Atlanta And The Southeast - Law Firms Working To Make Atlanta An Even Better Place

Tuesday, February 1, 2005 - 01:00

Editor: Mr. Manning, would you tell our readers something about your career?

Manning: I began my career at Chadbourne & Parke in New York after Columbia Law School. After several years of transactional work, I shifted to litigation. I immediately participated in the defense of the outside directors of Franklin National Bank, a complex financial fraud case, as well as various investigations of U.S. issuers who had foreign payments issues. These voluntary internal investigations resulted in submissions to the SEC under its amnesty program prior to the effective date of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. I reached the conclusion that an associate at a Wall Street firm was not going to try many, if any, cases, so I joined the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, where, for the next few years, I tried a number of criminal cases. In 1982 I returned to Chadbourne to run its Washington office, where I defended various individuals and entities in civil and criminal antitrust cases, SEC and Congressional investigations and conducted investigations.

I came to Jones Day's Washington office in 1985 when that office had 80 lawyers. I continued to do civil and criminal defense work, SEC and OFAC enforcement, and a considerable amount of hostile takeover litigation which took me into the board rooms of various financial and industrial institutions. The savings and loans industry was under scrutiny at this time, and we represented S&Ls and their directors in a variety of investigations. I was fortunate to have leadership roles in the Drexel Burnham and TWA bankruptcies and to successfully try several hospital merger cases where the state and federal regulators were attempting to block the mergers, as well as significant antitrust cartel investigations.

In 2000 I moved to Atlanta as partner in charge of the Jones Day Atlanta office, and I have continued to have an active litigation practice. As in the past, this work is national and international in scope, and it is on behalf of clients who are affected by U.S. regulatory schemes.

Editor: Jones Day has been in Atlanta since 1989. For starters, what were the factors that led to the decision to open an office in Atlanta?

Manning: When we merged with Hansell & Post in 1989, I commuted to Atlanta from the Washington office to run the litigation group here.

The principal reason for Jones Day to have an office in Atlanta was the lack of a Southeast U.S. presence. The Southeast is one of the most economically viable parts of the country. Atlanta, with its easy access and large number of corporate headquarters, was a natural destination for Jones Day, which has a long history of representing private and public companies and their boards. Hansell & Post was a fine firm with particular strengths in real estate, taxation, transactional work and litigation. Their lawyers were very talented and fit well within our national system.

Editor: How has the office evolved over the past 15 years? Have there been particular practice specialties emphasized by the Atlanta office?

Manning: There have been a couple of phases. During the initial phase, the Atlanta office lawyers were integrated into the rest of the firm. This was necessarily a collaborative effort by Atlanta lawyers and the firm's various practice groups. The assimilation of the Hansell & Post lawyers from these practice areas into Jones Day was a success.

In 2000 when I moved to Atlanta we had 95 lawyers in Atlanta, including well developed labor and employment, products liability, general litigation, mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, venture capital, real estate and private capital, employee benefits and traditional tax practices. I was concerned, however, that we did not have a strong bankruptcy presence, nor well developed CCI or IP practices. These are all strong practices within the firm. Our IP practice now has ten lawyers, our bankruptcy practice has four lawyers and our CCI, two partners, and we have increased our environmental practice. The Southeast is an area in which major corporations are addressing significant environmental issues.

Over time, the Jones Day office in Atlanta has evolved from an operation providing services, in the main, to a regional group of clients to one that is serving regional, national and international clients on both inbound and outbound transactions.

This synchronizes with the development over the last 20 years of Jones Day into a truly global firm of more than 2,200 lawyers in 30 locations. This office is an integral part of the whole. We provide services seamlessly to clients far from Atlanta, and we routinely enlist colleagues from around the world to staff matters for our local clients in the most effective and efficient way possible. It sounds like a slogan but it's quite true that we act as one firm worldwide.

Editor: Can you tell us how Atlanta has evolved over the time of Jones Day's presence?

Manning: In 1989, Atlanta had a little less than 3 million people. When I returned in 2000 Atlanta had close to 4 million people. Areas that had been farmland had become corporate campuses. The Midtown area has been developing constantly over this period, much of it in connection with the expansion of Atlanta's educational institutions. Perhaps the most striking development over the past 15 years has been the growth and impact of Emory, Georgia Tech, Georgia State and other educational institutions, including Spelman, Moorehouse, Oglethorpe and Agnes Scott. Atlanta has always been home to excellent colleges and universities, but the recent expansion has added a new dimension of sophistication to the city.

