BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES – Many large law firms have entered Chicago in the last two years, including through mergers and acquisitions. And the experience of Crowell & Moring, which entered the city a year ago through a merger with IP firm Brinks Gilson & Lione, highlights that law firms are capturing new work in the city by expanding on client relationships from the legacy firms or groups they acquired, reports Andrew Maloney. “I think our largest potential for growth is with existing clients,” said Gus Siller, former president of Brinks and now co-chair of Crowell’s technology and IP department. “And both Crowell and legacy Brinks had significant clients in the Chicago market. Crowell had some clients in the Chicago market that Brinks didn’t have, so we’re looking to grow clients in both directions.” Developing existing client relationships is a common way for firms to grow, said Kent Zimmermann, a law firm management consultant who advised on the Crowell-Brinks merger. And when merger discussions get interesting, it’s often because “each of the firms starts to look and identify what opportunities they’re leaving on the table to serve their own clients.”
BLURRY LINES – For a growing number of corporate counsel, the line between the personal and professional has become as blurry as the answer to this seemingly straightforward question: Should in-house legal leaders take public stances on controversial social issues? “The question itself reflects the changing nature of the general counsel role. It’s gone beyond legal advice and compliance to being really a broad counselor to the corporation and the CEO,” said Eric Greenberg, executive VP, general counsel and corporate secretary at Atlanta-based Cox Media Group. The debate over whether legal department leaders should weigh in on hot-button topics isn’t novel, reports Phillip Bantz, but it heated up recently when in-house lawyers reacted on social media to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and ended federal abortion rights.