Venture Capital & Private Equity Conference Keynote Speaker Jeff Bussgang Gives Preview

Flybridge Partners General Partner and Mastering the VC Game author Jeff Bussgang will deliver the keynote speech at the Venture Capital and Private Equity Conference on April 24. He answered some questions we posed about Boston’s VC/PE legal scene, and gave us a preview of his remarks.

There are still open spots at the conference! Be sure to register to claim your spot soon.

Q: What makes Boston a unique environment for venture capital?

Boston attracts some of the world’s smartest people who enjoy tackling some of the world’s most ambitious problems. The confluence of top academic institutions and a long history of entrepreneurship make Boston one of the top 5 cities in the world for venture capital and startups despite its relatively small size (#10 metro area in the US and #92 in the world).

Q: Attorneys in this space need to help clients avoid risk and stay in compliance – in your opinion, how can counsel accomplish this while still adding value to a deal? Is it a challenging balance?

A:The best lawyers have an understanding of the business objectives at hand and are pragmatic about shaping the legal framework and direction to mitigate risk and ensure compliance. It is challenging in gray areas like crypto / blockchain.

Q: With Mastering the VC Game, you offered your story to entrepreneurs and venture capitalists as someone who has been on both sides. What does “mastering the VC game” look like for attorneys? What additional questions must they consider?

A: Attorneys need to understand the point of view of both entrepreneurs and VCs in every transaction:  what are their incentives? What is their frame of reference? That perspective will enable attorneys to help steer their clients to more effective outcomes.


Q: Without spoiling your speech, is there anything else you can tell us about what conference attendees can expect to take away?

A: My talk will be focused on the future of work as a result of the powerful, disruptive twin forces of demography (looking at you, Millennials) and automation (the robots ARE taking over). It should be a lively discussion!

BBA Ethics Committee Members Weigh in on ABA Formal Opinion 480

The following is a guest post from BBA Ethics Committee Co-chair Paul Tremblay and Ethics Comittee Member Jeffrey Woolf:

A recent ethics opinion from the American Bar Association (ABA) offers lawyers guidance about the care needed when using social media to discuss their work.  That opinion is somewhat less relevant to Massachusetts lawyers than to most lawyers in the country, because of the different language of the confidentiality provision in the Commonwealth.  But lawyers who are admitted or practice temporarily in other states that do follow the ABA’s Model Rule ought to play close attention to the ABA’s guidance.

In Formal Opinion 480 (March 6, 2018), the ABA’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility concluded that “[l]awyers who blog or engage in other public commentary may not reveal information relating to a representation, including information contained in a public record, unless authorized by a provision of the Model Rules.”  Model Rule 1.6(a) states, “A lawyer shall not reveal information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).”  The exceptions covered by 1.6(b) include prevention of death or substantial bodily harm, preventing certain frauds, and the like, and have little or no bearing on activities such as blogging or using social media.

The thrust of the ABA opinion is that lawyers may not disclose information about clients, including the very fact of representation, unless an exception exists within Rule 1.6.  The fact that a lawyer represents a client is “information related to the representation,” and therefore may not be revealed without the informed consent of the client.  That the representation may be known to others through public documents, such as court filings, does not make a difference.  Rule 1.6, the ABA reminds us, does not have an exception of information that is generally known.

The result is different in Massachusetts.  Massachusetts’s Rule 1.6(a) states (and the italics are ours), “A lawyer shall not reveal confidential information relating to the representation of a client unless the client gives informed consent, the disclosure is impliedly authorized in order to carry out the representation or the disclosure is permitted by paragraph (b).”  Rule 1.6 in Massachusetts therefore covers much less information than the Model Rule.  The Comment to Rule 1.6 defines “confidential” as follows:  “‘Confidential information’ consists of information gained during or relating to the representation of a client, whatever its source, that is (a) protected by the attorney-client privilege, (b) likely to be embarrassing or detrimental to the client if disclosed, or (c) information that the lawyer has agreed to keep confidential.”  In many instances, the fact of representation or the information contained in active court records will not be “confidential” by that definition.  Massachusetts explicates its departure from the Model Rule in comments [5A] and [5B] and somewhat closes the gap between the two rules.  However, these comments do not imply that the lawyer’s representation of the client, by itself, is confidential, as does the ABA Formal Opinion.

