Webinar Recording — Evaluate New Business, Onboard Clients, and Monitor Relationships Throughout the Client Lifecycle. (Sponsor Spotlight)

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In this month’s sponsor spotlight, Intapp is highlighting a recording of their recent webinar on their latest innovation and success on client intake, conflicts and more.

Event Description:

  • Join us to explore how firms effectively leverage OnePlace Risk & Compliance to thoroughly evaluate new business, quickly onboard clients, and easily monitor relationships throughout the client lifecycle.
  • During this webinar, you will hear from our guest speaker and Intapp client, David Monteiro, Senior Manager, Risk and Intake, Goulston and Storrs. Learn how his firm turned their risk and compliance management issues into a competitive advantage with OnePlace Risk & Compliance solutions.

Of particular note the conflicts and compliance nerds out there — [I don’t know if Intapp wants me saying “nerds” on their sponsored post, but I’m saying it, with deep affection of course] — there’s some in depth content and demonstrations of their Interactive Conflicts Report (ICR) feature and their latest enhancements to watch lists and monitoring.

I’m always a stickler for customer references and proof points. And this one delivers, with Dave Monteiro from Goulston & Storrs sharing his story. He reports:

  • They’ve been using ICR for over 36 months
  • They have a 100% lawyer adoption rate
  • That’s 200 lawyers
  • An average of 450 ICRs generated a month
  • An average duration from creation of ICR to matter opening of 30-40 minutes

Access the Complete Video Recording: Via this link

Risk Update

Conflicts News — Heated Hot Potato Argument, Judicial Stock Conflict ($4k versus $2.7b), Entertainment Denied

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Cisco wins reversal of $2.75 bln damages award because judge’s wife owned stock” —

  • “A U.S. appeals court on Thursday threw out a more than $2.75 billion award against Cisco Systems Inc , saying the trial judge should have disqualified himself after learning that his wife owned Cisco stock.”
  • “The trial judge, U.S. District Judge Henry Morgan in Norfolk, Virginia, found Cisco liable for patent infringement in October 2020, two months after learning that his wife owned 100 Cisco shares worth $4,688.”
  • “Morgan later put the shares in a blind trust, and told the parties that the shares ‘did not and could not have influenced’ his handling of the case.”
  • “But the Washington, D.C.-based appeals court said a blind trust was not the same as selling the shares, and it did not matter that San Jose, California-based Cisco had lost.”
  • “The court ordered the case reassigned to another judge, because letting Morgan stay on risked undermining public confidence in the judicial process.”
  • “Judicial independence attracted renewed attention last year after the Wall Street Journal said 131 federal judges violated federal law by hearing 685 lawsuits since 2010 involving companies where they or their families owned stock.”
  • “‘The judiciary takes this matter seriously,’ U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his 2021 year-end report. ‘We expect judges to adhere to the highest standards, and those judges violated an ethics rule.'”

Fox Rothschild Calls Conflict Allegation A ‘Tall Tale‘” —

  • “Fox Rothschild lawyers representing aggrieved investors in a professional athlete startup asked a New York federal judge Tuesday to reject a ‘transparent’ attempt to manufacture a conflict and an appearance of impropriety.”
  • “Although one of the defendants in the case, GlassBridge Enterprises Inc., is a former Fox client, the firm’s work was focused on pension plan negotiations and had nothing to do with the current litigation, Cypress said. Moreover, that work was completed nearly two years before the current suit was filed. During that period, GlassBridge has also not claimed that the firm had confidential information related to GlassBridge’s investment in a startup known as SportBLX, which is the focus of the current case.”
  • “‘Critically, as Fox’s relationship with GlassBridge formally terminated in November 2021 — more than a year after Fox last performed work for GlassBridge — it is undisputed that Fox did not represent GlassBridge in connection with its securities manipulation, tortious interference with contract and unlawful conduct’ that is the subject of Cypress’ claims, the filing states.”
  • “New York-based SportBLX had sought to ‘tokenize’ and trade in professional athletes through a blockchain platform that the company would create.”
  • “In a May disqualification motion, Glassbridge said it had provided its Fox Rothschild lawyer, Pamela Thein, information about its valuation and assessments of the Sport-BLX investment so that the firm could advocate to include those assets in a proposed settlement agreement. In a second part of the representation, other Fox lawyers also assisted in negotiating lower insurance premiums.”
  • “But in mid-2019, GlassBridge received a demand letter from Fox Rothschild claiming that Cypress, another Fox client, ‘intended to sue Sport-BLX, which would have directly affected GlassBridge’s interests in Sport-BLX.’ Fox later assured the company that it would not be involved in the suit, but then ‘disengaged GlassBridge like a hot potato’ and sued anyway, the company said.”
  • “‘GlassBridge is being forced to defend itself in a lawsuit brought by its former law firm based on the very confidences that it provided Fox Rothschild during at least two prior representations,’ the company said.”

