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Roundtable Discussion on The Current State of The Legal Profession

Today was a roundtable discussion on Burr & Forman Results Matter with four top attorneys discussing the current state of the legal profession.

Lee Thuston/Burr & Forman

Lee Thuston is Burr & Forman’s Managing Partner. He served as Alabama Counsel during the site selection and negotiation processes for Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc., The Boeing Company, Mi-Tech Steel, Inc. and IPSCO Steel when these companies chose to locate their facilities in the State of Alabama. He assisted Honda Manufacturing of Alabama with the implementation of its incentives package with the State of Alabama for the development of its plant in Lincoln, Alabama. Lee also negotiated the incentives packages with the State for the recent Mercedes-Benz and Honda plant expansions in Alabama. Additionally, he assisted with negotiations on behalf of both DaimlerChrysler AG and Michigan Automotive Compressor Inc. (an affiliate of Toyoda Industries) during their site selection and incentives negotiation processes with the State of Georgia. Lee also assisted Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama, LLC with the implementation of its incentive package with the State of Alabama for the development of its plant in Montgomery, Alabama. Lee oversaw the site selection process for a new transmission manufacturing facility being developed by Honda Motor Company in Tallapoosa, Georgia.

In 2006, Lee and his partner, Warren Matthews, assisted with the site selection process for KIA Motors Corporation for a new automobile manufacturing facility to be located in West Point, Georgia. Most recently, Lee and Warren Matthews represented both ThyssenKrupp AG and National Steel Car, Ltd in their site selection and negotiation processes to locate manufacturing facilities in Mobile and Muscle Shoals, Alabama. To date, Lee has worked on new economic development projects and expansions representing over $15 billion of capital investment and the creation of thousands of new jobs.

Lee is listed in The Best Lawyers in America in the General Corporate Law and Economic Development categories. He is also listed in Chambers USA America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, including being named for the past four years as a “Leader in their Field”, and Alabama Super Lawyers. Lee and colleagues Louis Anders and Warren Matthews co-authored Alabama Limited Liability Company Forms and Practice Manual. Lee is a Fellow of the Alabama Law Foundation, as well as a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, both of which recognize significant contributions to the legal profession and the community. In 1994, he served as Secretary/Treasurer of the Birmingham Bar Association and as President in 2005. After law school, Lee served as law clerk to the Honorable Richard L. Jones, Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He is licensed to practice in both Alabama and Tennessee.

Michael Sullivan/Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge, & Rice

Michael Sullivan is the Managing Partner of Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge, & Rice‘s Atlanta office. When it comes to senior-level strategic guidance in mass tort product liability litigation and other large-scale commercial litigation, clients turn to Michael.

Michael brings nearly three decades of experience in “bet-the-company” cases. He serves in the role of “outside General Counsel” or Coordinating Counsel, providing big-picture advice to craft successful litigation strategies, increase efficiencies and contain costs. Michael collaborates with clients on a wide range of high-end business problems, including mass tort litigation.

He spent 10 years as National Coordinating Counsel, Chief Litigator and Case Manager guiding a global automotive company through national asbestos friction litigation. In this role, he coordinated the efforts of a national network of 35 defense firms, as well as the company’s in-house legal team.

Michael has particular experience serving the automotive industry, including Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers, as well as closely held and family owned businesses. He also has extensive litigation experience in the software, information technology, pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

Michael is a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel and a Fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America.

Michael Trotter/Taylor English Duma, LLP

Michael H. Trotter is a Partner the “New Model” law firm of Taylor English Duma, LLP. He received his law degree from the Harvard Law School in 1962 and his B.A. degree from Brown University cum laude (Phi Beta Kappa) in 1958. Prior to attending law school, he was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in the Harvard University Ph.D. Program in American History and was awarded a Master’s Degree in History in 1959. His law practice in Atlanta has focused on corporate transactions and finance, as well as on family business.

Mr. Trotter’s studies of law firm growth and change have combined the perspectives of a successful practicing attorney, an experienced law firm manager, and a historian. As a partner in two of the largest and most successful firms in America (the predecessors of Alston & Bird and of Kilpatrick, Townsend & Stockton) and three entrepreneurial law firms, he has been a keen student of the economics and ethos of modern law practice.

Mr. Trotter has written and spoken frequently on law firm management, operations and economics, and the cost- effective delivery of legal services including “Profit and the Practice of Law” which is the definitive work on growth and change in the legal profession in America between 1960 and 1995, and his soon to be released book “Declining Prospects” about the continuing transformation of the legal profession in the United States. He has also been a columnist for Atlanta’s legal newspaper, The Daily Report, and he is the author of Pig in a Poke? The Uncertain Advantages of Very Large and Highly Leveraged Law Firms in America, which appeared as a chapter in the American Bar Association’s publication, Raise the Bar – Real World Solutions for a Troubled Profession (2007).

His courses in law firm management and economics at the Emory University School of Law in the early 1990s may have been the first, and were certainly among the first, to be taught at a major American law school.

Wayne Hillis, Jr./Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs LLP

G. Wayne Hillis, Jr. has been in the practice of law in Atlanta, Georgia for 26 years and is a litigation partner with Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs LLP, where he serves as the managing partner for the firm. Mr. Hillis represents a variety of securities broker/dealers and individual brokers in litigation, handles complex business and commercial dispute litigation, employment litigation and arbitration.

Mr. Hillis has long been an active member of the Atlanta and Georgia Bar Associations. He is a fellow in the Lawyers Foundation of Georgia, a fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America and is Co-Chair of the Minority & Diversity Clerkship Program with the Atlanta Bar Association. Mr. Hillis also serves on the firm’s executive committee, partnership committee and diversity committee.

He received his B.A. degree from the University of Georgia in 1983 and his J.D. degree in 1986 (cum laude) from the University of Georgia School of Law where he was a member of the Editorial Board and Managing Board of the Georgia Law Review.