A tough economic climate, an aging baby boomer population and the high prevalence of social-media use are predicted to create the biggest hurdles for local attorneys and their clients this year.
Social media is continuing to cause a stir in family law courtrooms. And clients’ use of popular interactive media can work against them, warns Michelle Spirn of Growe Eisen Karlen. Particularly during child-custody battles, text and photo postings related to participation in negative activities such as drinking, or extra-marital relationships before a divorce is finalized can reflect badly on clients. “I continue to encourage my clients to be very careful with their postings on Facebook and other social media during family law litigation, since these postings can be used against them in ways they likely did not anticipate,” Spirn notes.
Another challenging topic in the family law field is related to out-of-state relocation of a divorced parent and his or her children. “The stakes are frequently very high in terms of a client’s potential acceptance of a new job or commitment to a new marriage,” Spirn says. The cases require extensive research on the relocating client’s part, from finding a new home, school district and activities for children in the proposed new city to presenting all of the information in a positive light in front of a judge.
As baby boomers age, a frequent issue in the corporate law field has become battles over businesses. James Dankenbring at Spencer Fane Britt & Browne says the corporate world’s demographics are changing as family businesses are passed from one generation to the next. A common issue arising during this transition is shareholder dissension, he explains. “When you have shareholder dissension and greed, it really can be contentious for an otherwise successful company.” This legal fight among shareholders can sidetrack the business from its goals. So Dankenbring recommends first trying to find solutions outside the courtroom. “More often than not, we engage psychologists, consultants and mediators to go about solving a business dispute in a nonthreatening legal environment.” Dankenbring says the alternative is a legal battle that can be stressful, expensive and polarizing for all parties involved with the company.
David Lemkemeier of Lewis, Rice & Fingersh says hot-button topics in commercial real estate this year will continue to be the availability of financing, public incentives and market demand. “Our commercial real estate practice handles real estate transactions both regionally and nationally, so we see a lot of variety in how these factors play out depending on the location of a transaction, and have ample opportunities to help assemble creative deal structures.”
Lemkemeier says commercial real estate transactions can be challenging from a market demand, cost and financing perspective in today’s economic climate. “Often, the viability of a deal depends on a combination of conventional financing, equity investment, and public-private partnership utilizing incentives like real estate tax abatement.” Multiple parties handle each step of the deals’ negotiation and documentation. “Managing the legal components of these multi-party transactions in an efficient and timely manner with a successful outcome is often challenging, but extremely rewarding,” Lemkemeier says.
A recent example is the series of CORTEX transactions completed in December underpinning the $186-million Phase II development of the CORTEX bioscience and technology hub in midtown St. Louis, Lemkemeier continues. “These transactions were made possible by the significant commitments and investments of a multitude of collaborating private, public and institutional partners, and by great leadership within each of the participating parties.”