Hat tip to Nigel Riley, general manager of risk and compliance solutions at Intapp, for sending this interesting one my way: “Game over? Plaintiffs’ lawyers banned from Madison Square Garden by MSG” —

  • “The billionaire family that owns majority stakes in the New York Knicks, New York Rangers and the teams’ arena, Madison Square Garden, has never been shy about controlling access to the venues in its empire… But MSG has escalated its access game: It is now using bans from its venues as a litigation tactic.”
  • “At least two shareholder firms engaged in litigation over the 2021 merger of Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp and MSG Networks Inc have received letters from an MSG lawyer advising that they are barred from entering Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre and other MSG venues until the shareholder suits are resolved.”
  • “The justification? Professional conduct rules prohibiting contact between shareholder lawyers and MSG employees, the letter said. (Reuters obtained a copy.)”
  • “‘Because of the adversarial nature inherent in litigation proceedings, and because of the potential for contact with the company’s employees and disclosure outside proper litigation discovery channels that could result from the presence of any of your firm’s lawyers at the company’s venues, neither you, nor any other attorney employed at your firm, may enter the company’s venues,’ wrote Hal Weidenfeld, an in-house lawyer for MSG Entertainment, in a June 24 letter to shareholder lawyer Joel Fleming of Block & Leviton.”
  • “The suit contends that the Dolan family, which controls all of the various pieces of the MSG empire, forced through a deal that was detrimental to MSG Entertainment shareholders in order to enhance the family’s economic and voting stake in the combined entity.”
  • “The company said the new policy may be ‘disappointing’ to some of the now-banned plaintiffs’ lawyers, but that’s simply an unfortunate consequence of ‘our need to protect against improper disclosure and discovery.’ The lawyers will be welcomed back, the statement said, when their cases against MSG entities are resolved.”
  • “‘We’re a firm full of Celtics fans,’ Fleming said. ‘If we want to watch the Knicks lose, it’s a lot more fun to see it happen at TD Garden.'”

Curious, I had a look to see what other events the MSG ban blocks these lawyers from attending. Alas, they will be restricted from upcoming acts including: Billy Joel, Michael Buble, and Rage Against the Machine…

(Could one argue that it would be professionally prudent for these lawyers to keep their distances even after litigation is concluded? They may want to avoid even the appearance of impropriety… whispers that it was the lure of the upcoming Hanson concert, Tom Jones, or Doobie Brothers 50th Anniversary Tour that brought them to the negotiating table? I’ll let the ethics experts ponder that one…)

Risk Update

Business Risk Misc — Client Selection Criteria Changes, Credit-rating Firm Conflict Called

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Firm splits with lawyers who won gun rights case at Supreme Court” —

  • “Two of the lawyers responsible for a major victory for gun rights forces at the Supreme Court on Thursday are parting with their prominent law firm after it announced it would no longer handle Second Amendment litigation.”
  • “Former Solicitor General Paul Clement and Erin Murphy, a regular Supreme Court litigator, said they were launching their own firm after Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis decided to step back from gun-related litigation.”
  • “Through a firm spokesperson, Kirkland confirmed its decision but did not explain its rationale for dropping gun cases. A key attorney at Kirkland, Jon Ballis, said he hoped the firm could continue to work with Clement and Murphy on matters not related to guns.”
  • “Clement’s departure from Kirkland & Ellis echoes a similar episode about a decade ago when he left Atlanta-based King & Spalding after that firm moved to distance itself from Clement’s work to preserve the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law banning benefits for same-sex couples.”

Not a law firm, but still and interesting conflicts story: “SEC charges Egan-Jones and CEO with conflict of interest breaches” —

  • “The Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday has charged credit ratings firm Egan-Jones as well as its CEO, Sean Egan, with violating conflict of interest provisions, according to a release.”
  • “The Pennsylvania-based company, without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, will settle the charges with a penalty of $1.7M and over $146K in disgorgement and interest, the securities agency said.”
  • “The SEC’s findings concluded that Egan ‘was influenced by sales and marketing considerations while participating in determining a credit rating for that client, which created a prohibited conflict of interest.'”
  • “Also, Egan-Jones didn’t ‘establish, maintain, and enforce policies and procedures reasonably designed to manage such conflicts of interest,’ the SEC said.”

