Bloomberg Law
Feb. 26, 2020, 1:06 PM

Wake Up Call: 8 Firms Advise on Ex-Viacom CFO’s Deal to Buy Univision

Rick Mitchell
Rick Mitchell
Freelance Correspondent

In today’s column, Dentons plans to appeal a $32.3 million malpractice verdict it lost in Ohio; the New York federal judge who booted a Sidley partner from Huawei’s defense team in a criminal case offered some information to explain her decision; and early 2019 financial results are in from O’Melveny and Cozen O’Connor.

  • Leading off, eight Big Law firms advised in former Viacom Inc. CFO Wade Davis’s deal to buy a majority, 64%, stake in Univision Communications Inc. The sale price wasn’t disclosed, but apparently it was much less than the $10 billion the Spanish-language broadcaster’s private equity owners had been trying to get. Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Proskauer Rose represented Davis’ firm, ForgeLight, while Paul Weiss advised his backers at Searchlight Capital Partners. (BN via BLAW)

  • According to a press release, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, Covington & Burling, and Sidley Austin are advising Univision, while Wachtell and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman advise Mexico’s Grupo Televisa SAB, the company’s longtime partner, which will retain its 36% stake in Univision. (PR Newswire)

  • Dentons said it will appeal a $32.3 million jury verdict it lost in a malpractice case in Ohio, which stemmed from its disqualification from a patent case five years ago. (American Lawyer) The judge that DQ’ed the giant firm rejected its argument that its Canadian and U.S. units are separate entities. The disqualification could call into question the Swiss verein structure used by Dentons and some other big firms. (

  • The New York federal judge who disqualified Sidley Austin partner James Cole from defending Huawei in a criminal case unsealed her decision. (National Law Journal)

  • The former Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer restructuring partner who got fined (about $304,000 in penalty and legal costs), earlier this month by the U.K. legal profession tribunal for sexual misconduct with a heavily intoxicated junior partner he had authority over said he plans to appeal. The fine, as opposed to suspension or worse, was controversial. (City (

  • O’Melveny & Myers cited rising demand, litigation, and big deals as powering its fifth-straight year of revenue growth in 2019, during which its merger talks with U.K. firm Allen & Overy fizzled out. The firm’s early data show gross revenues grew 4.3% to $835.3 million, while average profits per equity partner rose 2.4% to $2.32 million. (American Lawyer)

  • Cozen O’Connor’s gross revenues swelled 9.4% to $517.3 million last year, while average PEP grew 9.9% to $910,000, even as equity partnership grew 190.(Legal Intelligencer)

  • Crowell & Moring government contracts partner David Z. Bodenheimer, a 31-year veteran at that firm, jumped to a Washington-based specialized boutique Nichols Liu LLP, created in 2017 by former practice group leaders from Covington & Burling and Crowell & Moring, some of whom were his former colleagues. (

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Sheppard Mullin said Allison Martin Rhodes has joined the firm’s San Francisco office as deputy general counsel. Martin Rhodes joins from Holland & Knight, where she was co-chair of that firm’s legal profession team. (Yahoo! Finance)

  • Reed Smith is juicing up its energy practice in its Austin office with two of its top transactions partners. It said oil and gas dealmaker Gary C. Johnson will split his time between Austin and Houston, while international renewable energy specialist Edward Rogan is relocating from San Francisco. (

  • In another energy practice move, Steptoe & Johnson LLP added two lawyers in Washington. Donna Byrne, who arrives as a partner after close to 15 years at Skadden Arps, represents electric power and natural gas market participants in proceedings before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Trial lawyer John Perkins is a former acting branch chief in FERC’s administrative litigation office and represents companies in rates proceedings and other cases before the regulator. He arrives from McGuireWoods as of counsel. (

  • Mayer Brown hired energy projects and infrastructure lawyer Mark Williams, a former FERC corporate applications attorney, as a partner in Washington. He was previously at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. (

  • King & Spalding signed three international arbitration partners away from Kirkland & Ellis in a bid to grow the firm’s commercial work in Latin America and Europe. (BLAW)

  • Alston & Bird said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s deputy director, Brian Johnson, is joining the Atlanta-based firm’s Washington office as a partner in early March. (BLAW)

  • Lawyers On Demand Ltd., the UK-based alternative legal services provider, is expanding beyond its lawyers-for-rent model. (BLAW)


  • Sidley advised Inc. on its agreement to acquire software maker Vlocity, Inc. in a $1.33 billion deal. (BN)


  • Real estate industry executives are worried about a possible recession and most (66%) want President Trump to stay in office, according to a new survey report from Seyfarth Shaw. (

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Barnes & Thornburg added experienced commercial transactions and supply-chain attorney Tiffany D. Presley as a corporate partner in Indianapolis. She arrives from Quarles & Brady, and previously spent five years as an international tax consultant at Deloitte. (

  • Greenberg Traurig’s London office got back tax shareholder Clive Jones, 18 months after he left to become a partner at DLA Piper, according to a report. (The Lawyer)

  • Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority SVP and general counsel Philip G. Sunderland is retiring, and deputy GC Johnna Spera will serve as acting general counsel. (Aviation Pros)

  • Management-side worklaw firm Littler poached a top marketing executive from KPMG, Cheri Husney, to be its new chief marketing and business development officer, based in Atlanta. (


  • Carlton Fields elected five new shareholders (two women) across various offices and practice and industry groups. (

Legal Actions, Decisions

  • Western Union Co.'s Sidley Austin and Holland & Hart lawyers beat an effort in federal court by investors seeking to revive a would-be class suit accusing the money transmitter of misleading them about its compliance with anti-money laundering laws. Pomerantz represented the investors. (BLAW)

  • Vaping giant Juul Labs Inc. will be investigated by 39 state attorneys general over whether it illegally markets its e-cigarettes to teens. (BN via BLAW)


  • The software development team at London-founded law firm Kennedys has already developed six insurance-focused tech tools and now the firm plans to spin out a new legal tech software company called Kennedys IQ. (Artificial Lawyer)

  • French company LegalStorm, created by two associations for lawyers and other legal professionals, is raising funds for its plan to finance development of legal tech tools. (

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Darren Bowman at