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March 2024 Legal Industry News Highlights: Law Firm Hiring News, Industry Awards and Recognition, and Women in Law
Friday, March 29, 2024

Welcome back to another edition of the National Law Review’s legal industry news roundup. Please read below for the latest in law firm hiring and expansion news, key industry awards and recognition and a spotlight on important women in law updates for Women's History Month.

Law Firm Hiring and Expansion

Blank Rome LLP expanded its Chicago office, adding three new attorneys to its Corporate Litigation group: partners Daniel R. Saeedi and Rachel L. Schaller, and associate Gabrielle Ganze. Mr. Saeedi, Ms. Schaller and Ms. Ganze join Blank Rome’s Chicago office from Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP. Blank Rome’s Chicago office is now home to over 25 attorneys, having opened in 2019 with four partners. 

Mr. Saeedi, Ms. Schaller and Ms. Ganze focus their practice on class action litigation, privacy and biometrics, trade secrets litigation, technology and information security and employment law. Mr. Saeedi will be team co-lead of the Biometric Privacy team.

Mr. Saeedi earned his J.D. from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law and his B.A. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Ms. Schaller earned her J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law and her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ms. Ganze earned her J.D. from the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law and her B.A. from the University of Illinois Chicago.

Grant S. Palmer, Blank Rome’s chair and managing Partner, welcomed Mr. Saeedi, Ms. Schaller and Gabrielle Ganze, saying: “We are very excited to welcome Daniel, Rachel, and Gabrielle to Blank Rome. In addition to their significant trial experience, Daniel, Rachel, and Gabrielle have a thorough understanding of biometric privacy laws, which started with the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act and continue to be enacted in municipalities and states across the country. This team will provide our clients with valuable counseling related to biometric privacy best practices, as well as litigation counsel when disputes arise.”

John Ritter and Amy Hinzmann joined the senior leadership executive team of UnitedLex as chief operating officer (COO) and executive vice president, Corporate & Commercial Services, respectively. Mr. Ritter has held numerous C-suite roles at Oliver Technology Corporation, Breakwater Solutions and DiscoverReady and was previously an executive at Bank of America. Ms. Hinzmann has also served in a variety of C-suite roles, including positions at Consilio, Cimplifi and most recently Oliver Technology Corporation. She also spent several years at DiscoverReady.

As COO, Mr. Ritter is responsible for optimizing the company’s core operational functions and driving the efficiency and quality of UnitedLex services. “The reputation of UnitedLex for providing groundbreaking solutions across multiple legal and business verticals has always intrigued me,” said Mr. Ritter. “As the company’s first Chief Operating Officer, I’m honored to join the team and to continue the UnitedLex tradition by leveraging my experience leading global operations and my legal background to optimize existing processes and to create new mission-critical solutions that drive quality and reduce cost for corporations and law firms.”

Ms. Hinzmann will lead UnitedLex’s Corporate & Commercial Services division, which includes Contracts Management, Legal Operations, Privacy, Outside Counsel Management and LexLoan. “Building on its history of innovation, UnitedLex is bringing energy to the legal market with solutions that help lawyers rethink how they align their teams to deliver against broader business goals,” said Ms. Hinzmann. “As the mandate to modernize grows across legal, I’m excited to help shape and co-create solution offerings with our clients that make them more successful.”   

Dykema added Benjamin Bayram as a senior counsel in its Real Estate Practice Group, located in the firm’s Bloomfield Hills, MI office. With his experience handling real estate transactions, Mr. Bayram further strengthens the firm’s expertise in real estate matters. He focuses his practice on acquisitions, sales, leasing, development, land use, zoning and litigation, and has experience litigating breach of contract matters, declaratory actions, quiet title actions, slander of title matters, actions involving receiverships and other outcomes of real estate transactions.

“We are excited to welcome Ben to our firm,” said Adam Fishkind, managing member of Dykema’s Bloomfield Hills office. “We were thrilled to find someone with his abilities and depth of experience. Ben will be a valuable addition to our Bloomfield Hills office.”

Anne Wang and Lauren Schneider joined Frost Brown Todd as partners in the firm’s Intellectual Property Practice Group in the Los Angeles office. Ms. Wang has nearly 35 years of experience in intellectual property law, specializing in crafting and managing patent portfolios in the mechanical, electromechanical and electrical systems fields.

Ms. Schneider has over 20 years of experience in U.S. and international patent procurement, portfolio development and licensing and monetization. Ms. Wang earned her J.D. at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law and B.S. at the University of California, Los Angeles. Ms. Schneider earned her J.D. at the Southwestern University School of Law and B.S. at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Welcoming Ms. Wang and Ms. Schneider, Los Angeles Office Partner-in-Charge Raúl F. Salinas said, “As two highly respected leaders in the intellectual property space with deep ties to the region, we know Anne and Lauren will play an important role in enhancing our Los Angeles offering, particularly as California continues to be a hub for technology and life sciences innovation.”