More from the SEC order:

  • “On July 11, 2019, Client A engaged EJR to issue a rating for a real estate transaction. Although EJR’s typical turnaround time for that type of rating was approximately five days, on July 23, EJR discovered that the client relationship manager for Client A had failed to submit the ratings request to the ratings group.”
  • “On July 31, Client A emailed EJR’s client relationship manager to ask about the status of the rating and the reason for the delay. In those emails to EJR, Client A complained that the delay was “beyond ridiculous” and demanded that the rating be issued that day by 5:00 p.m. Client A also threatened to cancel the pending rating request and stop doing business with EJR.”
  • “Egan — who at the time was EJR’s president and the head of EJR’s ratings group — spoke to the client relationship manager and stated that Client A was an important client for EJR and that he was concerned that EJR could lose Client A’s business.”
  • “Later on July 31, Egan called Client A and promised that EJR would provide the requested rating later that day. Egan also told Client A that the client relationship manager was being replaced.”
  • “At around 4:30 p.m. on July 31, a half hour before Client A’s deadline, EJR convened an RRC by telephone to vote on a proposed rating for Client A. Egan and a senior EJR analyst (“Analyst 1”) were the voting members of the committee, with Analyst 1 serving as the chairperson. The presenting analyst on the committee (the “Presenting Analyst”) recommended a rating of BBB+ for the transaction. However, during the RRC meeting, Analyst 1 requested certain information about the transaction that she believed was essential for determining an accurate rating. Because EJR did not have the information that she sought, Analyst 1 abstained from voting on the proposed rating. Without a majority of voting members in support, the proposed rating was not approved by the RRC.”
  • “At approximately 5:13 p.m., Client A sent Egan an email stating: ‘We are passed [sic] 5pm. Where is the rating?'”
  • “At approximately 5:17 p.m., Egan became the chairperson of the RRC. Analyst 1 was replaced with another EJR analyst (“Analyst 2”) as the second voting member.”
  • “At 5:21 p.m., Egan and Analyst 2 voted to approve the proposed BBB+ rating, which EJR then issued”
  • “Client A, however, was displeased with the BBB+ rating, and emailed the Presenting Analyst asking why the rating only was BBB+ and noted that EJR had recently rated another, similar transaction for Client A two notches higher. When the Presenting Analyst attempted to explain the reason for the BBB+ rating, Client A replied, ‘Surely you jest. I recommend you go back and verify your models. You must have missed something.’ Client A then forwarded those emails to Egan and asked Egan to call to discuss the rating.”
  • “On August 6 and August 7, 2019, Client A emailed Egan asking him whether there was any ‘update’ on the rating.”
  • “Around this time, Egan, in his capacity as a member of the prior RRC that had approved the BBB+ rating on July 31, directed the Presenting Analyst to develop a new rating tool in light of Client A’s concerns about the BBB+ rating. On August 12, EJR convened another RRC, with Egan as a voting member and an analyst who had not participated in either of the two prior RRCs as the RRC chair and second voting member (“Analyst 3”). Neither Analyst 1 nor Analyst 2 was invited to serve on this new RRC.”
  • “The Presenting Analyst again proposed a rating of BBB+. Notwithstanding the Presenting Analyst’s recommendation, and although EJR had received no substantive information from Client A to support a higher rating, Egan and Analyst 3, relying on the new rating tool referenced above, voted to increase the rating one notch to A-.”
Risk Update

Lawyer Conflicts Combat — Dunkin’ Donut DQ Debate, Jury to Evaluate Trust, Waiver, Conflict Contention

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Dunkin’ wants lawyers disqualified from lawsuit over ‘plant-based’ sausage” —

  • “Dunkin’ Brands Inc told a Florida federal court Wednesday that law firm Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders should not be allowed to represent a Philadelphia company suing it for trademark infringement because the firm represents another Dunkin’ unit in a different case.”
  • “Troutman’s defense of Dunkin’ Donuts Franchising LLC in a New Jersey sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit should disqualify it from representing Vegadelphia Foods in its lawsuit over Dunkin’ and Beyond Meat’s “Great Taste, Plant-Based” slogan, the company said.”
  • “Vegadelphia, which sells plant-based beef and chicken, said in its April lawsuit that Dunkin’ and Beyond Meat’s slogan for their Beyond Sausage Sandwich is likely to cause confusion with its trademarked slogan, ‘Where Great Taste is Plant-Based.'”
  • “Dunkin’ said in its Wednesday filing that ‘for all practical purposes, Troutman has sued a current client.’ It said Troutman was hired to represent Dunkin’ Franchising in January.”
  • “The filing said Dunkin’ Franchising is a shell company used solely to contract with Dunkin’ franchise owners. Any ruling against Dunkin’ Brands would also hurt Troutman’s client in the New Jersey case, the company said.”

