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Author Archives: Sharon McCloskey

Charlotte lawyers untangle Florida city’s mess (access required)


Put eight people in a jury box. Tell them about a practice called “securities lending” and feed them phrases like “indemnity triggering date” or “tender price warranting liquidation.” Show them graphs and charts with numbers, and play seemingly endless videotapes of deposition testimony by former employees. Repeat for six days. Is it any wonder that counsel for both sides would be wringing their hands, wondering if the jury would return any verdict at all, let alone the one they’d like? But return a verdict it did in City of St. Petersburg v. Wells Fargo Bank.

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How the mighty fall (access required)


The national media is agog these days over the very public implosion of another high-flying law firm, New York’s Dewey & LeBoeuf. At last count, at least 75 of the firm’s 300 partners have departed since January. And the firm has now told the rest to start looking for new jobs, while the Manhattan district attorney’s office has opened an investigation into the handling of the firm’s finances by ousted chairman Steven Davis. Though uncommon, Dewey’s demise is not unprecedented.

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McGuireWoods: Making a merger work (access required)

Charlotte in 2008 probably wasn’t the ideal spot for a law firm merger. Granted, the city had some boom years just before, and few could anticipate at the time how far south the economy was headed. But in hindsight, it was a questionable call. Don’t tell that to attorneys at McGuireWoods, who just celebrated the four-year anniversary of the firm’s merger with the old-line Carolina firm Helms Mullis.

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Smith Anderson: A century old, and in for the long haul (access required)

When the recession hit, Raleigh’s Smith Anderson took a look at its people and its clients, and decided to invest. “We were taking really good care of our clients, because everybody was having a hard time,” said Carl Patterson, the firm’s managing partner. “It was a time when you had to be a true partner with your clients, and work through tough times. Sometimes that means you put aside short term profits for long term investments in relationships.”

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Cranfill, Sumner & HARTZOG: Happy at home (access required)

When Cranfill, Sumner & Hartzog opened its doors in 1992, it was home to 27 attorneys. That number has steadily climbed to now over 100. “We’ve certainly appreciated what the growth has been, but we didn’t start out trying to be a big firm,” said managing partner Dan Hartzog.

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Brooks Pierce: Zen and the art of law firm management

Ask Ed Winslow, managing partner of Brooks Pierce McLendon Humphrey & Leonard, why his firm keeps growing and you won’t hear about amazing attorney billables, record-breaking verdicts, or state-of the-art technology (although the firm may have all of that). Instead, he’ll tell you about how his people work in a “shared leadership” system and are learning how to better manage through programs at Greensboro’s Center for Creative Leadership; how the firm rejects an organizational hierarchy in favor of collaboration across departments; and how his attorneys strive to be the most creative, innovative problem-solvers in the state.

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