NAMWOLF Business Meeting
February 8 - 10, 2015
San Antonio, TX
Book your hotel rooms by January 14!

LetterFromtheEditorA Letter From the Editors...

Dear NAMWOLF Friends -


Please find our 4th Quarter 2014 NAMWOLF Newsletter with this email.  Please remember to circulate this email to all the members of your firm. There is only one recipient for your firm and you are it. We are so pleased to have added a number of new firms and contributors to our newsletter family. You will see their bylines in the articles below.


Our hard-working Newsletter staff consists of: Angela France (PCT Law Group, PLLC, Alexandria, Virginia), Crystal Vanderputten (The Livingston Law Firm, Walnut Creek, CA), Oscar Lizardi/Pat Lopez/Tim Reckart (all of Rusing Lopez & Lizardi, Tucson, AZ), Keely Herrick (Parks Wood Law, Atlanta, Georgia), Amy Kurson (Reyes Kurson, Chicago, IL) and of course, Jane Kalata (NAMWOLF).


Please feel free to share your comments and suggestions.




Sonjui L. Kumar

Kumar, Prabhu, Patel & Banerjee, LLC - Atlanta, GA 


Jamie Rudman

Sanchez & Amador, LLC - Los Angeles, CA

A Note from the CEO...Is it just me or does time fly faster the older you get? I can't believe we are almost done with 2014. In my previous roles managing in-house legal groups, I always told my team that December is a time to celebrate both work and family accomplishments, enjoy down time during the holiday season, and rest up for the next year because it's going to be crazier and more exciting than the preceding year.

For NAMWOLF, 2014 has been an exciting and very successful year. We held two meetings starting with the Miami "Back to Business" meeting" and most recently our Philadelphia Annual Meeting.  At our Annual Meeting, we had a record number of sponsors (corporations, vendors and law firms), in-house attendees and overall attendees. I'm especially pleased that many of our in-house brought several attorneys to the meetings and we also had many new corporations attend. We had some great speakers, panels and CLE sessions as well as some fun evening entertainment. I know it wouldn't surprise you to know that Jane and the NAMWOLF Team are already focused on San Antonio and Hollywood and working with our law firm and in-house chairs to make our 2015 meetings the best ever.  (Click here to keep reading)

AnnualRecapNAMWOLF 2014 Annual Meeting and Law Firm Expo Recap

By: Crystal L. Van Der Putten, Livingston Law Firm, Walnut Creek, California


The 2014 NAMWOLF Annual Meeting and Law Firm Expo took place September 21-24 in beautiful Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this year.  The meeting kicked off on Sunday morning with the Emerging Leaders Initiative's Amazing Race Around Philadelphia - a scavenger hunt type event which allowed participants to meet other attendees and see some of the rich culture and history around town, including the Rocky statue, the Liberty Bell and other amazing landmarks.


From the Amazing Race, attendees could head to law firm cross-marketing speed dating or advisory council sessions for in-house counsel.  The first cocktail reception took place Sunday evening at the Reading Terminal Market which stayed open late for NAMWOLF and provided exciting opportunities to try raw oyster shooters and win some great prizes donated by different law firm members. (Click here to keep reading)

FirstTimeAttendeeNAMWOLF Annual Meeting:  A First-Time Attendee's Perspective

By: Pat Lopez - Rusing Lopez & Lizardi, PLLC, Tucson, Arizona


The Overall Experience

So why should anyone attend the NAMWOLF Annual Meeting? I must admit that I was certainly not excited when my partners first proposed that the three of us attend. I have participated in similar organizations and meetings in the past and thought it would be a waste of time, but was I wrong! The conference had something for everyone. There was a nice comraderie among the lawyers; the staff was helpful and accommodating; the CLE offerings were broad and interesting; and the corporate counsel in attendance were receptive and frank about their needs and your chances of filling them. Bottom line: everyone was there for a purpose while having fun.


One of my favorite sessions was the new member orientation. There, and frequently during the course of the Meeting, we were told that developing business through NAMWOLF was a process and not to expect to walk away from the meeting with any new business- that was refreshing. Another good piece of advice was to focus on developing relationships, with in-house representatives and fellow NAMWOLF members. The best thing about the Meeting was how friendly and open everyone was, especially to us newcomers. It was full of people with shared experiences, shared interests, all genuinely open to getting to know each other. (Click here to keep reading)

CorpSpotlightCorporate Spotlight - Exelon

By: Angela France, PCT Law Group, PLLC, Alexandria, Virginia


Powered by its people and culture, Exelon is one of the most successful companies in the energy industry.  It has been the top-ranked electric and gas utility on the Fortune 500 each year since 2008.  One key to Exelon's ability to drive progress are its values of diversity and inclusion.


