Corp America March 2017

58 CORP AMERICA / MARCH 2017 , David R. Johanson talks to us about lawfirmHawkins Parnell Thackston &Young LLP, and his role within the company. Leading the Way Over the last half century, Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young LLP (HPTY) has grown to include more than 150 lawyers in nine offices located in Atlanta, Austin, Charleston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Napa, New York, St. Louis and San Francisco. HPTY represents clients ranging from individuals and mid-sized closely-held companies to international and Fortune 100 corporations in complex disputes and in financial transactions. As national leaders in their fields of expertise, their national Employee Stock Ownership Plans, Employee Benefits, Executive Compensation and ERISA team brings extraordinary depth in perspective when advising clients in connection with retirement plans, equity incentives, executive compensation, shareholder issues, fiduciaries, mergers and acquisitions, and ERISA, employment, and benefits litigation throughout the country. Their clients have recognized the group as providing elite, professional, and cost- effective legal representation in advisory, investigatory, and litigation matters involving ESOPs, employee benefit plans, ERISA, and equity and executive compensation. Its lawyers represent clients on a national basis, and the groups’ clients include publicly traded corporations, closely-held entities, financial institutions, and senior company executives. David R. Johanson is partner- in-charge of the Napa office of HPTY and he also has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Dallas to cover his national practice. With more than 31 years of experience under his belt, David tells us more about his current role and responsibilities. “I lead a national practice group with a team of more than 20 that assist clients in general corporate matters and in employee ownership, benefit, ERISA, and related business matters, with an emphasis on executive compensation, equity incentive plans, non-qualified deferred compensation, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), ESOP transactions, mergers and acquisitions (and related tax planning), and business succession and estate planning. I also frequently appear on behalf of clients in business and employment-oriented defense litigation in state and federal courts throughout the country, before regulatory agencies, in tax controversies before the Internal Revenue Service and comparable state regulatory agencies, against felony criminal indictments in U.S. Federal Court, and in dispute resolutions of various kinds. My team also represents corporations in shareholder and non-competition disputes. “I have defended ERISA fiduciaries, plan sponsors, selling shareholders, and investment advisers in ERISA litigation matters involving ESOPs and business transactions in federal and state courts throughout the country in a wide range of controversies covering ERISA fiduciary responsibilities, ESOP valuation disputes, disclosure obligations, investment issues, and tax matters. I have extensive experience in negotiating ESOP, ERISA, and other issues with government regulatory agencies and in representing ERISA fiduciaries in litigation.” David recognizes that the firm’s continued success relies on two distinctions - its people and its services. He tells us that he is committed to his attorneys and staff by providing a culture that is vibrant, challenging, and rewarding with an environment to choose a career path and experience opportunities not present at every law firm. “My firm values diversity and strives to create a supportive environment that enables all of our personnel to achieve and deliver excellence in their professional careers,” David explains. “I know that the collection of our varied personal perspectives and life experiences makes our firm better able to identify with and serve the needs of my diverse clients. I support my staff’s participation in pro bono programs and community service to provide social, legal and economic opportunities to the underprivileged and disadvantaged.” Beyond the retention of the highest quality lawyers, Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young has prioritized investments in emerging technology that buttress the firm’s ability to deliver best-in-class services at a lower cost. “As more data security breach headlines appeared in the news, we recognized the need to take proactive steps to continuously stay a step ahead of cybercriminals to protect our client’s sensitive information,” elaborates David. “In April 2015, we launched a $40 million strategic initiative to transform IT operations, upgrading infrastructure to a secure and cost-effective system and shifting firm-wide IT support to a managed service model. “Furthermore, because we handle large portfolios of cases for our clients across the United States, we have invested in legal project management systems and processes to help our team allocate work to the correct resources more accurately and efficiently. Most importantly, these technologies help us keep our clients informed and involved more efficiently and more thoroughly.” Over the last several years, the firm has experienced a material increase in complex e-Discovery laden cases. Thus it has trained attorneys and staff to manage these cases using the most advanced technology on the market. Emerging technologies and artificial intelligence continues to be ever-increasing with more information and analysis available at a whim, furthering expectations and types of services provided to clients. David tells us how the firm keeps up-to-date with the latest trends. “My team and I leverage a myriad of resources and staff for data analysis and competitive intelligence, including analysts for litigation, financial transactions, benefits and compensation. As integral as technology advances have become, it has become even more important to invest in innovative and flexible team members that excel at holistic project management and integration to better provide efficient, best-in-class legal services.” 1702CA03