of the underlying law or regulation.

Here are some things with which a bank lawyer, or the bank’s lawyers, collectively, should be familiar. To begin with, obviously, they should have a thorough knowledge of banking laws and regulations. They should also be aware of the interplay among them. For example, state member bank dividends are subject to restrictions applicable to national banks under the National Bank Act, and certain provisions of the FDIC Act apply to all banks, regardless of who their federal regulator is. A thorough knowledge of Articles 3, 4, 8, and 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code is also required. Collectively, these Articles apply to the core bank functions of receiving deposits and making loans. If the client issues letters of credit, knowledge of Article 5 is also required. In addition, since Article 5 expressly provides that an issuer’s liability can be governed by the Uniform Customs and Practices for Documentary Credit if the letter of credit so provides, it is Complete Lawyerimportant to be familiar with this document as well. The Uniform Customs is published and updated periodically by the International Chamber of Commerce.

If the client issues stock that is sold to the public, it is necessary to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of securities law in order to know when to call for the assistance of experts in this area. Even if the client does not sell securities to the public, securities law questions can arise. For example, SEC Rule 141 could impose restrictions on the sale of publicly traded stock offered as collateral by prospective borrowers, who might be subject to the Rule’s conditions.

These days banks, like all businesses, often face employment law issues, and so a general familiarity with this area of the law is important. However, it is essential that they be knowledgeable about legal limitations on executive compensation under laws and regulations addressing safety and soundness. They should also be familiar with limitations on life insurance taken out on the lives of senior executives, commonly known as “BOLIs’”, a short hand reference to bank owned life insurance.

In the ordinary course of business, contracts will have to be drafted or reviewed, so the lawyer should be acquainted with the fundamental principles of contract law. The same is true with respect to real estate law, not only because of real estate lending activity, but also because the bank itself may be a buyer or seller of real estate. With regard to the former, they should be aware of the legal and regulatory limitations and conditions applicable to bank ownership of real estate.

Banks are frequently both plaintiffs and defendants in lawsuits. Litigation experience is invaluable. It not only enables the lawyer to understand the litigation process and to assess the quality of the bank’s litigation counsel, but also is it is helpful when drafting documents to have a sense of how they may be perceived if introduced in court someday. The lawyer should also follow case law involving banking industry wide issues such as, for example, the ability of banks to charge a fee for cashing checks of non-customers and how it handles the order of posting checks. Legal questions can also arise in connection with proposed new products or services. Services such as Remote Deposit Capture and ATMs initially raised the question of whether they would be considered as tantamount to a branch, and subject to branching restrictions under federal law. Those issues were subsequently resolved (the issue would be moot today because Dodd-Frank removed these restrictions). Branch personnel often call for advice about how to handle legal processes served on the bank and other claims and demands by prosecutors, private attorneys and customers that the bank take or refrain from taking certain actions respecting customer accounts. It is important to know how to distinguish the efficacy of those coming from out of state tribunals or officials from those issued by state courts and officials and restrictions on release of customer information requested by federal government officials under the Financial Right To Privacy Act as well as other conditions and limitations respecting disclosure of customer information to third parties.

The variety of legal questions that might be presented by branch personnel typically involve a broad range of issues and are impossible to catalogue. Some common questions are: The lessee or joint lessee of a safety deposit box dies, what action should I questionstake; What do we do when a depositor declares bankruptcy?; What documents should we receive to verify the authenticity and signing authorities of business entities (there are typically 6 types of business entities recognized under state law, corporations, LLCs, general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and limited liability limited partnerships); How should we handle custodial accounts under the Uniform Transfer to Minors or the Uniform Gifts to Minors Acts and how are they distinguishable; What are Totten Trusts and how should deposit accounts established by the trustees be handled;  How should we respond to a dispute among stockholders or members of non-corporate entities, each demanding information about or access to accounts in the name of these entities;  Or when do we need to file a suspicious activity report? Although Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) compliance falls within the domain of the compliance department, since it is so critically important, bank lawyers should be familiar with it and implementing regulations of the US Treasury Department and the banking agencies.

Ideally, the bank lawyer should review the Federal Register every day to look for proposed or final rules and regulations of the banking agencies. Hardly a week goes by when none appear. The Federal Register is available on line. The web sites of the federal banking agencies should also be reviewed regularly. They often set forth Guidance and Policy Statements applicable to various bank activities. The bank lawyer should also be familiar with Examination Guides and Handbooks issued by the Federal banking agencies.

If the bank client has trust powers or if it is a non-deposit trust company, the lawyer should be familiar with basic principles of trust law and also the fiduciary regulations of the OCC. Even if the client is not a national bank, these regulations are important because they have been given deference by the other banking agencies. The Federal Reserve has characterized them as being the industry standard. Because of the importance of tax law in estate planning, typically a bank will have separate trust counsel with expertise in tax issues, typically lawyers who have earned a Masters Degree in Taxation.

Finally, the bank lawyer should also be able to handle unanticipated matters, which can make the position even more interesting.  I once heard a great example of this from well-known banking attorney who experienced this while he was serving as the head of a bank’s legal department. Because the bank’s directors preferred to travel to board meetings via helicopter, he was asked to take all steps necessary to authorize a heliport on bank property. This entailed contact with the FAA and state and local authorities and learning about all applicable legal requirements.logo

As you can see, there are a great many banking attorneys in the United States, however, a complete banking attorney is much harder to find.  GLI/Grimes Legal, Inc. A Global Legal Recruiting Network, has partnered with some of the top banking lawyers in the country in order to locate and qualify top banking attorneys who bring the whole package to today’s banks, organizations and law firms.  Our seasoned experts know exactly what it takes to be a truly complete bank lawyer because they have walked the halls of some of the most prestigious banks and firms in the country and they are ready, able and willing to assist your organization in locating the best banking talent in your area.  To further discuss your needs, we welcome you to call.  Together, we will find the complete banking lawyer for you.

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