Archives for May 2015

Global Law Firm Launches NextLaw Labs And Creates Legal Business Accelerator

Green BulbDentons, a global law firm launched NextLaw Labs, a collaborative innovation platform focused on developing, deploying, and investing in new technologies and processes to transform the practice of law around the globe.

“We are looking for startups, entrepreneurs, VC’s, established vendors—anyone who wants to join our innovation ecosystem and work together to build and bring to market new products and services, whether through direct investments in existing companies or by building our own suite of services within NextLaw Labs.”

The goal of NextLaw Labs is to develop a suite of technologies that will fundamentally change the practice of law, improving client service and enhancing client solutions, supporting seamless cross-border service in today’s global economy. Dentons will be the accelerator’s lead supporter and investor, serving as the global testing ground for new products, services and other ideas to be vetted, piloted and scaled.

“The market has talked about Big Law and New Law, but we want to be Next Law,” says Dentons’ Global Chairman Joe Andrew. “We don’t just want to be the world’s largest law firm, we want to transform the legal profession, drive innovation in legal services and bring clients what they want with better quality, more responsiveness and greater value.”

Leading the new venture is CEO Dan Jansen who has a combination of entrepreneurial and professional services experience. Jansen has helped to conceive, fund, grow and/or sell disruptive businesses in many diverse sectors, including social media, financial services and on-line recruiting. He also has 20 years of professional services experience including roles leading the Global Media Practice for the Boston Consulting Group and with Arthur Young & Company advising start-ups.

While growth in the legal tech sector has been substantial, NextLaw Labs will be able to draw on the experience of lawyers and professionals helping vet and develop products and services – to create solutions that assist real lawyers, working with real clients on real issues around the world.

“Finding new technologies to reinvent the profession and reshape how business is conducted is what NextLaw Labs is all about,” Jansen says. “We are looking for startups, entrepreneurs, VC’s, established vendors – anyone who wants to join our innovation ecosystem and work together to build and bring to market new products and services, whether through direct investments in existing companies or by building our own suite of services within NextLaw Labs.”

“The legal industry is entering a period of enormous change and innovation,” says Professor William D. Henderson, Indiana University Maurer School of Law, who will sit on the advisory board of NextLaw Labs along with academics, general counsels and other thought leaders from around the world, and who earlier this year was named the most influential person in legal education by The National Jurist. “NextLaw Labs has an ingenious design and structure that gives legal entrepreneurs and Dentons’ lawyers the running room needed to get ahead of this curve. NextLaw Labs could be the place to go to see the future of law. Kudos to Dentons for its willingness to go first.”

NextLaw Labs will assist in fulfilling its pledge to reinvent and improve global client service by harnessing new technologies, new business analytics and new service delivery models that enhance client support and deliver higher quality services, while improving confidentiality and data security.

At 100-Year Anniversary Of Indiana CPA Society, Leaders Acknowledge Challenges Ahead

As the Indiana CPA Society (INCPAS) celebrates its 100th anniversary, it seems just as important to note what has remained constant as it is to mark the society’s many changes and look ahead to its future.

INCPAS board chair Kent Williams, Assistant Professor Business at Indiana Wesleyan University says the society, which started with five members and now has 8,000, has stayed true to its mission to help members succeed while respecting the public interest and adhering to the highest ethical professional standards. “Some things have not changed. A hundred years ago, accounting professionals looked at this as their professional home in Indiana and they still do today.”

President and CEO Gary Bolinger agrees. “It’s very clear as you look at the society’s history and up to the present day, this organization – the volunteers and staff alike – their commitment to the mission and core values is unwavering. They’re not just words.”

Both Williams and Bolinger spoke to IPA a few weeks after the society celebrated its anniversary with a centennial gala, which attracted 800 attendees, including 28 past board members. The society has also created a book outlining its long history, which includes information on national accounting figures from Indiana, such as Marshall Armstrong, once MP of Geo. S. Olive & Co., a past chair of the AICPA and the first chair of the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).

Naturally, though, the anniversary is a time to look ahead as well. In fact, the board of directors spent much of last year doing just that in creating INCPAS 2025, which outlines challenges the society faces to best meet member needs in 10 years.

Bolinger says that all CPA Societies are wrestling with that question in an increasingly complex business environment, in which CPAs are becoming more and more specialized. This will challenge the traditional types of continuing education CPA Societies have offered for decades.

Another challenge includes attracting young people who are not “joiners” to INCPAS and to the accounting. Millennials are likely to have five to seven careers in their working life, Bolinger says, so perhaps these professionals can be attracted from other careers, such as real estate or social work.

The society is also faced with the need for its membership to better reflect the demographics of Indiana. “We have to do a much better job – not work a little harder – but do a much better job of creating opportunities for young people who have diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds,” says Bolinger.

