Ontario member firm WeirFoulds’ commercial leasing practice group has launched WeirTalking Leasing, an eight-episode podcast series highlighting today’s top commercial leasing trends in Canada. The series covers a variety of topics from terminating leases and office sharing, to unattractive properties, cannabis and more. The podcast is available on SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts and Google Play, and at www.weirfoulds.com/podcasts.

Alabama member firm Capell & Howard has had 20 of its lawyers listed in the 2020 edition of Best Lawyers in America®. In addition, Lister Hubbard (construction law), Debby Spain (tax law, trusts and estates) and Courtney Williams (tax law and business organizations) were named “Lawyers of the Year” in Montgomery, Alabama. Since its initial publication in 1983, Best Lawyers has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence.

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Board Adopts Diversity Policy
SCG Legal’s board of directors at its meeting in Washington last month voted unanimously to adopt a statement of policy on diversity, the text of which reads as follows:

The SCG Legal network is committed to fostering among its member firms an environment where diversity and inclusion are encouraged and to facilitating each member firm’s reputation for excellence, experience and connection not only in the jurisdictions in which they operate, but across jurisdictions as they collaborate with one another to support their respective clients.

“In furtherance of those objectives, SCG Legal encourages its member firms to institute and implement policies to promote diversity and inclusion in the profession and at their respective firms. 

“As a modern network invested in the success of its member firms, SCG Legal’s commitment to diversity and inclusion extends to its professional development opportunities, the composition of its board of directors and committees, and its relationships with others.”

The board has directed that the statement be posted on SCG Legal’s website and encourages its member firms to do likewise, either by posting the above statement or one of their own creation on their websites.

Follow SCG Legal on Its New LinkedIn Page
Follow SCG Legal on our new LinkedIn page, where we will be promoting our member attorneys’ and their firms’ successes and sharing content about issues that matter to our community. And if you have SCG Legal in your LinkedIn profile, you can now officially link to our company page by editing your profile to choose the “SCG Legal” company page option.  

Talbot Joins SCG Legal Staff  
Marianne Merritt Talbot this month joined the SCG Legal staff as executive vice president of business development and client service. Her responsibilities will include designing and delivering new programming to enhance the business development, marketing, networking, and innovation skills of SCG Legal’s member firms and their attorneys. Additionally, she will market the group’s member firm capabilities to in-house attorneys and other potential clients. Ms. Talbot most recently was a business development professional at Blank Rome, where she delivered coaching and training programs to partners and associates, was the lead marketer for firmwide practice groups, including government relations, white-collar defense, and labor and employment, and originated cross-marketing initiatives including Blank Rome’s #MeToo joint task force and ADA website compliance team. A graduate of the American University Washington College of Law, she is admitted to the bars of the Supreme Court of the United States, New York, Virginia and the District of Columbia. To learn more, read her interview with SCG Legal CEO David Poisson in this issue.

Bangkok International Associates Admitted as Thailand Firm
Bangkok International Associates has officially been admitted to membership in SCG Legal as its Thailand firm, following a vote of the membership held last month. The firm is composed of 14 lawyers, 11 of whom are admitted to practice law in Thailand. The other three attorneys are admitted in New York, Australia and England and Wales. Stephen Frost will serve as the firm’s voting representative. The firm may be contacted at 17th Floor, ITF Tower, 140/36-38 Silom Road, Bangkok 10500 Thailand or by calling (66) 2 231 6201. As a service to those of SCG Legal’s attorneys who practice in the U.S., Mr. Frost has prepared an article on the 1966 USA-Thailand Treaty of Amity, which accords preferential business ownership rights to U.S. investors exploring investment opportunities in alternative markets, such as Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia. For more information, contact Mr. Frost.

Meet Marianne Talbot
Marianne Merritt Talbot is SCG Legal’s new EVP for business development and client service. A former litigator, adjunct law professor, entrepreneur, and Am Law 100 business development professional, she recently sat down with SCG Legal CEO David Poisson to share her vision of her new role. It has been lightly edited for conciseness.

