2021: Doing Business in Massachusetts, USA

Published on Dec 3, 2021

Doing Business in Massachusetts

1. What is the current business climate in your jurisdiction including major political, economic and/or legal activities on the horizon in your country that could have a big impact on businesses?

The U.S. economy continues to be an active climate for investment transactions and the M&A market, and we expect that to continue. Overall, the financial market has sustained even through a change in administration and a ‎pandemic.

As far as legal activities on the horizon, cybersecurity continues to be on the rise. As businesses increasingly rely on technology and digital information, they face a greater risk ‎of privacy, cyber litigation, and regulatory enforcement actions.‎ Just recently, Locke Lord has been retained by two Fortune 500 companies to handle a data breach.

2. From what countries do you see the most inbound investment? What about outbound?

In working with other WLG firms, we see most inbound investments coming from Australia, China, Germany, Canada, and Scandinavia. The outbound investment is more dependent on the type of transaction. We mainly partner on transactional matters with WLG firms in Europe, Canada, and Australia.

3. In what industries/sectors are you seeing the most opportunity for foreign investment?

Massachusetts' wealth of medical schools and prestigious higher education institutions have formed the basis of a thriving biotech ecosystem, which continues to attract foreign investment. The biotechnology sector is on target to grow exponentially by 2024. Software and IT services continue to be strong industry sectors as well.

Some of Connecticut's most prominent manufacturers are focusing on research and development, increasing the R&D tax credit.

4. What advantages and pitfalls should others know about doing business in your country?

Overall, M&A activity continues to see an uptick in deals, and it is very much a “sellers’ market.” Some auctions for the sale of a business move exceptionally quickly, and buyers often try to preempt the auction process by getting ahead of the timeline set by the investment bankers. Bidders who are not prepared to move quickly run the risk of being left behind.

Organizations continue to face new issues, regulations, and threats relating to privacy and cybersecurity. Unlike the EU, the United States has no single federal law that regulates information security, cybersecurity, and privacy throughout the country. Several states have their own cybersecurity laws in addition to data breach notification laws. These areas are regulated by a patchwork of industry-specific federal laws and state legislation, with varying scope and jurisdiction. As a result, the challenge for organizations that conduct business across all 50 states and potentially across the world is considerable.

5. What is one cultural fact or custom about your country that others should know when doing business there?

Americans are very friendly and personable people in business. We cultivate a casual business environment that makes partners feel comfortable enough to trust us and share their position. We are increasingly becoming more informal in our tone of communication. Communications are often brief. Clients often expect an instantaneous response to emails or texts, particularly when a transaction moves quickly.

Our Firm

1. What distinguishes your firm from others in your market?

Locke Lord is a premier full-service Am Law 100 law firm that has earned a solid reputation for complex litigation, regulatory and transactional work and is a leader in the middle market arena. We remain united and aligned around providing the highest level of service to our clients, particularly across our five key sectors — Energy and Infrastructure, Finance and Financial Services, Insurance and Reinsurance, Pharmaceutical, and Private Equity — which draw upon a wide array of skills and experience from practice areas across the Firm. Coupled with our strong presence in key markets, including the Northeast USA, we are well-positioned to help our clients succeed in this ever-evolving landscape. Our Northeast offices are an integral part of the Firm’s 20-office footprint that serves clients in nearly every industry worldwide.

One of the most important things that makes us unique is our strong and meaningful culture. We have experienced the success of integration, team-building, collaboration, and culture fit even through major mergers. Our culture of collegiality and collaboration — core values of this Firm — across all of our offices and practices is ultimately reflected in our client experience by culminating in a deep understanding of our clients’ businesses. This doesn’t happen by chance; collaboration is expected and rewarded at Locke Lord, and we provide training, tools, and teaching to reach this level of integrated service.

2. What words describe the culture of your firm?

Collegiality, Collaboration and Entrepreneurship.

3. How does your firm participate in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and/or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) initiatives?

Throughout our history, our Firm has been deeply involved with bar associations, civic, charitable and community organizations all in an effort to be a significant and responsible member of the community. Just a sampling of our involvement in the Northeast community includes:

  • Annual 100% participation among all Associates and Counsel in the Boston office in the Greater Boston Legal Services Associates’ Drive, which has never been accomplished by a firm of our size in the history of the drive
  • Our lawyers have been honored by the Rhode Island Foundation, Rhode Island Bar Association, American Civil Liberties Union and many other organizations for their civic work
  • Locke Lord’s Hartford and Stamford offices are committed to Connecticut and its citizens, as evidenced by our civic and community leadership, pro bono work, volunteerism and support
  • Our New York office raises significant contributions to local charities, including the ASPCA, Cycle for the Cause, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Irish House, and Wounded Warriors

4. Are there any new and exciting initiatives, practice areas or industry focuses in your firm?

Diversity and inclusion are one of the Firm’s five core values. This year we further elevated and strengthened our efforts to counteract racism and advance the principles of diversity and inclusion, and we will continue these efforts. Just recently we received Mansfield Certification Plus status for 2021, which requires firms to consider a diverse slate of candidates for a defined list of roles, committees, and leadership activities. We are participating in Mansfield 5.0 Certification, which will conclude by July 2022. In addition, effective this year, we are offering Associates 75 hours of billable hour credit for diversity and inclusion qualified work.

