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Stigma of home-based firms disappearing as trend grows
Legal Network | 2010/02/13 17:11

For Stephanie Conner, it’s about independence and fewer distractions. For Alison Rapping, it’s about not paying office rent. And for Jackie Wright, it’s about touting both of those things to prospective clients.

The trio are among an increasing number of small-business owners who work out of their homes.

They all say economic changes, new technologies and a more personalized approach to client services are blasting away old stereo­types, allowing home-based businesses to be taken just as seriously as larger companies with offices and conference rooms.

“My day is so efficient now,” said Rebecca Golden, owner of Phoenix Web design firm Website Garden. “I literally wake up, brush my teeth and start working.”

‘America’s Best Law Firms’ Rankings Are Coming in 2010
Legal Network | 2010/01/31 02:09

U.S. News and Best Lawyers, the leading survey of lawyers worldwide, announced last year that the two publications have teamed up for an expansion of U.S. News's signature "America's Best" series to include new rankings of "America's Best Law Firms" and "America's Best Law Firms to Work For."

We want to give an update on the status of these new rankings. The ranking projects continue to make progress on the collection of client references and associate references from law firms. The vast majority of America's major law firms have provided the requested information. As with other rankings published by U.S. News, we believe that we will be able to secure from various sources quantitative data concerning those law firms that do not provide the requested statistical data directly to U.S. News and Best Lawyers.

Combined with the qualitative reviews of the firms by clients —more than 50,000 client references have already been accumulated—and qualitative peer-reviews by leading lawyers, this will enable the publication of valid rankings for all major law firms, both large and small, across the United States in the inaugural year. In time, it is expected that an increasing number of the ranked law firms will participate in the process.

Simmons rated as UK's most gay-friendly firm
Legal Network | 2010/01/12 17:05

Four law firms have been included in this year's Workplace Equality Index compiled by gay rights charity Stonewall.

The index, which ranks the top 100 gay-friendly employers in the UK, included Simmons & Simmons as the highest-ranked law firm in 15th place, up from 31st place last year.

Elsewhere, Pinsent Masons ranks 36th, up from 50 in 2009, Herbert Smith moves from 77th to 56th position and Eversheds has risen to 85th up from 100 last year.

In total, 24 law firms submitted entries to Stonewall this year.

Computing giant IBM topped the rankings for the second time in four years, replacing last year's winner Lloyds TSB.

The process sees companies nominate themselves to participate through an online survey giving evidence of their policies. An anonymous staff survey is then carried out, which this year saw 7,000 lesbian, gay and bisexual participants. The top 20 finalists are then separately audited.

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill said: "We received more entries than any previous year from employers who understand and have benefited from Stonewall's research which found that gay people are far more likely to buy goods or services from companies they know are gay-friendly."

Law firm mergers down 24 percent in 2009
Legal Network | 2010/01/06 20:53

Last year, law firms chose to buckle down and manage their expenses instead of expanding their businesses with mergers and acquisitions, according to recently released data.

In 2009 there were 53 new law firm mergers and acquisitions in the U.S. That was down 24 percent over 2008’s total, according to a report from legal research firm Altman Weil MergerLine.

About 79 percent of 2009’s deals involved the acquisition of small law firms with 20 or fewer lawyers, per the report.

“This reflects law firms’ cautious approach last year, as most firms spent 2009 focused on internal issues of cost cutting, layoffs, and compensation adjustments in response to the Great Recession,” said Altman Weil principal Ward Bower, in a statement. “But we expect to see an uptick in 2010 as deals currently on hold pending 2009 year-end results are finalized.”

One of the big exceptions to that, which was cited in the report, involved Boston-based Bingham McCutchen, which acquired McKee Nelson, a 120-attorney firm, in August. Another big deal saw K&L Gates, which has a large presence in Boston, acquire Bell Boyd and Lloyd in January.

The biggest deal, per the report, was the merger of the U.K.’s Lovells LLP with Washington, D.C.-based Hogan & Hartson. When that deal is ultimately finalized in May of 2010, it will be the second largest law firm merger ever accomplished, forming a 2,500-lawyer firm, according to Altman Weil.

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