The difference between the Model Rule and the Massachusetts provision suggests at least these two pieces of advice for Massachusetts lawyers.  First, even if the facts of a client’s matter do not qualify as “confidential” under our Rule 1.6, a lawyer’s fiduciary duty to her client, along with sound business judgment, will lead her to refrain from discussing the client’s facts publicly without the informed consent of the client.  And second, Massachusetts lawyers who are admitted in other states, or who practice temporarily in other states, need to be mindful of the stricter Model Rule provision, which likely will be in place in the other states.  Most states have adopted the language of Model Rule 1.6(a).  In particular, a multi-state lawyer or law firm should not blog or otherwise mention that it represented a particular client without the client’s permission, even if that representation is a matter of public knowledge.  Since most states have advertising rules that are more restrictive than Massachusetts, any web page, blog or other material should conform to both the new ABA Formal Opinion as well as the most restrictive advertising requirements in which the lawyer or law firm practices.

Strang, Scott, Giroux & Young to Move to Beacon Hill

Strang, Scott, Giroux & Young is moving out from under the Citgo sign and over to Beacon Hill, where the firm will take up residence a few doors down from the Boston Bar Association and a lot closer to the courthouses where they represent the majority of their clients.

Their new address at 6 Beacon Street isn’t official until the end of the month, but preparations are well underway. Founding partner Christopher Strang said he has spent an increasing number of hours in the office at night and on the weekend to prepare for the move, while also handling outreach to insure the firm’s clients know where to find them.

The foundation of the firm’s business is working with businesses, especially in real estate and construction law matters. While many of the firm’s clients are based outside the city, the move to Beacon Hill represents better access to other professional opportunities for the office’s seven attorneys. Strang is currently the treasurer of the Boston Bar Foundation and a member of the Society of Fellows. He has held a number of leadership positions within the Boston Bar over the past ten years, including co-chairing the New Lawyers Section.

“To be honest, one of the major reasons to moving to the new spot is that it’s closer to the BBA and professional development and networking opportunities that downtown offers,” Strang said. “It’s also convenient for us to be closer to Suffolk Superior Court.”

The move is bittersweet, however. The firm moved into its current space in 2011, and has become part of the fabric of Kenmore Square, when much else in the Fenway and Kenmore neighborhoods has changed in the past seven years.

“This is a historic neighborhood, and we really feel like we’ve become part of the community here. We’re definitely going to miss that,” Strang said.

In a smaller office, a big change like a move can be all-hands-on-deck, especially when it comes to packing up files. But with the assistance of professional movers, Strang feels confident the process will continue to be relatively stress-free.

Beginning April 1, Strang, Scott, Giroux & Young will have an office available to sublet. Their new space at 6 Beacon has an extra office, and Strang said he would love to see someone like a solo practitioner take over that space.

For inquiries about subletting the office, please contact Christopher Strang at [email protected].

Julie Jones, First Woman to Chair Ropes & Gray, Talks Empowerment & Collaboration

She grew up in Peabody and is a “lifer” at her firm, having started as a summer associate in 1993. She attributes her success in her career to her laser focus and her willingness to seize opportunities to learn new things. Her portfolio includes work with high-profile clients such as Bain Capital, TPG, J. Crew and LPL Financial.

She is Julie H. Jones, and in two years, she will take over as the first female, firm-wide chair of Ropes & Gray.

“The significance of having a woman in this position is not lost on me, and it sends an important signal to my colleagues,” Jones said in a recent interview. “People, especially women, look to change because it gives them hope, and it gives them the feeling that opportunities exists for them, too.”

For Jones, it’s crucial to empower her colleagues in the same way that she has always felt empowered herself. Jones is known for taking on challenges, and for providing outstanding counsel to her clients. Her philosophy, that it’s “important to be a well-rounded and thoughtful corporate lawyer,” is a belief the firm has championed, and Jones plans to encourage firm leaders to carry on the tradition of giving associates the “building blocks to succeed.”

Jones will take the reins in 2020 from R. Bradford Malt after he retires in late 2019, at which point she will lead the firm’s 11 offices around the world. She already has extensive travel planned, with a trip to Asia ahead in March, and visits to Ropes & Gray’s offices in London and California thereafter.

“My immediate priority during the transition is to spend time with our partners, and to be out with those partners in front of our clients,” she said.

Though Jones acknowledges the immense responsibility that comes along with chairing the firm, she won’t shoulder it alone. It’s not her approach, she said, to govern in a vacuum. Her style is to build a consensus and make decisions.

“It’s critical to open channels of communication. My style is to speak with clients, to get information that enables us to home in on their needs,” she said.

Jones honed her collaborative style over the course of her career, advising private investment funds and public companies in major transactions. She became the practice group leader of Ropes & Gray’s Securities and Public Companies group during her second year as a partner, and has also served on the firm’s Policy Committee for six years.

