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Growing a successful legal landscape

International firm opens new services hub in Louisville to support 2,500 attorneys globally


The last half-decade witnessed a rollercoaster in Louisville’s legal market, but the dust seems to be settling in 2016.

During that period, Jefferson County saw pioneering advancements in courtroom technology, a tight post-recession job market for new attorneys, and other growing pains associated with adjustments among firms as they match their practice areas to the needs of local and regional clients.

Back in 2012, members of the Louisville Bar Association and Judge McKay Chauvin formed the Jefferson Courtroom Upgrade Project, a non-profit that has equipped the county’s courtrooms with state-of-the-art presentation hardware and software. (A feature on the project was published in the October 2012 issue of The Lane Report.)

The system, which augmented Kentucky’s already leading-edge advances in courtroom audio and video recording technology, remains unique almost four years later, according to Tad Thomas, founding partner of the five-member Thomas Law firm.

Thomas, who’s licensed to practice in Kentucky, New York, and several district and circuit appeals courts, has given presentations about technology’s impact on the legal profession, including courtroom audiovisual advancements, the paperless office and other areas.

“When I speak across the county,” Thomas said, “I find there’s no one who has what we have in that courtroom.”

One of the primary reasons for the lag in other communities is availability of funds. Louisville’s $800,000 system was spearheaded by Dinsmore & Shohl partner Patrick Michael’s requests for contributions from Louisville Bar Association members.

“It was all funded by private funds – no public money was used to do that,” Thomas explained. “So what’s holding others back is the reluctance to commit private funds.”

Global firm opens services hub
The high-tech courtrooms may have played a role in luring international law firm Hogan Lovells to establish a global business services center in Louisville – the first of its kind in the United States.

According to the firm’s website, Hogan Lovells, a firm that employs 2,500 attorneys at its 41 office locations worldwide, will use the center to better serve customers in multiple time zones, effectively extending the workday, a release said.

“We chose Louisville as it has an excellent supply of talented people, is well placed in terms of time zones and offers good opportunities for cost savings when compared to Washington, DC and a number of our other existing office locations,” said Cole

Finegan, Hogan Lovells’ Regional Managing Partner for the Americas.

The new hub should be up and running by end of summer 2016, employing up to 50 new workers.

Job market sees growth potential
New opportunities provided by the Hogan Lovells center may be good news for the state’s crop of new law school grads, which in recent years have faced a tight job market, dampening law school graduation rates.

For example, at UofL’s Brandeis School of Law, graduation dipped from 115 for spring 2013 to 102 in 2014. Susan Duncan, dean of Brandeis, said nearly 86 percent of the university’s 2014 law graduates are employed in jobs requiring passage of the Bar exam or in a position requiring a J.D. degree.

James Frazier, managing member of McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland PLLC quoted in last fall’s Central Kentucky Market Review, described the conditions in the state’s metropolitan areas.

The Jefferson Monument sits outside Louisville Justice Hall. It was created in 1899 by Sir Moses Ezekiel.