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CC100 roundtable

A must-read for all in-house lawyers and all partners at law firms - The Legal 500 gathered 15 of the Corporate Counsel 100 in New York to discuss the issues that matter to them. To find out what the legal buyers from companies with a market capitalisation of $1,223 billion really think, click here for the full transcript as a pdf.

Now available: The Legal 500 Canada 2013 in print and ebook formats (for iPad, iPhone and Kindle)

"The Corporate Counsel 100: United States, which identifies the most powerful corporate legal advisers in the United States.

We have canvassed opinion from our 2.5 million in-house readers and partners at law firms across the US, to bring you the 100 in-house stars that are driving the profession. Click here to read more...

Now available: The Legal 500 United States 2013 in print and ebook formats (for iPad, iPhone and Kindle)

Now available - The Legal 500 United States 2013.

Firms in the spotlight

The full in-depth, comprehensive analysis of law firms across the United States is available to view at www.legal500.com now - no registration or fee is required. The research can also be downloaded as a country-specific .epub or .mobi-formatted eBooks – ideal for use on Kindle, iPad, iPhone and Android/Blackberry readers.


roundtabledb8

The Legal 500 and Venable LLP held a roundtable discussion with six GCs from a variety of industry sectors in Washington DC. Topics that were discussed included alternative fee arrangements, retention of in-house staff, budgetary pressures and relationships with law firms. The full transcript of the roundtable discussion is available to download here. If you have any comments on the topics discussed, please email david.burgess@legal500.com

The Legal 500 readership survey

The Legal 500 is conducting its first global survey of how corporate counsel and law firms use The Legal 500. We would be grateful if you could spend 10 minutes answering the survey questions to aid us in improving our research and how we deliver it. Click here to give us your feedback.

The Legal 500 Historical Data: historical rankings and analysis

Now available: The Legal 500 Historical Data – a new interactive service available exclusively to commercial partners. The site contains historical rankings from 2008-2013 from The Legal 500 United Kingdom, United States, Europe, Middle East & Africa, and Asia Pacific. Users are able to manipulate the raw data to produce and download reports including comparing and contrasting your firm with your peers and competitors, and customising data which can be used in pitch documents and RFPs. Visit www.legal500.com/historicaldata for more information.

Editor's Selections from The Legal 500 United States...

Finance

FINANCE

The market for asset finance continues to improve, particularly for the aviation side. The market is finding room for increasingly innovative products, including the use of Enhanced Equipment Trust Certificate (EETC) structures, as well as a greater number of asset-backed securitizations. The need for innovation has ensured a continued flight to quality when it comes to which law firms get instructed. Those with strong client bases among export credit agencies and aircraft lessors report robust activity. The picture is more bleak for the ship finance side, which remains in the doldrums. Nevetheless, the distressed nature of the industry has attracted work from clients in the private equity and hedge fund industry.

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Industry focus

INDUSTRY FOCUS

Baker Botts L.L.P. is ‘one of the premier firms’ and has a large and experienced energy litigation team, split across Houston and Washington DC as well as Moscow. The group ‘gets the job done’ and is complemented by a strong regulatory practice. The firm is best known for its comprehensive oil and gas expertise at state and federal level, and is handling an increasing number of high-profile disputes in the shale sector. William Kroger, who was appointed department co-chair in 2012, is advising Murphy Oil Exploration & Production and Marathon Oil in two discrete, wide-reaching disputes concerning their investments in America’s largest crude oil shale play at Eagle Ford, Texas. Kroger and Travis Sales are representing Shell and BASF Corporation in disputes with PEMEX, Mexico’s national oil company, which alleges that these and other US companies purchased hydrocarbons stolen from Mexico and smuggled over the border. The firm’s presence is growing in the electricity market and Brooksany Barrowes is representing the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) transmission owners in opposing controversial utilities’ proposals pertaining to the issue of power portability. Fellow department co-chair Mark Robeck and Greg Copeland, who is ‘one of the best energy litigation lawyers’, continue to defend Reliant Energy against allegations of price manipulation during the 2000-01 California energy crisis. Macey Reasoner Stokes is leading a team representing CenterPoint Energy Houston Electric in its appeal regarding rate changes. The practice is also increasingly active in mining, technological and environmental disputes: it represented BP Alternative Energy in a nuisance claim relating to the construction and operation of a wind farm, and the possibility of a larger wind farm being built nearby in northern Texas. Other clients include Ameren Corporation, ExxonMobil, Enbridge, GenOnEnergy, Repsol Energy, Jones Energy, and Hydro-Québec. John Anaipakos and senior associate Jason Newman are recommended. Elaine Walsh joined the practice from Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Russell Lewis was promoted to the partnership.