“It almost feels more incremental than revolutionary to take on the role of chair,” Jones said. “I’ve been integrally involved with the firm’s management priorities for six years. That said, it will be different when the buck stops with me on everything.”

But Jones is not intimidated by the challenge. While she said it would be “premature” to comment too extensively on her agenda as chair, she did name a few key areas.

“The focus will stay squarely on understanding legal trends, and differentiating ourselves. The level of competition among law firms is hotter than ever, and there is also more partner mobility than before. When I started, people stayed at their firm until retirement. We want to make sure our partners see Ropes & Gray as a firm they want to retire from,” she said.

Jones also stressed the importance of public service, and said there has “never been a more important time for lawyers to dig deep” and dedicate resources and expertise to representing vulnerable clients in pro bono cases. She pointed specifically to the firm’s long history of legal involvement with LGBTQ rights, including arguing the landmark marriage equality case before the U.S. Supreme Court, immigration and asylum cases, voting rights issues and work on behalf of military veterans.

“Of all the work we do, pro bono can be the most intimidating. These are oftentimes matters with individual lives at stake,” she said. “But we have so many lawyers who are passionate about it, and whose focus is on going above and beyond the firm’s pro bono requirement. We are deeply engaged in a number of important social justice initiatives.”

A self-described people person, Jones anticipates that tackling challenges will be both fun and fulfilling as she leads Ropes & Gray. When she reflected on the trajectory of her career, she credited the firm with providing her the tools to become “not only a great lawyer, but to become a great leader.”

“The issues that women have faced in their careers are astonishingly hard. They have never been in sharper relief than they are right now,” Jones said. “There are a lot of demands on women and women lawyers, especially at big firms. You find yourself asking, ‘What clients do I support? What internal initiatives do I support?’”

Her advice to women starting out in the legal profession—which is the same advice she would give to all attorneys—is to “look for things you feel like you do well.”

“Focus on being a great lawyer. If you find an area of law you think you’re good at, success begets success,” she said. “Don’t get distracted; concentrate on just kicking butt. Focus on clients and building a brand – those are the most important things.”

Managing Partner Anthony Froio on Robins Kaplan’s 35 Years in Boston

Robins Kaplan LLP is fast approaching its 80th anniversary next year, and this fall marked 35 years since the firm put roots down in Boston. In that time, as the economy has fluctuated and technology has advanced, the legal profession has changed immeasurably. Robins Kaplan’s dedication to pursuing excellence in the profession, performing community service, and building lasting relationships in order to thrive, however, has remained constant.

Robins Kaplan may be headquartered in Minneapolis, but Boston Regional Managing Partner Anthony A. Froio said the firm’s unified culture empowers attorneys in all eight offices to play an equal role in steering the firm to success. Since opening in Boston in 1982, Robins Kaplan has shifted its perception from that of a “Midwest-based national law firm” to “a staple firm in a number of major cities, including  Boston,” where it is well established as  a prominent insurance and business litigation firm with clients throughout New England.

Firm leadership prioritizes programs and policies that enhance the firm’s ability to recruit and retain young lawyers, growing their skill sets and seeing them advance as well-rounded practitioners within their legal community. Robins Kaplan’s success keeping talent within the firm has enabled the Boston office to raise its profile over the years, according to Froio.

“We have some partners who are approaching retirement, and we have the next generation of leadership in place,” he said. “It’s a point of pride that we are able to recruit capable new lawyers who are dedicated to the firm and dedicated to their roots in Boston, so we know where we are heading long before we get there.”

Froio himself has been with Robins Kaplan since July 1, 1994, and became the managing partner in the Boston office 13 years ago. During that time, Froio has held a number of positions at the Boston Bar. He currently serves as the president of the Boston Bar Foundation, overseeing its work to expand access to justice, empower the city’s youth, and offer help to the underserved.

Since he took on a management role, Froio has seen it as his responsibility to connect younger associates with opportunities for professional training, networking, and community service. In his own career, he has found it important and fulfilling to continue to learn about his chosen field and to connect with other lawyers while giving back. Froio considers the Boston Bar an important source of that engagement, and he promotes and encourages involvement among the younger attorneys in his office as well.

“To my younger colleagues, I always say the Boston Bar is a place of incredible inclusion, where all perspectives are welcome and desired. It offers tremendous access to resources, programming, networks, pro bono opportunities and people – and a way to really feel a part of the legal community,” Froio said.

