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The brand new social network for lawyers, Foxwordy, exits its beta this week, according to Forbes. It has at least one million dollars backing it and the founder, Monica Zent, hopes that the network will become a tool lawyers use to collaborate with each other.

“Lawyers collaborate more than they know but their method has been old-school: via email, phone, random in person chats,” Zent said in an interview with Forbes. “There also hasn’t been a way for lawyers to cultivate a reputation based on interactions with their peers — a peer validated reputation is the most valuable of its kind for any professional.”

Zent developed the social network for lawyers so it could be used internally at her law firm, Zentlaw. Because of the experience she gained using it with her firm, Zent decided to turn it into a business of its own.

“There wasn’t one tool that was easy to use, secure, cost-effective, accessible from anytime anywhere, and allowed our lawyers to collaborate with each other in a meaningful way,” she said. “That led me to create one. Early on, we created this private social network just for ZentLaw and use by some of its clients but word quickly spread and we are now set to roll it out for the entire legal market.”

The social network site lets lawyers collaborate in real-time with each other. The lawyers who have been using the beta site have been doing so to discuss legal wording for documents and good practices too. Law firms can also post job openings on the social network, much like LinkedIn, and allows lawyers to manage their reputation online.

As of the end of February there are just 1,000 members on the network.

“Members have shared feedback that they absolutely love the convenience of being able to find, pluck and instantly use language when drafting,” she said. “This was something we needed to solve a real-life workflow need at ZentLaw. We knew others would have the same need but never expected it to have quite a profound effect on our members as it has had so far. Secondly, we have been pleasantly surprised by the response to the reputation feature. We have members coming to us asking if they can publish their Foxwordy reputations on other sites, including their own websites.”

Membership to the network, even when it comes out of beta, is by invitation only. It will not be open to the public. The reason for this is the confidentiality issues lawyers deal with when using social media sites and networks.

“It’s designed exclusively for the legal market,” Zent said. “On Foxwordy, we have various features that are designed to facilitate and enable our members to share and exchange information selectively or anonymously as well as store information for their own use later. Lawyers are bound by a duty of ethics and so we encourage every member to be thoughtful about the level and degree of sharing in which they engage and what they share. ”



02-28-2014


Jonathan Angell decided to move to the London office of Dechert LLP four years ago from a British law firm. Dechert is headquartered in Philadelphia and Angell can now perform work on cross-border transactions, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

"National identities have become less important," said Angell, a Dechert partner. "There is discussion from time to time. What are we? We have people here from different jurisdictions. It feels quite like an English firm, but at the same time it is a very international firm."

Nine international offices have been added by Dechert since 2007. There are 925 lawyers working for the firm, with one-third of them working in offices overseas. Back in 2008, only 20 percent of the lawyer ranks were working internationally.

Henry Nassau is a partner at Dechert who is the manager of the corporate practice in University City in Philadelphia. "You always have some part of the globe that is surprisingly busy."
 
Nassau said that the firm has begun handling transactions between clients outside of the United States who do not want to talk to anyone working at the firm in its U.S. office.

"Increasingly, someone in Beijing wants to talk to someone in Almaty," without U.S involvement, Nassau said.

The first international office for Dechert opened in 1968 in Brussels. Then, in 1970, the London office was opened by former chairman Bart Winokur.

In 2012, Morgan Lewis & Bockius almost doubled its lawyer count overseas when it acquired 60 lawyers from Dewey & LeBoeuf, which was moving towards bankruptcy. Morgan has 1,400 lawyers in the United States and abroad right now. Morgan was able to add lawyers from Dewey in Moscow, Almaty and London.

A partner at Morgan, Steven Wall, is in charge of the practice groups at the firm.

"There will be a global brand and the identity will be driven by the perception of the client who you are working for, which part of the Morgan elephant you touch," Wall said.

"Our aspiration is to be a brand but to be accessible to companies of all sizes. You can be a middle-market company in Reading and your view of Morgan Lewis will be more shaped by the fact that Morgan has 300 lawyers in Philadelphia."

Sean Geraghty is a partner at the Dechert office in London.

"The whole landscape has a little more solidity now," Geraghty said. "Banks appear to be slowly agreeing to lend money again and sellers who have gotten through the last five years without being a distressed seller or gone bankrupt now have gotten to the position of saying we can now think about that deal we were thinking about a few years ago."



02-21-2014


Two law firms in the state of Alabama are downsizing, according to al.com. Both of the firms are two of the oldest in the city of Birmingham and they have cited the economy, the banking industry in the city, and outside competition as reasons why they have seen a decrease in legal work.

The two firms are Johnston Barton Proctor & Rose LLP and Haskell Slaughter Young & Rediker LLC. Haskell will move out of its office by the end of February and Johnston has seen its group of lawyers decrease.

The managing partner at Johnston, David W. Proctor, said in an email that the firm, which is 88 years old, is changing dramatically.  

"We had 40 lawyers 18 months ago; we have 25 now, and we expect others to leave in the next 30 days, either to join other firms, go in-house corporate or into solo practice."

