Associate Departs Big Law to Create Pro Se Online Startup

Although she spent the first six years of her career in Big Law, California attorney Dorna Moini always knew that her true passion was in human rights and access to justice.

After graduating from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in 2012, Moini, who has dual citizenship in the United States and Iran, worked at Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton and then at Sidley Austin.

But Big Law practice wasn’t her calling. Her experiences gained from frequent travel between the United States and Iran, plus a fellowship as an undergraduate helping draft legislation to outlaw slavery in northwest Africa, and her pro bono work as a Big Law associate provided a window into the stark divide in access to justice here and abroad. And she was driven to do something about it.


PDF: Associate Departs Big Law to Create Pro Se Online Startup _ Law

Call Her the Constable of Cryptocurrency

Once upon a time there was a hero who took down the corrupt French Maid, who had manipulated and stolen from the Dread Pirate Roberts on The Silk Road.

It sounds like the plot line of a swashbuckler movie, but actually, it’s part of the tale of Kathryn Haun’s rise as a federal prosecutor who helped lay the groundwork for the government to capture cryptocurrency criminals.

Right now, the value of just one bitcoin is hovering around $5,000, leading to rampant media coverage, pushing digital currency lexicon into the mainstream. But wide adoption depends much on the safety and security of the new technology, which is often compared to the Wild West.

Haun, first as a federal prosecutor and now as a bespoke legal consultant for emerging technology companies, has contributed much to beefing up security in the industry. In the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, she was the first digital currency coordinator. She handled cases that taught prosecutors to work through challenges in convicting cryptocurrency criminals, and sent loud-and-clear messages to digital currency companies to increase financial safeguards.


PDF: Call Her the Constable of Cryptocurrency


Don’t Know What Blockchain Is? You Should. This Law Prof Can Help.

Bitcoin. Ethereum. Blockchain. It sounds like a foreign language, clouded in mystery.

But with billions of dollars flowing through cryptocurrency systems, and governments and major companies looking to blockchain technology to reform a wide variety of critical record-keeping systems, law students and lawyers need to get up to speed.

Even with great change brewing, only a smattering of law professors have published research in the area, and even fewer have launched formal classes for law students.

Angela Walch is one of the first law professors who have latched on to the importance of digital currencies and blockchain technology. Starting research in 2012, Walch, who is a professor at St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, has made a mark in the cryptocurrency community with research that suggested—despite the decentralized promise of blockchain technology—that actual identifiable people govern the systems, and furthermore, they should owe users a fiduciary duty. Walch’s law school course she started in 2013  was pioneering in teaching students about bitcoin and the blockchain.

This story published on on August 7, 2017.

PDF: Don t Know What Blockchain Is You Should This Law Prof Can Help _ Texas Lawyer

GC Impact Player: Toyota Motor North America GC Sandra Phillips Rogers

As general counsel of one of the country’s largest automakers, Sandra Phillips Rogers oversees very busy legal happenings every day, yet she always sets aside time for her passion: making the legal profession more diverse.

At Toyota Motor North America Inc., Rogers has already built a diverse team of lawyers in her legal department. Her quest does not end there: She requires outside law firms to staff her matters with diverse lawyers, and to influence the wider legal profession, she spends a significant amount of time speaking at conferences about her efforts at Toyota.

“As lawyers, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of the profession, and I absolutely and fundamentally believe as a legal profession we have got to be diverse and inclusive for the same reasons it’s important to Toyota. I think to be the best lawyers we can be, to deliver the best legal advice we can, to be good representatives and stewards of the community, we have got to reflect the communities in which we work,” said Rogers, who also cofounded the University of Texas School of Law’s Center for Women in the Law and co-chaired the center’s 2017 Women’s Power Summit on Law and Leadership, an invitation-only event of very powerful female lawyers.

Published in Texas Lawyer magazine’s August 2017 issue.

PDF: GC Impact Player Toyota Motor North America GC Sandra Phillips Rogers _ Texas Lawyer

This Big Law Partner’s Hobby Is Sew Cool

She’s a Big Law litigator by profession, but in her personal time, Sidley Austin partner Paige Montgomery of Dallas pieces together a hobby that provides serenity for her and comfort for those in need.

Quilting has enabled Montgomery, 40, to slow her pace of life to a meditative crawl—and she has left behind piles of beautiful quilts in the process, while touching the lives of family, Big Law colleagues, and even strangers in need as far away as Costa Rica.

“In our work, we have investigations and cases and those things have intermediate deadlines, but they don’t have quite the same sense, ‘It’s done,’ that you get with a finished quilt,” Montgomery said. “I’m a better-rounded person than I was before I started doing it. It lets me express parts of my personality that otherwise wouldn’t come out.”

Published on on July 6, 2017.

PDF: This Big Law Partner’s Hobby Is Sew Cool _ Law

As Army’s Top Lawyer, Flora Darpino Is No Shrinking Violet

Flora Darpino learned as a little girl she would have to strive her hardest, just to be equal.

As she nears retirement from a 30-year career as a military lawyer, it’s clear that the lieutenant general took that lesson to heart. More than being equal, she became a shining example to female soldiers and the first woman in the nation’s 242-year history to serve as the judge advocate general of the U.S. Army.

Darpino, 56, said her drive to work her hardest stemmed from the prejudice she and her family faced as Italian-Americans living mainly in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“Every generation had to be better than the generation before them, and we always had to work harder and be better than people around us to be considered equal,” Darpino recalled that her father would say.

Published on on June 16, 2017.

PDF: As Army’s Top Lawyer, Flora Darpino Is No Shrinking Violet _ Law

Shot of Bourbon? This Big Law Partner’s Got You Covered

Lawyers are used to filing paperwork in a pinch. But Mayer Brown partner Russell Nance was motivated like never before when armed state police raided his bourbon business, alleging he and his partners were running an illegal moonshine operation and committing a felony. Police gave them until the end of the week to secure a permit.

They completed the papers to make their new still legal in a couple of hours, recalled Nance, who said the group had just received the still and were beginning to assemble it when the police showed up.

With that initial drama behind them, Nance and his partners—Alex Toomy and Chris Sarpy—earlier this month celebrated the grand opening of their company, Ragged Branch Bourbon, a craft distillery located near Charlottesville, Virginia.

Published on The American Lawyer’s website on April 24, 2017.

PDF: Shot of Bourbon This Big Law Partner s Got You Covered _ The American Lawyer