Exelon views its commitment to diversity and inclusion as essential to its future success. The company views diversity and inclusion as a "business imperative, core value and moral obligation." These values are championed by Exelon's legal department. "Diversity and inclusion is a strength that enables us to provide solutions for our customers - it makes us better," explained Tony Gay, Associate General Counsel in Exelon's legal department. Gay described the practice and promotion of diversity and inclusion within the walls of the legal department, and how it encourages and inspires these values externally. (Click here to keep reading)

SpotlightMemberSpotlight - Member Firm:  Toro, Col�n, Mullet, Rivera & Sifre, PS

San Juan, Puerto Rico

By: Oscar Lizardi - Rusing Lopez & Lizardi, PLLC, Tucson, Arizona


If you attended the NAMWOLF 2014 Annual Meeting & Expo in Philadelphia, I am sure you met Jos�, Analynn and Antonio from TCMR&S. As a new NAMWOLF law firm member and the only NAMWOLF law firm in Puerto Rico, TCMR&S made quite a lasting impression. They demonstrate perseverance for success and exude the importance of promoting diversity in the legal profession. Also, they are active contributors to their community's well-being and economic development. In addition to NAMWOLF, TCMR&S is also certified by the Puerto Rico Minority Supplier Development Council.


TCMR&S was founded 15 years ago by seven like-minded entrepreneurial attorneys with complementary legal practices.  The founders worked together for Puerto Rico's largest law firm.  Since then, the law firm has grown organically by recruiting a diverse group of very talented young attorneys that share the core values of the firm. They are a multi-service firm providing experienced and valued counsel from Business, Corporate, M&A and Real Estate to Commercial Litigation and Environmental and Natural Resources. (Click here to keep reading)

VendorSpotlightVendor Spotlight:  Connex Intl.  

By: Debora Volansky, Connex Intl.


We all face trials throughout the day.

Collaboration shouldn't be one of them.


Connex Intl. is proud to be a NAMWOLF partner for the past four

 years. We were first introduced to this great organization by our attorney, Amy Miletich, who is still an active NAMWOLF member.   As a women owned company ourselves, we quickly identified with the NAMWOLF mission.  We also actively seek alliances with other women and minority owned businesses.  Our goal remains constant: to create mutually beneficial relationships that help drive strong business results. 


"Like Connex, NAMWOLF is a great organization with great people," say Connex CEO and owner Deb Volansky.  "We appreciate our partnership and look forward to continuing our support of NAMWOLF in the future." (Click here to keep reading)

RRHHappy Holidays:  Keeping Out of Legal Trouble During the Busiest Season

By: Retail, Restaurant and Hospitality PAC


Who doesn't like to shop, dine and travel?  These are pastimes we all enjoy especially during the holiday season.  But for many of our clients these are also some of the most demanding times as increased customer activity requires heightened vigilance to avoid risk onsite and online.  NAMWOLF recently  launched a new Practice Area Committee focused on the Retail , Restaurant and Hospitality industries and the RRH PAC is gearing up for an exciting program at the winter Business Meeting. With this industry focus, the RRH PAC will be coordinating closely with the substantive area PACS to meet the needs of our corporate partners who operate in the Retail, Restaurant and Hospitality space.  Having already attracted interest from over a dozen NAMWOLF firms across the country and a number of corporate partners, we look forward to supporting this market segment.  One of the greatest challenges many face is navigating both the brick and mortar and virtual settings in which they operate.  As more and more consumers shop, order meals, make reservations and book travel online, Retail, Restaurant and Hospitality companies are tackling this changing arena and dealing with issues of privacy, security, brand integrity and regulatory compliance.  At the same time, they are maintaining their facilities, training and promoting employees, assuring customers are safe and providing high quality goods and services. (Click here to keep reading)


How You Can Support NAMWOLF So That It Can Support You 

By John Murdock - Benton, Potter & Murdock, P.C., Falls Church, Virginia

I am pleased and excited to have been asked to succeed Justi Rae Miller of Berens & Miller as the Chair of the National Development Committee of NAMWOLF.  Justi and the Committee did a tremendous job this year, significantly exceeding the target for obtaining sponsorship and vendorship funds to support NAMWOLF's operational costs and the costs of the Annual and mid-year Business meetings. 

The National Development Committee leads and coordinates NAMWOLF's efforts to obtain sponsorship and vendorship funds that defray NAMWOLF's operational costs and the costs of the Annual and mid-year Business meetings.  As overall costs rise and NAMWOLF attracts additional in-house corporate counsel who attend at no cost, sponsorship and vendorship funds become even more important.  Law firm dues and registration payments for the Annual and mid-year Business meetings make up only a percentage of NAMWOLF's total budget. (Click here to keep reading)




You may have noticed that over the last few years, quite a few NAMWOLF law firms are sponsoring different events and functions at the Business and Annual Meetings.  Those firms saw an opportunity and have benefitted greatly... in fact, many of them are already committing for 2015 and 2016 and your firm can too.  If your firm is interested, please take a look at the sponsorship opportunities listed on the NAMWOLF website  HERE.