DP: What are you most excited about in your new role?
MMT: I am passionate about, and dedicated to, working with attorneys to make them as successful as they want to be. This will, of course, be related to driving revenue and attracting new clients and opportunities. But “success” can also look very different. It can be related to family, health, community, church, spirituality, creativity. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with the singularly impressive attorneys at SCG Legal in bringing them and their firms more success – as they define it and on their terms.

DP: What kind of work do you do with attorneys?
MMT: I’m here to be of service to the SCG Legal global community. I work with attorneys in many ways. It can be through delivering training programs on many kinds of topics and for different levels of attorneys, from new associates to senior partners, to one-on-one coaching for attorneys who want personal attention. It can involve designing interactive workshops for diverse attorney populations, organizing events, and lunchtime webinars on hot topics of interest for attorneys across the country. Every attorney is different; every firm and firm culture is different. I love working with attorneys, because I’ve been there and truly understand the challenges they face.

DP: What do you think are the keys to professional success?
MMT: I like to keep things simple. There is, in my opinion, a straightforward formula for success that, if followed, will create amazing opportunities for anyone with the discipline to follow them. When I train or coach, I always focus on three main elements. First, set goals – professional and personal, big and small, and write them down. Second, act on them. Take baby steps or really get into gear. When I work with attorneys, I always provide lots of ideas! Third, learn, grow, and stretch. Read books and listen to books on tape. There is so much to learn from leaders in business, personal development, and economics! I have lots of other resources and ideas, of course, but this is a formula that I guarantee will work. 

DP: What are some highlights from your life or career that you’d like to share?
MMT: Professionally, being hired by Philip Hirschkop right out of law school. I was a civil rights devotee and he was the attorney who won the equal protection argument in front of SCOTUS in the landmark Loving v. Virginia case. That was a dream come true. On the personal side, getting married to my husband, Dan. Our amazing reception was at the New York City Fire Museum and people are still talking about that party – even though it was nearly 15 years ago! Last, but most definitely not least, the adoption of our beautiful daughter, Barbara. She is now eight but here is a favorite picture of us when she was three. 

Colorado member firm Ireland Stapleton litigation practice head and SCG Legal vice chairman Kelley Duke and two other leading female Denver attorneys are featured in the Denver Business Journal‘s Table of Experts section on women in the law. The article highlights how these three practitioners go above and beyond for their clients. To read the article in its entirety, click here.

Manitoba member firm Taylor McCaffrey has moved to new offices at the intersection of Portage and Main in Winnipeg, where it will now occupy approximately two-and-a-half floors. Its new address is 2200 – 201 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 3L3. Its phone numbers, fax numbers and email addresses all remain the same. Along with its new office space, it has also unveiled a new website and corporate identity. For more information, visit the firm’s website at www.tmlawyers.com.

Thirty-four lawyers at Alberta member firm Field Law have been listed in the 14th edition of Best Lawyers in Canada®. J. Mark Jackson was named “Lawyer of the Year” (medical negligence) in Edmonton and Michael Casey, QC was named “Lawyer of the Year” (insurance law) in Calgary. Among the 34 listed, four are being recognized for the 14th consecutive year, with nine making their debut on the list. The firm has also been ranked in the Chambers Canada 2020 guide in the areas of corporate and commercial law, employment and labor, and general business law. Additionally, Cameron Hughes has been ranked for energy; Frank Molnar, QC, for employment and labor; and Jack Williams, for general business law.

Litigator and labor lawyer Claire Vujanovic has joined Kentucky member firm McBrayer in its Louisville office. Ms. Vujanovic began her career at the National Labor Relations Board in Chicago before practicing with firms in Asheville, North Carolina, and Louisville, Kentucky. She will provide employer-focused labor and employment legal representation and consulting services. Ms. Vujanovic received her J.D. from George Washington University Law School.

Singapore member firm CNPLaw has been ranked in Asialaw Profiles 2020 in capital markets, investment funds, labor and employment, private equity, banking and finance, corporate and mergers and acquisitions, dispute resolution, and regulatory. Two of its attorneys, Bill Jamieson (investment funds) and Tan Min-Li (capital markets), have also been individually ranked. Developed by a team of researchers based in the region, Asialaw Profiles is the Asia Pacific’s definitive guide to regional and domestic law firms.

