Morrison & Foerster, a leading global law firm, is pleased to announce the election of 12 lawyers to the firm’s partnership. The class of 2016 includes individuals from 10 practice groups across eight offices in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.
“I am proud to congratulate this exceptional group of lawyers on their admission to partnership,” said Morrison & Foerster chair Larren M. Nashelsky. “Our new partners are stellar examples of the values we represent at Morrison & Foerster – a strong commitment to extraordinary client service and legal excellence. We look forward to their continued growth and success at the firm.”
The following lawyers have been elected partners:
Alexis Amezcua, a member of the Commercial Litigation Practice Group, is based in the San Francisco office. Ms. Amezcua has practiced in a variety of substantive areas, including breach of contract, wrongful termination, trade secret theft, unfair competition, product liability, federal banking law, complex consumer class actions, and wrongful death. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, and her practice includes substantive arbitration experience, as well as trial experience in state and federal court. Her clients range from major financial institutions, international product manufacturers, and national retailers, to individuals. She has extensive experience representing such clients in mass, complex consumer class actions, including in federal multidistrict litigation proceedings and state court coordinated proceedings. She is a frequent speaker and author on topics related to arbitration, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, consumer class actions, and consumer product safety. Ms. Amezcua earned her J.D. from Stanford Law School.
Scott Ashton, a member of the Capital Markets Practice Group, is based in the London office. Mr. Ashton has a corporate finance practice with emphasis on cross-border securities offerings, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), and restructurings. His capital markets experience includes private placements and public offerings of debt and equity (including Rule 144A, Regulation S, and SEC-registered offerings); his M&A experience encompasses public and private acquisitions, asset sales and tender offers; and his restructuring experience includes debt restructurings, bankruptcy proceedings, and corporate spin-offs. Mr. Ashton has specialized expertise in representing European and other companies who wish to make private placements of debt securities to institutional investors. He also advises companies and investors with respect to corporate governance matters, SEC reporting, and U.S. securities laws. Mr. Ashton is recommended as an up and coming lawyer for debt capital markets by Chambers UK 2016 and is also recommended for debt capital markets by Legal 500 UK 2015. He is included in Financial News’ 2014 list of 40 under 40 Rising Stars in Legal Services. Mr. Ashton earned his J.D. from Stanford Law School.
James J. Beha II, a member of the Securities Litigation, Enforcement, and White-Collar Criminal Defense Practice Group, is based in the New York office. Mr. Beha’s practice focuses on securities litigation, defending public companies and their officers and directors in securities class actions, shareholder derivative litigation, M&A litigation, and other complex business disputes. In addition to his securities litigation experience, he frequently represents debtors, creditors, and other interested parties in bankruptcy litigation. He also has extensive commercial litigation experience, including contract, partnership, real estate, and employment disputes. Mr. Beha served as a law clerk to the Hon. Kevin Thomas Duffy in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. He earned his J.D. from New York University School of Law.
Noah Carr, a member of the Corporate Department, is based in the Tokyo office. Mr. Carr’s practice focuses on M&A and encompasses a range of cross-border strategic transactions in the technology and telecommunications industries. He earned his J.D. from Columbia Law School.
Matthew Chivvis, a member of the Intellectual Property Litigation Group, is based in the San Francisco office. Mr. Chivvis represents high-tech, Internet, and life sciences companies. Though his practice focuses on intellectual property litigation in federal and state courts, he also regularly consults clients on plant intellectual property matters, including strategic use of plant and utility patents, plant-variety protection certificates, and trademark rights. Mr. Chivvis has litigated patent matters in many of the top patent venues throughout the U.S., including the Northern and Central Districts of California, the Eastern District of Texas, the District of Delaware, the Federal Circuit, and the International Trade Commission. Moreover, he has considerable experience practicing before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, especially in patent reexamination and review proceedings. Mr. Chivvis earned his J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law.
