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Unable to Cut Lawyer Pay, Virtual Law Firms See Recruiting Boost

May 21, 2020, 12:54 PM

A group of so-called “virtual” law firms say they are seeing a surge in interest from Big Law lawyers who are fed up with a financial agreement shifting under their feet as firms weather a crisis.

Possible Risk: There is risk involved in joining a virtual firm. Under these firms’ compensation formulas, if your work dries up entirely, you won’t get paid. But that may still be a better deal for some Big Law attorneys than seeing their profit draws slashed as firms demand solidarity in a tough economy.

Recruiting Pitch: Chris Wilson, who heads a “remote” law practice for Taylor English Duma, expects an uptick in interest around virtual firms. “I do think you’re going to see more do it simply because some lawyers are busy right now and they don’t believe they should be taking that 25% pay cut,” he said.

Roy Strom has more in this week’s Big Law Business column.

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DAILY BRIEF


Law Firms

Yale Law Women Caution Firms About Virus Impact on Gender Equity
A group of Yale law students has warned in the latest edition of their annual report on gender equity in Big Law that firms should beware the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the women and caregivers in their ranks.

Jones Day Women Can Pursue Bias Claims Over ‘Black-Box’ Pay
Six female former Jones Day associates may continue pursuing claims challenging the firm’s alleged “black-box” pay system, a federal judge said, keeping alive a lawsuit that may eventually require the firm to disclose sensitive information about how it sets attorneys’ compensation rates.

In-House

FirstEnergy Names New Chief Legal Officer, Elevates Two More
FirstEnergy Corp., one of the largest U.S. electric utilities, has announced a new legal chief and roles for two other top in-house lawyers.

Business of Law

Apple, Cisco Get $4.2 Million in Attorneys’ Fees in Patent Case
Apple Inc. was awarded over $2.3 million and Cisco Systems Inc. over $1.9 million in attorneys’ fees in California federal court for defending against a patent infringement suit that the court said should “never have been brought.”

Chicago Lawyer Must Face SEC Immigrant Investor Fraud Suit
A Chicago immigration lawyer and his two corporations lost their bid to dismiss SEC allegations they defrauded Chinese and Iranian investors who contributed $88.7 million toward building senior living facilities, after an Illinois federal district judge found the complaint sufficiently supported.

Hello Fresh Can’t Halt TCPA Suit Pending First Circuit Appeal
A district court judge won’t grant what he already told Hello Fresh is a borderline frivolous motion to compel arbitration of claims that it violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

Ethics

Ohio Lawyer Who Offered Client Xanax Indefinitely Suspended
An Ohio attorney charged with 71 ethics rule violations while representing 12 clients, who offered drugs to one client, solicited them from another, and failed to show for his temporary suspension hearing, was banned indefinitely by the state’s highest court.

Crowley Fleck Sues Ex-Client to Preempt Malpractice Allegations
Montana law firm Crowley Fleck PLLP sued two private equity principals in Delaware, saying it wants to get out ahead of legal malpractice claims they’re threatening to bring over the firm’s work for an oilfield construction company.

Also in the News

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

Dorsey Makes Layoffs, Pay Cuts in Round 2 of Covid Austerity
In today’s column, Chief Justice John Roberts only interrupted liberal justices in this month’s historic telephonic arguments, mainly the women, a study says; Dentons said most of its U.K. and Middle East employees have agreed to a flex-work plan that will cut their pay 20%; a recently laid off corporate counsel has some advice for his fellow jobless in-house lawyers: work on your social media presence; four Big Law firms have been hit by online scam attempts during the Covid-19 lockdown, a report says.

PRACTITIONER INSIGHTS

INSIGHT: Covid-19 and Bar Exams—ABA’s Proposal Strikes a Needed Balance
Two former Chief Justices for the Arizona Supreme Court voice support for the ABA’s recommendation that states temporarily license law school graduates to work under the supervision of licensed attorneys until they can take and pass the bar exam in their state.

INSIGHT: Mentoring During Covid-19 Is More Critical Than Ever
Prioritizing commitment to diversity is critical during the pandemic because women and communities of color are disproportionately impacted, write Baker McKenzie’s Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion Anna Brown and CEO Colin Murray.

INSIGHT: High Court Wary of TCPA Debt Exemption, But Not TCPA
The U.S. Supreme Court recently tackled the constitutionality of an exemption to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act for government debt collection purposes. Richard J. Perr, partner with Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck, predicts the TCPA will survive, but the case could become the unexpected first volley in a series of constitutional challenges involving content-based speech.

INSIGHT: State Attorneys General Can Deputize Attorneys to Fight Covid-19 Fraud
State attorneys general are fighting a myriad of fraud schemes developing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, like price gouging, illegal debt collection practices, and illegal evictions. Troutman Sanders attorneys say it should not be a surprise to see state attorneys general turn to outside counsel for additional assistance.

INSIGHT: WOTUS Debacle Likely to Continue With New Rule
The Navigable Waters Protection Rule attempts to define “waters of the United States” for determining federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act, but Holland & Hart attorneys say the rule will unlikely achieve its goal of clarity. They examine the rule’s efforts and look at its future as litigation begins.

INSIGHT: Virtual Business Contacts Can Create Virtual Personal Jurisdiction
During the pandemic, businesses are using technology to reach customers in other states, but that can result in personal jurisdiction arising in other states, Cozen O’Connor attorneys say. They review case law on the issue and predict courts will continue to assess whether it is foreseeable and fair to be sued in a state for doing remote business there.

WORKFLOWS

Dinsmore added partner John Teresinski and associate Vishak Ganesh to its Intellectual Property practice in Washington | Eversheds Sutherland hired Dr. Anne Deike Riewe as Counsel to its Restructuring and Insolvency practice group in Munich, Germany | Willkie Farr & Gallagher grabbed Jay Hughes as a partner in its M&A practice in Houston from McGuireWoods | Davis Wright Tremaine hired Ballard Spahr fintech veteran Chris Ford as a partner in Washington | Carlton Fields’s Hartford, CT office added real estate attorney Patricia DeLeo, who joins from her own firm.

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

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