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The Legal 500 Hall of Fame highlights individuals who have received constant praise by their clients for continued excellence. The Hall of Fame highlights, to clients, the law firm partners who are at the pinnacle of the profession. Starting with the United States, the criteria for entry is to have been recognised by The Legal 500 as one of the elite leading lawyers for six consecutive years. Fewer than 500 partners across the entire United States have made it into the inaugural list. These partners are highlighted below and throughout the editorial.

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United States > Media, technology and telecoms > Overview > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Contentious work remains at the forefront of most practices in the advertising and marketing space, and 2015 saw a renewed focus on the Lanham Act and an increased number of false advertising claims being brought by clients across a wide array of sectors. Consumer class actions continued to be prominent, as did challenges before the NAD, the FTC and other regulatory bodies, which remain a key driver of work for practices across the market. Highly contentious sectors include pharmaceuticals, media, and food and beverages, with the precedent-setting POM Wonderful vs Coca-Cola Supreme Court case a particularly notable example. The 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) - which is being used in new ways to restrict the use of unsolicited advertisements via text or other direct messages to mobile devices - was another active area, as was online advertising and internet promotions, which reflects the importance of digital media and the growing influence that social media has on advertising and marketing campaigns.

An increased awareness of risk management in the cybersecurity arena has resulted in a huge surge in interest in cybersecurity insurance. HIPAA compliance continues to be a key driver of work, including in relation to digital health matters, and with the Federal Election Commission also putting an emphasis on data security and internet regulations, there is no shortage of work at present for those active in the cyber law space. The FCC has become much more active in enforcement actions beyond just telecoms companies, and the latest TCPA interpretation has resulted in a new area of litigation involving text messaging. Covington & Burling LLP, Hogan Lovells US LLP and Hunton & Williams LLP are particularly prominent in the market.

In January 2016, the European Commission announced it had come to an agreement with the US on a framework to replace Safe Harbor - the legal structure that protected over 4,000 companies with the transfer of personal data between the US and Europe. The EU-US Privacy Shield aims to eliminate previous concerns regarding mass surveillance, which prompted the invalidation of Safe Harbor in October 2015 in a ruling by the European Court of Justice. It is expected that the new guidelines will develop into a fully functional framework sometime in April 2016. The legislative changes had unprecedented implications for cross-border work, and resulted in a hive of activity for data lawyers. The breaches that dominated the headlines - such as Neiman Marcus, Home Depot, Sony and Target - serve as a stark warning to companies of the importance of incident preparedness and tabletop exercises, which again means more work for firms operating in this area. Hogan Lovells US LLP and Hunton & Williams LLP are particularly noted for their leadership in the field.

The outsourcing market remained very active, with the nature of the work evolving to include increasingly large amounts of data to take into consideration and putting processing services in a prominent position in outsourcing deals. The combination of cloud computing and more traditional outsourcings has resulted in a new, more complex hybrid, and with ever greater concerns about IT security, an increasing number of those types of services are being outsourced too. The Affordable Care Act is driving activity in the healthcare space, as healthcare payers seek to outsource certain business processes. Outsourcing work is undoubtedly modernizing, with new marketing initiatives and overall a less conventional approach to structuring deals. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, Mayer Brown and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP are real leaders in the field. Notable changes in the law firm market included a team from K&L Gates moving to McDermott Will & Emery LLP.

The technology transactions market continued to grow, with deal volume up and an increasingly active cross-border aspect involving Asia and Europe. Given the wider market turbulence, it was, unsurprisingly, a disappointing year for IPOs, but in M&A - particularly on behalf of public companies - lawyers were extremely busy. The proliferation of technology into other industries, such as healthcare, education, finance and motoring, ensures that technology transactions specialists are increasingly relied upon for advice on novel and ever more complex deals. Cloud computing-related work was on the up, as was work relating to cybersecurity, and these are both trends that are expected to continue in 2016.

In 2015, subjects such as net neutrality and consolidation continued to dominate the legal market. Both on the transactional and the regulatory side, multibillion-dollar mergers, such as the Time Warner Cable/Comcast and AT&T/DirecTV deals, have generated the bulk of the work. Oppositions to these mergers by competitors such as Dish Network and Netflix was another key driver of work for firms in the market.

After a years of public debate, 2015 brought new developments in the issue of net neutrality. In February 2015, the FCC voted on new regulations that will determine how internet access services will operate in the future. These new changes are welcomed, especially by net neutrality advocates, as the new statutes prohibit discrimination and additional charging regarding internet services based on user, content, or mode of communication.

