Business of law, law of business

Opening Statement

Paul Dailing

Editor

You don’t often have a chance to photograph a man standing in front of a wall of Kraft Singles at a legal magazine, but when you get that chance, you put the photo on the cover.

This issue of Chicago Lawyer looks at the sometimes contentious, always fascinating relationship between Big Law and Big Business. From the attorneys who went in-house to the small-firm proprietors whose livelihoods depend on commercial disputes, this issue looks at how those worlds collide.

For our cover story, staff writer Lauren P. Duncan took a look at some of the ways Illinois companies both large and small are asking their legal team to step up in PR, crisis management and other public-facing roles.

It’s not as natural a fit as you might think. The diligence, technicality and precise language drilled into lawyers is often a mismatch for a social media age that expects corporate response in crises to be an instant and a tweet away. But the legalistic approach to an image problem can be just what a situation demands.

Read Lauren’s story to find out how some of Illinois’ largest employers — including Archer Daniels Midland, Kraft Heinz and Mondelez International — and smaller companies have asked their in-house teams to step, at least momentarily, out in the spotlight. A big thanks also to the communications team at Kraft Heinz for helping photographer Lisa Predko get our dairy-laden cover.

But companies cannot, will not and don’t really want to handle all issues in-house, particularly when the company’s legal needs might take the lawyers to a courtroom. This leads us to our next feature.

Commercial litigation boutiques remain a mainstay of Chicago’s legal scene, but the small shops are trying to figure out how best to handle their Big Law peers. In the last few years, several notable boutiques decided to become the Chicago office of out-of-town firms. Grippo & Elden joined Kansas City, Mo.-based Shook, Hardy & Bacon; Ungaretti & Harris joined Boston-based Nixon Peabody; Schopf & Weiss joined Detroit-based Honigman; Greene & Letts joined Los Angeles-based Zuber Lalwer & Del Duca — the list could go on.

We talked to commercial litigation firms both big and small — and lawyers who made the switch from big to boutique, boutique to big or back and forth — to talk about how they handle everything from conflicts to organization.

While in-house lawyers step out and boutiques go big, one individual attorney’s evolving corporate role is also highlighted in this issue’s Q&A feature. Reporter Dustin J. Seibert sat down with Anthony O’Neill, former in-house counsel for and current CEO and executive director of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority about his plans for the group. ISFA is a governmental agency the state legislature created in the 1980s and tasked with constructing and renovating stadiums for sports teams in Illinois.

You might not know their name, but if you’re a Chicago White Sox fan, you’ve probably been inside their most famous holding. Photographer Rena Naltsas accompanied Dustin’s piece with some great shots inside the IFSA-owned Guaranteed Rate Field.

Rena also provided the artwork for our Spaces profile of DLA Piper’s new digs and our In Summation interview with Latham & Watkins associate Meghan McCall Hansen, who volunteers with the Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services’ Human Trafficking Initiative to fight modern-day slavery in Chicago.

It’s a packed issue we’re really proud of. Hope you enjoy.

Best,

Paul Dailing