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Wake Up Call: 17 Law Firms Join U.K. Push on Diversified Recruitment

July 6, 2020, 12:53 PM

In today’s column, as more law firms open gradually in London, most staff at one firm rejected a return to full-time in-person work, while Linklaters says it will check temperatures for all entering its headquarters; Tennessee and Texas followed Florida in canceling their July bar exams because of surging Covid-19 cases; in California, law school deans are pushing for a diploma privilege in the state; Facebook hired an experienced tech industry in-house leader as deputy general counsel for its main product; the legal profession added 7,500 jobs in June; the Brooklyn-based U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York is taking a Justice Department job in Washington.

  • Leading off, White & Case, Norton Rose Fulbright, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, and Dentons are among 17 major law firms listed as committing to a U.K. initiative to take measures to boost diversity in their firms and to fight racism in the legal profession. The initiative, started by diversity recruiting firm Rare, among other things calls for firms to commit to diversity targets for hiring, promotions, and pay. The campaign comes in the wake of global anti-racism protests of the killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd. (Bloomberg News) (RaceFairnessCommittment.com)

  • London-founded Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised companies on $108 million worth of deals in 2020’s first half, a period that saw global mergers and acquisitions activity fall dramatically due to the pandemic. (BLAW)

  • More Big Law firms are gradually opening their London offices, with some conditions. Slaughters and May is openingits office to staff on a limited basis. Transatlantic firm Eversheds Sutherland still plans to gradually reopen its U.K. offices this week, after a survey revealed that over 80% of its staff don’t want to go back to full-time in-office work. (The Lawyer)

  • Meanwhile, U.K. elite firm Linklaters said it will do temperature checks on everyone entering its headquarters in the city. (Linklaters)

  • After law firms have gone months of working remote because of the pandemic, they are finding that the meaning of “meeting” has changed. (Law.com)

The Legal Profession Confronts Racism and Lack of Diversity

  • The head of Morgan Lewis & Bockius’ labor and employment practice, Grace Speights, and Latham & Watkins intellectual property litigator Tara Elliott talked recently about a need to maintain momentum in the fight against racial injustice, among other subjects. Podcast. (Law.com)

  • So far, 117 law firms are seeking certification in the latest “Mansfield Rule” diversity initiative, up from 48 firms in 2018 when Diversity Lab first started the program. Participating firms commit to considering at least 30% women, lawyers of color, LGBTQ+ lawyers, and lawyers with disabilities for leadership and governance roles, equity partner promotions, formal client pitch opportunities, and senior lateral positions. (American Lawyer)

  • A female Reddit user sparked online discussion about “toxicity” of Big Law life with her post that says she’s quitting as a partner after 13 years at her firm and has no other job lined up. She says she decided to quit after realizing that “while I made good money, I was not pulling in even 50% of the comp compared to my male partners that managed a book of business about 1/3 of my size.” (AbovetheLaw.com)

  • The U.K.-based Access to Justice Foundation said its new “Go the Extra Mile for Justice” fundraising campaign targets a total of 20,000 miles, at 10 pounds ($12.5) per mile, by end of the year. Due to the pandemic, the new campaign, which replaces its 2020 nationwide legal walks, calls for participants to raise funds on their own by walking, jogging, cycling, or “even hopping dress as a kangaroo.” (ATJF.org.uk)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Employers added 7,500 legal jobs in June, more than doubling the prior month’s gain even as Covid-19 spread worsens throughout the country. (BLAW)

  • Steptoe & Johnson LLP registered under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act that it is advising the U.K.'s HM Treasury; Linklaters disclosed that it’s advising the U.K. Department for International Trade; and Arnold & Porter registered its work for Argentina. (National Law Journal)

  • Brooklyn-based U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Richard Donoghue, is getting a promotion to principal associate deputy attorney general, at the Department of Justice in Washington. Donoghue replacing Seth DuCharme, who is returning to Brooklyn, where he had been a prosecutor earlier in his career and is considered to be a likely candidate to take Donoghue’s job. The DOJ move comes weeks after Attorney General William Barr ousted the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Geoffrey Berman. (Bloomberg)

Laterals, Moves

  • As McGuireWoods eyes expansion for large commercial property transactions in the Covid recovery, it added real estate specialist Mason Mote as a partner in Houston. Mote was general counsel and executive vice president at Williamsburg Enterprises, a real estate investment trust, and is a former senior associate at Haynes and Boone. (McGuireWoods.com)

  • Dentons hired a team of four energy and infrastructure lawyers from Baker McKenzie in Berlin, including partners Thomas Dörmer and Tim Heitling, associate Annekathrin Markert, and counsel Daniel Neudecker. (Global Legal Post)

  • An expected conflict with another partner over a client, and a question over “low” fees, are some possible reasons that two Paul Hastings private equity partners returned to Hogan Lovells in London last week, according to a report. (Law.com International)

  • Newmeyer Dillion said it launched a bankruptcy & restructuring practice group. (NewmeyerDillion.com)

In-house

  • Facebook hired Hewlett Packard in-house leader Willie Hernandez as director and associate general counsel for product. A former Jackson Walker litigator, he’s been a senior counsel at IBM and Amazon, will lead the legal team for Facebook’s core app. (Corporate Counsel)

Technology

  • A California federal class action lawsuit accuses YouTube of failing to protect smaller copyright owners. The purported class has Korein Tillery LLC and Boies Schiller Flexner advising. (BLAW)

Legal Education

  • With new Covid-19 cases soaring across the country, Texas became the third jurisdiction in a week to cancel its in-person bar exam for July. Takers can either switch to the September in-person exam or take an online one in October, the state said. (Texas Lawyer) Tennessee followed Florida in canceling its in-person bar exams for July. Takers can switch to test scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 1. Massachusetts canceled the state’s September in-person bar exam and instead will offer a two-day online exam on Oct. 5 and 6, joining Washington, D.C., and Maryland in the move. (Law.com)

  • California’s law school deans urged state Supreme Court justices and state bar leaders to drop the fall bar exam and grant diploma privilege to candidates for the 2020 test. (The Recorder)

  • Meanwhile, Arizona still plans to hold an in-person bar exam on July 28 and 29, but it will also offer a remote bar in October. (ABA Journal)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at rMitchell@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Darren Bowman at dbowman@bloomberglaw.com