"For our support staff we have held resume and interview skill workshops and are continuing to help them," Proctor stated. "Currently we occupy some of the best office space in Alabama, and we appreciate that our landlord has been generously working with us as we face changes this spring."

In response to questions asked about the firm completely shutting down, Proctor said, "We have lost some lawyers over the last couple of months and expect several more to leave in the next few weeks; in the meantime our lawyers and staff are continuing to take care of and provide superior service to our clients."
 
At Haskell, Bob Garner is the managing member. He said that the 40-year-old firm employed 75 lawyers just two years ago. Now, the firm employs just 25 attorneys after 10 left the firm in December. As of last week, the firm's office in Birmingham had roughly 15 attorneys remaining.

"We are in the process of winding down," Garner said.
    
Wyatt R. Haskell, one of the firm's founding members, recently retired. Michael Rediker, whose name is on the firm's nameplate, also left to join the firm of Rumberger, Kirk & Caldwell in Florida.

Garner told al.com that the firm is working to find lawyers and staff members positions at other firms. Garner also said that the firm is not going to dissolve. He said that some of the lawyers left could reform the firm somewhere else in the city. The office in Montgomery will remain open and so will the firm's office in New York.

Garner was not sure if the Haskell Slaughter name will remain part of the firm.

"These situations are very difficult for those who are involved," Garner said.

Proctor and Garner named changes in the legal community and the economy as reasons why the firms are changing.

"Birmingham's economy has been challenging over recent years. More and more legal work is being consolidated with out-of-state firms," Proctor stated. "No doubt this has changed the business model for some mid-sized to large Alabama law firms, including us. For us, the forces of change are external, and we all understand that."


02-14-2014




The law firm of Berchem, Moses & Devlin has announced that it merged with the law firm of Kimmel & Kimmel, according to the Connecticut Law Tribune. Kimmel & Kimmel is located in Norwalk.

With the merger, Bercham adds five other lawyers practicing in multiple areas. The roster at Berchem increases to 40 with the seven lawyers from Kimmel & Kimmel. They are spread across Milford and Westport.

"These new lawyers at our firm bring a wide range of experience that will enhance service to our growing statewide client base," said Robert Berchem, president of the firm. "Our growth has always come through strategic steps aimed at improved service to clients."

Eugene Kimmel joins Berchem as senior counsel and Gregory Kimmel joins the firm as a senior partner. The Kimmel & Kimmel firm specializes in divorce and family law, real estate transactions, criminal law and personal injury issues. As the firms transition, the Kimmel & Kimmel firm will continue to operate in their Norwalk office. They eventually will move into the Westport office of Berchem. Kimmel & Kimmel is a father-and-son law firm.

Berchem has increased its municipal law practice by adding Peter Gelderman as counsel. He is from Fairfield and works as a land use and municipal lawyer. Berchem is also adding John Marini as an associate. Marini is the Ansonia Corporation Counsel right now.

Rebecca Goldberg is joining Berchem as an associate practicing in labor. Christopher Sugar is joining in the labor practice and Lynn Kirshbaum is joining in the education law practice.

Gelderman will be working out of the Westport office for Berchem. He deals with commercial and business transactions along with condominium law, civil litigation and residential and commercial real estate transactions.

"The addition of the Kimmel & Kimmel law firm and Mr. Gelderman represents major growth for our new offices on Post Road East in Westport," said Westport Managing Partner Ira Bloom. "We relocated here from Imperial Street to establish a significant presence for Berchem, Moses & Devlin in Fairfield County."


02-06-2014



Studying to become a lawyer takes a lot of time, effort and money. You do not want all of this to go to waste when you realize that it is not the career you had envisioned. If you need some advice for working as a lawyer in your first year or two, you might want to consider the tips we have outlined in this post.

Figure Out Your Career Goals

The first place for you start is at the end of your career. Ask yourself, what is it I want to have accomplished during my career as an attorney? Once you can answer this question you can begin to form your career. This is how you can set your career goals. Make sure you offer a lot of pro bono work, mentor law students or younger lawyers as you gain experience and make sure you give back to your community.

Keep a Journal of Goals

The next step is to write down your career plan. This includes setting goals and writing them down. Keep a journal with you to jot down notes when ideas strike you. A journal will help you get your ideas in writing and maybe even help you meet your goals quicker because they seem more tangible.

Dream as Big as You Can

Make sure your dreams are as big as possible. Do not dream for small goals or accomplishment. Instead, dream for things that can turn your life into gold. Do not think about where your life might be in the next 10 years. Dream about where you want your life to be in 10 years. The more you dream, and put those dreams into action, the more likely it is that you will succeed as a lawyer.

Figure Out How to Meet Goals

After you have written down your goals and aspirations, determine what you need to do to meet those goals. This will include figuring out how to become a better leader, how to be a mentor and much more. You need to set goals that are attainable and manageable. Do not set the bar too high or you will be setting yourself up for failure. Do not hesitate to take risks, but make sure that these risks are obtainable in your career.

Check Off Your Goals

As you reach each individual goal, make sure you check it off the list you wrote in the journal. The more often you check-off your goals, the more confident you will become in yourself and happy with where your career is headed.


01-31-2014


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