Bloomberg Law
Free Newsletter Sign Up
Bloomberg Law
Advanced Search Go
Free Newsletter Sign Up

Gig Economy’s Go-To Legal Team Plays Long Game in California

July 24, 2020, 12:19 PM

A small group of “elite” litigators at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher has quietly become the courtroom face of Uber, Postmates, and DoorDash as the companies face an existential legal battle over drivers’ rights. They say they’re playing to win, but the team has also made an impact by simply avoiding a court ruling forcing the companies to start treating drivers as employees.

Legal Heavyweights: California lawyer Ted Boutrous, who has recently tangled with the White House over tell-all books about President Trump, has been fighting for Uber and other gig companies in court for nearly a decade. The legal team also counts Facebook, Chevron, and actor Ashley Judd among its clients.

November Looms: Uber and other gig companies are spending $110 million on a ballot initiative to convince California voters to overturn a new state law that makes it harder for them to treat drivers as self-employed contractors. Plaintiffs’ lawyers say they’ve been kept at bay by arbitration disputes and strategic settlements, but those tactics may not have the same effect on a growing number of government lawyers getting in on the action.
Chris Opfer has the story.

Was this email forwarded to you? Subscribe to our Business & Practice newsletter and get the best of our content delivered to your Inbox every morning.


Law Firms

Three Big Law Firms Face Federal Securities Suits
DLA Piper and Fox Rothschild face accusations of “knowingly” aiding and abetting a Ponzi scheme in Florida federal district court, while Davis Wright Tremaine removed state securities allegations to a federal district court in Oregon.

Weatherford Welcomes New Top Lawyer After Predecessor’s Ouster
Weatherford International plc named Scott Weatherholt general counsel and chief compliance officer, a month after parting ways with its former legal chief.


BASF, Law Firm to Pay $72.5 Million in Talc-Fraud Settlement
BASF SE, the world’s biggest chemical maker, and a law firm agreed to pay $72.5 million to resolve claims they hid evidence that a BASF unit’s talc products contained asbestos in an effort to scuttle thousands of lawsuits.

Business of Law

Arnold & Porter, Staffing Firm Settle DOJ Discrimination Claims
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer and a staffing agency will pay a $56,500 civil penalty and other fines to settle a Justice Department claim that the pair refused to allow non-U.S. citizens to work on a document review project.

Cooley Advises Riverwood on $32 Million Singapore Marketer Deal
Cooley said it advised Riverwood Capital, a tech-focused U.S. private equity firm, on its investment in Singapore-based digital marketing platform Insider.

Miffed Judge Grants One Technologies’ Bid to Strike Class Claims
One Technologies persuaded a Texas federal court to rethink its initial holding and strike class claims in a lawsuit alleging violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and the Credit Repair Organizations Act.

UK Attorney’s Invasion of Privacy Claim Revived in California
A London attorney at the center of investigations into discrimination and racism towards Black and minority solicitors in the UK can proceed with a claim that his privacy was invaded as part of retaliation for his role in publicizing the allegations, a California appeals court ruled Thursday.

Also in the News

New York Moves Bar Exam Online After Canceling In-Person Test
New York will hold its upcoming bar exam online in October. The Thursday announcement comes one week after the state canceled the in-person exam set for September out of public health concerns stemming from Covid-19.

Kavanaugh Urged to Sit Out Facebook Case Due to Friendship
A coalition of progressive groups is calling on Justice Brett Kavanaugh to recuse himself from a case involving Facebook Inc. scheduled for next term due to his ties to the company’s policy chief, Joel Kaplan.

Judges, DAs Question California Proposal on Bias and Juries
Prosecutors and judges are resisting a proposal working its way through the California Legislature to require transparency around juror strikes in the nation’s largest state justice system, favoring a court-driven approach to address concerns of racial and gender bias.

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.