Richard Davis has joined Virginia member firm McGuireWoods as its chief operating officer, bringing more than two decades of executive experience in global professional services firms. Mr. Davis will assume leadership responsibility for the firm’s operational departments and assist the senior management team in the development and pursuit of its strategic business priorities. He joins the firm from Navigant Consulting, where he led firmwide operational and strategic initiatives, including key account programs and the deployment of a new resource management system. He also chaired Navigant’s diversity and inclusion council. Mr. Davis received an M.B.A. with concentrations in finance and strategy from Columbia Business School.

Connecticut member firm Robinson+Cole has again been ranked a “highly recommended” firm in Connecticut in the 2019 edition of Benchmark Litigation. The firm also received a “recommended” ranking in the area of labor and employment. Wystan Ackerman, Bradford Babbitt, Patrick Begos, Joseph Clasen, Gerald Dwyer, Jr., Edward Heath, Linda Morkan, Rhonda Tobin, Theodore Tucci, and James Wade earned “Local Litigation Star” honors. Ms. Tobin was also named one of Benchmark Litigation’s Top 250 Women in Litigation for 2019 for the fifth consecutive year. Also at Robinson+Cole, business litigation group lawyer Benjamin Jensen was selected by the Hartford Business Journal for inclusion in its 2019 “40 Under Forty” class. He was honored last month during a special event at East Hartford’s Pratt & Whitney Stadium. Mr. Jensen represents clients in litigation and regulatory compliance matters involving technology, data privacy and cybersecurity.

Indiana member firm Barnes & Thornburg has formed a new university and professional athletics practice led by of counsel Ellis “Skip” Prince and sports management adviser Steve Pederson, both new additions to the firm. Though headquartered in Indianapolis, home to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the firm will house the new practice in its Washington, D.C., office. Mr. Prince helped form the Arena Football League and was senior vice president at the National Hockey League for 10 years.  Mr. Pederson has nearly 20 years of experience as an athletic director at both the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Nebraska. Other members of the new group include the firm’s Washington, D.C., managing partner and former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Roscoe Howard, Jr.; veteran trial lawyer and sports attorney Billy Martin; higher education practice group partner Christopher Bayh, who as an undergraduate at Indiana University played football under Coach Cam Cameron, earning Academic All-Big Ten honors; complex litigation and compliance attorney Meena Sinfelt; and associate David Frazee.

Kelli Stallard, Alison Choy Flannigan, Jacqueline Barrett, Katherine Payne, Kate Gould, Sophie Aspley Davis and Louise Threadgold of Australia member firm Hall & Wilcox have been named finalists for the 2019 Lawyers Weekly Women in Law Awards, showcasing outstanding women shaping and influencing the legal industry. Also, the firm’s New South Wales and Victorian private client teams, led by Emma Woolley, James Whiley, William Moore and Eileen Meehan, were listed in Doyle’s Guide 2019 for wills, estates and succession planning. Finally, head of international Oliver Jankowsky led the team advising German company Sto Group in its acquisition of Unitex, an Australian manufacturer and distributor of building products for residential and commercial architectural products.

England member firm Mills & Reeve has been listed among the top 50 most innovative law firms in Europe by the Financial Times. The firm was ranked in two categories: strategy and changing behaviors, and new products and services. Read more here. Also at Mills & Reeve, its lawyers have been busy fighting fraudsters, recently obtaining an injunction on behalf of Interlink Metals and Chemicals AG, a Swiss company, in connection with a multimillion dollar fraud claim against a former agent siphoning off undisclosed commissions. As a result, the London-based commercial disputes team, headed by partner Eric France, continues to burnish its reputation in the cross-border disputes arena. Switzerland member firm Kellerhals Carrard provided advice on Swiss elements of the dispute.

