Brian Krob Quoted in Article on Corporate Law Changes Due to 2010 Economy
Brian Krob was quoted in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin article, "Corporate Law Changes Due to 2010 Economy."
To read the original article, view the Related File at left.
In the past year, Brian Meltzer refused to represent Bank of America or Chase, so his firm could be adverse to the large national banks in bankruptcy cases.
Meltzer, the managing partner of Meltzer, Purtill & Stelle LLC, worked to attract potential debtors who needed to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. He helped his firm put together a bankruptcy team that started with homebuilders, but soon included hotels, shopping centers and others in commercial real estate.
"Debtor bankruptcies are a lot of fun, and they're much more challenging," Meltzer said. "When you do that in the real estate area, you run into Bank of America, and they're a difficult opponent. We've gotten a number of referrals, because a lot of the large firms can't be adverse to them. For the next couple of years, that's going to be a big part of our practice. That, plus the workouts."
Like Meltzer, many corporate and transactional lawyers have shifted or expanded their practice areas due to changes in the economy, government programs or federal and state regulations. Michael S. Kurtzon, a member of Dykema, Gossett PLLC, who practices in real estate law, spends 75 percent of his time on restructuring, workouts and foreclosures. Even though retail and condominium projects continue to suffer, he saw an uptick in office building sales, residential rental projects and affordable housing transactions, he said.
"That's one area where banks have been very active — these rental projects to create affordable housing," he said. "That's because a lot of governmental money is washing through the system. Lowincome housing tax credits are available, and there is a market for them."
In the past year, Kurtzon also saw several banks bring more employees into their real estate lending areas and prepare to take advantage of the pent-up demand and dollars available for new transactions. "I hope that a lot of the money that has been sitting on the sidelines in opportunity funds starts finding its way into the market, there are more real transactions, [and] the banks begin getting back into realestate lending in a bigger fashion," Kurtzon said.
John R. Sagan agreed that he has experienced ups and downs in mergers and acquisitions, but became busier in the last quarter of the year.
Sagan, a corporate and securities partner at Mayer, Brown LLP, recently served as lead counsel for Caterpillar Inc. in its $8.6 million acquisition of Bucyrus International Inc. The deal was the largest he worked on this year, he said.
Sagan heard that other firms also became busier as corporations became more confident in the future, but he said it may be too soon to predict the future.
"I hope next year we'll see a continuation of a rise in M&A activity," he said. "I think buyers have to be convinced that this is the right time to be investing capital in new acquisitions and that they're pricing the deal correctly when they are buying something. That, of course, depends in large part on what the demands for the acquired company's goods and services will be. It's hard to know in an economy that's going up and down and moving sideways a little bit," Sagan said.
Brian E. Krob, a partner at Ungaretti & Harris LLP, also focuses his practice on corporate and securities law. In the past year, he became active in the health-care industry. He pointed to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act as one of the most significant pieces of legislation. The new law — passed as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 — requires health-care providers to adopt electronic medical records.
"I find myself collaborating more and more with the health-care regulatory side of the firm," Krob said. "Everyone hears they have to have electronic medical records, but what you really need is an electronic medical record that complies with various criteria that the federal government has put forward."
Krob also noticed more consolidation between the health-care and information-technology spaces due to the new law. In the past six months, Ingenix, a leading health information technology and services company, acquired Picis and Axolotl, two different companies that provide health information services. In December, Aetna also announced its plans to purchase Medicity, a health information exchange technology company.
"It's this desire to create collaboration in health care/information-technology, so that the different providers, the doctors, specialists, nurses, EMTs, all are working on the same page," Krob said. "It shows a strategic decision to push resources into companies that are designed to save money to the providers."
Environmental lawyers like E. Lynn Grayson have also noticed significant changes in their practice in the past year.
Grayson, a partner at Jenner & Block LLP, serves as lead environmental counsel in national and international transactions and advises corporations on managing material environmental risks and liabilities. She has seen a significant slowdown in large redevelopment projects in the commercial and industrial sectors.
"It seems that fewer such projects are moving forward in large part because of the real estate market and the lack of available funding," Grayson said. "Many of these projects were at brownfields … that often required significant environmental lawyer involvement to manage the investigation, cleanup, cost recovery and overall redevelopment efforts."
Grayson also saw several growing areas of interest in the environmental law practice. Businesses are more interested in "going green," and there are more efforts for tax credits, alternative funding and other benefits for reduced energy use, as well as for alternative energy sources.
Reprinted with permission from Law Bulletin Publishing Company.