Nelson Mullins Atty’s Work Was ‘Conflict Ridden,’ Jury Hears” —

  • “A legal ethics expert testified Thursday that a Nelson Mullins lawyer’s work for a wealthy Florida family was rife with conflicts of interest, and a waiver letter he asked them to sign was an ethical minefield.”
  • “Charles Wolfram, a law professor emeritus at Cornell University, took the stand in a lawsuit claiming that Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP lawyer Carl Rosen mishandled trust work for Dr. Steven Scott and his wife, former nurse Rebecca Scott, allowing their eldest son, Rob Scott, to reap $46 million from a trust against their wishes.”
  • “Wolfram told the jury that Rosen’s work for eight members of the same family — there were four other children besides Rob, plus a mother-in-law — was a ‘classical conflict of interest.'”
  • “At a May 2012 meeting in his office, Rosen presented the family members with a consent waiver, which they all signed. In Wolfram’s view, however, the letter was riddled with ethical problems.”
  • “For example, it was an attempt to waive both past and future issues, which Wolfram called ‘an impossible request.’ Rosen has testified it was only for past issues.”
  • “Elsewhere, the letter explains that for each signatory, Rosen will not disclose confidential information from that person to other family members, even if the information is adverse to another family member.”
  • “Wolfram described this as ‘a very controversial method of representing clients that some members of the estate planning community embrace, but many think [is] very, very difficult to maintain.'”
  • “‘You could very easily get into a conflict situation and not be able to deal with it,’ he said.”
Risk Update

Lawyer Conflicts Fights — Client Contract Versus Conflict, DQ on the Menu

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Appeals Court Says ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ Between Law Firm and Client Does Not Outweigh Contract” —

  • “The New Jersey Appellate Division has rejected Basil Law Group’s claim that it is due $400,000 in fees and additional work promised in a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with Noah Bank, after the bank’s CEO stepped down amid criminal charges.”
  • “Shin asked Basil to reduce the fixed fee balance of $550,000 in exchange for a $250,000 fee, an oral promise the firm would remain primary counsel for all litigation matters, and a promise the board would pay the firm to perform in an advisory capacity. The agreement was only verbal, which Basil claimed in a deposition was at Shin’s request. Basil stated that Shin said that he would pay off the additional $400,000 but could not put it in writing, according to the opinion.”
  • “In what Shin called ‘a gentleman’s agreement’ during his deposition, Noah would not have to pay the full agreement price of $650,000 in exchange for providing additional legal work, the opinion said. He also admitted to stating that he would pay the $400,000 if ‘he were able to do so’ or if there was ‘a merger transaction in which everybody hit the lottery.'”
  • “Noah’s chairman of the board, Edwin Lloyd, asked Basil to conduct an internal investigation into the criminal allegations to protect Noah’s interests. However, James learned that Basil was also assisting Shin with his criminal defense. Basil requested and received a waiver of conflict from James to proceed with Shin’s representation, according to the opinion.”
  • “After consulting with outside counsel, James recommended Noah terminate Basil’s services for the company citing a conflict of interest. Basil was terminated from all pending litigation and future work. In a discussion with the board, all were in agreement that a conflict existed. However, Lloyd testified that Noah terminated Basil because of cost and because the services were no longer needed, the opinion said.”
  • “In August 2019, Basil attempted to collect the additional $400,000 in fees and asserted that Noah’s reason for terminating the firm was strategic and demanded payment within 30 days. The bill went unpaid and Basil brought this action in Bergen County Superior Court. The trial court found ‘no ambiguity’ in the 2019 contract and therefore concluded that there was no breach of contract, according to the appeals court’s opinion.”
  • “On the final claim regarding termination of Basil’s services by Noah, the trial court found nothing that indicated ‘malice or ill motive.’ James received advice from counsel that indicated a conflict existed and the board no longer felt satisfied with Basil’s services once he represented Shin in the criminal matter.”
  • “‘Basil conceded defendant could terminate plaintiff under the oral agreement if defendant became dissatisfied with plaintiff’s representation,’ the appeals court said. ‘Therefore, defendant did not breach the implied covenant in terminating plaintiff’s services. We see no reason to disturb the court’s order finding no breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.'”