Williams, who is an assistant business profession at Indiana Wesleyan University, takes special pride in a year-long mentorship program for minority high school students called the INCPAS Scholars Program. The 21 scholars who are in the 1014-2015 program go through a number of career and college-prep events. They receive a CPA mentor, a college accounting student mentor, a $500 academic gift and a letter of recommendation. Of the 76 who have gone through the program since its inception in 2011, at least 90% are studying accounting, Williams says.

Wouldn’t it be amazing, Williams and Bolinger say, to celebrate INCPAS’ 110th anniversary with several hundred INCPAS Scholars who are active in their CPA Society? “That, to me, would be incredible,” Williams says.

Bolinger says, “I think if the society is going to be successful in the next 10 years – in the next 100 years – we’re going to have to be agile, adaptive and resilient to what’s happening in our members’ environment. And we intend to do that.”

EisnerAmper Names New CFO

New York-based EisnerAmper LLP (FY14 net revenue of $280.1 million) announced the appointment of Jeffrey Melnick as its new CFO. Melnick replaces partner and CFO Brett James, who retires after 38 years with the firm.

Melnick’s experience includes senior level finance and business development positions with firms including General Electric and Marsh Inc., most recently as CFO of the Marsh Risk Consulting and Marsh Captive Solutions groups.

“My decision to join EisnerAmper as CFO was greatly influenced by its culture — a superior commitment to its employees and clients,” says Melnick. “I am energized that my professional journey has led me here to play a leading role in a firm that is poised for continued growth and success.”

In making the appointment, EisnerAmper CEO Charly Weinstein says, “In Jeff Melnick we have a highly experienced professional whose background in financial strategy at a global firm will assist us as we expand operations further in U.S. markets and abroad. His skills in planning, budgeting and controls will be of significant value as our firm looks to grow and compete in ever changing economic times.”

MFA Establishes Canadian Subsidiary

Moody Famiglietti & Andronico LLP (MFA) of Tewksbury, Mass., announced the expansion of its operations with the establishment of a wholly owned Canadian subsidiary, MFA Canada.

The firm is opening an office in the Greater Montreal area and has appointed Gregg Hamilton-Piercy as its managing director. Hamilton-Piercy will continue to oversee the firm’s U.S. valuation operations as he builds a Canadian team to provide local services and support to the Canadian market.

Since 2011, Hamilton-Piercy has served as managing director of the valuation practice at MFA’s affiliate company, MFA Cornerstone Consulting, LLC. He has a diversified background in corporate finance that includes managing valuation and related engagements intended for a variety of purposes including gift and estate tax matters, mergers and acquisitions, equity buy/sell agreements and financial reporting.

“The inherent strength of our solutions is increasingly finding appeal in some of the world’s largest markets and the Canadian market, in particular, represents a huge opportunity for us,” says Carl Famiglietti, MFA MP. “Investing in a locally-based office provides an even greater opportunity for MFA to partner with Canadian-based businesses, entrepreneurs, executives, shareholders and individuals and develop long-term, mutually rewarding relationships in the region.”

Hamilton-Piercy says, “I am excited to lead the firm’s expansion efforts into Canada. MFA is a highly innovative organization and I am confident that our winning formula as a proactive and trusted business advisor will resonate with Canadian companies and ultimately, change the accounting, finance and business consulting landscape there.”

Gregory Skoda Honored for Leading One of Region’s Smartest Companies

Mayfield Village, Ohio-based Skoda Minotti (FY13 net revenue of $40.3 million) announced that its chairman, Gregory Skoda, has been named one of Smart Business Magazine’s Smart 50 Award Honorees. The Smart 50 Award recognizes Northeast Ohio’s top business executives who are leading the region’s smartest companies for their ability to effectively build and lead successful organizations. This is the second consecutive year that Skoda has been recognized with the Smart 50 award. He is the only executive from a locally owned CPA and business advisory firm.

Skoda co-founded and built the 250 employee professional services firm from a small tax and accounting business in 2001 to a full-service business and financial advisory firm. Today, the company not only provides CPA services, but also wealth and financial services, professional staffing, risk advisory, strategic marketing, technology solutions and valuation and lititation advisory services.

“We’re honored to be recognized again by Smart Business as a smart company,” says Skoda. “We continue to challenge ourselves to find new ways to help our clients build strategies, grow and achieve financial success. We’ve built a sustainable culture that enables us to grow as our clients grow; this award would not be possible without them.”

Nelson Named Director for CohnReznick Advisory

New York-based CohnReznick LLP (FY14 net revenue of $508.2 million) announced the appointment of Dean Nelson as a principal and the technology and digital advisory national director for the firm’s advisory practice.

Nelson will lead the growth of technology and digital services with an emphasis on core technology, CIO advisory, analytics, package selection, and implementation and infrastructure.

