Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is adding retail to its list of specialties.
The law firm launched a retail industry group on Friday that brings together more than 100 lawyers from practices in the firm under one umbrella. The lawyers come from fields such as corporate law, intellectual property, labor and employment and trade, among other things, all of which intersect with the retail industry in some way.
“It’s a really exciting time to be in the retail industry,” said Meredith Slawe, a partner in the litigation group at Akin Gump. “We see technology affecting the customer experience and physical stores. There’s also a digital transformation. And with all of the innovation and the technological change comes a host of different challenges that retailers are facing.
“At the same time, the law is continuing to evolve in such a way that retailers are facing both the exploitation of old statutes for new purposes and a host of federal and state and international laws that they’re affected by,” continued Slawe, who is also a cochair of the new retail group.
Akin Gump’s retail group partners with leaders from the Retail Industry Leaders Association and its associated Retail Litigation Center to work on retail class action matters. In addition, the group will meet internally on a monthly base to stay updated on developments in the retail industry.
Kate Deal, a litigation partner based in Philadelphia, who also cochairs the retail group, said the information “may or may not pertain to legal issues, but it’s really informative about what’s going on in the industry.”
And the group will attend industry events like this week’s Shoptalk in Vegas and the NRF Retail Big Show in New York.
“Our thought is that by immersing ourselves in these dynamic opportunities and pressures that are facing retailers, we can better partner with our retail clients to anticipate and mitigate areas of risks,” Deal said. “And hopefully provide some real practical and business-oriented solutions.”
In addition to Slawe and Deal, the other cochairs are Gregory Knopp, an employment partner based in Los Angeles, and Garrett DeVries, a corporate partner in Dallas.
Akin Gump represents a variety of retail cases and retailers throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The firm helps retailers navigate compliance issues, including those under the General Data Protection Regulation, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, and covers areas such as consumer and employment class action suits, security and trademark disputes.
“This [group] is really warranted for us, because it’s not enough to just serve your clients as excellent lawyers,” Slawe said. “You really do have to understand the business pressures they’re under. You have to understand what the business side is doing and what they’re contemplating doing and the pressures they’re under in order to advise them in a robust and excellent way.”