Atty DQ Bid Takes Back Seat In Restaurant Ownership Fight” —

  • “A Georgia state judge said the issue of ownership must be decided before he could determine whether an attorney can represent both a business and its CEO in a dispute over the corporate ownership of a metro Atlanta sushi restaurant and possible breaches of fiduciary duties.”
  • “Ryan Isenberg of Isenberg & Hewitt PC, who represents Yijae and Lee, contended that Moore couldn’t represent both defendant Dongin Kim and EJ & Don as a necessary nominal party in the suit because a corporation’s attorney can’t represent an individual shareholder in a case in which his interests are adverse to those of other shareholders.”
  • “Moore contended that he should be able to represent both the company and Kim at least until the issue of ownership is decided.”
  • “‘I think this motion puts the cart before the horse,’ Moore said. ‘I think we have to first determine who is a shareholder. That’s a fundamental merit-based argument. We don’t believe that Lee or Yijae are shareholders based on the evidence. That’s a merit-based argument, and if it’s true, they have no standing to contest whether I can represent the organization and its CEO.'”
  • “Judge Davis agreed with Moore, saying the dispute at the heart of the case is whether Yijae and Lee are shareholders in the company at all and that issue must be decided before he could determine whether Moore can represent both Kim as CEO and EJ & Don.”
  • “Yijae and Lee first filed suit against Kim in January after they said he claimed they were merely lenders, not shareholders, in EJ & Don and asked them to refrain from coming on the premises of the restaurant. They sought a declaratory judgment that they are actually the controlling shareholders of the company and that they are entitled to a preliminary and permanent injunction barring Kim from exercising control over it.”
Risk Update

Information Security Updates — BigLaw Versus Mid/Small Data Breach Data, SRA Law Firm Security Trends and Advice

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Some recent information security news and updates focused on law firms. First, Eileen Garczynski at Ames & Gough flagged this story the other day: “Amid BigLaw Data Attacks, Breaches Surge For Smaller Firms” —

  • “In mid-January, a cyberattack targeting New York law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP exposed the firm’s email servers to unauthorized actors, potentially breaching the personal information of about 40 of the city’s residents, it told New York officials.”
  • “Cleary, however, was just one of the hundreds of law firms — from BigLaw firms to solo offices — that have reported data incidents in the past year and a half as they become increasingly targeted by cybercriminals, according to public records and cybersecurity experts.”
  • “Based on extensive public record requests, Law360 Pulse identified about 90 law firms that reported data breaches to authorities across 17 states in 2021, almost doubling the number from 2020, which also tracked the same states except for Illinois. The number also continues to rise this year, with at least 27 law firms already reporting data incidents in the first four months.”
  • “And while the number of data breaches reported by large law firms has remained steady at about a handful, such incidents reported by midsize and small law firms have increased significantly since 2020.”
  • “Similar to the breaches recorded in 2020, nearly all the recently hit firms that have notified state authorities identified external breaches — including phishing, hacking and malware attacks — as the most commonly identified cause of data exposure.”
  • “Meanwhile, less than 10% of firms reported that they experienced data breaches through other factors, such as a third-party data breach, stolen or lost devices, or insider wrongdoing.”
  • “The breakdown in percentages reflects that smaller, midsize firms often ‘don’t have the staff, resources and expertise’ of larger law firms and are therefore compromised far more often, said Frank Gillman, a former BigLaw chief information officer who now works at consulting firm Vertex Advisors. While smaller firms also spend money on security defense systems, Gillman said many lack the expertise to identify the risk and react before it becomes a bigger issue.”
  • “And the idea of hiring a sophisticated and experienced forensic expert is also not as appealing with law firms being more conscious about their expenses during the pandemic, Rast added, raising another reason why smaller firms become more vulnerable than the larger firms. ‘It’s a resource issue, as well as a training issue,’ Rast said. ‘Larger firms generally have the budgets to roll out the rather extensive training, [which] is now pretty standard.'”

Next via the SRA: “Risk Outlook report: information security and cybercrime in a new normal” —

  • “Covid-19 brought about greater use of IT. The post-pandemic ‘new normal’ will likely see that trend continue. However, as with most changes, this increased dependence on IT brings both opportunities and challenges. As well as creating opportunities and advantages for businesses and consumers, it also creates more opportunities for cybercriminals. And although we know firms have adapted to these threats and taken steps to defend themselves, cybercriminals continue to adapt too.”
  • “The fundamental challenge of how cybercrime threatens the data and information held by firms has not changed in the last few years. However, the reduced commercial activity in some areas during the lockdowns affected some types and levels of cybercrime.”
  • “The most significant threats, which we expect to remain the key areas, fall into three broad groups: phishing and email modification, ransomware, third-party attacks”
  • “We are seeing an increase in email frauds that target a wider range of practice areas, in addition to conveyancing, where firms might be less alert to this threat. Another sign of adaptation comes from a report of criminals intercepting and falsifying physical mail between a firm and client to request funds.”
  • “With firms focusing on the security of their IT systems, it is possible that criminals might make more use of false physical documents or voice-based phishing in the hope that their targets are less prepared.”
  • “Ransomware will continue to increase in sophistication and to use a wider range of methods to influence its targets. It is likely to increasingly become fully automated, attacking any target with suitable weaknesses.”
  • “Most attacks will be random and be because the firm has a weakness that could be detected. However, some might be targeted intentionally. This could be used by unscrupulous parties to damage the operations of a firm that is acting for an opponent in litigation, for example. Those acting for clients operating nationally-significant infrastructure could be at higher risk of this in this time of international tension. The same applies to firms identified as acting for Ukrainian, Russian or Belarussian clients. There have been reports of cyberattacks used as a deniable weapon and solicitors’ firms might be seen, rightly or wrongly, as a less secure target than some of their clients.”
  • “Any firm holding money or confidential information is a potential target for theft. And any firm could be targeted with ransomware. As such, protecting clients’ information must be a priority for all firms. Effective protection means having the right culture, systems and training.”
  • “One of the certainties about the ‘new normal’ is that information security threats will still be there. The underlying reasons why criminals try to hack legal firms have not changed. And in a legal market that is increasingly dependent on IT systems, criminals have more potential opportunities to attack using that method.”
  • “As we said in our previous Risk Outlook report, we want to build a better dialogue between ourselves and firms. This helps to build the best understanding and decision making, and lets us know how these risks are directly affecting those we regulate.”
Risk Update