Internally, Froio said the firm’s business model enables less seasoned attorneys to work collaboratively with their more experienced peers to achieve favorable results for clients. As of now, 30 – 40% of Robins Kaplan’s business is through alternative fee arrangements with its clients. While all law firms must demonstrate value and success to stay competitive, Froio said Robins Kaplan was an innovative frontrunner in the adoption of alternative fee strategies, making its services accessible and transparent to its clients, and allowing the firm to peg its success to the success of clients for decades.

“Our firm prides itself on sharing calculated risk with our clients.  That means that if our clients do not succeed, we don’t succeed,” Froio said. “Very early on, my firm’s partners understood the value of that concept, and we have thrived and grown for almost 80 years that way.”

Froio said the firm also places high value on ongoing relationships with clients, whether they return to the firm for their legal needs or are able to collaborate outside of their business relationship on other projects.

“We have had numerous clients who value the firm’s commitment to pro bono and public service work, and even gone on to partner with us on public service projects,” he said. “Something that I hope to pass on to the attorneys that I work with is that it’s important to give back in a meaningful way, and being able to  do so in concert with fellow lawyers and clients creates a better environment for everyone.”

In summing up how Robins Kaplan has been able to remain on top for 80 years, Froio said the secret is “commitment to professional, client and community excellence, and significant dedication to each other.”

“We are truly one firm; we don’t consider ourselves different profit centers. This firm has excelled and grown nationally with a model that relies on risk-sharing and endures because of the alignment of Robins Kaplan’s values across all of its offices,” he said.

Recap: 2017 Annual Meeting Luncheon

Given renowned Orange is the New Black author Piper Kerman’s extensive work as an advocate on behalf of those in the criminal justice system, her keynote speech at Thursday’s Annual Meeting came at an ideal time.

Earlier this week, the BBA released a report entitled No Time to Wait: Recommendations for a Fair and Effective Criminal Justice System, which calls for reforms to reduce recidivism and make the Massachusetts’ criminal justice system fairer and more cost-efficient.   At the same time, the Massachusetts Senate has taken up a bill aimed at enacting some of these reforms.

Kerman voiced her strong support for the BBA report at the event, after sharing her own story and stories of many women whom she met during the time she was incarcerated or afterwards through the Women’s Prison Association. In writing Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison, Kerman said she was motivated to “give people a different idea” of who goes to prison and why they are there.

Throughout her speech, Kerman emphasized how lucky she is to have been able to afford to access justice. Because she was able to afford quality representation, she received a light sentence for a felony money-laundering charge where others are not as fortunate.

“The rules have not been evenly applied across society,” she said. “[Prisons] are tools that have been used primarily against certain populations over time.”

This disparity is addressed in No Time to Wait. BBA President Mark Smith thanked members of the BBA Criminal Justice Reform Working Group, in particular the Co-Chairs, who were responsible for drafting the report’s recommendations. He also conferred the BBA’s Distinguished Legislator Award on Representative Kay Khan in recognition of her tireless work on behalf of disenfranchised populations, particularly women in prison.

“The BBA believes as I do…that the criminal justice system must treat everyone fairly,” Khan said.

Representative Khan is the founder and co-chair of the Task Force on Justice-Involved Women and Their Children, under the Massachusetts Caucus of Women Legislators.  She is an outspoken advocate for progressive public health, mental health, human services, and criminal justice policies. She has also pursued the implantation of evidence-based reforms that positively impact vulnerable populations in Massachusetts.

With more than a thousand in attendance, the event was an inspiring call-to-action to combat injustices in our criminal justice system, and we would like to thank everyone who joined us to network and learn more about this cause!

From Classroom to Courtroom: BBA President Mark Smith Brings Integrity & Compassion to the Job

Mark Smith has always been drawn to public service. In a career that has taken him from classrooms in upstate New York, to the public defender’s office in Brooklyn and then a prosecutor with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, to building a successful private practice as a white collar criminal defense attorney, it’s safe to say he has always found a way to help others.  Along the way, he has earned a reputation for maintaining an exceptional level of professionalism while advocating for people facing some of the most difficult challenges of their lives.

Today, as a well-respected white-collar criminal defense attorney, Smith is known for his calm, clear-headed guidance and advocacy on behalf of clients. The first thing his colleagues and friends point out about him is his impressive abilities as a lawyer, with a tendency to avoid the spotlight.

“Mark’s biggest victories are the ones you never hear about,” Marc Laredo, Smith’s law partner, explained. “His best work is representing the client who, because of his efforts, is never charged with wrongdoing.”

To Smith, this is simply what all clients deserve.

