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|Articles - September 2010|
|Friday, August 20, 2010|
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STORY BY JENNIFER MARGULIS // PHOTOS BY ANTHONY PIDGEON
Mark Wada has been working long hours. Wada is a partner in Farleigh Wada Witt, a Portland-based law firm with three named partners, 24 attorneys, and 57 total employees. Over the past six months he and his partners have been so busy they’ve hired three new lawyers: one specializing in financial law and two litigators.
Wada represents the banking industry, advising bankers on corporate lending and other commercial projects. He’s also the point person when things go wrong and banks find themselves with debtors unable to pay back loans.
When the sun starts to set and Wada is still at the office — which has been happening a lot lately — he turns on piano music by Jim Brickman to keep himself going.
“I like all kinds of music except rap and grunge,” says the 57-year-old Wada.
This season Wada’s been listening to a lot of music. While other Oregon firms have frozen hiring new lawyers and are seeing their client base dwindle, firms such as Farleigh Wada Witt that specialize in bankruptcy and finance report robust practices and more work than they can stay on top of. “Some of the bigger firms have basically frozen hiring,” says Ward Greene, 63, who has been practicing law in Oregon for 37 years and is a past president of the Multnomah Bar Association.
“It’s a very difficult job market for new lawyers in Oregon certainly, and across the United States. But lawyers who handle business transactions, bankruptcy, and litigation — like we do at our firm — are staying very, very busy.”
Individual bankruptcy lawyers are also in high demand. According to Kateri Walsh, spokesperson for the Oregon State Bar, between July 2009 and March 2010, more than 1,200 people called the Oregon State Bar referral service looking for attorneys who specialize in bankruptcy law, a 50% increase in call volume over the same period two years ago. With double-digit unemployment rates holding steady for the past six months, Oregon has seen almost no job growth, and economists and business people use words like “flat” and “stuck” to describe the current state of Oregon’s economy.
Wada traces the current financial difficulties that Oregon and the rest of the nation are experiencing back to the liquidity crunch as well as to the ongoing drop in real estate values and personal property collateral. The failure of the Seattle-based bank Washington Mutual in September 2008 was a huge blow to the banking industry in the Pacific Northwest as well, making some of Wada’s bank clients even more nervous.
“After that, people couldn’t get credit, they couldn’t refinance their way out of problems, and the banks have been getting more problem loans and becoming more conservative in how they deal with problem loans,” Wada says. “Revenues at companies are down. All of these things coming together at the same time has made it very difficult here in Oregon.”
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY AMY MILSHTEIN
Everyone knows college is expensive, but a look at the numbers brings that into sharp — and painful — focus.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS
Historically, when the leaves fall, so do the markets. This year, earnings, Europe, energy and Ebola have in common? Beyond alliteration, they are four factors that the investors are pointing to for this year’s seasonal volatility.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
BY JASON NORRIS | OB CONTRIBUTOR
Each month for Oregon Business, we assess factors that are shaping current capital market activity—and what they mean to investors. Here we take a look at two major developments regarding possible rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Wednesday, October 08, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
A Design Week panel discussion raises questions about how innovative we really are.
Friday, October 17, 2014
BY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER
How can you move from a command-and-control leadership model to one of true empowerment and accountability? David Marquet did, and he took notes along the way.
Monday, November 10, 2014
BY KIM MOORE | OB RESEARCH EDITOR
A market for low-carbon transportation fuels has a chance to flourish in Oregon if regulators adopt the second phase of the state’s Clean Fuels Program.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
BY OB STAFF
Farmers, grocery stores and food processors cash in on kale.
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