Conflicts Considerations — Dentons Demands Do Over, Amazon Attorney Evades DQ, Judges Face Covid Conflict Calls

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NYC Teachers Target Third Judge in Vaccine Case Over Drug Stocks” —

  • ” New York City teachers want a third federal judge off their pandemic vaccine case over potential stock ownership conflicts, this time for what they say are stakes in Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.”
  • “The teachers asked Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in the Southern District of New York to recuse herself from their challenge to the city’s Covid-19 vaccine mandate for education workers after she was assigned to the case on Tuesday.”
  • “Two other judges at the Manhattan court were off the case after the teachers requested they recuse themselves for similar holdings.”
  • “The moves come as judicial stock holdings are under increased scrutiny. A Wall Street Journal report that found at least 131 judges heard cases in which they or a family member had a stock conflict prompted a new federal law requiring judicial financial disclosures be publicly accessible online.”

Amazon Atty Survives DQ Bid, But Court Questions Credibility” —

  • “A California federal judge on Monday declined to disqualify a senior in-house patent lawyer at Amazon from infringement litigation brought by MasterObjects Inc., though the judge did say that the attorney’s failure to bring up that he previously worked at a firm that represented MasterObjects “undermines” his credibility somewhat.”
  • “U.S. District Judge William Alsup refused to disqualify lawyer Scott Sanford or Inc.’s outside counsel at Hueston Hennigan LLP, both of whom MasterObjects had hoped to boot from the case. While Judge Alsup didn’t knock the potential for a conflict of interest, he said he couldn’t conclude that Sanford ever personally possessed MasterObjects’ material confidential information while working at Fliesler Meyer LLP.”
  • “That said, the judge noted that Sanford had told the court conflicting things about whether he was aware of a potential conflict of interest. In a February declaration, Sanford said he didn’t realize MasterObjects was a client of Fliesler Meyer until MasterObjects filed its disqualification bid. However, at his deposition, he testified multiple times that he had raised his connection with the firm to Hueston Hennigan.”
  • “After a break, Sanford walked back his testimony, which ‘does undermine attorney Sanford’s credibility somewhat,’ Judge Alsup said Monday.”
  • “Judge Alsup said Monday that a substantial relationship exists between the present litigation and the matters handled by Fliesler Meyer while Sanford worked there. It was during that time that the firm drafted and filed the application that eventually became a patent highly relevant to the litigation, he said. However, Sanford didn’t personally represent MasterObjects during his tenure at the firm, the judge said.”
  • “The big question here is whether Sanford ever received confidential information relevant to the present litigation during his Fliesler Meyer days, Judge Alsup said.”
  • “MasterObjects hasn’t turned up any documents connecting Sanford to the company, per the decision. And the size and structure of the firm doesn’t lead to the conclusion that Sanford would’ve received confidential information regarding MasterObjects while there, Judge Alsup said. Sanford has also said his background in mechanical engineering meant his practice focused on matters related to semiconductors, medical devices and other nonsoftware technologies, the judge added.”