“When clients come to me, they are most often facing very significant legal and financial consequences.  We need to make thoughtful decisions to address their challenges head-on,” he said.

Throughout his career, Smith has remained focused on providing positive outcomes for the people he serves.  That focus brought him many places before it led him to joining Marc Laredo, a former colleague at the Attorney General’s Office, in private practice.

Upon graduating from St. Lawrence University, Smith took a job as a teacher in a rural school district in upstate New York.  For three years, he taught social studies and economics to high school students, including classes for children with learning disabilities. It was challenging and rewarding work, but a conversation with his brother introduced him to a new possibility.

“My brother had been working as a public defender,” Smith said. “He came across the state to teach at a clinical program at Syracuse University’s Law School, and I thought, that sounded like a great opportunity: teaching at the law school and trying cases as a public defender. That is what drew me to seek a law degree .”

Smith began exploring law schools. He decided on Suffolk University Law School after his first visit to Boston, where he immersed himself in the university’s criminal law program.

“I really enjoyed Suffolk. It was exciting for me to be back in the classroom,” said Smith. “I knew I wanted to be a criminal lawyer, so I took the evidence seminar at Suffolk and enrolled in the student clinical program my third year and was assigned to be a defender at the Lynn District Court.”

As a student defender, Smith traveled to Lynn District Court twice a week for a year, working under the mentorship of the well-respected Boston trial lawyer Elliot Weinstein. For Smith, the experience was a fascinating one, giving him a real-world perspective on what it took – and what it felt like – to help underserved people when they were most vulnerable. His time in Lynn convinced Smith that he was on the right path.

Suffolk had an added benefit – it is there that he met his wife, Mary O’Sullivan Smith, a former prosecutor and current Juvenile Court judge.  They have two adult children, one of whom started Boston College Law School this fall.

After law school, Smith worked for the Legal Aid Society in New York City, an organization which employed over a thousand lawyers.  Smith joined the Criminal Defense Division and was assigned to the Brooklyn office. It was an intense learning environment, with long hours that often included both a full-day and a full-night in court.

“Brooklyn, at that time, was experiencing the crack cocaine epidemic and was a very gritty place, with one of the highest crime rates in the city,” he said. “We worked long hours.  I’d be in court from nine to five, and then regularly be assigned to night court until 1 a.m., which is when they do all the arraignments.”

The case volume was high, and Smith quickly learned how to try cases. In one instance, on his first day back from vacation, one of his cases was advanced to trial. He had to defend a client accused of three counts of attempted murder. With high stakes, Smith called the experience “terrifying yet gratifying.”  His client was acquitted of all charges.

Following a year clerking for a state Supreme Court judge in Brooklyn, Smith returned to Boston to join Attorney General James Shannon’s team, first as a tax prosecutor and then in its Public Integrity Division.

When Scott Harshbarger – now senior counsel at Casner & Edwards – succeeded Shannon as Attorney General, he was immediately impressed with Smith’s ability to take on, and win, challenging and high-profile public corruption cases.  He watched as Smith successfully prosecuted a public employee charged with embezzling nearly $1 million from a school district in Worcester County.

“Mark showed that the State Attorney General’s office was fully prepared to apply the law equally to all.  To him, it was never about politics or building up his own reputation. It was about the law. He is the essence of professionalism,” Harshbarger said.

Taking note of Smith’s exceptional abilities as a team leader, Harshbarger made him Deputy Chief of the Criminal Bureau, and tapped him to lead the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Advisory Group.

Boston College Law School professor Michael Cassidy, formerly the Chief of the Criminal Bureau, found a close colleague, confidant and collaborator in Smith. He called Smith’s legal acumen and pragmatic approach to the law “invaluable assets to the bureau.”

“Mark has a real ability to size up a case and estimate its likely success before a judge or jury,” said Cassidy. “He is also a brilliant tactician, especially on cross examination. He is a good source of advice for all of us on trial strategy.”

After almost a dozen years at the Attorney General’s Office, Smith decided he was ready for the new – and perhaps more daunting – challenge of launching a practice of his own. He joined Marc Laredo and his phone immediately started ringing.

Smith initially became involved with the BBA as the Attorney General’s liaison to the Criminal Law section. However, it was during this time as a private practitioner that Smith first realized that the members who were often on opposing sides could convene to work together on issues of common concern.

“I had been to the BBA for their programs, but hadn’t been very involved in the sections until then,” said Smith. “There were lawyers from large and small firms, and from different backgrounds and practice areas, and they were all there working to advance the values of the bar. Given that the type of litigation that we engage in can be very adversarial, it’s refreshing to come to the BBA and work together on common interests.”

