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May 2024 Legal Industry News Highlights: Law Firm Hiring News, Industry Awards and Recognition, DEI and Women in Law
Friday, May 31, 2024

Welcome back to another edition of the National Law Review’s legal industry news roundup. We hope the warmer weather is treating you well! Please read below for the latest in law firm hiring and expansion news, key industry awards and recognition and a spotlight on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and women in law.

Law Firm Hiring and Expansion

Norton Rose Fulbright expanded their Washington, DC office with the addition of Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA litigator) and labor lawyer Gregory Ossi.

Mr. Ossi counsels clients in the energy production, mining, government contracting, hospitality, manufacturing and construction industries on a variety of labor law issues and ERISA-related litigation matters, including collective bargaining, mergers and acquisitions, union organizing and retiree healthcare. He is particularly focused on multiemployer pension withdrawal liability and has experience in negotiating retirement and healthcare plans under collective bargaining agreements.

Jeff Cody, Norton Rose Fulbright’s US managing partner, welcomed Mr. Ossi, saying, “Greg is a highly regarded lawyer with experience that really complements our employment and labor team, and I am pleased to welcome him to Norton Rose Fulbright. His addition underscores our focus on adding top-tier practitioners in key practice areas, especially on the East Coast.”

 “ERISA litigation is booming, and Greg has a valuable skillset in this area that our clients will appreciate,” added Shauna Clark, Norton Rose Fulbright’s US head of Employment and Labor. “His extensive experience in traditional labor law also makes him an excellent fit for our employment and labor practice.”

Ben Thompson joined Sidley Austin LLP’s London office as a partner in the Energy and Infrastructure team. Mr. Thompson has an established practice focused on energy and infrastructure financing and advising PE infrastructure sponsors and banks, direct lenders and noteholders across the full range of infrastructure finance transactions.

Mr. Thompson was previously a partner in the Finance group and Infrastructure Sector group at Travers Smith and, prior to that, part of the Private Equity Infrastructure team at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP.

“Ben’s Energy and Infrastructure Finance practice is well-known in the market and I am delighted that he has chosen Sidley’s global platform to take his practice to the next level,” said Tom Thesing, managing partner of Sidley’s office in London and a member of Sidley’s Management and Executive Committees. "Sidley is the home for elite talent and Ben is the third leader in the energy and infrastructure space that has decided to join our London office in recent months. We are strengthening the synergies of our global Private Equity, Global Finance, and Energy, Transportation and Infrastructure practices."

Including Mr. Thompson, Sidley has added five new partners to the firm’s global Energy and Infrastructure practice in the last twelve months. James MacArthur and Ed Freeman joined in the spring of last year, while Greg Lavigne and Andrea Lucan joined in November and December 2023, respectively, and Steve Boone joined earlier this week.

Venable LLP added Shalini Vallabhan, Ph.D. as a senior policy advisor in the Legislative and Government Affairs Practice Group and its Health Policy team, located in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. With her experience gained from her time working on Capitol Hill and in the U.S. and global healthcare and public health spheres, Dr. Vallabhan focuses her work at the crossroads of government relations, health policy and advocacy.

Dr. Vallabhan holds her Ph.D. from Texas A&M University and her B.A. from Texas Tech University. She is devoted to improving health outcomes and advancing innovation, increasing prevention and improving access to quality healthcare on a global basis.

Welcoming Dr. Vallabhan to the firm, Ilisa Halpern Paul, a senior policy advisor in the DC office, said, “Shalini is a talented social impact leader who skillfully works at the intersection of the nonprofit, for-profit, and government sectors to advance public policy. This experience will be an asset to the Venable team and to our clients.”

“Venable’s unique culture, great team, and interesting portfolio of clients drew me to the firm,” said Dr. Vallabhan. “I am looking forward to utilizing my experiences in lobbying, advocacy, and health equity to continue the great work of the Legislative and Government Affairs team.”

Polsinelli PC announced the addition of David D. Hsu, Ph.D. as counsel in the firm’s Denver office, as part of their Electrical Engineering & Computer Science Patent Prosecution Practice. Dr. Hsu is an experienced patent attorney with an established practice focused on patent preparation, patent prosecution and related counseling and representing clients in a wide range of industries.