Freshfields Posts Flat Profits Amidst Big Push Into U.S.
In today’s column, Big Law firms in Atlanta are considering sending new lawyers to legal aid organizations temporarily; the Covid-19 pandemic doesn’t seem be slowing U.S. antitrust merger reviews; top real estate lawyers say struggling retailers can’t get out of their leases; a federal judge ordered prison authorities to let ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen out of prison again.


INSIGHT: The Roberts Supreme Court’s Death Spiral
A deadly pandemic and nationwide demands to reckon with the criminal justice system’s institutional racism and unfairness have not tempered the U.S. Supreme Court’s eagerness to implement death sentences. Jenny-Brooke Condon, professor of law at Seton Hall Law School in the Center for Social Justice, looks at the July federal executions and says fractious, middle-of-the night decisions in the Roberts court pushing forward executions and interfering with lower courts’ discretion to issue stays should no longer surprise.

INSIGHT: Bracing for Increased Cannabis Enforcement Under Prop 65
California’s cannabis-related businesses will face a dual battle in complying with Proposition 65 requiring businesses to warn the public about cancer-causing chemicals present in products they purchase, writes Buchalter‘s Anne Marie Ellis. Businesses are going to have to change their labeling and packaging to list marijuana smoke as a reproductive toxicant and cancer causing agent. They also are going to have to grapple with labeling products that contain THC for the first time before enforcement begins in January 2021.

INSIGHT: Growing FinTech Demand Spotlights Trademark Protection
As the economy adapts against the backdrop of Covid-19, market actors will be focused on capitalizing on the heightened demand for FinTech solutions, which customers are eager to adopt, making trademark policing and prosecution all the more important, says Alissa Del Riego, an attorney at Podhurst Orseck and assistant professor at the University of Miami.

INSIGHT: The ADA Turns 30—How Covid-19 Will Shape the Next Decade
On the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Kramer Levin‘s Emily M. Wajert looks at how Covid-19 will impact the workplace going forward. She says employers can count on the ADA being a persistent fixture of whatever a “return to work” looks like and they need to re-familiarize themselves with the law to handle the disability-related issues that will inevitably arise.

INSIGHT: New York Wrongful Death Law Needs to Prove ‘All Lives Matter’
If Republicans in New York really feel that all lives matter, they should change the state’s outdated wrongful death law, so insurance companies have to compensate surviving family members for their emotional injuries as in 41 other states, Matthew Haicken, New York personal injury lawyer, says. Jurors should be able to evaluate the suffering of a family, even a poor one, when a loved one is lost.

The Ethics Case Against Attorney General Barr
A new D.C. Bar complaint details the pattern of alleged ethical violations taken by Attorney General William Barr in the last two years that showed political interference in the Department of Justice’s law enforcement decisions and damage to the morale of DOJ attorneys, says Joseph Rich, who spent more than 36 years working for the DOJ under attorneys general from both parties.


Squire Patton Boggs hired partner Michael E. Helmer to its global Corporate Practice in Summit, N.J. from DLA Piper | Marshall Dennehey has added Yasin G. Amba, Andrew B. Jaffe and Mikhal O. Wright as Associates in Orlando, and Todd Leon has joined the Insurance Services practice group as special counsel in Philadelphia | McCarter & English’s Hartford, CT office added partner Rolan Joni Young (from Berchem Moses & Devlin) and Special counsel Christine Morgan to the Real Estate practice | Thompson Knight hired partner Keith Brandofino and of counsel Maximiliano Rinaldi and David Mignardi in New York; all arrive from Kilpatrick Townsend | Alston & Bird has expanded its trial and complex litigation capabilities with the addition of Eric Kuwana as a partner in the New York and Washington offices from Cooley | Miles & Stockbridge hired Thomas E. Zeno as counsel and co-chair of its White Collar, Fraud and Government Investigations Practice in Washington.

Alexa users, now you can add Bloomberg Law’s top stories of the day to your Flash Briefing or tell Alexa to “Play Bloomberg Law news.”

If you haven’t already, be sure to follow Bloomberg Law on Twitter, Flipboard, LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook and Telegram.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jerome Ashton in Washington at