Merger Mavens

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom topped Thomson Reuters’ list of law firms that advised on the highest-value mergers and acquisition deals last year, jumping from the No. 6 spot it earned in 2011. Skadden’s success was partially due to several whopping transactions, including Rosneft Oil Co.’s $56 billion acquisition of Russian oil producer TNK-BP. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett—last year’s top M&A adviser—and Sullivan & Cromwell rounded out the top three spots.

200 Deals that Skadden Arps advised on in 2012, down from 201 the previous year

$316 billion Total value of those deals, up from $233 billion in 2011

133 Deals that Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, the second-place firm, advised on in 2012

$281 billion Total value of those deals, down from $295 billion in 2011


Discovery Decisions

E-discovery is certainly a buzzword in the legal industry these days, as courts across the country continue to issue decisions on the subject. Kroll Ontrack recently analyzed all of those opinions and found that most e-discovery decisions dealt with sanctions cases, although procedural disputes gained ground as a popular subject of judicial opinions.

32% Cases that addressed sanctions for issues such as preservation, spoliation and production disputes, a decrease of 10 percent since 2011

29% Cases that discussed procedural issues such as search protocol, production and privilege

14% Cases that discussed cost considerations, such as cost-shifting of e-discovery expenses

9% Cases that mentioned technology-assisted review or predictive coding, which had never been discussed in a reported opinion before February 2012’s ruling in Da Silva Moore v. Publicis Groupe

Compliance Concerns

Anti-bribery laws—namely the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the U.K. Bribery Act—have been making headlines in recent months, as companies from Wal-Mart to Pfizer have been caught up in corruption allegations. But it’s not just U.S. businesses that may be vulnerable to violations of these laws. A recent survey of Asia-Pacific companies by Kroll Advisory Solutions found that fewer than half of the companies surveyed had performed risk assessments on their exposure to the two acts.  

48.7% Companies surveyed that had thoroughly assessed their vulnerability to enforcement of the two acts

51.3% Companies that had not completed such assessments, and either did not know the effectiveness of their compliance systems or believed their internal controls to be insufficient

70% Companies in the Asia-Pacific region that said they were at risk for corruption and bribery, according to an earlier Kroll study

Profitable Practices

Law students take note: If you want to find a legal job, consider focusing on litigation, business law or healthcare law. At least, that’s what respondents to a recent Robert Half Legal survey advise. The 200 law firm and corporate attorneys surveyed predicted that those three practice areas will offer the greatest number of job opportunities in 2013. Robert Half Legal also noted that, with law firms and corporations competing for top legal talent, many organizations are upping their retention efforts in an attempt to hold on to valued employees.

22% Respondents who predicted that litigation will be the practice area with the most jobs in 2013

19% Respondents who said that general business/commercial law will offer the most job opportunities (tied with healthcare law)

12% Respondents who said it was “very challenging” for their law firm or company to find skilled legal professionals (45 percent said it was “somewhat challenging”)

Evolving Expectations

As governments continue to pass complex regulations, and new technologies lead to more privacy and security concerns, GCs have found that their responsibilities are evolving, according to professional services firm KPMG’s first Global General Counsel Survey. The 320 GCs who responded to the survey predicted that compliance with ever-evolving government regulations and ensuring data security will be their top business concerns over the next five years. On top of those responsibilities, more than two-thirds of respondents said that they are more involved in their organization’s business strategy than they were five years ago.

81% General counsel who either report directly to board members or hold a seat on the board themselves

79% Respondents who said that involving GCs in the commercial decision-making process can mitigate risk and improve corporate performance

46% GCs who predicted that the volume and complexity of regulation will be their biggest business concern over the next five years

70% GCs who said that they are training their legal teams on legislative developments in an effort to reduce this risk