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Wake Up Call: As Shut Down Looms, Mueller Probe Keeps Digging

Jan. 19, 2018, 1:15 PM

• A U.S. government shutdown is looming as temporary government funding runs out at midnight Friday. But one thing that will keep running no matter what is Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia Probe. ( Bloomberg )

• A battle over what President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, can tell Congress has cast a glaring spotlight on potential conflicts of interest surrounding White House Counsel Don McGahn. McGahn, who was himself interviewed by Mueller’s team, shares a lawyer with Bannon —Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s William Burck. ( Bloomberg )

• The trust set up to handle General Motors Co.’s bankruptcy claims acted in bad faith in negotiating a $15 million class-action settlement that would have forced the automaker to contribute as much as $1 billion in new stock, a U.S. judge ruled in throwing out the accord. ( Bloomberg )

• Two senior partners, Philippe Z. Selendy and Faith E. Gay, are leaving Quinn Emanuel to form a new firm. Six more of the firm’s veteran trial lawyers, including Selendy’s wife, Jennifer, will be joining their colleagues to set up Selendy & Gay PLLC. ( BLB )

• Star lawyer David Boies has split with Chinese Tycoon Guo Wengui, the controversial businessman sought by China for making various allegations of corruption against the country’s rich and powerful, and will be replaced by New Jersey-based Cohen & Howard LLP in defending Guo against a defamation case lodged by China’s HNA Group Co. ( Bloomberg via BLB ) HNA Group: the mysterious Chinese company worrying the world. ( Bloomberg )

• The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau doesn’t need new funds next quarter, Mick Mulvaney, the agency’s acting director, told Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen in the latest sign of how he plans to curb the agency’s oversight of the financial services industry. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

Law Firm Business

• The #MeToo movement against sexual harassment has sparked interest in employment practices liability insurance, a type of coverage that can protect employers for harassment or discrimination claims. With demand rising, rate pressure from insurers could cause small law firms to lose business to larger competitors. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

• California-based Littler, a management-side employment and labor law firm, said it has expanded into Italy by adding a six-lawyer team in Milan led by veteran Italian principals Carlo Majer and Edgardo Ratti. Littler said Italy is the fourth European country it has entered in about two years, after Germany, France and the United Kingdom. ( Littler )


• Cozen O’Connor said corporate attorney Gregg Kander is joining its Pittsburgh office as of counsel, the 29th attorney it has snagged from Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney in Pennsylvania in the last nine months. Kander will also continue to serve as general counsel to Brooklyn-based Cumberland Packing Corp., a long-time Cozen O’Connor client that among other things makes Sweet’N Low. ( )

• Greenspoon Marder said it promoted attorney Marla Neufeld, a founder in its assisted reproductive technology practice, to partner in in Fort Lauderdale, and promoted Joshua Remedios to senior counsel in its hospitality, alcohol and leisure industry practice group in Miami. ( Gmlaw )

• Stamford-based Finn Dixon & Herling LLP announced promotions. It said litigator Evan Cohen, who advises on complex commercial disputes, and Adam Mendelowitz, who advises on executive compensation and employment matters, were elected partners. Litigator Tony Miodonka and corporate attorney Heather Rahilly were promoted to of counsel. ( )

• Locke Lord said former insurance regulator Robert Kasinow, previously at KPMG, joined its New York office as an “insurance specialist” in the firm’s regulatory and transactional insurance practice group. ( LockeLord )

• Jackson Lewis P.C. said it hired employment attorney Theresa Mak as principal in its San Francisco office. She comes from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. ( JacksonLewis )

Legal Market

• Google Inc. is bracing for its first data privacy battle in England’s High Court over the so-called “right to be forgotten.” ( Bloomberg )

• Intel’s Meltdown and Spectre chip flaws have opened up new hacking threats, sparked class actions, and enraged longtime partners. But the company doesn’t seem to be taking the threat seriously enough. ( Bloomberg Businessweek )

• Jared Kushner’s Deutsche Bank-backed property in Manhattan faces debt and tenant problems and a probe by New York prosecutors. ( Bloomberg )

• Asset-managment companies KKR & Co. Blackstone Group LP are facing a Kentucky pension lawsuit by a group of seeking to expose secrets linked to so-called Black Box bundles of hedge funds. ( Bloomberg )

• The wierd, dark tale of the fall of Uber founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick. ( Bloomberg Businessweek )

Legal Actions

• Aetna Inc. faces a shareholder class action claiming the health insurer undervalued its stock in connection with its proposed $77 billion merger with CVS Health Corp. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

• Murdoch property News Corp. agreed to a last-minute settlement a phone-hacking trial in London. ( Bloomberg )

Regulators and Enforcement

• The SEC’s administrative law judge enforcement program faced continued legal uncertainty as court challenges to its validity continued in 2017. In that context, ALJ judges during the year imposed fewer civil penalties then in the previous four years, and no penalty topped $1 million. ( Bloomberg Law )

• The National Labor Relations Board is looking to settle a high profile lawsuit against McDonald’s USA LLC. ( Bloomberg Law )

• Democrats on the Senate labor committee believe NLRB general counsel Peter Robb’s response to their questions late last year were inadequate, and they’ve followed up with a second letter to him, committee staffers said. ( Bloomberg Law )

• Anti-money laundering enforcement actions and penalties increased in 2017. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

The Trump Administration

• Trump’s personal lawywer Michael Cohen created a Delaware limited liability company to pay a porn star $130,000 weeks before the presidential election, according to a report. ( Wall Street Journal )

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• The U.S. Supreme Court blocked a ruling that would force North Carolina to redraw its congressional voting map to give Republicans less of a partisan advantage. ( Bloomberg ) The Supreme Court is finally tackling gerrymandering. ( Bloomberg Businesseek )

• Will Justice Anthony Kennedy have the last word in a case addressing online sales taxes, pending before the Supreme Court? ( Bloomberg Law )


• Game developers are embracing the database technology behind bitcoin and other digital coins, spotlighting legal questions about whether in-game rewards and characters that are bought and traded online amount to gambling activity. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

• A House-passed bill would revamp the State Department’s defunct cybersecurity office in an effort to increase security policy cooperation with international allies. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

• A New York-based nonprofit streaming 15 broadcast channels without permission expects to face legal action. ( Bloomberg )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.