Our Privacy & Cybersecurity Practice Group has seen a lot of activity around remote work issues and the related uptick in cyberattacks as well as legislative and regulatory issues. We have been leaders in advising clients on the applicability, scope and requirements of the emerging state privacy laws. Recent projects have included the collection, use and sharing of biometric and geolocation data, as well as the development of appropriate websites and other disclosures. Our cybersecurity lawyers have assisted companies in all sectors and of all sizes in complying with various state and federal cybersecurity requirements. Our Incident Response Team has led responses to cybersecurity incidents, including ransomware attacks, affecting facilities and individuals in many locations around the world. On privacy and cybersecurity matters with implications outside the U.S., we often enlist the assistance of WLG firms in appropriate jurisdictions.

Despite a dip in overall M&A activity at the onset of the pandemic, our deal lawyers — including our Private Equity team — have stayed ‎busy, and we have seen a continued uptick in recent months, which we ‎expect to continue. ‎In the past year, we served as legal counsel in numerous private equity deals across industries, including:

o Represented Arcline Investment Management and its portfolio company Integrated Polymer Solutions in the acquisition of International Rubber Products

o Advised Hastings Equity Partners in the sale of a majority ownership interest in SWAT to ORIX Capital Partners

o Represented KPS Mid-Cap Investments in the acquisition of Hussey Copper

o Represented Silver Oak Services Partners in its sale of commercial real estate valuation and assessment company BBG to Incline Equity Partners

o Represented Biohaven Therapeutics Holding Company in its acquisition of the remaining 58% interest of Kleo Pharmaceuticals

The Firm’s Bankruptcy, Restructuring, and Insolvency team had a very busy year and are well-positioned for the expected uptick in middle-market activity.

o A Locke Lord team represented Carla’s Pasta as debtors’ counsel in its restructuring efforts before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut. After a competitive auction process that resulted in a 30% increase over the stalking horse bid, the Bankruptcy Court held three days of hearings and approved the sale of the Debtors’ assets to an affiliate of Tribe 9 Foods LLC for $27.7 million.

o Representing SummitBridge as a secured term lender in connection with collateral substitution ‎and plan enforcement issues under a confirmed Chapter 11 plan and an expected “Chapter 22” repeat ‎bankruptcy filing. Additionally, we are involved in multi-party forbearance and cash collateral negotiations with ‎the Debtor and ten other term lenders concerning a total capital stack containing $140 million in ‎term debt.

o Representing Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and affiliate arms of the Indian Tribe in asserting sovereign immunity concerning claims by Brian Coughlin, an individual debtor, for violating the Bankruptcy Code ‎automatic stay injunction

We recently formally established an Energy Transition Group, including New York Partner Mike Malfettone, that combines our deep and varied experience across traditional energy, renewables, and private equity and venture capital to focus on several mounting priorities the industry is facing, such as: improving energy efficiency; further adopting renewable and clean energy sources to diversify better the energy mix; emerging technologies; and advancing the development and integration of innovative information technology, software, and smart technologies.

Our nationally recognized Public Finance Practice Group continues to impress and is strategically positioned to leverage the expected growth in the public infrastructure arena as the economy rebounds. The Firm was ranked No. 3 on The Bond Buyer’s list of top bond counsel in the nation for competitive sales during the first half of 2021, with 113 issues totaling $2.05 billion, the highest number of issues of any firm in the top 10. In addition, The Bond Buyer ranked Locke Lord No. 4 Top Bond Counsel in the nation for competitive sales and No. 8 Top Underwriter's Counsel for the full year 2020.

Our Northeast Partners are involved in many leadership committees within the Firm and help shape our direction. Just one example, last summer, in the thick of the pandemic’s sweeping impacts, Locke Lord formed a Business Transformation Task Force to proactively respond and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape. The diverse group comprises Partners, Associates, and Senior Team Members (Senior Staff) from around the Firm to account for a range of perspectives and ideas. They spent several months researching, surveying, and reimagining ways to maximize the quality, efficiency and profitability of our legal services without compromising our collaborative and collegial culture. They have already delivered a number of recommendations across key areas of our business, including client service and technology, recruitment, development and training, real estate, remote work and in-office issues, among others. We are in the process of implementing many of these recommendations as we continue to strategize for the future.