New Zealand member firm Wynn Williams’ corporate advisory team is representing ASX-listed Orora on the sale of its Australasian fiber business to Nippon Paper for A$1.7 billion. Orora is a major supplier of packaging solutions to a range of industries across the globe. Its Australasian fiber business is responsible for several functions including cardboard recycling and carton and bag manufacturing. Orora’s remaining Australian operations will now focus on its market-leading beverage business, which includes the manufacture of wine bottles and aluminum cans. Founded in 1949, Nippon Paper is one of the largest paper and packaging companies in the world and is listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.  The deal, which is expected to be finalized next year, will be the group’s largest investment outside of Japan and will see it expand its operations into box manufacturing.

As much as I hate to disappoint you, Santa isn’t coming. 
No one is going to find any presents here, waiting for them under the Christmas tree. 
These meetings are supposed to be more like an office gift exchange. 
You come with a referral for someone and someone just might come with one for you.”
– SCG Legal CEO David Poisson, in remarks at the group’s 2019 annual meeting, commenting on the need for
all member attorneys to refer more work to others in the network if they expect to get more work in return

Big Four Brand Strength for Alternative Legal Services Intensifies
For the second year in a row, the Big Four accounting firms took four of the five top spots in Acritas’ ranking of the brand strength of alternative legal service providers, with EY displacing PwC at the top of the list. EY rose 24 points in the index, jumping from the fourth spot in 2018, on the heels of several significant acquisitions in recent years. In January the company closed on the purchase of the Pangea3 legal managed services business from Thomson Reuters, which is itself ranked third on the list, after adding Riverview Law last August. Last year’s leader PwC placed second on the list, two points behind PwC. Thompson Reuters, while gaining 12 points in the index, dropped one place to third. KPMG moved up one rank to fourth. Deloitte dropped two ranks and 22 points, into a tie for fifth place with legal staffing and services provider Axiom.

Legal Jobs Lag Broader Professional Services Employment Gains
The U.S. economy added 136,000 jobs in September, extending gains while still falling below some economists’ expectations. The news was less favorable for the legal industry, which contracted by 0.9% between August and September, losing 900 jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ October 4th report. The legal industry employed 1,147,200 people in September. Last month’s declines come after August added 4,100 new jobs to the industry. The previous three months had seen little to no growth, losing approximately 1,000 jobs from June to July of this year and another 700 from March through April. At this time in 2018 there were 4,900 fewer people working in the legal industry. The broader professional services category fared better in September, adding 34,000 jobs between August and September, with 440,000 more jobs than at this time in 2018.

After Years of Decline, July Bar Pass Rates Rise
Early results from the July 2019 bar exam are largely positive, with most of the jurisdictions that released results in September reporting increases in their pass rates. Florida’s overall pass rate rose to 74% this year, up seven percentage points from the previous year. And while Florida is the only large jurisdiction to report results thus far, many smaller states have also notched gains, though increases have not been uniform. North Dakota saw the biggest jump in its pass rate. Among July’s test takers, 73% passed, up from 63% the previous year. Alabama’s overall pass rate rose six percentage points from 2018, landing at 61%. Connecticut’s pass rate, too, rose from 55% in July of 2018 to 60% this July. Officials with the National Conference of Bar Examiners had predicted that pass rates would rise due to an increase in the national average score on July’s Multistate Bar Exam, which is the 200-question multiple-choice portion of the exam that accounts for half of a test-taker’s score in most jurisdictions. States can assign different weights to the MBE. The average MBE score this July was 141.1, up from 139.5 the previous year, the largest single-year jump since 2008.

Law Firm Merger Market Cools
Law firm mergers continued to lag 2018?s record-shattering pace, according to the latest data collected by consultancy Fairfax Associates. Fairfax found just 16 completed mergers during the third quarter of 2019 and a total of 46 over the course of the year, down from the 57 completed through the first three quarters of 2018. Furthermore, substantial mergers have been scarce, a point illustrated by the collapse of talks between Allen & Overy and O’Melveny & Myers in the middle of the quarter. Eighty percent of the 16 mergers were in the five-to-25-lawyer range. Despite the decline from last year, the 46 mergers completed thus far is actually ahead of the historic average of 43 mergers through the first three quarters, based on data over the last 10 years.