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Law Firms Look for Right Mix to Survive

April 3, 2020, 12:33 PM

The coronavirus pandemic and its devastating effect on the economy have pushed a number of law firms to make tough decisions about their futures. The fallout includes pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs.

Tough Choices: These sober decisions may be necessary to avoid further pain down the road. But firms are also mindful of the Great Recession when some cut headcount sharply—and regretted it later.

Into Action: For now, some firms are moving rapidly in this crisis. “The sooner you pull the trigger on the reductions, the sooner you see the benefit,” said Kent Zimmermann, a legal strategy consultant for Zeughauser Group.

Meghan Tribe has the story.

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DAILY BRIEF


Law Firms

DLA Piper, Vinson & Elkins Postpone Summer Associate Start Dates
On the heels of Cooley’s decision to delay its summer associate programming in light of the coronavirus crisis two more Big Law firms, DLA Piper and Vinson & Elkins, have announced they won’t welcome their newest crop of potential talent until June.

Business of Law

Slashing of Lawyers’ Fees in California BMW Lemon Case Affirmed
A California law firm overbilled for its work on a successful lemon-law case against BMW of North America LLC and a dealership, so reducing its fee award from nearly $350,000 to about $96,000 was proper, an appeals court in the state ruled.

Survey Shows In-House Lawyers Preparing for Worst From Covid-19
Crises often manifest themselves in unique ways.

SCOTUS Still Requires Paper Filings Amid Virus Outbreak
The U.S. Supreme Court, a steadfast observer of tradition, is still requiring litigants to file paper copies of their briefs despite health concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

Hogan Lovells Assists New England Patriots on N95 Mask Donation
Hogan Lovells helped the New England Patriots secure government approvals to use the team plane to pick up 1.3 million N95 masks from China and deliver them to Massachusetts where protective gear is in demand to fight Covid-19.

Ethics

UK Woman Eligible for Lawful Residency Status After Lawyer Error
A woman from the United Kingdom may still be eligible for lawful permanent residency in the U.S. even though she fell out of lawful status when her attorney failed to file her visa renewal petition, the Ninth Circuit said.

Law Schools

N.Y. Law Deans Say 2020 Class Should Be Allowed to Skip Bar Exam
The heads of Columbia, NYU and other New York law schools are proposing that members of this year’s class should be allowed to skip the bar exam because of the coronavirus outbreak.

WAKE-UP CALL

Norton Rose Wants 4-Day Workweek in Europe, Asia
In today’s column, more firms announced cost-cutting measures to preserve cash-flow during the Covid-19 crisis; a listed litigation funder suspended dividends; half a dozen law firms delayed their summer associate programs; and major law schools proposed letting this year’s class skip the bar exam; some Big Law firms are providing tech stipends to remote-working lawyers; one firm, having a good 2020, emailed associates to assure them it’s not planning pay cuts or furloughs.

BLOOMBERG LAW ANALYSIS

ANALYSIS: Crisis May Inch Gig Drivers Closer to Employee Status
Covid-19 may be shutting down almost everything, but doors continue to open for gig drivers in their employee classification fight, due to recent events both inside and outside the courtroom.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

  • · More than 245,421 people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with Covid-19 and 6,055 people have lost their lives. Global confirmed cases of Covid-19 surpass 1 million worldwide, with deaths topping 53,000.
  • The Sixth Circuit in a letter to attorneys Thursday said it will not hold in-person arguments for April and May and cases would be rescheduled for argument by phone or video, the circuit’s Clerk of Court Deborah Hunt told Bloomberg Law. Those arguments won’t be live streamed but audio will be posted online.
  • The Seventh Circuit has launched a YouTube channel where courtroom proceedings may be livestreamed by the public. The Chicago-based appeals court was in recess until March 30, and had already ordered that all oral arguments scheduled for April would be argued telephonically unless oral argument was waived by the parties.

Track the latest changes in court operations using our interactive map, which now includes federal district courts.

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

PRACTITIONER INSIGHTS

INSIGHT: Tips for Honing ‘Tele-Advocacy’ Online Skills
Using online tools to communicate with courts and advocate for clients is not that different from doing it in person, say KoonsFuller‘s Sally Pretorius and Elizabeth Lippy, founder of Trial Advocacy & Consulting LLC. They offer practical tips for online advocacy skills in Part 2 of their series on “Tele-Advocacy.”

INSIGHT: Jury Contamination in High Stakes Cases—A Conversation and Remedy
During the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault trial, his attorney wrote a public blog and a magazine article about the case. Was that ethical? Did members of the jury read them? Stroock‘s Joel Cohen and Columbia Law School’s Jennifer Rodgers have a conversation on what judges might do to avoid jury tampering in the social media age.

INSIGHT: The Digital and the Biologic—Telehealth Expansion During a Global Pandemic
Telehealth has a vital role to ensure health care continuity while minimizing exposure to Covid-19. Wiley Rein attorneys examine how Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers are removing barriers to telehealth and helping maximize the availability of safe care to patients nationwide.

INSIGHT: FDA Suspends Routine Domestic Drug, Device Inspections Due to Coronavirus
The Food and Drug Administration is suspending routine foreign facility inspections, but for-cause inspections will proceed if deemed “mission critical.” Morgan Lewis attorneys say the FDA suggests it may attempt to conduct domestic inspections through other means.

INSIGHT: Health-Care Coverage and Reimbursement Issues Amid Coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic is changing the health-care coverage and reimbursement marketplace, Epstein Becker Green attorneys write. They say the health-care system urgently needs coordinated policy-making at the federal, state, and local levels to adequately meet the needs of the American public.

WORKFLOWS

Holland & Knight hired Jay Bettinger as a partner in Los Angeles from Brown & Streza | Withers’ San Francisco office added Doug Mandell as a partner to head the firm’s Founder Practice; he joins from his own private firm Mandell Law Group, PC (“MLG”) | Paul Hastings announced that Aaron Charfoos has joined the Privacy and Cybersecurity practice as a partner in Chicago | K&L Gates hired James A. Shimota as a partner in its intellectual property litigation practice in Chicago from Haynes and Boone | Faegre Drinker said that Marilee Springer, former senior policy director and advisor to Indiana Governor (now US Vice President) Mike Pence, joined in Indianapolis from Ice Miller | Lowenstein Sandler’s Management team added J. Danielle Carr as Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, and Kerry A. Lunz in the newly created position of Director of Legal Talent Acquisition; both will reside in Roseland, NJ | Armstrong Teasdale added partner Caroline Polisi to the New York office, and Of Counsel Kyle Gottuso to the St. Louis office | Thompson Hine hired Francesca Guerrero as a partner to the International Trade practice in Washington from Winston & Strawn.

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

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