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Wake Up Call: Analyst Expects Thousands of Law Firm Layoffs Due to Covid

June 2, 2020, 1:02 PM

In today’s column, law firms, in-house lawyers, and companies reacted to the police killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis and the violence it has sparked; Ropes & Gray poached restructuring and benefits partners from Kirkland to help handle a surge in covid-related work; Baker McKenzie announced new leaders for key corporate practices, and hired a white collar partner; Boies Schiller lost another prominent partner; Armstrong Teasdale got a multimillion dollar contract advising the National Institutes for Health on vaccines, other biotech work.

  • Leading off, a former Ropes & Gray chief operating officer and analyst at Boston Consulting Group says get ready for as many as 20,000 law firm layoffs in the economic wreckage of Covid-19. (American Lawyer)

  • Yesterday, Reed Smith announced a second round of cash-saving measures to survive Covid-19, including pay cuts, furloughs, and layoffs. The firm cited “prolonged economic uncertainty” from the coronavirus pandemic. (BLAW)

  • Saint Louis-based Armstrong Teasdale said it signed a 10-year contract worth up to $386 million to advise the National Institutes of Health on intellectual property matters related to a Covid-19 vaccine and other biotechnology work. The firm said the NIH plans to select nine law firms for that work. A Maryland-based IP boutique said last month it was selected for two such contracts. (ArmstrongTeasdale.com)

  • As universities around the country mull whether and how to reopen this fall after the Covid-19 shutdown, several are getting new top lawyers. (BLAW)

  • As the pandemic forced law firms to work remotely, law librarians helped them with research and practice challenges. (Above The Law)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Big Law firms, boutiques, general counseland companies, yesterday reacted to the killing by Minneapolis police of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, and the urban violence it sparked. At least one firm offered pro bono help to arrested protesters. (American Lawyer)

  • The furloughed Pryor Cashman associate arrested for alleged involvement in firebombing of a police vehicle was released on $250,000 bail. (New York Law Journal)

  • Federal courthouses in Minnesota and California, where the pandemic had already restricted access, closed their doors yesterday in response to the violence. (BLAW)

  • Debevoise & Plimpton opened an office in Luxembourg, its 10th worldwide. (Debevoise.com)
  • Global lawyers and corporations in Hong Kong reacted nervously to President Trump’s vow to remove the city’s special trade status. (Law.com International)

  • Management-side worklaw firm Littler expanded to Poland, adding 20-lawyer firm Paruch Chrusciel Schiffter to its global platform. (Littler.com)

  • A divided U.S. Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear a challenge to mandatory bar dues. (BLAW)

Laterals, Moves

  • Ropes & Gray poached Kirkland & Ellis’ restructuring partner Matthew Czyzyk in London. Ropes & Gray managing partner David Djaha said the firm’s business restructuring team is seeing rising levels of activity, as companies and investors grapple with the pandemic’s impact. The firm also hired executive compensation and employee benefits specialist Matthew Jones, based in Chicago. (RopesGray.com)

  • Faegre Drinker also struck on both sides of the Atlantic, grabbing two leading Sidley Austin restructuring attorneys. James F. Conlan, who was co-chair of Sidley’s corporate restructuring practice, and a member of its executive committee, will work from New York, Chicago and Philadelphia. Patrick Corr, who led Sidley’s European restructuring and insolvency practice, is based in London. (BLAW)

  • Baker McKenzie today said it added top white collar lawyer Jessica Nall as a partner in its San Francisco office. She arrives from Farella Braun & Martel, where she was chair of its white-collar crime and internal corporate investigations practice. (BLAW)

  • Baker McKenzie yesterday announced new leaders for key practice and industry groups as the firm’s Hong Kong-based chair Milton Cheng makes his mark some seven months into his new role. (BLAW)

  • Boies Schiller & Flexner lost another high-profile partner as David Pressman, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Security Council and assistant secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security, went to Jenner & Block. In Jenner & Block’s New York office, Pressman, who helps companies navigate white collar crises, reunites with three former Boies Schiller partners who left in February. (BLAW)

  • Finance lawyer Eliot Relles jumped to Weil, Gotshal & Manges as a partner in New York, after 17 years as a partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel, most recently as co-head of that firm’s finance group. (BLAW)

  • Shearman & Sterling added Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft financial services partner Mark Chorazak in New York. Chorazak, who was earlier at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, joins Shearman’s global financial institutions advisory and financial regulatory practice as a partner. (BLAW)

  • In London, Squire Patton Boggs added six lawyers to its new commodities and shipping group, plus a corporate partner, all from Holman Fenwick Willan. (GlobalLegalPost.com)

  • Cozen O’Connor hired corporate lawyer Katayun “Kathy” Jaffari away from another Philadelphia firm, Ballard Spahr, where she’d spent eight years after over 15 years at Saul Ewing. She arrives as a partner and chair of Cozen’s corporate governance and securities group. (Cozen.com)

  • New York-based Stroock got back energy lawyer Jeffrey Meyers as senior counsel. According to his LinkedIn, Meyers, who arrived recently from McDermott Will & Emery, was previously chair of Stroock’s energy and project finance practice, and before that partner at now defunct Dewey & LeBoeuf, where he’d been close to 22 years. Stroock also added litigator Eric Aronson as a partner. He arrived from Greenberg Traurig, where he’d been over 17 years. (Stroock.com)

  • Mayer Brown added transactional tax planning lawyer Dan Kiely as a partner in New York. According to his LinkedIn, he was previously senior vice president and chief tax officer at OneMain Financial, spent 10 years at GE Capital as a tax director, and before that was at Shearman. (MayerBrown.com)

  • DLA Piper grabbed Littler wage-and-hour class action lawyer Julie Dunne as a partner in San Diego in its employment practice office. At Littler she was co-chair of the retail industry group. (DLAPiper.com)

  • Katten got commercial transaction attorney Erin England as a partner in Dallas. She arrives from Haynes and Boone, where she was a partner. (Katten.com)

In-house

  • Locke Lord said former Goldman Sachs vice president and associate GC Brian Bolton, who was at the firm earlier in his career, returned to its Dallas office as a real estate finance partner. (LockeLord.com)

  • Drugstore and pharmacy chain Rite Aid Corp. and Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. are in the market for new law department leaders. Boston Market Corp., Children’s Place Inc., and Denny’s Corp. recently added legal chiefs. (BLAW)

Technology

  • The approaching deadline for financial institutions to transition financial contracts away from the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) to a new benchmark rate is a good opportunity for partnerships between law firms and legal tech providers. (Legaltech News)

Legal Education

  • As most jurisdictions plan to hold in-person bar exams in July or September, the organization that manages the bar exam said it has plans for a backup online test in October, although it hopes states don’t need it. (Law.com)

  • Another Stanford Law professor is in a “N-word” controversy. This time it’s a former federal appellate judge and co-chair of Facebook’s new content moderation oversight board. (The Recorder)

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

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