John Perez, talking about his firm's sponsorship of the meeting space complimentary Wifi said:

"Our firm invests financially in NAMWOLF for several reasons.  First, NAMWOLF is an organization focused on opening doors. We believe if law firms become strong financial supporters, then NAMWOLF's "ask" of corporations is less focused on seeking financial contributions, and more focused on showcasing the abilities and successes of its member firms, thus increasing the opportunity to provide legal services.  Second, our strong financial support of NAMWOLF demonstrates to corporations we are committed to giving to the organization as much as we receive, and to building and fostering lasting relationships with in-house counsel equally committed to the organization.  We believe in "walking the walk" and not just "talking the talk" in all areas of our firm's practice, but especially in our support of diversity and inclusion.  Finally, our firm's financial support of NAMWOLF helps to promote our firm to other law firms and corporations; it sets us apart.  For example, our sponsorship of the free Wifi at the Philadelphia Annual Meeting gave us name/brand recognition with every single attendee at the conference and allowed us to organically start conversations with in-house counsel and other members with whom we may have not otherwise had the opportunity."  John Perez, Perez & Morris (Click here to keep reading)


By:  Angela France, PCT Law Group, PLLC, Alexandria, Virginia


The NAMWOLF NEWS Bites column is a new feature of the newsletter.  This column is a rundown of NAMWOLF community news, and features news and messages from the Practice Area Committees ("PACs") and other committees.  We encourage PACs and committees to contribute to this NEWS Bites column in the future.

How to Help Your Client Select and Protect a New Brand

By: Keely Herrick, Parks Wood LLC, Atlanta, Georgia


In the branding arena, the battle royale is generally between marketing teams, who prefer brands that are somewhat descriptive and easier to communicate, and trademark attorneys, who prefer unique, coined terms that are easier to protect. Often, corporate and in-house attorneys find themselves caught in the middle of this tug-of-war, trying to balance the needs of each side. In addition to a significant amount of frustration, at risk may be a substantial financial investment in a brand that ultimately ends up abandoned due to a trademark dispute.  There are ways to help the marketing team issue-spot potential problems and streamline this process so that it runs more smoothly. 


Conduct an Internet Search

One of the primary concerns of adopting a new brand is to make sure that it is not confusingly similar to an existing brand already in use for similar products. In today's global economy, one can often find competitive products online by conducting a simple Internet search. If there is a product available online to consumers in your geographic area using the exact same mark for the same products, it's probably best to choose another brand before investing time and resources into developing that name. Of course, it's generally not that cut and dry, and you may be unsure as to whether a particular existing product name or the nature of the goods is similar enough to raise a problem. In that situation, an Internet search is still helpful because you can call that product to the attention of your trademark counsel and help to speed up the process. (Click here to keep reading)

Insurance_AgentDoes an Insurance Agent Have a Duty to Advise its Customer?

By: James Shaw, DLD Lawyers, Miami, Florida


Throughout most of the United States, an insurance agent is only required to obtain the insurance that the customer requested within a reasonable time.  Barnes v. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co., 612 S.W.2d 786 (Mo. Ct. App.E.D 1981); and Tiara Condominium Association, Inc. v. Marsh, 2014 WL 109140. Typically, the agent has no obligation to, on its own, evaluate a customer's insurance needs or give the customer advice regarding the coverage that the customer should purchase. Like any other party to a contractual relationship, an agent is not obligated to do more than what the agent has agreed to do, and if all that the agent has agreed to do is afford standard brokerage services, the agent has not agreed to evaluate the customer's needs or give the customer advice regarding the coverage that the customer should have. Id.


However, under certain circumstances, courts throughout the country are expanding the traditional ministerial role of the insurance agent. In certain instances, courts are holding that an insurance agent also has a duty to offer its customer advice regarding the types of coverages that are available and necessary to meet that customer's needs. (Click here to keep reading)


Demystifying the Language of the ACA

By: Felicia Finston, Wilkins Finston & Friedman, Dallas, TX

This article was originally published in Texas CEO Magazine, September 2014 (reprinted with permission)


With all of the confusion and controversy regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA), sometimes called "Obamacare," the title of this article may seem like a tall order. However, from an employer perspective, deciphering the ACA is not as difficult as it would seem.


For 2015, the primary ACA compliance issue employers will face concerns the employer mandate also known as "pay or play" which generally requires employers who employ 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees (Large Employers) to determine if they are going to provide health coverage to employees and satisfy the requirements of the ACA, or if they are not going to offer coverage and instead pay a penalty.


Determining Large Employer Status

Being a Large Employer is determined on a controlled group basis, meaning the employees of related entities as defined by the Internal Revenue Code (referred to as a Controlled Group), are combined. Thus, four related entities that are members of the same Controlled Group who only employ 20 full-time employees each will be a Large Employer for purposes of ACA. (Click here to keep reading)