“The technology needs of growing businesses are evolving daily, and expanding our technology services is one of our top strategic goals. Dean’s broad technology and digital background brings seasoned, strategic leadership to an already strong and talented team. We are excited about the collaboration and innovation that will result from this expansion and the ways it will allow us to better serve our clients. There was extraordinary marketplace interest in this role, and Dean was the perfect fit among a group of top candidates,” says Keith Denham, MP and national director of CohnReznick Advisory Group.

“I am proud to join CohnReznick’s Advisory group and be a part of the exciting growth happening here,” says Dean. “Our talented teams of professionals are passionate and motivated about solving client problems, being on the forefront of emerging issues, and providing best-in-class career development for our people.”

Dean joins the firm from Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) in Boston, where he served as MP. In this role, he was successful in leading the enterprise strategy practice across the Americas. Earlier in his career, he served as a principal at IBM, and a Big 4 accounting firm. In those roles, he led fast-paced technology practices.

Umbaugh Acquires ACI Advisors

Indianapolis-based Umbaugh acquired ACI Advisors of Columbus, Ohio, which will now operate under the Umbaugh name.

Umbaugh was founded more than 60 years ago and has offices in Indianapolis, Mishawaka, Ind. and Lansing, Mich.

“We view this as a mutually beneficial combination,” says Todd Samuelson, MP for Umbaugh. “Brian Cooper, former head of ACI Advisors, now has the resources of Umbaugh’s team of 90 people in four offices, and Umbaugh gains a local presence to serve local governments in Ohio. Brian’s clients and experience are an excellent match for the services we provide.”

“Umbaugh has the best platform, resources and expertise in the industry which will help me to better serve my clients and help them succeed,” says Cooper. “We also have a common business philosophy and share a commitment to excellent client service.”

Baril Joins Grant Thornton’s Advisory Practice in San Diego

Kevin Baril has joined Chicago-based Grant Thornton LLP (FY13 net revenue of $1.3 billion) as principal in the firm’s advisory practice, based in the firm’s San Diego office.

Baril has more than 25 years of consulting experience focused on strategy, technology transformation and systems implementation. He has consulted clients across industries on a broad range of business technology issues, including cloud solutions, service offering strategy and formulation, application management, go-to market execution, as well as sales and business development management.

“Kevin’s extensive experience leading the identification, advancement and development of profitable business growth, as well as his deep industry knowledge, will be an invaluable asset to our clients throughout the West region as we continue to expand our practice,” says Doreen Griffith, Grant Thornton’s California MP. “His arrival demonstrates our commitment to add value for clients through a wide range of service offerings.”

Prior to joining Grant Thornton, Baril served as vice president of Global Business Services (GBS) at IBM with oversight of the North American GBS opportunistic client segment. Previously, he was a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s Management Consulting Services group, focused on systems consulting.

Sikich Names Wagner PIC of Firm-Wide Manufacturing and Distribution Practice

James Wagner

James Wagner

Naperville, Ill.-based Sikich LLP (FY13 net revenue of $100 million) admitted James Wagner as PIC of its manufacturing and distribution practice.

Wagner will assume his new responsibilities while continuing to serve as a partner in Sikich’s Milwaukee office and working with local middle-market businesses and their owners. His core areas of specialization include cash flow analysis, multi-state tax issues and sales and use tax compliance.

In his more than 40 years in public accounting, Wagner has provided audit, accounting, tax and business consulting services to a wide range of manufacturers and distributors. This includes $5 million- to $200 million-sized foundry, forging operations, aviation systems and cheese producers.

As PIC, Wagner will lead Sikich’s manufacturing and distribution practice, which provides consulting services to an array of manufacturers, wholesale distributors and warehousing and storage companies. He also will oversee business development for key service lines, including accounting, audit, tax and technology.

“Jim has spent most of his career immersed in the manufacturing and distribution industries. He understands fully the trends and marketplace changes that challenge manufacturers and distributors today. His deep expertise speaks to the needs of our clients and aligns with the industry as a whole,” says Jim Sikich, CEO of Sikich. “I am confident Jim will make great strides and strategically build alliances across service lines to help foster relationships with current clients and prospects.”

Prior to Sikich, Wagner served as shareholder of auditing and accounting at Kolb+Co. and as a director at Deloitte & Touche LLP.

HLB Gross Collins Announces Promotions

J. Keith Moody

J. Keith Moody

HLB Gross Collins PC of Atlanta announced that effective May 1, J. Keith Moody, has been admitted to the shareholder group. Moody specializes in audit and consulting and works with closely held businesses to help them solve problems and enhance financial performance. He has concentrated expertise in construction and leads the firm’s construction practice. He is also the firm’s director of quality control and professional development.

The firm also admitted Iliana Malinov and Steven Schell to principal. Iliana is the firm’s director of tax services and has expertise in both domestic and international tax matters and serves many clients who are operating on a global scale. Schell specializes in audits with concentrated expertise in construction. He is the firm’s expert on employee benefit plan audits and works with many clients to ensure they are in compliance with their 401(k) plan.