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Intellectual property

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

Many types of firms, from large IP boutiques to full-service international law firms, populate the top end of the intellectual property market. Indeed, full-service firms are increasingly specialising in IP to capitalize on the growing workload in global brand protection, particularly in the emerging technology sector. General practice firms also dominate IP litigation work, as they often offer stronger trial capabilities to handle leading, higher-value cases in court proceedings. Smaller IP boutiques continue to struggle in an increasingly competitive market.

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Investment fund formation and management

INVESTMENT FUND FORMATION AND MANAGEMENT

The global hedge funds industry, which now numbers approximately 8,000 participants managing $2.2 trillion in assets, was faced with another mediocre year, with industry returns up by 3% in 2012, a far cry from the 18% rise experienced by the S&P 500 index. Despite market volatility in Europe and elsewhere, global macro hedge funds continued to be a key market driver, representing 34% of all fund launches in 2012. The traditional "long/short" strategy, which has long been the dominant strategy for hedge funds, is gradually losing its lustre. In addition, the market has seen a proliferation of seed funds, single-investor funds, and managed account platforms. The result is that legal advisors are increasingly being called on to come up with novel products and fund structures for their clients. Regulatory issues continue to dominate, both at home and abroad. The Dodd-Frank Act, which imposed registration requirements for hedge funds with assets over $150m, The Volcker Rule, which has brought about spinouts of financial institutions’ proprietary trading platforms, and Europe’s Alternative Investment Fund Manager’s Directive (AIFMD) have kept legal regulatory compliance advisors busy throughout 2012. In addition, the elimination of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) sophisticated investor exemption from commodity pool operator registration and related exemption from commodity trading advisor registration has also generated a significant amount of interest from funds falling under this provision. Increased transparency in the hedge fund industry has driven new reporting requirements arising from the adoption of Form PF, which requires registered investment advisors to report information ranging from liquidity levels, counterparty reporting, and portfolio company statistics. Practices identified in these rankings are those that have the capability to advise on fund formation, as well as restructuring and regulatory managers. Work for hedge fund managers is given more emphasis, although those firms that have significant investor-side practices are duly noted. As with all the tables, top-quality advice on high-end funds are emphasized, although volume of work carried out is also taken into account.

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Labor and employment

LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT

According to the US Department of Labor (DOL), ERISA is a federal law that sets minimum standards for pension plans in private industry. ERISA requires plans to regularly provide participants with information about the plan including information about plan features and funding; sets minimum standards for participation, vesting, benefit accrual and funding; requires accountability of plan fiduciaries; and gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty. ERISA also guarantees payment of certain benefits through the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), a federally chartered corporation, if a defined plan is terminated. The DOL and Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) enforces ERISA, and it is administered by three federal agencies – the DOL, the PBGC and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Over recent years plaintiffs’ class action lawyers have targeted plans, their employer sponsors and their fiduciaries, and the US court system has been rammed with lawsuits over pension and 401(k) plans, long term disability and severance benefits, and medical cutbacks. The best defense counsel knows what events trigger litigation, how the courts interpret fiduciary obligations and what best practices to employ to minimize liability risk. There is debate at to which is best – an ERISA lawyer who can litigate or a trial lawyer who understands the rules of ERISA. Both models have their merits and take their place in the rankings.