Atlanta learned from some bad experiences during Mayor Campbell's administration - the essential value of a cooperative and collaborative relationship between the business community and the city's government. The election of Shirley Franklin as Mayor has been a major step forward. Mayor Franklin has rejuvenated the very cooperative relationship between business and government. While there is necessarily tension, she reached out to the business community, and to the law firms in particular, to establish an ethical foundation for relations and to change the ways in which the system operated. Jones Day was part of a group of law firms that addressed these issues on a pro bono basis and came up with recommendations.

Editor: Please tell us about the firm's involvement in the city's civic and community life. What are some of the charitable and cultural activities that the firm has supported?

Manning: Jones Day and its predecessor in Atlanta, Hansell & Post, have been the lawyers for the Woodruff Arts Center since the early 1970's. Over many years we have worked with the Arts Center to become the arts umbrella for Atlanta, and our lawyers have been involved with the High Museum, the Atlanta Symphony, the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta College of Art and a variety of theatre and arts organizations. Our lawyers have also been involved on a volunteer basis in many of these organizations. I believe that Jones Day has the highest per lawyer contribution to the governing boards and membership of the Woodruff Arts Center of any law firm in the city.

Together with the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Program, we have established the Special Advocacy Program. This deals with children in the public school system with special education needs. At present, 26 of our lawyers are trained in this work, which entails taking on individual children as clients and seeing that they have access to the educational resources they need. This has been an extraordinary success.

Jones Day partners and associates have played leading roles in the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and in other not-for-profit organizations, including the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, Angel Flight - which is an organization of pilots who give their planes for medical emergencies for people who cannot afford it - the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the Atlanta History Center, Leadership Atlanta, the MS Society, Focus For Kids With Disabilities And Educational Issues, Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation and a number of other organizations. These volunteer activities are not mandated by the firm, but are encouraged and reflect a firm culture that emphasizes the responsibility we have as individuals to try to make Atlanta a better place. Atlanta is certainly the easiest city in which to volunteer than any other place I have been.

Editor: That does not just happen. There must be a firm culture that values this kind of volunteerism.

Manning: Our culture does value volunteerism. I believe that each of us has a responsibility to engage in this kind of activity, and as a firm we work to ensure that everyone, partners, associates and staff, understands the value that the firm places on civic, community and pro bono activities. Indeed, once one of our people has demonstrated a personal commitment to some undertaking, the firm usually supports those activities through additional funding.

Editor: What do you see for the future? Where would you like the Jones Day Atlanta office to be in, say, five years?

Manning: The Atlanta office has gone from close to 100 lawyers in 2000 to 140 today, and the firm is now 2,200 lawyers with over 650 abroad, primarily in Europe and Asia. Locally we have moved to Midtown and provided ourselves with sufficient space to grow beyond our current size. Over the next 15 years or so we have the space to grow to 180 or 190 lawyers, if warranted, and I am pretty certain that we will be 150-plus soon enough. I am very happy with our mix of practices at the moment. Most of the disciplines necessary for a full-service operation are in place now, including high-end private capital work, Erisa, taxation - including state tax work - active litigation, IP prosecution and transactional practices that complement what we do in this regard elsewhere both nationally and internationally. I think we will add to our bench strength in all of our groups. We do not, however, aspire to have an Atlanta office that is the size of the Atlanta- and other regionally-based firms that have originated in the Southeast. That would require us to duplicate capabilities in other firm locations that are simply not necessary here.

Editor: Is there anything you would like to add?

Manning: Our biggest challenge is to make all segments of the Atlanta community - the business community, the civic and community groups, the arts and theatre organizations and the educational institutions and museums - understand that no other law firm in Atlanta is in a position to provide access to the legal resources we have outside of Atlanta, both nationally and internationally. We are the lawyers who assisted with an art lending program for the Pushkin Museum in St. Petersburg which has resulted in exhibits never before seen in the West. We have represented the High Museum of Art in a six-year plan for art exchanges with the Louvre. We have been able to do this because of our international reach. It is my responsibility to bring this to the attention of people in Atlanta.

Please email the interviewee at gtmanning@jonesday.com with questions about this interview.