When the BBA sought additional expertise on the issue of adequate compensation for District Attorneys and public defenders, Smith’s long history of tackling challenges with quiet integrity became an asset to the organization.

Smith also welcomed the chance to return to his education roots as chair of the BBA’s Education Committee. Smith was a steady and guiding hand, helping sections plan and organize hundreds of legal education programs. To Cassidy, that is no surprise.

“Mark has always been a successful manager, one who is kind and generous to younger colleagues and capable of seeing the big picture,” he said.

Smith’s tenure as BBA president comes at a pivotal time. With the BBA’s Criminal Justice Working Group preparing to release a report, and the state legislature ready to act, Smith feels that the time for meaningful criminal justice reform is now.

“Criminal justice reform is extremely important. Too often, young people get caught up in the system and once they’ve been arraigned, they’re in the database,” explained Smith. “Any future employer or landlord may have access to that criminal offender record information [CORI] and that person can be denied a job, housing and suffer other damaging collateral consequences.”

In Smith’s experience, many of these offenses are eventually dismissed, but the record often remains. This is an issue that Smith is eager to address.

“While criminal justice reform is top of mind in the legislature, our working group is trying to advance topics like CORI, bail reform, expansion of diversion programs, and other reforms.  I think that there could be common ground between our proposals and the views held by prosecutors and the thinking of the various District Attorneys.  I am optimistic that we can work together and make progress.”

Laredo says that no one is better at finding this common ground than Smith. “Mark has this incredible ability to objectively see both sides of an issue, and bring people together to collaborate on a solution,” he said. “He is going to be an outstanding advocate for the profession.”

Collora + Hogan Lovells = A Winning Combination

Collora LLP is used to receiving business propositions.

In the thirty years since the firm was founded by Thomas E. Dwyer, Jr., Michael A. Collora and Kathy B. Weinman, Collora has been approached several times by national firms looking to plant a flag in Boston. In those cases, firms received a polite “thanks, but no thanks” from Collora leadership. But Hogan Lovells was different.  Earlier this month, the two firms announced plans to combine on September 1st, but in reality the partnership goes back much further.

“Collora and Hogan have worked together for more than ten years in connection with a number of mutual clients and matters,” explained Maria Durant, a Collora partner and co-chair of the firm’s Ethics Committee. “Through that work, we’ve learned a lot about the attorneys at Hogan Lovells, about the exceptional quality of their work, and about the culture of the firm. So when we learned that Hogan Lovells was considering opening a Boston office, and they called us, it made perfect sense for us to enter into discussions.”

As discussions took place, the complementary nature of the firms became apparent to all. Collora’s litigation and investigation work – particularly in the areas of life sciences, higher education and financial services – rounded out the range of services offered by Hogan Lovells. And Hogan’s regulatory, IP, and corporate expertise had been tapped by Collora over the years for the benefit of their clients.

“Once we started talking, it became more and more apparent that this would be a wonderful combination for both firms,” said Durant.

From the perspective of Hogan Lovells, the addition of a well-known, well-established firm in a thriving life sciences market was an ideal scenario.

“Boston is the leading place in the country, if not the world, for life sciences,” said Asher Rubin, a partner at Hogan Lovells and Global Head of the firm’s Life Sciences Industry Group. “Hogan had originally been an ‘inside the Beltway’ DC firm. Back then, the view was that the two cities didn’t cross over. But the national and global economies have changed, and lawyers are more mobile. Hogan has a competitive advantage in the strength of our regulatory practice. We have a deep bench in regulatory aspects of law, and especially with life sciences, so having a presence in Boston made sense.”

But having seen and read about other firms setting up shop in Boston with a handful of attorneys transplanted from other offices, firm leadership knew that wasn’t the strategy for them.

“We wanted to make certain that what we did was sustainable and had critical mass, from a people standpoint, a business standpoint, and a community standpoint,” continued Rubin. “We really wanted a well-known, highly regarded law firm with local practitioners, with a focus on the life sciences industry. Collora satisfied all those requirements in a way that exceeded our expectations.”

Looking ahead, the firms are in the process of integrating teams and identifying new opportunities for their clients. There are plans for “thoughtful growth” in Boston, but for the time being attorneys will remain at Collora’s current offices at 100 High Street. And when it comes to public service and support for legal services, the combined firms have no plans to alter course.

