Legal Environment Of Business: Retaining Counsel Exercise

The first step our team took in looking for an outside lawyer to review the subcontract for our Cincinnati based company was locating a credible law firm. After searching the Internet, we decided on the Ulmer & Berne law firm. “Corporate attorneys Jacob ‘Yank’ Ulmer and Joseph Berne founded this law firm in 1908. Their goal was to remain dedicated to their customer’s success” (Ulmer.com, 2003). We chose this Ohio based law firm due to their well-known reputation of honesty and integrity. Ulmer & Berne is one of the largest law firms in the state of Ohio. “They strive to maintain a culture that emphasizes value even as they anticipate and embrace the changes, technological and otherwise, which allow them to serve their clients efficiently and with excellence” (Ulmer.com, 2003).

The second step our team took was choosing a lawyer from the Ulmer & Berne law firm. We decided that we needed lawyers who specialize in manufacturing contracts. We reviewed the credentials of several attorneys. We looked at each attorney’s background and success rate with contract litigation and narrowed our choices to two attorneys employed with Ulmer & Berne.

Our first candidate was Jennifer Bouchard who works at the Ulmer & Berne Cincinnati offices. Ulmer.com (2003) list Bouchard’s education background and areas of specialization / concentration:

She graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree from Xavier University in 1992. She received her Jurist Doctorate with honors in 1996 from the University of Cincinnati. She specializes in liability defense and business litigation. She passed the Bar Exam in Ohio (1996) and Kentucky (1997). Her areas of concentration are product liability, mass tort defense, and drug and medical device litigation.

Ulmer.com (2003) also list the representative experiences of Bouchard:

Experienced in handling all aspects of state and federal civil litigation, including pleadings and motion practice, pretrial discovery, trial preparation, through final resolution of the case. Experienced in defending manufacturers in complex state and federal product liability litigation involving claims of breach of warranty, failure to warn, and general tort claims. Experienced in multi-district litigation involving pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Experienced in resolving cases through alternative dispute resolutions, including arbitration and mediation.

Jennifer Bouchard has several professional affiliations and activities. They consist of the following: “Member of the Ohio State Bar Association, Member of the Kentucky Bar Association, Member of the Cincinnati Bar Association, Member of the Defense Research Institute and the Product Liability, Drug and Medical Device, and Young Lawyers Committees” (Ulmer.com, 2003).

Our second candidate was Fredrick Shadley who also works at the Ulmer & Berne Cincinnati offices. Ulmer.com (2003) list Shadley’s education background and areas of specialization / concentration:

He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Notre Dame; and he earned a Jurist Doctorate in 1981. He has concentrated practicing law within the Midwest by passing the Bar Exam in the following states: Ohio (1981), Illinois (1982), Kentucky (1990), and Indiana (1994). Shadley’s areas of concentration consist of complex litigation and business litigation. His complex litigation includes: product liability and construction disputes, environment superfund and toxic tort litigation, and professional malpractice. His business litigation includes: contracts and commercial disputes, copyright/trademark, unfair competition, and trade secrets disputes.

Ulmer.com (2003) also list the representative experiences of Shadley:

Since 1981 Shadley’s complex litigation experience includes: product liability, construction disputes, environmental litigation, toxic tort litigation, and Internet related disputes. He also has an extensive background experience in contract and transactional disputes, professional liability, as well as, intellectual property litigation.

Finally, Ulmer.com (2003) list Shadley’s quite extensive professional affiliations and activities:

Member of the Federation of Insurance and corporate Counsel (Vice-Chair, Intellectual Property Practice Section, 1999-present; Participant, Environmental Law and Toxic Tort Practice Section, 1993-present; Participant, Trial Tactics Practice Section, 1991-96) (Speaker at various seminars). He is a member of the following organizations: Ohio State Bar Association, Cincinnati Bar Association, Kentucky Bar Association and the Defense research Institute.

After reviewing the credentials of our two attorney candidates, we feel our company should enlist the services of Frederic Shadley due to his broad background in contract litigation and impressive educational qualifications. He has proven himself to be knowledgeable within the area of manufacturing contracts, therefore, his expertise will assist our company in reviewing the fifty page subcontract prepared by the airplane manufactures legal department. Shadley “has been involved in hundreds of cases similar to our situation, and he assures us that he has been very successful” (F. Shadley, personal communication, March, 2003).

Frederic Shadley “does not except retainers; his hourly rate is two hundred and seventy dollars an hour” (F. Shadley, personal communication, March, 2003). Because our company is not affluent in any litigation matters, we believe that the price our company pays for Shadley’s expertise is justified considering the magnitude of this fifty million dollar multi year subcontract. Shadley (2003) has already identified six issues that may arise in our contract:

1. The airline company may want the contract to have a specifically stated return policy in case the parts we manufacture are not in good condition.

2. The airline company may want the contract to contain information that defends their company against law suites in case the goods we make malfunction and cause someone bodily injury or death.

3. The airplane company may want the contract to state their company’s confidentiality rights; they may think we are trying to protect our property rights by keeping specific information about the parts confidential.

4. The contract should address the recovery of money in case the company we use to send our parts does not deliver on time or if they do not deliver the parts at all.

5. The contract needs to have collateral / cash for recovery of money spent in case the company sending us parts goes bankrupt.

6. The contract should address delivery schedules in case we cannot manufacture goods by the agreed upon due date.

The fact that our company has no experience in the litigation arena requires us to use the best outside counsel available. This new subcontract is too important for our company’s continued growth. By utilizing the services of one of the top attorneys from an established law firm, we should become more competent and fully knowledgeable about manufacturing contracts.