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Litigation

Litigation

If international arbitration is ‘the dispute resolution method of choice in a globalising world’, then the burgeoning workload is the subject of ever increasing competition. More and more firms are focusing on the sector, increasing the competition for talented and experienced practitioners, even as novel funding models, such as third party financing, continue to drive overall volume. In the US, the imminent retirement of many key players of the generation that saw the practice comes to prominence is likely to cause shifts in the market.

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Media, technology and telecoms

MEDIA, TECHNOLOGY AND TELECOMS

It has been another busy year for the hi-tech and telecoms sectors, driven by technology and market convergence, a challenging economy and an uptick in transactional activity after the election. Major themes include the digitization of content across multiple platforms and different ways of delivering, promoting and utilizing content, interactive, mobile and location-based applications. Social media and financial technology are hot topics, both of which have strong data privacy and security connotations. While organizations continue to leverage technology through outsourcing and joint ventures, these initiatives are increasingly seen as strategic moves, to boost efficiency and manage costs. Cloud computing – and the issues it raises – is still bringing in work for lawyers. Transactional activity in the fast-moving telecoms and broadcast sectors has continued apace with lawyers focusing on big-ticket M&A and international joint ventures that support global consolidation as well as IPOs and complex financing deals. The regulatory environment focuses on compliance, online data collection and privacy, data protection and security, particularly in highly-regulated sectors such as financial services and healthcare, as well as regulatory and ownership issues in the telecoms and broadcast sectors which have sometimes prevented or delayed big-ticket deals.

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Mergers, acquisitions and buyouts

MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS AND BUYOUTS

For much of 2012, the United States M&A market was a largely, changeable environment. Although the pipelines of several M&A groups began the year on a positive note, transaction levels petered out around the summer. Nonetheless, many practitioners reported a wave of dispositions in the last quarter of the year, especially in the middle-market, which was prompted by the prospect of capital gains tax rises, designed to reduce the budget deficit.

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Real estate and construction

REAL ESTATE AND CONSTRUCTION

The US construction market has been slowly recovering over the past few quarters, and law firms are seeing their clients bidding more aggressively for work. This upward trend appears to be driven largely by the energy sector and by the large public works projects launched by the US government as part of its various economic stimulus measures. In addition, and in part because of the continued boom in the energy and infrastructure sectors, certain local markets such as Texas and Northern California are seeing strong activity. Demand from certain international markets is also helping to ease the pressure on law firms as they continue to contend with a suppressed and competitive domestic market.

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Tax

TAX

With the uncertainty of the market still tangible, transactional work continues to be fairly slow. Though some firms have noted a pick-up in mid-market transactions, the general market remains unpredictable with flurries of activity but no clear improvement. Businesses and firms alike are more cost-conscious than ever and so deals have become increasingly tax intensive, with clients demanding value and prioritizing tax efficiency. Leading up to the ‘fiscal cliff’, firms across the board witnessed a rush of deals completing towards the end of 2012. Clients were keen to take advantage of lower tax rates prior to the expiry of the Bush Tax cuts and more generally to close deals quickly due to the uncertainty of how tax rules and regulations would change in 2013.

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Press releases

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to

Legal Developments worldwide

Legal Developments and updates from the leading lawyers in each jurisdiction. To contribute, send an email request to

Press Releases worldwide

The latest news direct from law firms. If you would like to submit press releases for your firm, send an email request to
  • Austria/Malta: Schoenherr advises Oesterreichische Volksbanken on sale of Volksbank Malta

    Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe, advised Österreichische Volksbanken-AG (OeVAG) on the sale of its fully-owned subsidiary Volksbank Malta Limited to Malta-based Mediterranean Bank plc. On 11 April 2014, OeVAG and Mediterranean Bank signed a Share Purchase Agreement for 100% of the shares in Volksbank Malta. Closing shall take place after the required approvals of the relevant regulatory bodies are received. read more...
  • Austria: Stefan Kuehteubl new head of Employment practice at Schoenherr