Since its founding 30 years ago, Collora has been committed to pro bono work and community and bar organization service.   “Service to the bar and the community is part of the fabric of Collora.  We are proud that two past BBA Presidents hail from our firm as well as several past and current BBA section co-chairs,”  said Durant, who herself will co-chair the BBA’s 2017 Annual Meeting Steering Committee.

Members of the firm also serve on the Boards of Greater Boston Legal Services, Appleseed Foundation, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice and Women’s Bar Foundation.  “It was essential to us that any firm we partnered with shared a commitment to legal and community service and Hogan Lovells does just that.   “We fully expect that the Hogan Lovells Boston office will continue to be active in the Boston community well into the future.”

The Most Interesting Lawyer of the Week: DLA Piper’s Robert Sherman Teaches the Art of the Trial in Trinidad and Tobago

Mention Trinidad and Tobago, and most people conjure up images of beaches, palm trees, or perhaps the scarlet ibis, the island’s national bird. But for DLA Piper, the Caribbean nation is a reminder of a certain police academy, and some remarkable people working in it.

A Spanish colony from the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1498, Trinidad and Tobago was ceded to Britain in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens.  And while the country obtained independence in 1962, much of its government is based in British law, including the practice of appointing police prosecutors.

“In the lower criminal courts – the Magistrate’s Court – much of the prosecution is done by police prosecutors, many of whom are not trained as lawyers,” explained Robert Sherman, a white collar criminal defense lawyer and partner at DLA Piper’s Boston office. “They are members of the police department who are appointed to serve as the prosecution arm for misdemeanors and other lesser criminal cases. But they are up against seasoned, trial-trained lawyers representing defendants. They have not had the training to fairly present the cases in the court.”

Sherman and several of his DLA Piper colleagues are working to change that. In collaboration with the firm’s international pro bono affiliate, New Perimeter, and the National Center on State Courts (NCSC), firm attorneys have visited the island to conduct multi-day training sessions on trial advocacy. The project is part of a justice reform program funded by the US State Department. Using a purse-snatching incident as a case study, Sherman and his colleagues mentored about 50 of Trinidad and Tobago’s police prosecutors on the different phases of a trial, including opening statements, direct examination, cross examination and closing statements. The main idea, says Sherman, is to teach the prosecutors to take a step back and consider the overall theme of the case they are trying to make.

“We talked a lot about developing a theory about the case. What’s the story they are trying to present? As a prosecutor, if you can capture that in your own mind, much of what you then do flows from that,” he said. “If your theory is that a young woman was walking home in the dark and was  attacked from behind, how does your case theme match up with what you’re trying to prove? We worked with them to learn how to synthesize a bunch of facts into a theory and then build that into a strategy in the courtroom.”

In May, Sherman, along with three of his colleagues from DLA Piper offices around the world, spent three days at the island’s police academy, facilitating a series of lectures and interactive exercises. In addition to learning how to build their own case, the police prosecutors also gained insight into strategies for the defense.

“When we’re doing a prosecution direct examination, we’ll have someone from the police department play the defense lawyer, and one of the DLA attorneys plays the judge. We’ll ask them to make objections and then we will respond to them as judges. It teaches not only the correct style of making objections – when to make them, when not to make them, when they’re over used, when they’re under used – it also teaches them the perspective of the defense lawyer. Being able to present the facts from the other side really helps you understand the building of a case theory. In the end, what you see over the course of the three days is this incredible transformation as advocates. It’s amazing to watch.”

The Trinidad and Tobago project is the second in a series of police prosecutor trainings the firm and New Perimeter have undertaken. The first took place in Guyana in 2011, and the firm is currently working with NCSC to plan additional trainings in the region. For New Perimeter, whose aim is to provide long-term pro bono legal assistance in under-served regions around the world, this work falls squarely within their mission, according to DLA Piper’s pro bono counsel Suzanna Brickman.

“We have several focus areas at New Perimeter, including enhancing access to justice, building sound legal institutions, and promoting economic development,” she explained. “This rule of law work is an exciting opportunity with a lot of impact.”

“DLA Piper has a really strong commitment to doing pro bono work,” Sherman added. “As a global firm, we have the resources to make an impact broadly around the world. The work in Guyana – and now Trinidad and Tobago – is the kind of pro bono project that speaks to our obligations, as lawyers, to give back, and to do it in a way that’s consistent with the global firm that we are.”

Meet the Managing Partner: Nixon Peabody’s Ruth Silman

Nixon Peabody’s Ruth Silman on Finding her Path, Creating Communities, and Sensing Ahead

Ruth Silman’s path to the law is, in her words, “a winding one.” She’s a managing partner who once thought she’d never join a big firm, and a juris doctorate holder who thought she’d never practice law. So how did the BU Law grad end up leading the Boston office of a Global 100 firm? It started in a somewhat unlikely place: the National Park Service.

