Monthly Archives: October 2008

DLA Piper paralegal overcomes challenges

In 1996, Laura Colton Tepper, a DLA Piper paralegal, was a seemingly healthy 40-year-old woman. But a colleague commented that Tepper’s neck looked very swollen, so she made an appointment with an internist.

“When I went to the doctor she seemed quite alarmed because all my lymph nodes were swollen,” she said. The doctor ran a battery of tests, and set up a biopsy.

The biopsy showed that at age 40 she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

She said she found a fabulous oncologist, Dr. Leo Gordon from Northwestern Memorial Hospital, and they began the long road of treatment.

“One of the things I was told when I was first diagnosed was that the average life expectancy for someone with my diagnosis, doing the then-current conventional treatment, was eight years,” she said. “I was single, age 40, and I thought I was healthy, and all of a sudden I get this diagnosis. I just kept thinking that something was going to work.”

A cousin, who was 10 years older than her, was diagnosed with the same disease six years before her and she died 10 months after Tepper was diagnosed.

“I never forgot the day my mother called me to tell me she died,” she said. “It was the end of my hope. Is that what I had to look forward to? She lived six to eight years, which was the average. I was holding onto the idea that I would be on the right side of that bell curve…”

She went through six months of chemotherapy, and the disease came back.

She did another six months of chemotherapy and it again came back.

She participated in a clinical trial, but the disease returned. She then participated in a second clinical trial in 1998, and this time it worked. She’s been in remission ever since.

“The clinical trials opened up, and that was my hope that science and research would find something to either buy me time or a cure,” she said.

After her first round of chemotherapy she got married. She became active in the Lymphoma Research Foundation, and started a Chicago chapter in 2002.

She likes the organization because it raises money for research, acts as an information warehouse, and lobbies politicians for money and support.

On Oct. 6, she received the Ellen Glesby Cohen Leadership Award from the organization for her local efforts.

“Research is making a huge difference and that’s why I’m so passionate about this organization,” she said. “I think they are making a difference.”

Making music

Lawyer Michael Poulos first picked up an instrument at age 2 when he would play around with his father’s trumpet.

He stills plays the trumpet today as a member of the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra, which is designed for all CBA members who are interested in participating in an orchestra.

He attended the original meeting in 1985, and is also an assistant conductor. The orchestra has played some of his pieces of music.

“The whole business of playing music is emotionally very rewarding,” he said. “Music is another means of communication. As a lawyer you communicate facts and arguments, but with an orchestra you communicate emotions.”

Not only has he made many friends in the orchestra, but he also recruits lawyers for his Evanston law firm, Michael D. Poulos P.C.

“Lawyers who are good musicians also tend to be lawyers with a mind that works very well,” he said. “The subtleties of music translate over to the subtleties of law.”

Greg Zinkl, co-chair of the CBA Symphony Orchestra and an associate at Dykema, has participated in the orchestra on and off since 2001. He’s played the viola since fourth-grade, and picked up the violin about six years ago.

“What I like is the social aspect of getting attorneys together who don’t practice at all in my field – solo practitioners, and lawyers from small firms and big firms,” he said. “It’s a very casual environment. … Everyone is there to have a good time, make some music together, enjoy your colleagues and enjoy the conductor.”

Rehearsals are held every Wednesday evening at the Daley Center, and public performances are scheduled from September through May. The group, he said, has grown to around 60 or 70 musicians, and is made up of members of the legal community.

David Katz, the founding music director, said the orchestra started 23 years ago. It often performs with the CBA’s chorus, which has about 100 members.

“The goal has been to provide a musical outlet for the legal community in Chicago,” Katz said. “We discovered that there are a lot of lawyer musicians with an interest in making music to the best of their ability.”

The next concert will be 7 p.m. Nov. 13 at St. James Cathedral.

Q & A with Phillip L. Stern

Today we talk with Phillip L. Stern, a partner in and co-chair of  Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg’s white-collar criminal, regulatory & internal investigative services and its corporate board services practice groups. He is also a member of the firm’s securities & commodities litigation practice group and its fund formation & investment management practice group. He has been practicing law for 33 years.

What do you find the most interesting about your practice?

As co-chair of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg’s white collar criminal, regulatory & internal investigative services and its corporate board services practice groups, most clients who come to me are already in trouble. The matters, like the clients, are diverse and present a wide range of issues, which are intellectually stimulating.  Developing the strategies to deal with pending or potential criminal, regulatory and related civil litigation is challenging and extremely rewarding, especially when a positive result is obtained.

What makes a good lawyer?

Integrity is an essential quality for a lawyer in dealing with the courts, the government, and opposing counsel.  Another important aspect is building a relationship of trust with your client, which will enable you to obtain the best possible result even under the most trying of circumstances. Ideally, a good lawyer will have compassion for their client and his or her family, recognizing that they are going through an extremely traumatic period in their lives. Openness with your client is vital so that he or she fully understands the process and the options available to him or her.  A willingness to think outside the box to develop creative strategies to advance the interests of your client is yet another favorable trait for a lawyer to possess.

What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?

The upcoming restructuring of the regulatory structure for financial institutions arising from the recent economic turmoil on Wall Street. There is going to be a significant increase in regulatory oversight of financial institutions, which will result in heightened scrutiny of new financial products, possible changes in the way certain highly leveraged products are traded and an effort to regulate hedge funds. As such, there well be a need to work with your clients in analyzing and commenting on new regulatory proposals. Law firms will also have to advise their clients to adjust their business to the new regulatory environment. In the end, I anticipate an increase in criminal and regulatory enforcement investigations.