Dentons claims $32 mln malpractice verdict unfairly opens door for plaintiffs” —

  • “Law firm Dentons US has asked the Ohio Supreme Court to scrap a former business client’s $32 million malpractice verdict that the global law firm said will pose ‘serious threats’ to the legal profession if it is allowed to stand.”
  • “Lawyers for Dentons on Friday filed their legal challenge in the state’s highest court, after an appeals court in April upheld the disqualification of the firm’s U.S. arm over its failure to disclose conflicts tied to its counterpart Dentons Canada.”
  • “Dentons contends the appeals court opened too wide a door for plaintiffs to sue over alleged malpractice and that ‘guardrails’ are needed for evidence and damages standards.”
  • “‘At stake is the fundamental nature of the relationship between attorney and client and the need to protect lawyers and law firms of all types against speculative claims for losses they did not cause,’ Yvette McGee Brown of Jones Day, a lawyer for Dentons, wrote in the filing.”
  • “Dentons uses a “Swiss verein” structure in which the firm treats its outposts in other countries as separate entities. Dentons has more than 12,000 lawyers in more than 80 countries.”
  • “In the ruling against Dentons, appellate judge Emanuella Groves said the firm’s structure, ‘with a common conflicts base, that shares client confidential information throughout the organization’ was ‘irreconcilable with Dentons US’ contention that it was separate from Dentons Canada.'”
jobs (listed)

BRB Risk Jobs Board (Reminder) — Director of Risk Management

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Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor reminds us that they’re seeking a Director of Risk Management to manage a variety of programs and systems to prevent and mitigate the firm’s operational risks, including New Business Intake, Conflicts of Interest, Information Governance and Data Protection, Insurance and assisting the firm’s General Counsel. They wanted to note some key details on the position:

  • “Candidates should possess a law degree from an accredited law school; a risk management mindset; research skills and analytical abilities; flexibility and after-hours availability. DSBA membership is desirable.”
  • “At Young Conaway, you will find a beautiful facility in the heart of Rodney Square and a dynamic and friendly professional environment with ample opportunity for experience, development and growth.”
  • “We offer competitive compensation commensurate with skill level and experience; excellent comprehensive benefits package, including immediate coverage under our medical, dental & vision plans, parking/commuting allowance, 401K plan and generous paid time off; and exceptional opportunities for training, experience and growth.”

Key Responsibilities Include:

  • Management of New Business Intake (NBI) Process and System (including software, staff and budget)
  • Conflict of interest management (including advising firm attorneys, reviewing lateral/contract attorney work, implementing ethical walls)
  • Facilitating the firms Conflicts of Interest Committee
  • Information Governance and Data Protection (IGDP) (including facilitating the firm’s IGDP Committee, managing the firm’s Security Awareness Program, and coordinating key processes with the firm’s records manager)
  • Providing Assistance to General Counsel (including contract review, reviewing “outside counsel guidelines” and other client terms, assistance with firm engagement letter management)
  • Insurance Program oversight (including coverage management, broker/carrier contact, and claims management)

See the complete job posting for more detail on job and to apply


And if you’re interested in seeing your firm’s listings here, please feel free to reach out

Risk Update

Conflicts News — Consulted Lawyer Conflict Clash, Rico Conflict Concern

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Canada: Lawyer Who Was Consulted By Another Lawyer Disqualified From Acting Against Other Lawyer” —

  • 2658396 Ontario Inc. v. Sanayei. The action stemmed out of mortgage proceedings in which the plaintiff, which was the second mortgagee on a property, learned that the defendant lawyer had acted for the mortgagor on the property in relation to a subsequent third mortgage registered on the same property. A term of the plaintiff’s second mortgage prohibited the registration of any subsequent mortgages. The defendant lawyer did not contact the plaintiff at the time the third mortgage was registered.”
  • “The plaintiff later retained his current lawyer (DB), who was one of the lawyers referred by the defendant lawyer, and commenced a mortgage enforcement action of its own against the mortgagor.”
  • “The defendant lawyer contended that DB was in a conflict of interest in the action against him. The defendant lawyer provided evidence that DB had previously acted for him on matters that overlapped the mortgage enforcement dispute and that before DB had been retained by the plaintiff he had consulted with DB and sought advice about the second and third mortgage problem that was the subject matter of the plaintiff’s action.”
  • “Although there was no formal retainer between the defendant lawyer and DB, the defendant lawyer viewed the consultation as an occasion whereby he conveyed confidential and privilege protected information to DB.”
  • “The defendant lawyer and DB had known each other for 20 years and they had maintained a friendly and professional relationship during this period of time.”
  • “DB acknowledged that he knew the defendant lawyer for 20 years and that he had represented the defendant lawyer on a few matters over the years. In July 2019, DB had been specifically retained by the defendant lawyer to act for his mortgage company on the enforcement of a mortgage on another property. However, DB denied having disclosed to the plaintiff any information about this retainer and did not recall the defendant lawyer ever imparting any confidential information on him that could be used in the action against the defendant lawyer.”
  • “After retaining DB, but prior to commencing the action against the defendant lawyer, the plaintiff’s principal surreptitiously recorded a meeting between himself and the defendant lawyer. In this meeting, the defendant lawyer was told that DB had considered an appraisal given to the plaintiff about the value of the property was illegal, that DB advised the plaintiff to not accept settlement offers in respect of the mortgage enforcement and that the plaintiff’s principal was not interested in power of sale proceedings or purchasing the property.”

