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Wake Up Call: As Virus Spreads, Dentons Temporarily Shuts China Office

Feb. 7, 2020, 1:10 PM

In today’s column, an Arizona law school pilot project will license non-lawyers to give limited legal advice; Shearman & Sterling is opening a Dallas office with partners poached from Jones Day; and Simpson Thacher hired its first chief knowledge and innovation officer.

  • Leading off, reports that Dentons has temporarily closed its office in Wuhan, China, amidst the country’s worsening coronavirus outbreak, while Reed Smith and Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe have advised staff to avoid travel to mainland China. Meanwhile, a Loyola University New Orleans College of Law professor who was in the country as a Fulbright scholar was evacuated to the U.S. and is among people quarantined on an Air Force base in California. (The Recorder)

  • Arizona recently took its latest step toward rule changes that could allow non-lawyers to own stakes in law firms and offer legal services. Now, the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law says it has started a pilot project that will license non-lawyers to provide limited legal advice on civil matters stemming from domestic violence. (

  • Squire Patton Boggs added three London-based corporate and private equity partners, including a top attorney at Big Four accountancy KPMG, Stephen Ball. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett associates Charles Leeming and Ben Squires also arrive as partners. (BLAW)

  • On the flipside, Squire Patton Boggs’ London office lost real estate partner Rachel Orton to Addleshaw Goddard. (

  • New York-based Shearman & Sterling reached into Jones Day’s Dallas office to grab an M&A team with at least three partners, as it plans to open its third Texas office in that city. (Texas Lawyer)

  • Embattled Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co. filed two patent infringement lawsuits against rival Verizon Communications Inc. following an apparent breakdown of negotiations on terms for use of its intellectual property. Huawei’s chief legal officer Song Liuping announced the suits in a statement. (BN via BLAW)

  • Johnson & Johnson was ordered by a New Jersey jury to pay an extra $750 million in punitive damages on top of $37.2 million compensation already awarded to a group of former J&J Baby Powder users who blame their cancers on asbestos in the talc-based product. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Paul Weiss’ work for fossil fuel giant ExxonMobil is the target of protests by law students at Harvard and Yale. (BLAW)

  • Simpson Thacher poached White & Case tech and innovation wizard Oz Benamram in New York to be its first chief knowledge and innovation officer. (American Lawyer)

  • Wyoming’s top court fined a dentist who was doing legal work without a license. (BLAW)

  • Netflix’s head of legal operations, Jennifer McCarron, joined the board of directors of the California-based Corporate Legal Operations Consortium. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Politico profiled one of President Trump’s personal lawyers, conservative Christian radio star Jay Sekulow. During the Senate impeachment trial, Sekulow managed to please his “Audience of One,” and could get rewarded with a U.S. Supreme Court nomination, it says. (Politico)

  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this week attended a comic opera about her put on by a cast of lawyers at the New York City Bar Association. (New York Law Journal)


  • U.S. buyout firm Apollo Global Management Inc., advised by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, bought global specialty pharmaceutical company Covis Pharma Holdings Sarl from rival private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management. Dechert advised both Cerberus and Covis Pharma. During negotiations the selling price was reported as over $700 million. (

  • DLA Piper represented animation studio Titmouse in its recent multiyear deal with Netflix to produce multiple original adult animated series. (Deadline)

Laterals, Moves

  • Manatt, Phelps & Phillips hired away two Quinn Emanuel litigators, getting trial lawyer Amar Thakur and patent litigator Bruce Zisser as partners in its technology & intellectual property litigation practice. Thakur will lead the practice from the firm’s San Francisco and Orange County offices, with Zisser is joining its Los Angeles office. (

  • Steptoe & Johnson LLP said its London branch added hired international trade and arbitration lawyer Christophe Bondy, a former senior counsel and deputy director of Canada’s trade law bureau, as a partner. According to his LinkedIn, Bondy arrives most recently from Cooley, where he was special counsel. (

  • Amerisure Mutual Insurance Company promoted insurance industry in-house veteran Shannon Anderson Alt to vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, to replace Kurt Gallinger, who’s retiring after 14 years. Alt earlier in her career was an associate at Dykema Gossett. (

  • Dykema’s Austin office added 25-year veteran intellectual property lawyer Denise Mayfield as a member. Mayfield, who has an advanced degree in genetics and physiology, joins most recently from Husch Blackwell. (

  • Cozen O’Connor said former New York state assistant environment secretary Evan J. Preminger joined the firm as an associate based in New York City and will also be director of New York environmental matters for the firm’s government relations practice. He was at Greenberg Traurig earlier in his career. (

  • Blank Rome added corporate lawyer Dean Nordlinger in Washington as a partner in its corporate, M&A, and securities group. He arrives from Miles & Stockbridge, where he was a principal. (


  • Orrick promoted 17 lawyers (four women) to partner, effective Jan. 1, 2020. (

Legal Actions, Decisions

  • A New York appeals court delivered a blow to companies like DraftKings and FanDuel Thursday, ruling that fantasy sports contests are illegal gambling, and therefore unconstitutional. (BLAW)

Regulators and Enforcement

  • Attorney General William Barr’s new restrictions on investigations into politically sensitive individuals or entities include a requirement that he okay any probe into a presidential candidate or campaign. (NPR)

Legal Education

  • The Squire Patton Boggs Foundation added the Georgia State University College of Law in Atlanta and the University of Cincinnati College of Law to its public policy fellowship program, which since 2004 has awarded nearly 250 fellowships to law students. (

  • Topeka, Kansas-based Washburn School of Law said it received a challenge gift from an anonymous who committed to match public donations up to a total of $1 million to create a plaza outside the school named in honor of former U.S. Senate majority leader Bob Dole, a Republican who’s 96 and an alum of the school. (

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