Monthly Archives: November 2008

Jenner & Block lawyer takes on committee duties

At the recent annual meeting of DRI, an international organization of attorneys defending the interests of business and individuals in civil litigation, Jenner & Block partner Lise T. Spacapan was named chair of DRI’s Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee.

DRI describes itself as “The Voice of the Defense Bar.” And the primary objective of the Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee, according to DRI, is to provide members with the most current and reliable scientific, medical and legal information available.

The committee tries to fulfill this role through its annual seminar, an expert witness information network, an electronic newsletter, a dedicated issue of For The Defense and by connecting practitioners with a vast network of accomplished defense attorneys.

Spacapan, chair of Jenner & Block’s products liability and mass tort defense practice, said she wants to help the committee provide education, and informal networking and seminars where people can come together to understand the latest developments in defending toxic torts cases.

“We have to stay on top of science, and work with scientists as well as have a more traditional understanding about the legal theories and types of cases the plaintiffs bar might be bringing,” Spacapan said.

She said she’d like the committee to help get the word out about DRI to the business community and those with corporate interests who might not know about the organization.

By getting companies involved in DRI, she said, “They can help us by planning and shaping what these thousands of defense lawyers are going to focus on both at their meetings, in their publications, and their practices generally. And we welcome corporate input as to what they think are the important issues.”

Spacapan said the DRI Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Committee will hold its annual seminar on March 19-20 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.

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Jenner & Block lawyer takes on committee duties

At the recent annual meeting of DRI, an international organization of attorneys defending the interests of business and individuals in civil litigation, Jenner & Block partner Lise T. Spacapan was named chair of DRI’s Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee.

DRI describes itself as “The Voice of the Defense Bar.” And the primary objective of the Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee, according to DRI, is to provide members with the most current and reliable scientific, medical and legal information available.

The committee tries to fulfill this role through its annual seminar, an expert witness information network, an electronic newsletter, a dedicated issue of For The Defense and by connecting practitioners with a vast network of accomplished defense attorneys.

Spacapan, chair of Jenner & Block’s products liability and mass tort defense practice, said she wants to help the committee provide education, and informal networking and seminars where people can come together to understand the latest developments in defending toxic torts cases.

“We have to stay on top of science, and work with scientists as well as have a more traditional understanding about the legal theories and types of cases the plaintiffs bar might be bringing,” Spacapan said.

She said she’d like the committee to help get the word out about DRI to the business community and those with corporate interests who might not know about the organization.

By getting companies involved in DRI, she said, “They can help us by planning and shaping what these thousands of defense lawyers are going to focus on both at their meetings, in their publications, and their practices generally. And we welcome corporate input as to what they think are the important issues.”

Spacapan said the DRI Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Committee will hold its annual seminar on March 19-20 at the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix.

Q & A with Michael P. Kornak

Today we talk with Michael P. Kornak, a partner in Freeborn & Peters’ commercial litigation group, who has been practicing law for 12 years.

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

I do not sub-specialize in one particular area of litigation, so each case that I work on offers the opportunity to explore new factual and legal issues. This diversity, coupled with the wide range of individuals that I meet while handling a case, is what makes the practice of law so interesting.

2. What makes a good lawyer?

Many lawyers possess the basic technical and analytical skills necessary to succeed.  But a “good” lawyer listens well, inspires trust, demonstrates empathy, and takes the time necessary to truly understand his or her clients’ business. With these traits, an attorney can move beyond the role of advocate and become a true counselor or advisor.

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

I think it is a combination of two events:  (1) the recent developments in the world’s economy, and (2) the dawn of a new presidential administration.  The first event has permeated nearly all aspects of our lives, from business to personal, and has led to rapid and sometimes unanticipated change. The second event, regardless of which candidate is elected president, promises to do the same. Given this environment, both lawyers and law firms must be able to adapt quickly and offer creative solutions to the myriad issues their clients will face.

Q & A with Michael P. Kornak

Today we talk with Michael P. Kornak, a partner in Freeborn & Peters’ commercial litigation group, who has been practicing law for 12 years.

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

I do not sub-specialize in one particular area of litigation, so each case that I work on offers the opportunity to explore new factual and legal issues. This diversity, coupled with the wide range of individuals that I meet while handling a case, is what makes the practice of law so interesting.

2. What makes a good lawyer?

Many lawyers possess the basic technical and analytical skills necessary to succeed.  But a “good” lawyer listens well, inspires trust, demonstrates empathy, and takes the time necessary to truly understand his or her clients’ business. With these traits, an attorney can move beyond the role of advocate and become a true counselor or advisor.

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

I think it is a combination of two events:  (1) the recent developments in the world’s economy, and (2) the dawn of a new presidential administration.  The first event has permeated nearly all aspects of our lives, from business to personal, and has led to rapid and sometimes unanticipated change. The second event, regardless of which candidate is elected president, promises to do the same. Given this environment, both lawyers and law firms must be able to adapt quickly and offer creative solutions to the myriad issues their clients will face.

Law firm launches pro bono project

Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon recently announced that it will serve as the pilot law firm in helping to launch a pro bono initiative aimed at providing legal assistance and community support to Illinois National Guard Units.

Established by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office of Veterans Rights, the goals of the program, called Adopt A Guard Unit, are: to maintain correspondence with service members and their communities, showing support for their sacrifices; and secondly, to provide legal assistance to soldiers and their families, thereby serving them while they serve us.

