Jonathan B. Wilson

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Jonathan Wilson is an Atlanta attorney with more than 19 years of experience guiding growing private and public companies.  He currently serves as the outside general counsel of several companies and is the former general counsel of (NASDAQ: WWWW) and EasyLink Services (NASDAQ: ESIC).  He is also the founding chair of the Renewable Energy Committee of the American Bar Association's Public Utility Section.

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Law Firm
If you haven't heard the news already, I am happy to announce that I have joined the Business Transactions team at Taylor English Duma

I'll be continuing to represent growing private and public companies, with an emphasis on transactional matters and corporate securities.

I had been hearing lots of good things about my old friend Marc Taylor even while I was in-house at EasyLink.  I have known Marc for roughly twenty years, as he was one of the two lawyers from Powell Goldstein who took me to dinner the night before my summer associate interview at that firm all the way back in the Fall of 1989. 

After making partner at Powell Goldstein, and an in-house stint at a health care company, Marc and his partners formed a new law firm in an attempt to show that there was a better way for lawyers to serve their clients.  (The firm began as Taylor-Busch but changed its name to Taylor English Duma in early 2009.  The new website and domain name should be out soon.)

Taylor English Duma is noteworthy for the way it provides value to clients.  The firm doesn't have young associates.  Nearly every lawyer at the firm is at least ten years out of law school.  This means that clients aren't paying 'big firm' rates to teach younger lawyers their craft.  Files are handled leanly, meaning that the lawyer you engage on a matter is the lawyer who works the matter.

In this era of cost-cutting and value-consciousness, I think Taylor English Duma has the opportunity to provide clients with exceptional value in legal services.  If you would like to hear more, you can reach me at jwilson "at" 
7:34 am est 

Friday, January 16, 2009

Business is Booming at Small Law Firms
Business is booming at small law firms that charge competitive fees, according to the ABA Journal.  The article notes that price conscious companies are looking for quality lawyers who charge more reasonable rates than the big firms. 

I think we may be seeing the beginning of the end of the trend that has run over the past 10 years or so in which regional firms have morphed into international firms, opening offices in every large city on the map.  The trend has spurred a fantastic growth in equity partner profits, but with a number of unfavorable side effects.

Among those has been an alarming increase in billable rates at the top 200 firms where, in Atlanta at least, partners are often billing out over $500 per hour.  Most small and mid-cap companies simply can't afford that kind of representation.

The good news is that they don't have to.  There are still firms out there, usually with a smaller geographic footprint, with equally talented and experienced lawyers who don't need to charge $500 per hour to make a living.  They will be the ones who do the best in this economic downturn.
7:31 am est 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Marital Assets

According to, a Long Island surgeon is suing his estranged wife for compensation for the kidney he donated to her prior to their separation:

"Dr. Richard Batista, a surgeon at Nassau University Medical Center, told reporters at his lawyer's Long Island office Wednesday that he decided to go public with his demand for kidney compensation because he has grown frustrated with the negotiations with his estranged wife." quotes several divorce lawyers who claim that the case will not succeed:

"I've been in this business over 40 years and I've never heard of that," said Seymour J. Reisman, a Long Island divorce lawyer. "It's not marital property, not a marital asset you can put a price tag on."

Manhattan attorney Susan Moss said, "The good doctor is out of luck and out a kidney. This is similar to cases where a husband wants to be repaid for the cost of breast implants and the such. Our judges are not willing to value such assets, so to speak."

8:50 am est 

Top 100 Legal Blogs
The ABA Journal has released their list of top 100 legal blogs.  Incredibly, they seem to have missed me again! 

Robert Ambrogi notes that the ABA Journal seems to have disqualified a large number of votes and that may have affected parts of the outcome. 
8:25 am est 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Breitbart's "Big Hollywood"
Breitbart's Big Hollywood group blog opens today.  Here's how he describes it:

"On Tuesday, I launch Big Hollywood, a big group blog that will feature hundreds of the big minds from the fields of politics, journalism, entertainment and culture.

Big Hollywood is not a “celebrity” gabfest or a gossip outpost - it is a continuous politics and culture posting board for those who think something has gone drastically wrong and that Hollywood should return to its patriotic roots.