    Stefan Kuehteubl will join Schoenherr, a leading corporate law firm in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), as a partner and the head of the firm's Employment practice as of July 2014. A highly-regarded employment law practitioner, Kuehteubl will be returning to Schoenherr, where he previously worked as a member of its employment team between 1999 and 2004. During the past ten years, he worked in a well-known Vienna-based employment law boutique, in which he was a partner since 2008. read more...
  • Proud to continue charitable donations in 2014

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  • New Swiss Law on Product Safety

    The Swiss law on product safety ( Produktesicherheitsgesetz, PrSG) is currently scheduled to enter into force on July 1, 2010. This new law aligns Swiss product safety requirements with EU law. It applies not only to manufacturers, but to anyone who commercially or professionally markets products in Switzerland, and it introduces substantial new obligations before and after the sale of a product.
  • Chambers Global has once again recognised Pepeliaev Group's tax practice as the best in Russia

    The Chambers Global 2014 international ratings have hailed Pepeliaev Group's tax practice and the firm's managing partner Sergey Pepeliaev as Russia's best in the area of taxation (band 1 and Star Individuals). Commentators describe Mr Pepeliaev as "the father of Russian taxation." He has an outstanding reputation in tax litigation, for which he is said to be "absolutely brilliant." In addition, Chambers Global  lavishes praise on Rustem Ahmetshin (band 2), one of the firm's senior partners, who has considerable expertise in areas such as VAT and audit advice. Chambers Global sources commend Pepeliaev Group partner Valentina Akimova (band 3) as a "smart tax specialist." She has significant experience in a wide range of tax matters such as VAT, income tax and excise duties. Sources recommend Andrey Nikonov (band 3), another senior partner in the firm, as an authority on VAT, mineral extraction tax and unified social tax.  Chambers Global also rates Mr Nikonov highly for his experience in resolving tax disputes advising on the tax aspects of M&A transactions.
  • DHIR & DHIR ASSOCIATES ADVISES NATIONAL HOUSING BANK ON THE TRANCHE- II OF PUBLIC ISSUE OF TAX FREE

    Dhir & Dhir Associates advised National Housing Bank, wholly owned by Reserve Bank of India, on the Tranche- II of public issue of tax free bonds in the nature of secured, redeemable, non-convertible debentures with benefits under Section 10(15)(iv)(h) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, aggregating upto Rs. 1,000 Crore.
  • WHAT CANNOT BE DONE DIRECTLY CANNOT BE DONE INDIRECTLY ANDHRA PRADESH HIGH COURT

    In a recent landmark judgment of the Hon'ble Andhra Pradesh High Court in the matter of Deccan Chronicle Holdings Ltd. (DCHL) & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors ., the Hon'ble Court has laid down an important principal of law to the effect that SARFAESI Action can be taken by an assignee/ successor in interest only if the original lender had SARFAESI power.
  • DHIR & DHIR ASSOCIATES ADVISES NATIONAL HOUSING BANK ON THE PUBLIC ISSUE OF TAX FREE BONDS AGGREGATI

    Dhir & Dhir Associates advised National Housing Bank, wholly owned by Reserve Bank of India, on the public issue of tax free bonds in the nature of secured, redeemable, non-convertible debentures with benefits under Section 10(15)(iv)(h) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, aggregating upto Rs. 2,100 Crore.
  • Angel Buzalov from “Popov & Partners” has participated in “Legal Day 2014”of GBICC

    On 20.03.2014 was carried the first part of the annually organized forum "Legal Day" of German-Bulgarian Industrial Commercial Chamber. Representatives of the leading legal companies in Bulgaria and industry representatives also took part in the event.
  • “Popov & Partners” took part in the consultations organized by the German-Bulgarian Industrial C

    On 24.03.2014 a meeting of the Advisory Board "Law" of the German-Bulgarian Industrial Commercial Chamber (GBICC) was held. The event was attended by representatives of the business as well as lawyers from major law firms in Bulgaria, including the law firm "Popov & Partners."