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Like CEOs at Davos, Law Firm Leaders Face Climate Quandaries

Jan. 23, 2020, 1:27 PM

The global business community was focused on climate change as part of the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, which raised a question for Big Law firms. How are they positioning themselves to provide clients advice on such a broad topic?

Practice Groups: Plenty of Big Law firms have launched climate change practices, but they often times focus on different things. “Pick a big firm website. It’s like: Climate change? Yes, we do it,” said Lynn Grayson, a lawyer at Nijman Franzetti in Chicago.

Marketing Challenges: Climate change is bound to affect almost every practice inside Big Law firms, which presents challenges and opportunities in both management and marketing for firm leaders. Roy Strom surveys firms’ strategies in the latest Big Law Business column.


Business of Law

Meet the Former Corporate Lawyer With His Own College Bowl Game
The college football season is in the books and the Super Bowl is on the horizon, but for Michael Quartey, the gridiron games never end. Quartey, a former staff attorney at Pepper Hamilton who lost his job ahead of the 2008 financial crisis, now provides a unique service to hundreds of job seekers each year.

Debevoise Hires Lawyer from Allen & Overy in Washington
Debevoise & Plimpton has added former Allen & Overy partner Marc Ponchione to its Washington office as a partner in its investment management group.

Avenatti Jury Can Hear About Trump, Stormy Daniels But Not Debts
Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti, who goes on trial Monday in New York, will be allowed to tell jurors about the two people who helped make him famous, a judge ruled.


Women Led a Third of Fortune 500 Legal Departments in 2019
Women led 33% of Fortune 500 legal departments in 2019, up from 28% a year earlier, according to legal headhunting firm BarkerGilmore.

Con Edison’s Legal Group Powers Up With New Leader
Deneen Donnley, who spent more than nine years in-house at the United Services Automobile Association, was announced Wednesday as senior vice president and general counsel for Con Edison.

Ares Axes Chief Legal Officer Role in Law Department Reshuffle
Ares Management Corp., a Los Angeles-based investment giant with $144 billion in assets under management, has a new in-house legal group hierarchy.


New York Lawyers Can Charge Interest on Client Expenses
New York attorneys working on a contingency fee basis can charge a reasonable interest rate on unpaid funds advanced to a client, a recent New York State Bar Association ethics opinion advised.

Out-of-State Law Firm Can’t Use Trade Name in New York, Bar Says
Out-of-state law firms that practice under a trade name can’t use that name for offices they open in New York, the state bar association’s ethics committee has said.

Indiana Attorney Disbarred for ‘Pervasive Financial Misconduct’
An Indiana lawyer who used settlement funds for personal expenses, forged her paralegal’s signature, and lied to the state supreme court disciplinary commission was disbarred by the court.

Recording Academy EEOC Charge Involves Big Law Attorney
The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, which presents the Grammy Awards, was hit with an EEOC discrimination charge by Deborah Dugan, the former CEO and president of the academy who says she was retaliated against for raising concerns about diversity and other issues.


Don’t Get Caught Breaking Federal Circuit’s Oral Argument Rules
Respect the judges and don’t waste their time: That’s the gist of updated oral argument guidelines from the Federal Circuit.


Squire Poaches Curtis Team for New Milan Office
In today’s column, Joel Katz, the Greenberg Traurig shareholder accused of sexual harassment this week, refuted the allegations made by the ousted leader of National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Litigation boutique Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz shortened its name; and Big Law firms are rolling climate-branded practices.


INSIGHT: America Will Double Down on Sports Betting in 2020
Many states have passed or proposed sports betting legislation, and 2020 will see this trend continue, Cadwalader attorneys say. They discuss this rapidly expanding industry and predict that the stage is set for legal sports betting’s popularity to surge in 2020.

INSIGHT: AI Tech in 2020—Balancing Regulation With Innovation
Artificial intelligence has enormous benefits, from predicting health trends to enhancing cybersecurity, but concern about potential harmful effects will continue to drive scrutiny by regulators in 2020. Wiley Rein partner Duane C. Pozza says this year will be critical as governments decide whether to overregulate or take a deliberate, risk-based approach.

INSIGHT: The Growing Call for New, More Sustainable Investing
Global Impact Investing Network CEO Amit Bouri says sustainable investment—and impact investing, in particular—is key to tackling the climate crisis and is growing in popularity. He looks at a recent study that upends assumptions about sustainable investing: It’s not just for the very rich, it’s not only for millennials, and it’s not a blank check.

INSIGHT: How the 2020 Elections Could Shape Communications Policy
If Democrats are able to wrest control of the White House and Senate in November, dramatic changes could come to the FCC and U.S. communications policy. Hogan Lovells partner Ari Fitzgerald says net neutrality would be the major issue revisited and explains how Democrats could use the Congressional Review Act to roll back regulations they dislike.


Hinshaw & Culbertson hired high-stakes insurance litigator Judy Selby as a partner in the Global Insurance Services practice group in New York | Bressler, Amery & Ross named capital markets and regulatory attorney Mark Knoll managing principal of its New York office | BakerHostetler added William Oxley in Los Angeles and Meghan Kelly in Philadelphia; both join as partners and arrive from Dechert LLP | Debevoise & Plimpton said that Avi Gesser has joined as a partner in the Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Group and the White Collar & Regulatory Defense Group in New York | Sheppard Mullin hired Elliot Hinds to the Century City, CA office as a partner in the Corporate practice and as a member of the Energy, Infrastructure and Project Finance team from Crowell Moring | Cozen O’Connor announced the return of John K. McDonald as a shareholder to its Commercial Litigation practice in Philadelphia | Foley Hoag promoted associates Mark Finsterwald, Zachary Gerson and Diana Tsutieva to counsel | Reed Smith added Andrew Roman and Richard Ejzak as partners in the Insurance Recovery Group in Pittsburgh | Kramer Levin has elected Paris partner Dana Anagnostou as co-managing partner of the Paris office | Morrison & Foerster hired Jessica Grant as a partner in its Class Actions + Mass Torts Practice Group in San Francisco.

To contact the reporter on this story: Bruce Kaufman in Washington at