Big Hollywood’s modest objective: to change the entertainment industry. To make Hollywood something we can believe in - again. In order to give millions of Americans hope.

Until conservatives, libertarians and Republicans - who will be the lion’s share of Big Hollywood’s contributors - recognize that (pop) culture is the big prize and that politics is secondary, there will be no victory in this important battle."

This is an ambitious undertaking, but worthwhile efforts often are.  It's hard to argue with Breitbart's point that Hollywood has had a negative influence on our culture in the past several decades.

5:10 pm est 

Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Growth Industry in a Down Economy: Buying Patents
It seems some companies are using the recession to find better pricing on their patent acquisitions.  According to Ocean Tomo's Andrew Ramer, "There's been a drastic increase in the percentage of corporate buyers year over year."

Ocean Tomo calls itself the "intellectual capital merchant banc" and handles patent valuations, searches, license management and patent auctions.  Its auctions are probably what it is best known for, however, drawing patent enforcement firms from around the world.

Ocean Tomo's Spring 2009 auction will be March 26-27 in San Francisco. 
7:46 am est 

Top Litigation Boutiques
The American Lawyer lists its "top litigation boutiques" of the year. 

As a general counsel, I believe that hiring a litigation is hiring a person.  You look for a litigator that you trust, who knows the law and is going to be committed to getting you the result you want.  The "label" that litigation wears (i.e., the name of the firm) just isn't that important.

The trick for businesses, however, is to tell the difference between a good litigator and one that isn't as good.  Because that's a hard difference to discern, business people sometimes rely too much on the law firm's reputation or size: that's one of the reasons, I believe, that the mega firms have done so well over the past decade.  If the average CFO can't tell the difference between two lawyers, he or she might as well choose the one that comes from the well-known mega firm because if it all goes south, the CFO can express shock and amazement that the mega firm failed to come through.

That has become an expensive proposition, however.  Mega firm billable rates for partners are generally more than $500 per  hour.  Hourly rates for associates (who are smart young lawyers but lacking the experience and judgment to go it alone) are often more than $300 per hour.

The bottom line: If you can hire the lawyer you like and that lawyer can get you good results, don't worry about the name of the firm. 
7:33 am est 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Senate Democrats Plan to Delay Seating Burris

Roland Burris, the appointee of embattled Illinois Governor Blagojivich to take Barack Obama's Senate seat, sought to force the Illinois Secretary of State to certify his appointment by filing a complaint for a writ of mandamus before the Illinois Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Senate Democratic leaders, perhaps realizing that they lack the legal power to refuse to seat Burris, are planning a 90-day referral to the Senate Rules Committee to "investigate" Burris' credentials in the event he does get them certified by the Illinois Secretary of State. 

The end game for Senate Democrats remains unclear, however.  So long as the Senate lacks the power to refuse to seat Burris and so long as his appointment is legal under Illinois law, they may delay his appointment for a time but will not be able to avoid it forever. 

8:41 am est 

Man Made Climate Change a Con
According to Irish Environmental Minister Sammy Wilson:

“I think in 20 years’ time we will look back at this whole climate change debate and ask ourselves how on earth were we ever conned into spending the billions of pounds which are going into this without any kind of rigorous examination of the background, the science, the implications of it all. Because there is now a degree of hysteria about it, fairly unformed hysteria I’ve got to say as well."
“I mean I get it in the Assembly all the time and most of the people who shout about climate change have not read one article about climate change, not read one book about climate change, if you asked them to explain how they believe there’s a connection between CO2 emission and the effects which they claim there’s going to be, if you ask them to explain the thought process or the modelling that is required and the assumptions behind that and how tenuous all the connections are, they wouldn’t have a clue.

8:26 am est 

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Jonathan B. Wilson is an Atlanta attorney at the law firm of Taylor English Duma LLP.  Jonathan B. Wilson provides legal advice to investors, companies and business executives involving corporate law, securities law, SEC matters, intellectual property, website and Internet legal issues, start-ups, limited liability companies, partnerships, 1934 Act matters, outsourcing, strategic alliance agreements, contracts, and other matters of importance to growing private and publicly-traded companies.