Firm Recognized for Legal Innovation of the First-Ever U.S. Court-Authorized Service of a Defendant via Electronic Mail March 2000: Technology is revolutionizing the globe into a smaller community.
Alston & Bird LLP, a renowned national law firm, has recently been recognized for its role in this worldwide transformation. The Firm has been cited by the ComputerwWorld Smithsonian Awards Program as an “Innovator” for leading the way in technology applications. Alston & Bird was nominated for the Computerworld Smithsonian Award by Bellsouth for its role in a “first of its kind” federal bankruptcy case in which the Firm petitioned the court for and received ground breaking permission to serve process to a defendant by electronic mail. The concept of serving a defendant via electronic mail adds an entirely new dimension to the legal arena, broadly extending the reach of the law in the modern computer age.
In the litigation, three attorneys from Alston & Bird represented the Chapter 7 trustee who was a plaintiff in a proceeding against the former officers and directors of a company in bankruptcy. One of the defendants, the former chairman of the bankrupt company, had been traveling throughout Europe and the Far East and refused to provide a physical address where he could be personally served with a summons and complaint — the method of service to which defendants in most cases are entitled. Setting a unique precedent, Alston & Bird’s attorneys won the right to serve process to the defendant via
e-mail, which marks the first time electronic mail has ever been used for such a purpose by a court in the United States.
Each year since 1989, the Computerworld Smithsonian Awards Program presents to the Smithsonian Institution a group of outstanding users of information technology who have helped revolutionize the way we communicate, conduct business, govern our lives and learn about the world. The Awards Program captures for posterity a vital snapshot of what the Smithsonian Institution refers to as “a global revolution-in-progress; a revolution defined in terms of the outstanding varieties of achievement of the men and women who are leading it.”
The Alston & Bird team representing creditors of the now defunct company included trial practice partner, William C. Humphreys, Jr., bankruptcy partner J. William Boone, and trial practice associate Jeffrey J. Swart. Mr. Boone and Mr. Swart will receive a Smithsonian medallion on behalf of Alston & Bird in a special ceremony to be held at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC on April 3.
Once nominated, firms submit their case studies, and they are then designated as “Laureates” under the ComputerWorld Smithsonian Awards Program and have the honor of having their case studies included in the Smithsonian Institution’s Permanent Research Collection. Honorees are invited to Washington, DC for a Laureates’ Dinner and Awards Ceremony, at which each Laureate is presented a medallion commemorating their Laureate status. Within each of the ten categories of the program, one Laureate will receive the ComputerWorld Smithsonian Award for that category.
Commenting on Alston & Bird’s nomination, Mr. Boone remarked, “It is a unique distinction for Alston & Bird to be acknowledged for this technological and legal innovation by such a leading historical institution. We are pleased to be a contributor to the technological advances in the legal field, and honored to share this recognition with our fellow Laureates.”
Alston & Bird's Bankruptcy lawyers have built a national reputation through their representation of secured creditors, debtors, trustees and creditors' committees in the bankruptcy courts. Alston & Bird lawyers to date have appeared in bankruptcy courts and cases in more than 40 states. The Firm’s bankruptcy practice ranges from serving as counsel for equity interests in the successful Chapter 11 reorganization of a publicly-held company with more than $3 billion in assets, to representation as debtor's counsel of a utility that sought to restructure more than $3 billion in debt.
The Firm serves as regional or national bankruptcy counsel for several insurance companies and hotel franchisers.