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Brooks Brothers General Counsel Eyes Solutions in Covid-19 Era

April 13, 2020, 12:31 PM

Rachel Barnett, general counsel of Brooks Brothers, is doing a dramatically different job than she did when she first got the top lawyer role last year. Brooks Brothers recently turned from manufacturing suits and ties to making personal protective equipment for medical workers battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

New Priorities: Along with companies like LL Bean and Eileen Fisher, Brooks Brothers is stepping up PPE production, as its normal retail business slows and brick and mortar shops shut down due to distancing guidelines. But the demands of Barnett’s job have grown, and the former Big Law associate finds herself tackling new work around government relations and supply chains.

Time to Hustle: “I have worked more during the coronavirus crisis than I have in my legal life—and that compares to working at Skadden during the early 2000s when expedited merger litigation was occurring on a weekly basis,” Barnett said.

Brian Baxter has the story.

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DAILY BRIEF

Law Firms

Vinson & Elkins Adds Compliance Chief to White Collar Unit
Vinson & Elkins has added longtime in-house counsel and former federal prosecutor Michael Ward to its San Francisco office as a partner in its budding white collar and government investigations practice.

Latham, Jones Day Stay Committed to Summer Associate Programs
As more law firms move to cancel or delay their summer associate programs due to coronavirus, Latham & Watkins and Jones Day are holding steady in their commitments to host their newest crop of talent, whether virtually or in person.

Pepper Hamilton, Troutman Sanders Nix Summer Associate Programs
The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect Pepper Hamilton and Troutman Sanders, as each has canceled their summer associate program and extended job offers to affected law students, weeks after an announcement that the firms would delay their merger due to the virus.

In-House

Facebook’s First-Year General Counsel Earns $19 Million
Facebook Inc. general counsel Jennifer Newstead earned nearly $19.14 million in total compensation in her first year with the social media giant, according to a 2019 proxy statement filed by the company April 10.

Bracewell Bolsters Ties to Energy Company in Management Shakeup
Downstream energy company Delek US Holdings Inc. announced several executive-level recruits, including a new in-house legal chief.

Business of Law

Travelers Leads Insurers Paying Big Money to Top Lawyers
The Travelers Cos. Inc. gave almost $24 million in total compensation last year to a pair of former Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP partners, according to a recent proxy statement filed by the insurance giant.

Legal Tech

No Patents for Attorney-Client Reminders, Federal Circuit Rules
The Federal Circuit invalidated as abstract two patents Friday covering an automated method for lawyers and other professionals to send clients due-date reminders over the Internet.

Ethics

Guantanamo Bay Detainees Fail to Show Military Judge Biased
Three Guantanamo Bay detainees currently being tried before a U.S. military commission for their alleged roles in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks failed to show that the former presiding judge of the commission should’ve recused himself because of his prior government work or past social connections, the D.C. Circuit said.

New Jersey Lawyer Reprimanded for Neglecting Trust Account
A New Jersey attorney who didn’t obey a court order to reconcile his trust account monthly and then mistakenly deposited $20,000 of trust account funds into his business account, was reprimanded by the state high court.

Also in the News

ITC’s Virus Delays Trigger Case Backlog Worries
A potentially extended U.S. International Trade Commission ban on hearing cases has intellectual property litigators feeling uneasy it might increase a backlog of patent and other IP cases, creating delays that cost companies money and potentially leave infringing products on the market longer.

WAKE-UP CALL

Wake Up Call: Baker McKenzie’s Pay Cut Announcement Light on Details
In today’s column, Goodwin Procter announced layoffs, while Mintz and other firms announced temporary pay cuts and other measures to ensure their cash flow doesn’t dry up during the Covid-19 crisis; the Miami Herald says the Florida governor’s top lawyer got Holland & Knight to drop out of the paper’s public information suit linked to Covid-19; Lawyers are asking the Supreme Court to suspend paper-filing mandates during the crisis.