Another key development in 2015 was the FCC’s announced initiative to free up spectrum for wireless broadband use. The idea is to incentivize licensees to relinquish spectrum usage rights in exchange for a share of the proceeds from the auction of new licenses. This has been a boon to both transactional and regulatory groups.

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  • Bulgaria: Opening the gas market for foreign traders!

    Most recently, the Bulgarian Energy Regulator has taken significant steps towards the full liberalisation of the natural gas market: In December 2016, the Bulgarian Energy Regulator adopted legislative amendments to the Rules for Trading of Natural Gas ( Правила за търговия с природен газ , " Trading Rules ") and the Rules for Access to the Gas Transmission and/or Gas Distribution Networks and the Natural Gas Storage Facilities ( Правила за предоставяне на достъп до газопреносните и/или газоразпределителните мрежи и за достъп до съоръженията за съхранение на природен газ , " Access Rules "). Moreover, it adopted new Rules for Balancing of the Natural Gas Market ( Правила за балансиране на пазара за природен газ , " Balancing Rules "). read more...
  • When Arbitration Meets Insolvency in Montenegro - Can They Coexist?

    Even at first blush, it is apparent that arbitration and insolvency make strange bedfellows.
  • Hungary: Registration Fees for Company Establishment Abolished

    In an aim to simplify state administration and support economic growth, the Hungarian Parliament adopted a new law abolishing the registration fee and the publication cost for incorporating limited liability companies (" LLC ") ( korlátolt felelősségű társaság ), limited partnerships ( betéti társaság ), general partnerships ( közkereseti társaság ), and sole entrepreneurships ( egyéni cég ). The new law becomes effective on 16 March 2017. read more...
  • SyCipLaw TMT Bulletin: Philippine Central Bank Issues New FinTech Rules

    The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) (the Philippine Central Bank) has issued two new circulars that will be of interest to companies engaged in remittance services, e-money, digital currency, and other fintech businesses. Both circulars amend portions of the BSP Manual of Regulations for Non-Bank Financial Institutions.
  • IFLR: “Philippines: Foreign equity ownership decision”

    The March issue of the International Financial Law Review ( IFLR ) includes an international briefing article by SyCipLaw partner  Jose Florante M. Pamfilo  entitled “Philippines: Foreign equity ownership decision”. The article discusses the Philippine Supreme Court decision on the case of Roy v. Herbosa (GR no. 207246) to invalidate the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Memorandum Circular no. 8-2013 (MC 8-2013) on the guidelines on compliance with the Filipino-foreign ownership requirements prescribed in the Philippine Constitution and/or existing laws by corporations engaged in nationalized and partly nationalized activities.
  • New regulation on unit-linked life insurance in Hungary

    Policyholders of unit-linked life insurance products pay an agreed sum for the unit-linked insurance to the insurance company, as a regular premium, or in one lump sum. These payments cover the life insurance component as well as the investment, administrative costs, contracting fee and the commissions. The "total cost charged" ("TCC") is an indicator – calculated in line with the rules of Hungarian insurance regulations – showing all costs charged on life insurance policies having a savings element, reflected as a percentage value. The regulation of the TCC in Hungary has been amended effective 1 January 2017. read more...
  • Hungary: Increase of Minimum Sale Price May Affect Retail NPL Transactions?

    On 7 March 2017, the Hungarian parliament adopted a law that increases the minimum sale price of a residential property in the enforcement procedure from the current 70% of its market value to 100% (market value to be understood as the price set by the appraisal of the bailiff), provided that (i) the claim to be enforced stems from a consumer contract; (ii) the real property is the debtor's only real property; and (iii) the debtor resided in that real property for at least six months prior to the initiation of the enforcement procedure.   read more...
  • European Court of Justice rules for the first time on discrimination based on belief

    The Court of Justice confirms a policy of neutrality can justify discrimination based on belief.
  • RECENT COURT ORDER ON GOOGLE RELATED TO PROTECTING INFORMATION RIGHTS

    Korean appeals court orders Google to disclose to Korean users what personal information Google passed to U.S. government.
  • ECJ CASE C-28/26 - RECOVERABILITY OF INPUT VAT OF A HOLDING COMPANY

    Case C-28/26 - Examines the right of a holding company to deduct input VAT on services acquired in the interest of its subsidiaries where those services are offered to its subsidiaries with no consideration.

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