Foley Quoted on Next-Generation Manufacturing

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Foley Launches Initiative For 'Next Gen' Manufacturers

By Andrew Strickler

Law360, New York (June 11, 2013, 6:27 PM ET) -- Foley & Lardner LLP has launched a new initiative to counsel corporate clients in "next generation" manufacturing challenges, a move the firm chairman said would bring together the firm's legal expertise with clients' needs in emerging trends like product customization and "insourcing."

"We believe that the next-generation manufacturing revolution is for real, and we see it as a positive thing for the U.S. economy and for our clients as well," Foley Chairman and CEO Jay Rothman told Law360.

More than one-third of the firm's top 1,000 clients are already in the manufacturing sector, Foley said, and emphasized that the focus remains on legal services delivered through a "holistic" approach to their clients' newest manufacturing needs.

"It's something we've always done historically and it's really counseling in the true sense, and what great lawyers have always done," he said.

The effort — part client service program, part cross-sell strategy — is intended to capitalize on Foley's experience with clients engaged in various kinds of manufacturing, Rothman said, by giving clients and lawyers a formal platform for discussing emerging intersections of law and concerns like changing global supply chains, domestic facility siting and trade secrets.

The firm hopes to be involved in business development at an earlier-than-usual stage, and counsel clients on tax, intellectual property, green energy regulations and other legal work as plans emerge, rather than taking a more reactionary approach.

At the same time, the firm says the experience-sharing program will help clients transitioning into 21st century efforts like "Big Data"-driven product design and the use of robotics, just some of the forces driving some companies to manufacture in the U.S.

Rothman said a variety of factors is driving the "inshoring" trend, including the relative stability of the U.S. dollar, changing wage rates in China, and planned government investment in domestic manufacturing. New technologies are also opening up opportunities under a broad definition of the term, Rothman said.

"To look at an unusual example ... we're working with clients trying to create, and, in essence, manufacture, human organs for transplant," he said, an emerging space with a host of business and legal ramifications.

The initiative, dubbed the "Legal Innovation Hub for NextGen Manufacturers," will eventually include online platforms, and serve as a firmwide network of industry teams and practice groups.

The firm also intends to connect with trade groups, academics and think tanks, and host roundtable discussions through which Foley clients can access legal and business insights relevant to their industries.

A client advisory board to be formed in the coming months will be comprised of key manufacturing clients and firm lawyers to ensure Foley provides "forward-thinking insight and innovative solutions" for emerging manufacturing.

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