Kristina Ehle, a member of the Technology Transactions Practice Group, is based in the Berlin office. Ms. Ehle’s practice focuses on advising German and international clients in the media, information technology, mobile and e-commerce, consumer electronics and products, and clean technology industries on intellectual property issues as well as on Internet, IT, consumer, contract, and commercial law matters. Her clients range from early-stage start-ups to large corporations. She regularly drafts and negotiates a wide variety of transactions including software, website and app development and licensing agreements, digital content (films, music, games, ebooks) and software licensing and distribution agreements (including software/platform as a service contracts), online marketing and advertising agreements, supply, distributor and retailer agreements. Ms. Ehle regularly advises clients on intellectual property and commercial law aspects of their M&A and private equity transactions. Ms. Ehle earned her First State Exam from the University of Würzburg and her Second State Exam from the Appellate Court of Berlin.
Enrico Granata, a member of the Corporate Department, is based in the New York office. Mr. Granata specializes in M&A. His practice focuses on representing private and public corporate clients, private equity funds, and hedge funds in negotiated and contested mergers, acquisitions, tender and exchange offers, proxy contests, takeover defense counseling, and joint ventures. Mr. Granata has advised on a broad range of public and private transactions, frequently with a significant cross-border dimension. He has extensive M&A and private equity experience in a variety of sectors, including energy, infrastructure, financial services, technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, consumer products, defense, and real estate/REIT. Mr. Granata earned his J.D. from Columbia Law School.
Erik Knudsen, a member of the Corporate Department and Private Equity Investments and Buyouts Practice Group, is based in the Denver office. Mr. Knudsen focuses his practice on complex business transactions, including leveraged buyouts, strategic mergers, acquisitions, investments and joint ventures, reorganizations, growth equity and venture capital investments, and divestitures. He has led transactions in a wide variety of industries, including healthcare, Internet, technology, real estate, distribution, and manufacturing. Mr. Knudsen earned his J.D. from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology.
Diana Kruze, a member of the Intellectual Property Litigation Group, is based in the San Francisco office. Ms. Kruze focuses her practice on patent, trade secret, and copyright litigation. She also has extensive experience with licensing, IP counseling for start-ups, and patent post-grant review procedures. She represents clients in a wide range of technical disciplines including software, medical devices, nanotechnology, life sciences, smartphones, satellite systems, and semiconductor processing and packaging. In 2013, Ms. Kruze received the Barrister of the Year Award from the Bar Association of San Francisco, and has been named as a “Rising Star” for three years in a row by Super Lawyers magazine. Ms. Kruze clerked for former Chief Judge James Ware of the Northern District of California. She earned her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
John Pintarelli, a member of the Business Restructuring and Insolvency Practice Group, is based in the New York office. Mr. Pintarelli represents debtors and creditors in complex domestic and international bankruptcy and insolvency matters, including judicial and out-of-court restructurings. His practice includes the representation of foreign liquidators and administrators in cross-border insolvency proceedings and chapter 15 cases. He also represents banks, investors, and lenders in debtor-in-possession and exit financings, loan restructurings, asset sales, and other aspects of bankruptcy cases. Mr. Pintarelli regularly advises clients on distressed trading and derivatives contracts, including interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, total return swaps, F/X trades, and structured products, and bankruptcy issues related to the termination, valuation, and monetization of such contracts. He earned his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and his M.B.A. from Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business.
Shannon Reaney, a member of the Patent Counseling and Prosecution Practice Group, is based in the Palo Alto office. Dr. Reaney counsels pharmaceutical and biotechnology clients and specializes in patent matters in the areas of organic chemistry and small molecule pharmaceuticals. She develops and manages large patent portfolios for mid-size to large companies and provides strategic advice on lifecycle management and issues relating to regulatory considerations. She also assists smaller clients with securing foundation intellectual property and with strategic positioning for investment or partnering opportunities. Dr. Reaney earned her J.D. from Santa Clara University and her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Elizabeth Sluder, a member of Project Finance Practice Group, is based in the Los Angeles office. Ms. Sluder focuses her practice on project finance, M&A, private equity, and general corporate advice. She has substantial experience representing clients in renewable energy transactions, including construction and term debt financings, tax equity investments, and negotiating supply agreements, construction contracts, and offtake arrangements. She also represents lenders and borrowers in secured lending, as well as private banking and mezzanine and junior capital financing. Her financing experience also includes handling sports franchise financings and large syndicated credit facilities. Ms. Sluder earned her J.D. from Tulane University Law School.