Dr. Hsu earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley and his J.D. at the University of Colorado School of Law. His professional and academic background in chemical engineering provides him with the necessary knowledge to represent clients in bioinformatics, biotechnology, renewable energy, semiconductors, polymer materials, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“We are excited to welcome David to the Polsinelli team - his experience in a variety of industries, ranging from plasma processing to next-generation microprocessors and artificial intelligence, makes him a valuable asset to our clients,” said Polsinelli’s Electrical Engineering & Computer Science patent prosecution chair Gregory P. Durbin.

“I am thrilled to join Polsinelli’s thriving patent practice and excited to collaborate with my colleagues who have deep experience in wide-ranging legal practices, such as venture capital and health care,” said Dr. Hsu. “I look forward to working with clients on technologies at the intersection of different fields, including chemistry, biology and computer science.”

Womble Bond Dickinson welcomed David Beckstead to the Corporate & Securities group as of counsel in Boston. Mr. Beckstead counsels clients on cross-border mergers and acquisitions and project finance and development in the energy and infrastructure sectors.

Mr. Beckstead holds a Bachelor of Laws degree (LL.B.) from Kobe University as well as a Master of Laws degree (LL.M.) and joint degree in common law (J.D.) and civil (BCL) from McGill University Faculty of Law. He has held leadership positions at the European Chamber of Commerce of Thailand, the American Chamber of Commerce of Thailand, the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce of Thailand and the Thai-Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

“David's experience with renewable developers and oil and gas companies facing the energy transition is an excellent complement to our client base,” said Jeff Whittle, head of Womble Bond Dickinson’s Global Energy and Natural Resources Sector. “His representation of clients in Asia and surrounding jurisdictions will also benefit expansions into other markets, such as Saudi Arabia, where he has many ties and connections.”

Legal Industry Awards and Recognition

Peter J. Biging, a partner and co-chair of the Management & Professional Liability Practice Group at Goldberg Segalla in New York City, accepted an invitation to join the International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC). The IADC is an invitation-only global legal organization for attorneys representing corporate and insurance interests. Its invitation-only, peer reviewed members represent leading corporate and insurance lawyers and insurance executives around the world.

Mr. Biging protects Goldberg Segalla corporate clients against fraud, negligence, breach of fiduciary duties and alleged errors or omissions claims. In addition to his membership with the IADC, Mr. Biging currently serves as president-elect of the Professional Liability Defense Federation and is editor-in-chief of the American Bar Association (ABA) Tort, Trial & Insurance Practice Section (TIPS).

“Being invited to become a member of the IADC is something I view as a great honor,” said Mr. Biging. “I know that membership in an invitation only, peer reviewed organization such as IADC is going to bring me into contact with true leaders in the defense counsel community, and in my case in the area of professional liability and employment practices litigation. I am particularly excited about the opportunity to connect with both fellow defense counsel who have excelled in the field, and insurance claims executives who expect and demand excellence from the defense counsel they work with.”

Pennsylvania Super Lawyers recognized multiple Stark & Stark attorneys on the 2024 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list and on the 2024 Pennsylvania Rising Stars list. Specifically, Joseph Cullen, Carin O’Donnell and Tyler Tomlinson were named to the 2024 Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list, which recognizes only the top 5% of attorneys in the state. Ian Abovitz was included on the list of 2024 Pennsylvania Rising Stars, which recognizes only the top 2.5% of attorneys in the state. 

Joseph A. Cullen, Jr., shareholder and member of Stark & Stark’s Accident & Personal Injury Group, represents clients in the area of catastrophic personal injuries and wrongful death. Carin A. O’Donnell is shareholder and co-chair of Stark & Stark’s Accident & Personal Injury group and member of the firm’s Construction Injury group. Her practice is on wrongful death and catastrophic injury litigation, with a focus on construction accidents and institutional sexual assault matters. Tyler Tomlinson is a shareholder and member of the firm’s Accident & Personal Injury Group. His practice concentrates on wrongful death cases and he has recently handled several high profile cases in Pennsylvania. Ian Abovitz, shareholder and member of Stark & Stark’s Accident & Personal Injury Department, concentrates his practice on catastrophic injury and wrongful death claims, focusing on crashes involving tractor-trailers and other commercial vehicles.

“Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The patented selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations,” according to SuperLawyers.com. “The selection process for the Rising Stars list is the same as the Super Lawyers selection process, with one exception: to be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less.”

Lawdragon included Jackson Lewis P.C. principals and Immigration group co-leaders Michael H. Neifach, Otieno M. Ombok and Amy L. Peck in Lawdragon’s 2024 100 Leading Immigration Lawyers guide for the second year in a row. This guide features leading lawyers focused on global mobility, impact advocacy, refugee and asylum claims.

Mr. Neifach is the managing principal of Jackson Lewis’s Washington, D.C. region office and co-leader of the firm's Immigration group. He advises clients on immigration, visa and border security matters. Mr. Ombok is a principal in the White Plains, New York office and co-leader of the firm's Immigration practice group. He has practiced immigration law at Jackson Lewis for almost 20 years and he advises employers on business immigration strategy, counseling and implementation. Ms. Peck is a principal and co-leader of the firm’s Immigration practice group. She works at the intersection of employment and immigration law and advises clients on complex immigration and compliance issues in the workplace.

DEI and Women in Law

Seramount recognized Kirkland & Ellis in its 2024 list of the “Best Law Firms for Women & Diversity” for the 13th consecutive year. This list honors law firms that hire, retain and promote women lawyers and lawyers of underrepresented backgrounds. Kirkland supports national diverse bar associations and has strategic partnerships with DEI-committed organizations like the Corporate Counsel Women of Color, Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO), Ascend Leadership and The Unlocked Foundation.

“Our people are our most important asset,” said partner Anna Rotman. “We aim to intentionally build upon our progress as an inclusive Firm in order to better serve our clients and drive forward the entire legal industry.”

Katten was also selected as one of the 2024 "Best Law Firms for Women & Diversity" by Seramount, which addresses talent and DEI needs through research and insights. This is the 15th year that Katten has earned a spot on the "Best Law Firms for Women'' list. The firm maintains its Hall of Fame status, which is awarded to firms that have appeared on the list more than 10 times.

"As a firm, we are deeply committed to DEI and fostering a culture where everyone is welcomed, feels valued and knows that their diverse perspectives are important to the firm's success. We are proud to be recognized for our efforts," said Katten chair Roger P. Furey. "From our Kattalyst sponsorship program to our growing affinity groups and more, we consistently invest time and resources to prepare our people for success, making Katten a stronger firm to serve our clients better."

Proskauer Rose LLP was also named a 2024 "Best Law Firms for Women & Diversity" by Seramount. Proskauer was specifically recognized for its Workplace Programs, which includes flagship initiatives such as its Women’s Sponsorship Program and Proskauer Women's Alliance, and Career Flexibility, which includes Proskauer’s Caregiver Return (CaRe) program.

“Proskauer’s dedication to the growth and development of our talented lawyers is deeply rooted in our organizational culture," said Proskauer chair Tim Mungovan. “I am immensely proud of our team for earning this award again, which reinforces our commitment to the success of women lawyers across the Firm, at every level.”

“Our programs and initiatives help position women to not only take – and make – the shot when opportunity presents itself, but also to create the opportunities they want for themselves,” added Mindy Yang, chief talent officer at Proskauer. “Our approach to talent development at Proskauer is to support, champion and expand the toolkits for our talented lawyers through sustained yet iterative firmwide programming.”

Stubbs Alderton & Markiles, LLP announced that Kelly Siobhan Laffey and Cathleen Green have been named to the Los Angeles Business Journal’s list of “Women of Influence: Attorneys” for 2024. This list features Los Angeles’s top female lawyers for their accomplishments in their legal practice areas. 

Ms. Laffey was specifically recognized for her work advising emerging growth and middle-market companies on cross-border transactions, joint ventures and complex restructuring transactions. Ms. Laffey is a partner of Stubbs Alderton & Markiles, LLP and the senior vice president, director of business affairs at the Preccelerator.

Ms. Green was highlighted as a top entertainment lawyer who helps negotiate deals for several new production companies and celebrity-founded joint ventures. She is senior counsel in the firm's corporate and entertainment group and her practice focuses on providing strategic counseling to clients in the entertainment industry.

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