Judge Says Young Thug Can Keep Using His Own Attorney In RICO Case” —

  • “The Fulton County District Attorney’s office claimed that Brian Steel, a prominent Atlanta-area criminal defense lawyer, should be disqualified because he represents some of the other 27 alleged gang members named in the sweeping criminal case. Steel and another lawyer argued back that Young Thug should not be deprived of his ‘chosen counsel’ as he fights for his life in court.”
  • “In a ruling Thursday – issued hours before he denied bond to the rapper at the same hearing – Judge Ural Glanville sided with Steel. Despite ‘strong concerns’ that a conflict of interest might rear its head later in the case, the judge ruled that those fears were only ‘speculative’ in the early stages of the legal battle.”
  • “In an indictment unveiled last month, prosecutors claim Young Thug (Jeffery Williams), Gunna (Sergio Kitchens) and 26 others spent the last decade operating a violent street gang called “Young Slime Life” – allegedly the darker alter-ego of their YSL Records label. The case, built on the state’s RICO statute, includes accusations of murder, carjacking, armed robbery, drug dealing and illegal firearm possession against various YSL members.”
jobs (listed)

BRB Risk Jobs Board — Risk and Compliance Attorney

Posted on

Our latest BRB job post comes from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. They’re seeking a “Risk and Compliance Attorney,” based in the US. Key details on this position:

  • The Risk & Compliance Lawyer plays a key role as a member of the firm’s Legal Department, which manages the firm’s risk exposure and provides advice to the firm on a range of legal and compliance issues relating to business acceptance (including conflicts of interest, confidentiality, client due diligence, sanctions issues, reputational and commercial risk) as well as other issues, such as contracting, commercial risks, client engagement terms, local ethical and regulatory issues, and firm policies and practice.
  • The role of the Legal Department is to support the firm in pursing the effective management of regulatory, legal, operational, and information security risk so as to preserve and maximize the value of the firm over the long term. We do this by taking responsibility for a range of actions, by sharing in the performance of others and by assisting partners and staff to manage risk themselves through training, awareness raising and the provision of relevant intelligence, services and materials.

Key Responsibilities and Deliverables Include:

  • Advise the partnership on business acceptance issues relating to conflicts of interest, confidential information, reputational risk and sanctions issues globally, to assess the business suitability of potential new matters and new clients.
  • Undertake due diligence and reputational risk assessment of new clients and matters.
  • Assist the partnership with solutions to resolve conflicts, confidentiality, reputational and commercial risk, anti-money laundering (AML) compliance and sanctions issues including assistance with drafting waivers and maintaining information barriers.
  • Answer questions from partners, associates and staff at all levels across the firm regarding US law, regulations and firm policies pertaining to conflicts of interest, ethics and regulatory compliance.
  • Review and advise on client engagement letters and outside counsel guidelines, particularly with respect to conflicts of interest and US applicable law and regulation.
  • Assist in review of incoming lateral hires for potential conflicts of interest.
  • Remain current on the type of work that Freshfields undertakes across all sectors and join a sector team in at least two sectors building strong and trusted relationships with Sector Group Leaders.
  • Assist with training to the firm on risk issues (including New Hire Induction Training and Intapp system training) and be an ambassador for the Legal Department within the wider firm.
  • Assist with the development and implementation of business acceptance processes as part of Legal Department and firm-wide programs.

See the complete job posting for more detail on job and to apply

Learn more about working at Freshfields on their careers page:

  • “With over 2,800 lawyers in 28 key business centers around the world, Freshfields combines an unrivalled breadth of expertise across practice areas and borders with tremendous growth opportunities within our US practices. This unique balance defines our work style and culture. On one side, there’s the friendliness, personal attention and lack of hierarchy you find in a small firm; on the other, the comprehensive network, breadth of work and resources of an international organization. We’re a collegial firm – we work, learn and socialize together as one team. We’re also truly international in both outlook and opportunity.”
  • “Our people make our firm – we are a people business and want to create a welcoming and supportive environment where all can flourish. We see diversity as a strength which creates fresh perspectives and generates new ideas. We enjoy our work and are determined to do an outstanding job. We deliver best when working in teams.”
  • “We think and work globally – we don’t just say we are one firm; we act like one firm right across the world. We work wherever our clients need us. This is how we define ourselves, not by reference to where we have offices. Cross-border work isn’t just what we do, it is what we excel at. We understand what it really takes to work across different legal systems and commercial environments and to bridge language and cultural gaps.”

And if you’re interested in seeing your firm’s listings here, please feel free to reach out