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Wake Up Call: Amazon Hires Former US Patent Office Chief to Lead AI Unit

Sept. 18, 2019, 11:52 AM
  • Amazon Inc. hired former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Director Michelle Lee to lead the artificial intelligence unit of Amazon Web Services, as vice president of its Machine Learning Solutions Lab. Lee was deputy general counsel in charge of patent strategy at Google before joining the office in 2012, and she became its first woman director in 2014. A Stanford Law grad with a master’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she was a federal appeals court law clerk, and an associate at Fenwick & West and Keker & Van Nest. (The Recorder)

  • Federal prosecutors are using RICO anti-racketeering statutes to accuse three JPMorgan Chase & Co. traders of rigging futures trades in precious metals for nearly a decade. The campaign was so widespread it was like a criminal enterprise, prosecutors said. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed a lawsuit against two of the men. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is representing one of the accused in the criminal case. (BN via BLAW)

  • Mayer Brown added trial lawyers Jason Linder and securities litigator Glenn Vanzura as partners in L.A. in its litigation & dispute resolution practice. Linder, who’ll practice in both L.A. and Washington, is a former federal prosecutor, and was previously head of global investigations and anti-corruption practice at Irell & Manella, where Vanzura was also a partner. (

  • Lawyers who’ve seen Weil, Gotshal & Manges partner Diane Sullivan in court reacted after she was recently hit by a New Jersey judge’s ruling that struck her entire closing argument in defense of Johnson & Johnson in a talcum powder case. (New Jersey Law Journal)

  • A Florida corporate lawyer wrote phony opinion letters in a $322 million securities fraud, according to lawsuits filed by the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission. (BLAW)

  • Several Big Law firms are advising in a renewed Delaware Chancery Court lawsuit filed by creditors blaming accounting giant KPMG LLP for the collapse of Oceanografia SA de CV after “one of the largest financial frauds in the history of Latin America.” (BLAW)

  • Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, Goodwin Procter, Eversheds Sutherland, Stoel Rives, are working with 26 general counsel from prominent corporations to create a $5 million fund aimed at incubating ideas to improve diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. A fifth law firm is to join the effort by year’s end. (BLAW via BLB)

  • The U.S. government is suing former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, for all proceeds from his new book, on grounds that he violated nondisclosure agreements. (WaPo)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago has paid $80 million to 160 victims of sexual abuse by clergy represented by a single Minnesota-based law firm since 2001, a report says. (Associated Press)

  • Akin Gump’s Katie Brossy won a personal victory in her pro bono campaign to replace the statue of William Jennings Bryan in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall with that of Ponca Tribe Chief Standing Bear. (BLAW via BLB)

  • Hunton Andrews Kurth hired former Virginia Information Technologies Agency executive Eric R. Link as director of government affairs for its global economic development, commerce and government relations group. Link is a University of Richmond Law grad. (

  • Civil litigation defense firm Tyson & Mendes said it hired Gordon & Rees’ New York office managing partner, Robert Modica, to take the same role in the firm’s first New York office, set to open Oct. 1. (

  • California lawmakers recently approved five bills that would make minor tweaks to the state’s tough Consumer Privacy Act to ease compliance for businesses. The bills need Governor Gavin Newsom’s signature to take effect. Meanwhile, law firm Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck said it’s teaming up with EC Wise, a secure systems and solutions provider, to provide services to help businesses comply with the rules, which are set to take effect Jan. 1, 2020. (


  • Genstar Capital and Lovell Minnick Partners sold an equity stake in Mercer Advisors, a registered investment advisor, to Oak Hill Capital. Willkie Farr & Gallagher represented Genstar Capital and Mercer Advisors in the transaction. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison advised Oak Hill Capital. ( (Financial Planning)

Laterals, Moves, Promotions

  • Haynes and Boone hired veteran finance lawyer Matthew Frankle as a partner in New York. Frankle, who most recently was a Greenberg Traurig shareholder, started his career at Sullivan & Cromwell and later worked at several major investment banking firms in New York. (

  • Cell therapy company SQZ Biotechnologies hired life sciences industry in-house veteran Larry Knopft as its first general counsel. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Clark Hill PLC hired former LeClairRyan financial services litigator Alexander Green as a Washington-based associate in its banking & financial services practice. (

  • Reed Smith added government contract and procurement lawyer Liza Craig, a former acquisition counsel in the Department of the Navy Office of the general counsel, as counsel in Washington. (

Legal Actions, Bankruptcies, Decisions

  • Dell Inc., advised by Alston & Bird, will pay $21 million under a proposed settlement of a securities class action brought by the retirement system for the city of Pontiac, Michigan, filed in Texas. (BLAW)

  • Apple Inc.'s Morrison & Foerster lawyers failed to convince a California court to reject class certification for a group of consumers alleging replacement iPhones and iPads weren’t “equivalent to new.” (BLAW).

  • Google is getting sued for age discrimination by a former hardware test engineer who claims his manager at the company called him “grandpa.” (The Recorder)


  • The 2020’s are set to be the decade of radical digital change for the intellectual property industry and innovation industries and the law firms that advise them. But for now the industry—and many law firms—still rely heavily on “analog” approaches and methods, according to a new report. (

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Molly Ward at