Q & A with Phillip L. Stern

Today we talk with Phillip L. Stern, a partner in and co-chair of  Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg’s white-collar criminal, regulatory & internal investigative services and its corporate board services practice groups. He is also a member of the firm’s securities & commodities litigation practice group and its fund formation & investment management practice group. He has been practicing law for 33 years.

What do you find the most interesting about your practice?

As co-chair of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg’s white collar criminal, regulatory & internal investigative services and its corporate board services practice groups, most clients who come to me are already in trouble. The matters, like the clients, are diverse and present a wide range of issues, which are intellectually stimulating.  Developing the strategies to deal with pending or potential criminal, regulatory and related civil litigation is challenging and extremely rewarding, especially when a positive result is obtained.

What makes a good lawyer?

Integrity is an essential quality for a lawyer in dealing with the courts, the government, and opposing counsel.  Another important aspect is building a relationship of trust with your client, which will enable you to obtain the best possible result even under the most trying of circumstances. Ideally, a good lawyer will have compassion for their client and his or her family, recognizing that they are going through an extremely traumatic period in their lives. Openness with your client is vital so that he or she fully understands the process and the options available to him or her.  A willingness to think outside the box to develop creative strategies to advance the interests of your client is yet another favorable trait for a lawyer to possess.

What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?

The upcoming restructuring of the regulatory structure for financial institutions arising from the recent economic turmoil on Wall Street. There is going to be a significant increase in regulatory oversight of financial institutions, which will result in heightened scrutiny of new financial products, possible changes in the way certain highly leveraged products are traded and an effort to regulate hedge funds. As such, there well be a need to work with your clients in analyzing and commenting on new regulatory proposals. Law firms will also have to advise their clients to adjust their business to the new regulatory environment. In the end, I anticipate an increase in criminal and regulatory enforcement investigations.

Law firm heads to Taiwan

Gerald O. Sweeney, a partner in Barnes & Thornburg’s intellectual property practice, is a frequent visitor to Taiwan, and has worked with clients connected to the area.

He returned to Taiwan earlier this month with Greg L. Berenstein, of the Chicago office, and Paul L. Hunt, a partner who is administrator of the Indianapolis office’s intellectual property practice. Sweeney said they met with a number of trade associations, law firms, high-tech manufacturers, and government organizations.

The trip, according to the firm, reflects the significance of Taiwan’s business activity and its relationship with U.S. markets.

They also met with Vincent Siew, the vice president of Taiwan, in conjunction with 10 multi-national business leaders who have significant investments in Taiwan, to discuss the economic advantages and benefits offered by Taiwan for investment into the area.

Sweeney said he was impressed with the new administration’s aggressive approach toward encouraging high-quality investment into the economy, which includes preferential tax and funding incentives.

“They really are making it very attractive for foreign business to become a part of the Taiwan economy,” he said. “I think the government is most interested in talking individually to businesses to discuss with them what the opportunities are …”

The firm, he said, has the opportunity to inform its clients and others about what economic opportunities exist in Taiwan. At the same time, the firm wants to be knowledgeable about the environment its clients reside and do business in so it can do a better job representing them, he said.

“I think understanding the economic climate in which our clients originate is important to understanding their business goals,” he said. “If you don’t understand what motivates countries or what their priorities are based on the environment in which they are conducting business, you won’t be as effective in the representation of those clients.

“My overarching goal is to become sufficiently knowledgeable about the environment in which our clients reside, and do business so that we can effectively address their issues, and at the same time demonstrate an interest in them by contributing to the country of origin.”

Q & A with Dennis J. Carlin

Today we talk with Dennis J. Carlin, a senior partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath. He has been practicing for 41 years, 25 at Drinker Biddle.

1. What do you find the most interesting about your practice?

Helping clients solve difficult legal and business issues. Very rarely are the issues ever the same. Almost every day I encounter a new issue I have not dealt with before.

2. What makes a good lawyer?

A lawyer that listens, has patience and is able to communicate at the level of his client who usually is not a lawyer and does not understand the esoteric principles of law.

3. What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?

In my field, the inevitable change in the tax laws that come with a new administration. It is not clear what will happen to the tax laws and of course it depends upon whether Obama or McCain is elected.  Not only that one cannot tell what each favor because of the negativity in the campaigns, each has managed to obfuscate his position.  This has become a big issue because of the financial meltdown and the concern about the markets. Therefore timing is everything, and what may be appropriate now was not appropriate a month ago. In my view this is big legal news.

Q & A with Dennis J. Carlin

Today we talk with Dennis J. Carlin, a senior partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath. He has been practicing for 41 years, 25 at Drinker Biddle.

1. What do you find the most interesting about your practice?

Helping clients solve difficult legal and business issues. Very rarely are the issues ever the same. Almost every day I encounter a new issue I have not dealt with before.

2. What makes a good lawyer?

A lawyer that listens, has patience and is able to communicate at the level of his client who usually is not a lawyer and does not understand the esoteric principles of law.

3. What is the biggest legal news right now, and what is its impact?

In my field, the inevitable change in the tax laws that come with a new administration. It is not clear what will happen to the tax laws and of course it depends upon whether Obama or McCain is elected.  Not only that one cannot tell what each favor because of the negativity in the campaigns, each has managed to obfuscate his position.  This has become a big issue because of the financial meltdown and the concern about the markets. Therefore timing is everything, and what may be appropriate now was not appropriate a month ago. In my view this is big legal news.