BLOOMBERG LAW ANALYSIS

ANALYSIS: Pandemic Delays Antitrust Review of $130B in M&A Deals
More than $145 billion in pending mergers and acquisitions are awaiting Hart-Scott-Rodino (HSR) antitrust approval. Nine of the 40 pending deals, amounting to roughly $130 billion, have been pending for between 200 and 400 days, and deal parties are now subject to further Covid-19 pandemic-related antitrust delays.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

  • More than 557,721 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and 22,203 people have lost their lives. Global confirmed cases of Covid-19 surpass1,850,000 worldwide, with deaths topping 114,000.

  • The Southern District of New York updated the status of court operations from April 13 to May 4. The District of Maryland issued updated orders on civil and criminal trials, bankruptcy proceedings, and discovery in civil cases.

  • The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin granted the state Justice Department’s request to stay deadlines in civil cases against the government or prisons brought by former or current inmates as a result of the virus.

  • The public and members of the media can request access to virtual proceeding in criminal cases in the Middle District of Florida through a new form provided on the court’s website. Federal rules prohibit broadcasting of criminal proceedings, so courts have been providing access via teleconferences under recent guidance from the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Follow the latest changes in court operations using our interactive map.

Follow Bloomberg Law reporters on Twitter as they track updates from courts across the country with the hashtag #COVID19Courts.

PRACTITIONER INSIGHTS

INSIGHT: The Realities of Practicing Law From Home
The business of law is personal and the human interaction cannot be fully replaced by technology, particularly for those that practice on an international scale. Lewis Baach senior partner Eric Lewis, who usually travels the globe to meet with clients, offers his personal take on how he and his firm are coping during the pandemic.

INSIGHT: Companies May Be Thwarted by These Business Interruption Defense
Businesses turning to their insurance contracts for financial help due to business closings and interruptions in the coronavirus pandemic may find themselves up against common defenses to payment. Crowell & Moring attorneys look at three defenses and how courts have interpreted them.

INSIGHT: Say Hello to Your New Local Bank—The Fed
Several bills were recently introduced on the Hill creating a U.S. “Digital Dollar” as part of the coronavirus stimulus package. Transparent Systems executives say the aspiration for ubiquitous, cheap access to money is admirable but these bills would radically upend the banking and payments system we rely on today.

INSIGHT: SEC Shelf Registration Gives Public Companies a Leg Up
Many companies may find themselves needing to access the capital markets much sooner than they previously expected in these challenging times. Craig M. Scheer, with Silver, Freedman, Taff & Tiernan LLP, says having an effective shelf registration statement on file with the SEC could mean the difference between gaining that access and missing out on a critical window of opportunity.

INSIGHT: Multinational Claims for Multinational Frauds
Determining what exactly constitutes a “domestic” matter in the interconnected world of global corporations and securities trading has been a struggle for federal courts. Labaton Sucharow attorneys say Stoyas v. Toshiba provides important guidance for when securities class actions can assert claims on behalf of both foreign and domestic purchasers.

WORKFLOWS

McDermott Will & Emory’s Miami office added a six-member international tax and private client team from DLA Piper, including partners Mike Silva, Gregory Weigand, and Arianne Plasencia, and counsel Ryan Coyle | Orrick lost a 10-lawyer London real estate team, including three partners, to U.K. firm Forsters | Greenberg Traurig announced the alliance of Bruce Zirinsky (former Co-Chair of Restructuring & Bankruptcy) and former shareholder Gary Ticoll, to expand the Restructuring & Bankruptcy Capabilities from the Miami office; also, the Washington office promoted Samantha Ahuja and Nicholas N. Palmer to shareholder and Michael Pusateri to of counsel | Sheppard Mullin announced that they are collaborating with Text IQ, a leading artificial intelligence (AI) platform for identifying sensitive data | Cooley has signed a lease that will move its Colorado office from Broomfield, to the state capital building in Denver in March 2021 | Crowell & Moring hired partners Matthew Melville, Michel Narganes, Jon O’Connell, and as counsel Matt Pelnar from Atrium to add to its merging companies and venture capital practice group in San Francisco | Kramer Levin announced the passing of Mayer Greenberg, who served as a partner in the Tax department in New York.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Kaufman in Washington at bkaufman@bloomberglaw.com