U.S. inauguration turns poet Amanda Gorman into best seller
WASHINGTON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The president’s poet woke up a superstar on Thursday, after a powerful reading at the U.S. inauguration catapulted 22-year-old Amanda Gorman to the top of Amazon’s best-seller list.
Hours after Gorman’s electric performance at the swearing-in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, her two books – neither out yet – topped Amazon.com’s sales list.
“I AM ON THE FLOOR MY BOOKS ARE #1 & #2 ON AMAZON AFTER 1 DAY!” Gorman, a Los Angeles resident, wrote on Twitter.
Gorman’s debut poetry collection ‘The Hill We Climb’ won top spot in the online retail giant’s sale charts, closely followed by her upcoming ‘Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem’.
While poetry’s popularity is on the up, it remains a niche market and the overnight adulation clearly caught Gorman short.
“Thank you so much to everyone for supporting me and my words. As Yeats put it: ‘For words alone are certain good: Sing, then’.”
Gorman, the youngest poet in U.S. history to mark the transition of presidential power, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided country in Wednesday’s rendition.
“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” Gorman said on the steps of the U.S. Capitol two weeks after a mob laid siege and following a year of global protests for racial justice.
“We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free.”
The performance stirred instant acclaim, with praise from across the country and political spectrum, from the Republican-backing Lincoln Project to former President Barack Obama.
“Wasn’t @TheAmandaGorman’s poem just stunning? She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait,” tweeted former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
A graduate of Harvard University, Gorman says she overcame a speech impediment in her youth and became the first U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017.
She has now joined the ranks of august inaugural poets such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Her social media reach boomed, with her tens of thousands of followers ballooning into a Twitter fan base of a million-plus.
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I,” tweeted TV host Oprah Winfrey.
Gorman’s books are both due out in September.
Third on Amazon’s best selling list was another picture book linked to politics and projecting hope: ‘Ambitious Girl’ by Vice-President Kamala Harris’ niece, Meena Harris.
(Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)
Why brands harnessing the power of digital are winning in this evolving business landscape
By Justin Pike, Founder and Chairman, MYPINPAD
Delivery of intuitive, secure, personalised, and frictionless user experiences has long been table stakes in digital commerce, well before the era of COVID-19. As businesses harness the revolutionary power of digital technologies, they have pursued large-scale change to adapt to evolving consumer preferences (some more successfully than others, but that’s a blog for another day). Digital transformation is a term we hear repeatedly, and it looks different for each organisation, but essentially, it’s about utilising technology and data to digitise, automate, innovate and improve processes and the customer experience across the entire business.
As I said, this was already well underway but then came 2020 and no industry escaped the disruption of the coronavirus outbreak, which has had an indelible impact on businesses performance, operations, and revenue. Regardless of whether the impact of COVID has been very positive or very challenging, it has forced organisations globally to re-evaluate and re-orient strategies to adapt.
As lockdowns and pandemic-related restrictions continue to change daily life, this raises the question of how we can balance a dramatic shift to digital and the benefits it brings, while ensuring business continuity and innovation both during and post-COVID, and protecting everyone against fraud?
Digital is an essential survival tool, and even more so in a COVID world
No one could have predicted the dramatic digital pivot that has taken place over this year. Indeed, within weeks of the COVID outbreak cash usage in the UK dropped by around 50%. Digital solutions including delivery applications, contactless payments, mobile commerce, online and mobile banking have become essential components of a touchless customer experience in the era of social distancing. It’s no longer just about an enhanced and superior customer experience, it’s also about health, safety and survival.
