Tag Archives: legal profession

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Polsinelli Receives Top Rankings in Chambers USA

Chambers USA, the world’s leading guide to the legal profession, released its 2013 rankings for lawyers and practice groups. Polsinelli received high rankings for 53 attorneys and nine practice areas in four states. The Phoenix office of Polsinelli received high rankings for eight attorneys and three practice areas.

Chambers rankings are based on submissions put forward by law firms, client and industry interviews during the course of research and Chambers’ own database resources. Law firms and individual lawyers are ranked in bands from 1-6, with 1 being the best.

“Thank you to our clients who provided Chambers with valuable insight into our strategic partnerships,” said Chairman Russ Welsh. “It’s a strong reflection of our dedication to understanding the challenges our clients face as general counsel and business leaders. We are proud to have this acknowledgement of so many of our lawyers in Phoenix and across the country.”

New in 2013
Six Polsinelli attorneys improved band rankings, including two new Band 1 rankings for Arizona attorneys Lucas J. Narducci in Environmental (including water rights) and Edward F. Novak in Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations.

The Phoenix office 2013 Chambers rankings include:

Polsinelli Practice Area Rankings – Phoenix office
Ranked 1 in Environmental (including water rights) – Arizona
Ranked 4 in Corporate M&A – Arizona
Ranked 4 in Litigation: General Commercial – Arizona
Individual Attorney Rankings – Phoenix office
Ranked 1 for Lucas J. Narducci in Environment (including water rights) – Arizona
Ranked 1 for Edward F. Novak in Litigation: White-Collar Crime & Government Investigations – Arizona
Ranked 3 for Barton D. Day in Environment (including water rights) – Arizona
Ranked 3 for Marty Harper in Litigation: General Commercial (Arizona) – Arizona
Ranked 4 for Phillip P. Guttilla in Corporate/M&A – Arizona
Ranked 4 for Thomas Irvine in Real Estate (Arizona) – Arizona
Ranked 4 for Brian K. Moll in Corporate/M&A (Arizona) – Arizona
Ranked U (Associates to Watch) for Margaret B. LaBianca in Environmental (including water rights) – Arizona

Law Review - Arizona’s Legal Landscape

A Look Back Finds Substantial Changes To Arizona’s Legal Landscape

Rapid-fire change has become the status quo in the legal and business community over the past 25 years. This change is particularly apparent to me, as my firm, Fennemore Craig, will celebrate its 125-year anniversary in Arizona next year, and I have practiced law for more than three decades.

One of the most pronounced and positive changes over the years has been who becomes a lawyer. Through an increased emphasis on diversity, law firms and legal departments have become places of opportunity for people of all backgrounds, reflecting the diverse nature of our communities and clients. We can do better, but the profession has made significant strides in the area of diversity since the 1980s.

While the face of the state’s law firms has changed, so has their size. Not too many years ago, the largest firms in the Southwest were still relatively small, with client bases dominated by locally headquartered companies and financial institutions. Since the 1980s, the region has lost quite a few headquarters, yet law firms like Fennemore Craig have benefited from strong economic growth in the Sun Belt, with Phoenix emerging as a regional business hub.

Notwithstanding the current economic downturn, the long-term economic prospects for the region promise continued opportunity. This economic strength has led to growth among several of Arizona’s home-grown firms and it also has attracted firms with their principal offices in other states. In turn, Arizona firms have responded with a growing platform of offices and lawyers expanding into other markets. The influence of technology in changing the legal profession over the past 25 years cannot be overstated. The pace and volume of work for us and for our clients have increased exponentially. Research, which is central to the law, has been almost totally automated. While successful lawyers still must be good communicators and excellent practitioners, information flow occurs literally around-the-clock. Waiting to work on a transaction or litigation based on deliveries through the U.S. Postal Service has gone the way of the typewriter and the mimeograph machine. Transmittal of documents, filings and other activities occurs primarily on an electronic basis and the demand for quick responses has increased accordingly.

The professional aspects of practicing law have shifted as well. Training is better than ever, though time pressures mean some of the one-on-one mentoring and discussions with senior lawyers that characterized much of my early professional learning curve are more rare.
As a credit to Arizona, it is also important to note that the state’s institution of the merit selection system for its judges created a better, more professional judiciary. Merit selection has improved both the state’s justice system and the practice of law here in terms of professionalism, fairness and quality.

