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Wake Up Call: ‘Anti-Semitism’ Costs U.K. Theater Big Law Funds

Dec. 13, 2021, 1:47 PM

In today’s column, Latham has canceled all holiday parties for the year after a gathering at the firm’s New York office apparently sparked an outbreak of Covid cases; reinsurance giant Swiss Re called on the U.S. government to regulate the litigation funding industry; those big bonuses and salary hikes Big Law firms are shelling out this year are pushing up their compensation costs.

  • Leading off, Kirkland & Ellis and Weil, Gotshal & Manges withdrew as financial sponsors for the London-based Royal Court Theatre in a controversy over the name of a character in a new play performing there. After critics said “Hershel Fink,”the name of the villain in “Rare Earth Mettle,” was a clear Jewish stereotype, the theater had the name changed, to “Henry Finn.” But that apparently wasn’t enough for the two law firms. (The Lawyer) (The Jewish Chronicle) (Inentertainment.co.uk)
  • Latham & Watkins canceled all firm holiday parties for the year after a party held by its New York corporate department appeared to spark an outbreak of Covid-19 infections. (Reuters) For some firms, holiday parties may still be “on the horizon.” (New Jersey Law Journal)
  • This year’s salary hikes and big bonuses, fueled by a furious talent war, have inflated top 50 law firms’ compensation costs by an average 16%, a report says. (American Lawyer)
  • At least eight firms announced they’re matching the Davis Polk scale for year-end bonuses for associates, which runs up to $138,000, depending on seniority with some variations such as billing-hour targets and extra cash for big billers. For example, Goodwin Procter said U.S. associates who bill at least 1,950 hours are eligible for the market standard. Goodwin said associates who bill more hours than that, and/or get a “distinctive” rating, can get up to “175% of the new scale amount.”; Baker McKenzie said it’s paying a 25% premium for big billers. But its announcement sparked some complaints because it makes no mention of the class of 2021; Akin Gump, Allen & Overy and Freshfields, Hogan Lovells, Sullivan & Cromwell, and White & Case also matched. Litigation boutique Kaplan Hecker beat the Davis Polk scale. (Above The Law)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Reinsurance giant Swiss Re called on the U.S. government to regulate the litigation funding industry, which it said has become a $17 billion industry globally. (Insurance Journal) (Claims Journal) Insurance litigators told a recent survey they’re open to continuing to use virtual litigation after the pandemic is over. (American Lawyer)
  • A Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft bill for about $879,000 sparked a political fight in a New Jersey town. (North Jersey.com)
  • Disbarred environmental lawyer Steven Donziger was released early from prison and will serve the rest of his six-month sentence for criminal contempt of court at home. (New York Law Journal)

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Blank Rome hired insurance recovery lawyer Hollye Mann as an associate in Washington. She earlier spent 15 years at Dickstein Shapiro, which became part of Blank Rome in 2016. Mann was most recently CEO and general counsel at a professional and technology services company. (BlankRome.com)
  • London’s Heathrow Airport recruited veteran in-house leader Mine Hifzi, Virgin Media’s general counsel for U.K. and Ireland, to became its top lawyer starting in July 2022. She’ll replace previous GC Carol Hui, who left in August. (Global Legal Post) Sphera, a provider of environmental, social and governance performance and risk management software, data and consulting services, hired Michelle Beckers as general counsel; insurer Erie Indemnity said Brian Bolash, its general counsel, will add the extra title of executive vice president to his roles. (Corporate Counsel)

Technology

  • An interdisciplinary immigration studies training program offered at Villanova’s College of Professional Studies could provide a template for law school innovation. (Legaltech News)

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer in New York at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; Darren Bowman at dbowman@bloomberglaw.com

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