In store, businesses have benefited from contactless payments enabling faster throughput and reduced need for consumers to touch payment terminals (therefore requiring greater cleaning, which degrades the hardware much faster). Mastercard reported a 40% increase in contactless payments – including tap-to-pay and mobile pay – during the first quarter of the year as the global pandemic worsened. Digital has also become an essential sales channel for many B2C brands. Where brick and mortar stores have been required to close, digital commerce enables continuity of customer relationships and revenue. This channel also provides brands with rich customer data, which can be used to enhance and personalise the customer experience and typically results in greater levels of engagement and uplifts in revenue.
Industry forecasts estimate that worldwide spending on the technologies and services enabling digital transformation will reach GBP 1.8 trillion in 2023 – a clear indication that the process represents a long-term investment and a global commitment to digital-first strategy. The key point here is that digital brings significant benefits, and regardless of COVID, is here to stay.
The challenges that rapid digital transformation brings to businesses
Regardless of whether businesses are operating in developed or less-developed economies, these times of crisis have levelled the playing field in the sense that all businesses are facing similar issues. Access to products and supplies, maintaining customer relationships, accelerating sales for some and declining sales for others, health and hygiene are just a few of the unique challenges brought about by COVID.
Many businesses in physical environments have had to swiftly implement changes to significantly reduce safety risks for staff and customers, such as contactless payments, mobile ordering and delivery options. But with these changes come a host of other benefits of digitisation, such as faster transactions, and reduced human error at the point-of-sale.
The reliance on technology, however, can also expose organisations and consumers to certain vulnerabilities. In particular, the risks of fraud and cybercrime have dramatically increased since the onset of the pandemic as scammers have taken advantage of digital technologies to target both businesses and individuals.
As a McKinsey report illustrates, new levels of sophistication in the activities of fraudsters have placed more pressure on companies that have been previously slow to go digital, bringing “into sharp relief how vulnerable companies really are”, and damaging the financial health of small and large businesses. In fact, the Bottomline 2020 Business Payments Barometer reveals that only one in 10 small businesses across the UK report recovering more than 50% of losses due to fraud.
But take these stats with a grain of salt. While it is important to be aware of the risks and challenges this new business landscape brings, it’s equally as important to have a lens firmly across your own business, industry and audience, and to identify the changes you can make internally to mitigate risk as well as improve your customer experience. Where can you make some quick wins? Do you have the right skillsets internally to achieve what you need to achieve? What technology is out there that will enable your business goals? There are tech companies like MYPINPAD that are making huge strides in software development, which will transform businesses globally.
A digital world post-COVID
Almost a year in, the line between business success and failure remains fragile. However, an ongoing transition towards greater digitisation will be the difference between survival and the alternative.
There is a wide range of initiatives businesses can implement to weather this storm. If we look at the space MYPINPAD operates within, secure digital consumer authentication is crucial to the ongoing success and security of not only financial products but also identification and verification across a range of different industry verticals. Shifting the authentication of consumers securely onto mobile devices enables businesses to completely reshape their customer experiences. By bringing together a more seamless, frictionless customer experience, accessibility, privacy, security and access to consumer data, businesses are able to drive digital transformation across day-to-day activities.
Against this backdrop, software with stronger security standards continue to play an ever more vital role in supporting society, protecting consumers and businesses from the increase in risks that rapid digitisation brings. Already, merchants can deploy PIN on Mobile technology from companies like MYPINPAD, onto their smart devices to speed up the digitisation process many are now tackling.
Essentially, opening up universal payments and authentication methods that feel familiar, for both online and face-to-face transactions, will be key to opening up a world of possibilities when it comes to redefining how businesses engage with consumers.
Brexit responsible for food supply problems in Northern Ireland, Ireland says
LONDON (Reuters) – Food supply problems in Northern Ireland are due to Brexit because there are now a certain amount of checks on goods going between Britain and Northern Ireland, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said.
British ministers have sought to play down the disruption of Brexit in recent days.
“The supermarket shelves were full before Christmas and there are some issues now in terms of supply chains and so that’s clearly a Brexit issue,” Coveney told ITV.
The Northern Irish protocol means there are “a certain amount of checks on goods coming from GB into Northern Ireland and that involves some disruption,” he said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Tom Hogue)
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