One of the appealing aspects of the legal profession is its strong tie to tradition. We must discern when tradition is fostering positive values, rather than preserving the status quo for its own sake. The positive values inherent in the profession 25, even 125 years ago, remain true today regardless of the changes in pace, volume and complexity in the practice of law. Then as now, we have the opportunity and responsibility to help people solve problems and get things done.

Bob Matia Managing Partner Squire, Sanders and Dempsey

CEO Series: Bob Matia

Bob Matia
Managing Partner
Squire, Sanders and Dempsey

What impact has the current recession had on the legal profession?
With the credit markets being down as much as they were this time around, the flow of corporate legal business was definitely affected more than in past recessions. A lot of people view law firms as recession proof, and to some extent some of the practice areas within a law firm are recession proof. Litigation, for example, seems to go on and on whether there is a recession or not, and that is in fact happening now in our firm. But this time around, the corporate group was affected much more than in the past and that has caused different challenges.

Do you foresee any long-term changes in how law firms conduct the business side of their operations as a result of the economic crisis?
It’s been a wake-up call for the law profession … I think there was a complacency that had developed among law firms about how carefully they had to watch developing trends. But I think this has been a good wake-up call, so I think you’ll find law firms staying more conscious of staffing and not trying to get too far ahead in staffing; maybe slightly curtailing the kinds of lead hiring we used to do. We hire every year out of law school. We’re having in Phoenix six new lawyers joining us out of the class of 2009.

They were originally scheduled to arrive in October. We’ve deferred that arrival to January of 2010. I think you’ve probably seen in the paper a number of other moves by other law firms, some taking different forms of action. … I think you’ll see tinkering here and there. I don’t think you’ll see vast changes in the way we do things, but we’re looking at it. We’re looking at it on a monthly basis, checking the numbers, trying to see if we see a trend in one practice area or another.

You have represented the city of Phoenix in its dealings with developers of its downtown mixed-use complex. How would you describe the evolution of Downtown Phoenix from a governmental and legislative aspect?
The change in 30 years has just been remarkable. It’s great. … During the course of 30 years, we got a bill passed that established economic development as a major public purpose in Arizona, which has significant implications in that we feel it probably was the turning point in permitting condemnation for economic development purposes, a subject which is not popular in all sectors of the economy. But certainly there were instances where a single property owner could hold up an entire, major, new downtown development, and the governmental units simply had to have a way of dealing with that. Condemnation was one of them and we’re pleased about that. But there’s a new challenge, actually, to the subsidies that cities have made available to developers, both downtown and in other kinds of zones that are created for economic development. The (state) court of appeals has just thrown out part of the subsidy the city of Phoenix gave to CityNorth. Whether that goes to the Arizona Supreme Court depends on the Supreme Court.

For years, we were operating under another court of appeals case, known as the Wistuber case, and I always thought it struck a very good balance between hard consideration and soft consideration on what cities were getting for their subsidies. The problem is that the Arizona constitution has a gift clause in it, which says public bodies can’t give away their money to private interests without getting value back for that money. TheWistuber case made it clear that you could look at things like increased tax revenues and improving job availability, but you also had to have some hard considerations for what you were spending your money on. I always thought  that was a great balance. We’ll see how this comes out.

Given the current economic climate, what changes have you made to future workforce planning?
I think law firms will stay closer to the break-even point on need, on staff. We had the luxury of delaying responses to ups and downs in the economy in the past. Law firms are being much more conscious today of the cost of legal services to clients. Even the largest corporations are getting our attention in terms of trying to give them the very best service we can for the lowest cost. So we’re going to pay a lot more attention, probably, to having balanced legal teams in terms of experience level. For example, on a typical corporate transaction or litigation matter, we will probably pay a lot more attention to what the blended hourly rate would be if you looked at all the people who are working on the account.

    Vital Stats




  • Started with Squire, Sanders and Dempsey in 1966
  • Opened Phoenix office in 1979
  • Listed in the 2009 edition of “The Best Lawyers in America”
  • Selected for inclusion in the 2007 inaugural edition of “Southwest Super Lawyers”
  • Designated a Center of Influence by Arizona Business Magazine in 2008
  • Received law degree from Case Western Reserve University
  • Works with the Arizona Business Coalition, the Arizona Justice Foundation and the Phoenix Community Alliance
  • www.ssd.com