“I spent one summer during college in Washington, D.C. working in the policy office of the National Park Service,” Silman explained. “The woman I worked for was both a boss and a mentor.  She said ‘I’m going to do for you what somebody else once did for me.’ And she opened her rolodex and set up meetings for me with people throughout the city.”

Silman spent that summer meeting many people, from members of Congress to employees at The White House. Most of them were women, and the vast majority had gone to law school, although none practiced law. Their advice to her was to do the same:  Go to law school to hone your skills to think critically and analytically. Ruth took that advice and enrolled at Boston University School of Law.  She looked forward to the intellectual rigor, but had not planned to practice law. That all changed during her first semester.

“I was sitting in Torts Class just absorbing all of it,” she said. “My professor was both a doctor and a lawyer. He started talking about a toxic tort case that he was working on, and honestly, my entire career path became clear. I thought: I could do that for a living. I could investigate. I could figure out the law and the policy. I could help people. I could clean up the environment. Being an attorney was an opportunity to do all of that.”

After spending a year in the Attorney General’s environmental protection division following graduation, Silman transitioned to Anderson & Kreiger, where she practiced “litigation by day, and land use by night.” But Silman missed focusing on certain environmental issues like the Clean Air Act. In 2000, she made the move to Nixon Peabody, and immediately found herself working on environmental and renewable energy issues not just in Boston, but around the country.

“All of a sudden I had this national reach. I had the opportunity to work on cases from New England to California. There were so many clean air cases to work on, I felt like a kid in a candy store. And as renewable energy has grown, I’ve been able to broaden the breadth of my practice.” Silman has also had the opportunity to strengthen her land use practice, working closely with the firm’s preeminent affordable housing group.  “We create communities for people who are underprivileged and underserved.”  One project makes Silman particularly proud.  “A few years ago, one of our clients, Beacon Communities, was designated as the redeveloper for the initial phases of the Boston Housing Authority’s Old Colony project in South Boston.  We had an extraordinarily tight deadline to permit the project and begin construction.  Old Colony was a series of three-story concrete block buildings that stretched for ‘megablocks’ with little light or green space.”  Silman was part of a team that helped to reorient the development to the existing neighborhood and the nearby waterfront by building a series of beautiful new buildings.  “I brought my kids to the ribbon cutting and as we walked through the development, the residents kept thanking us for giving them true ‘homes’ that were not only safe and clean, but truly integrated.  I am very lucky to be able to help my clients navigate through the maze of permits and regulations to build new communities.”

Today, as Silman’s first year as managing partner of Nixon Peabody’s Boston office comes to a close, she’s looking ahead. Her vision for the office is a three-pronged one, including community, diversity and sustainability. She sees engagement in the community as not only a vital means of giving back, but also an important part of reaffirming the firm’s place as a corporate citizen.  “More of our attorneys are involved with non-profits and offering their time to community service.  We are living in a day and age when too many people are underprivileged; we have to do our part to help.”

Nixon Peabody is also working to move the needle on increasing diversity, something that – as the first female managing partner in the firm’s Boston Office – is important to her. To that end, the firm has hired a head of diversity and inclusion who focuses on this effort full time.   Silman owes a great deal to her family for its never-ending support, as well as to her numerous mentors and sponsors who have helped throughout her career. She wants to be a role model for others.

Silman is also focused on sustainability – literally as well as figuratively. In the next few years, the Boston office will follow an office renovation model other Nixon Peabody locations have undertaken, with a focus on more collaboration space and using lots of glass and light to create a transparent feel making less space feel like more. But what is also of importance is the sustainability of the firm’s people. “I want to make sure we’re paying attention to the long term viability of our people. This includes offering benefits such as flex-time and flex-place, but I also want to continue to motivate people to love what they do, and maintain that sense of being ‘in it’ together. This is very important to me.”

“Our mantra here is ‘sense ahead.’ As I see it, we need to stay on the cutting edge substantively, perhaps even outside of our traditional comfort zones.  It is what keeps us entrepreneurial and intuitive. Our clients are in situations where they have to make choices, and it’s never a ‘white hat, black hat’ scenario like you see in the movies. There are always shades of gray.  New issues arise daily.  When a client asks you what they should do, you’ve got to dig into your intuition and your judgment to inform them of their choices and provide a recommendation. This is our value. There are very few absolutes in the world. And that’s good. It is what keeps the work and the practice of law interesting.”