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Davis Polk’s Pay Move Signals Virus Can’t Stop Big Law Arms Race

Sept. 14, 2020, 12:08 PM

Wall Street firm Davis Polk & Wardwell’s departure from a seniority-based partner pay system signals that even during the pandemic, the market for lateral hiring is still very much alive in Big Law, especially for the players at the top.

Competitive Advantage: By abandoning strict lockstep, Davis Polk now has more flexibility to go after star partners at rival firms by offering them big money. With recent successes, particularly in capital markets, the well-respected firm will likely be a tempting landing spot.

Armed and Dangerous: “Another nation has joined the nuclear weapons club,” said Bruce MacEwen, a consultant to law firms at Adam Smith Esq, of Davis Polk’s move.

Meghan Tribe and Roy Strom have the story.

DAILY BRIEF

In-House

Tennessee Titans’ New Legal Chief Comes Home to Nashville
Adolpho Birch III left the Big Apple behind this summer just in time for the NFL’s 2020 season to become chief legal officer and senior vice president of business affairs for the Tennessee Titans. The move to Nashville is a homecoming of sorts for Birch, who grew up in the city, the son of a trailblazing Black Tennessee lawyer.

Business of Law

Ropes, Goodwin Advise in $2 Billion Asia Information Tech Deal
Ropes & Gray advised Hong Kong-founded Baring Private Equity Asia in its acquisition of Virtusa Corporation, a cloud engineering and information technology company, in a deal valued at around $2 billion, the law firm said.

Ethics

Indiana Ex-Assistant City Attorney Suspended for Drunk Driving
An Indiana lawyer who crashed into a utility pole while driving under the influence of alcohol was suspended for one year by the state’s highest court.

Follow Bloomberg Law’s global coverage of the coronavirus pandemic on our Coronavirus Outbreak channel, and track the latest changes in the federal court operations with our interactive map.

WAKE-UP CALL

Big Firms Advise in $60 Billion Deals Over Weekend
In today’s column, Dentons is the latest firm to partly roll back pay cuts it made early in the Covid-19 crisis; police in Illinois charged a man with abducting two University of Chicago Law School students and allegedly sexually assaulting one of them, among other charges; McDonald’s hired former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other Paul Weiss attorneys to defend it in a federal discrimination lawsuit filed by Black franchise owners; Eversheds Sutherland legal tech offshoot Konexo is partnering with a board data governance platform in a partly Covid motivated move.

PRACTITIONER INSIGHTS

INSIGHT: Trump Methane Rollbacks Spark Litigation, Hinder Greenhouse Gas Regulation
The Trump administration’s new rules on methane emissions, which rescind Obama-era regulations, will undoubtedly be challenged in court and leave the industry to face regulatory uncertainty for some time. Greenberg Glusker environmental attorneys say the process the EPA used in promulgating the rules may make it more difficult to regulate greenhouse gases.

INSIGHT: SEC Expects Key Safety Steps for Remote Workforce
The SEC expects registered broker-dealers and investment advisers to take actions to address risks specific to working remotely, like using personal devices, using application-based platforms, and changing the location of physical documents. Alston & Bird LLP attorneys outline measures financial services companies can take to ensure compliance.

INSIGHT: Employers Need to Grasp Risks of Continuous Monitoring Services
Employers who use continuous monitoring services that alert to changes in an employee’s credit and criminal history could face potential liability under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Sidley Austin attorneys explore when the act might apply and what employers should think about before contracting for these services.

WORKFLOWS

Bird & Bird recruited Norton Rose Fulbright partner Gregory Man to lead its global Islamic Finance practice, as well as its Finance and Financial Regulation practice in the Middle East | Cozen O’Connor has named Karl O. Riley as new office managing partner of its Las Vegas office; he joins as a member in the Commercial Litigation department, and will also be a part of the Labor & Employment, Class Actions, and Appellate practice groups | Curtis has hired bankruptcy attorney Robert Honeywell as Head of its Bankruptcy & Restructuring Practice in New York from K&L Gates | Troutman Pepper recruited Nancy Kostakos from Goodwin Procter to serve as chief marketing officer in Boston | Orrick hired biotech in-house veteran Shana Solomon as a partner to lead its new Life Sciences Licensing team | Dentons announced the promotion of 17 senior lawyers across its offices in Australia, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand; ten of those promotions were women | Alston & Bird opened its Fort Worth office and expanded in Dallas; Darren Hauck will serve as the partner in charge of both locations, partners Robert Vartabedian and Conrad Hester, and senior associates Alix Allison and Nicholas Davis join in Fort Worth, while partner Mitchell Griffith and associate Connor Bourland will reside in Dallas (all arrive from Thompson & Knight).

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To contact the reporter on this story: Patricio Chile in Washington at pchile@bloomberglaw.com

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