Legal Industry Awards and Recognition

Business Insurance recognized Rachel E. Hudgins, counsel in the Insurance Coverage and Litigation practices at Hunton Andrews Kurth, as a 2024 Break Out Award winner. Break Out Awards honor the next generation of insurance industry leaders and are open to nominees from the commercial insurance and risk management sector who have less than 15 years of experience in the industry.

Ms. Hudgins focuses her practice on complex insurance coverage litigation and provides risk transfer advice to her clients, who describe her as their “chief contact for high-exposure coverage work.” She has litigated hundreds of insurance coverage and bad faith claims, and always helps her clients maximize their available insurance recovery.

Axiom: Business Book Awards awarded Stephen M. Kohn a gold medal in the Business Reference category for his book, “The Rules for Whistleblowers: A Handbook for Doing What’s Right.” The Axiom Business Book Awards bring awareness to outstanding business books and their authors. 

Mr. Kohn is well-known as a pioneer of whistleblower law and advocacy. He is a partner in the whistleblower law firm Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto and the chairman of the board of directors of the National Whistleblower Center. In addition to “Rules for Whistleblowers: A Handbook for Doing What’s Right,” Mr. Kohn authored the first legal treatise on whistleblowing and is the world’s most published author on whistleblower protection.

Michigan Lawyers Weekly named Stephanie Setterington, partner at Varnum, as a Go To Lawyer for Employment Law. This program honors top lawyers in Michigan who practice labor and employment law

Ms. Setterington has been a partner on Varnum’s Labor and Employment Practice Team for more than 25 years. She advises clients on employment litigation defense, human resources and affirmative action matters, and has additional experience assisting higher education institutions and independent schools in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (Clery Act) and other education laws.

Women’s History Month Feature on Women in Law

Katten and its partners Ronni Davidowitz, Kathryn von Matthiessen and Joshua Rubenstein received recognition at Citywealth's 2024 Powerwomen Awards at the Deutsche Bank Centre in Manhattan during Women's History Month. The Powerwomen Awards highlight women in the wealth sector and honor individuals and companies who promote the potential of women in wealth.

Katten received the gold award for Best Employer in the Career Progression category, while Ms. Davidowitz received gold in the Champion of the Year - USA category. Ms. Davidowitz, head of Katten's New York Private Wealth practice, supports clients in the legal, business, tax and personal issues that come with estate planning and wealth management. She received her J.D. from St. John's University School of Law and her B.A. from Queens College, The City University of New York.

Ms. von Matthiessen received the gold award for Woman of the Year – USA, and Mr. Rubenstein was recognized with the silver award for International Mentor of the Year. Ms. von Matthiessen, Partner in Katten’s Private Wealth practice, counsels clients on income and transfer tax optimization. She holds an LLM in Taxation from New York University School of Law, a J.D. from Columbia Law School and a B.A. from Carleton College.

Mr. Rubenstein, partner and national chair of Katten’s Private Wealth Department, offers planning, administration and litigation counseling for individuals and their estates and businesses. He received his J.D. and B.A. degrees from Columbia University.

Womble Bond Dickinson Partner Tara Cho wrote a personal essay about her professional journey for a new American Bar Association publication. Her essay, “Getting Out of the Box (No Matter How We Got In),” was included in “Her Story: The Resilient Woman Lawyer's Guide to Conquering Obstacles, Book 2, which is the second book from the ABA Litigation Section's Woman Advocate Committee

Ms. Cho is the chair of Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP's Privacy and Cybersecurity Team in Raleigh, where she focuses her practice on privacy and data security in industries including technology, retail, e-commerce, healthcare, health-tech and life sciences. She is certified as a legal specialist in Privacy and Information Security Law by the North Carolina State Bar Board of Legal Specialization.

Maggie Hickey, partner at ArentFox Schiff and co-leader of the firm’s Complex Litigation and Government Enforcement & White Collar groups, is listed among Crain’s Chicago Business’ Notable Women in Law for 2024. This is her fourth time being included on the list, having previously been honored in 2018, 2020 and 2023. This distinction is reserved for women who act as mentors to other women in their firms and who use their expertise outside of work in communities and nonprofits.

In her position at ArentFox Schiff, Ms. Hickey oversees nearly 300 attorneys and advises clients on internal investigations, compliance programs and sexual harassment issues. She has been an active role model throughout her career, and has been involved in organizations such as the former Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago, the Oak Park River Forest Infant Welfare Society and the Mikva Challenge Foundation.

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