The Illinois Attorney General’s Office, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Commission on Professionalism of the Illinois Supreme Court are attempting to build a statewide network that will support the service members and their families in their local communities.

The citizen service support aspect of the program will involve Wildman Harrold’s attorneys and staff corresponding with service members from their adopted unit, and donating items for care packages, such as newspapers, books, CDs, magazines, puzzles, and board games. Wildman Harrold volunteers will also communicate with the deployed service members’ families to help stay abreast of the unit’s needs.

The legal service component of the program will address the common legal issues that arise in conjunction with the deployment of service members, and which can often be resolved simply by educating the service-member, his or her dependents, and the other party involved in the issue.

Matthew Garrett, a partner in Wildman Harrold’s litigation department and the firm’s liaison for the Adopt A Guard Unit Program, said the firm hopes to help those deployed, as well as their families, learn about their legal rights and help them take advantage of those rights.

“I think a lot of deployed service members and their families don’t know they have the protection of a lot of statutes out there,” Garrett said.

“Beyond the well wishes that go with [sending care packages], they serve as a reminder that we are here and we can help them, rather than a one-time announcement …” he said.

Garrett said he hopes lawyers take advantage of this pro bono opportunity. This type of pro bono work is manageable because the time commitment is not too much, which will allow lawyers to help more people, he said.

Requests for legal assistance will be fielded by David Askew, the firm’s director of pro bono and community services, and legal aid will be available from the day a service member receives his or her deployment orders until 90 days after return from the deployment.

Service members typically have 90 days following release from active duty to request reinstatement to their civilian job under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. By providing pro bono services for 90 days after active duty, Wildman Harrold can help to resolve reemployment request issues along with the majority of other legal issues that arise, including matters related to the Family Medical Leave Act; the Service Member’s Employment Tenure Act; the Illinois Patriot Act Plan; the Line of Duty Compensation Act; the Illinois Human Rights Act; and the Service Members Civil Relief Act, among others.

The first unit to be adopted by Wildman Harrold will be the 33D Brigade Combat Team’s Headquarters Unit, consisting of about 200 soldiers and their families, headquartered in Urbana. This unit is currently serving in Afghanistan.

Q & A with Antony McShane

Today we talk with Antony McShane, co-chair of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg’s intellectual property practice group. He has been practicing in the areas of intellectual property and litigation since 1985.  The focus of his practice is in the area of intellectual property counseling and litigation, concentrating on strategic development, protection and enforcement of trademarks, trade dress, copyrights, trade secrets, and patents.

What do you find the most interesting about your practice?

Learning new businesses, markets, and technologies. As a partner within and co-chair of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg’s intellectual property practice group, I work with a myriad of businesses, spanning many industries.  To be an effective advocate, it is important for me to understand how they operate, and develop an understanding of such things, what market needs they meet, what their competitive advantages (and disadvantages) are, and what internal dynamics drive them to succeed.  Learning these aspects of my clients’ businesses is not only fascinating, but it constantly presents a new and different set of problems to solve and challenges to meet.

What makes a good lawyer?

All good lawyers know the law, keep up with evolving legal trends, return phone calls promptly, work efficiently, and know not to use a sledgehammer to do a scalpel’s work (and visa-versa).  The best lawyers take the time to really listen to their clients, come to know their clients’ businesses, and work proactively to find simple solutions to their problems as soon as they arise, and creative ways to meet their future needs.

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

In my practice, keeping pace with the speed and direction of technological change is critical.  Having recently evolved to address efforts by P2P players, cyber squatters and all types of web crawlers and bots to trade upon the intellectual property rights of others, the law’s current challenge is to keep pace with the development and use of intellectual property in virtual worlds (like Second Life), virtual communities (MySpace, Facebook) and the actual global economy.

Q & A with Antony McShane

Today we talk with Antony McShane, co-chair of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg’s intellectual property practice group. He has been practicing in the areas of intellectual property and litigation since 1985.  The focus of his practice is in the area of intellectual property counseling and litigation, concentrating on strategic development, protection and enforcement of trademarks, trade dress, copyrights, trade secrets, and patents.

What do you find the most interesting about your practice?

Learning new businesses, markets, and technologies. As a partner within and co-chair of Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg’s intellectual property practice group, I work with a myriad of businesses, spanning many industries.  To be an effective advocate, it is important for me to understand how they operate, and develop an understanding of such things, what market needs they meet, what their competitive advantages (and disadvantages) are, and what internal dynamics drive them to succeed.  Learning these aspects of my clients’ businesses is not only fascinating, but it constantly presents a new and different set of problems to solve and challenges to meet.

What makes a good lawyer?

All good lawyers know the law, keep up with evolving legal trends, return phone calls promptly, work efficiently, and know not to use a sledgehammer to do a scalpel’s work (and visa-versa).  The best lawyers take the time to really listen to their clients, come to know their clients’ businesses, and work proactively to find simple solutions to their problems as soon as they arise, and creative ways to meet their future needs.

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

In my practice, keeping pace with the speed and direction of technological change is critical.  Having recently evolved to address efforts by P2P players, cyber squatters and all types of web crawlers and bots to trade upon the intellectual property rights of others, the law’s current challenge is to keep pace with the development and use of intellectual property in virtual worlds (like Second Life), virtual communities (MySpace, Facebook) and the actual global economy.