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Wake Up Call: Baker Botts to Follow V&E Out of Beijing

Oct. 6, 2020, 12:43 PM

In today’s column, Kirkland and Goodwin steered Bristol Myers’ $13.1 billion acquisition of a heart drug maker; law firm leaders say the impact of Covid on this fiscal year is making it challenging to budget for 2021; LexisNexis and Knowable launched a new searchable database of U.S. M&A deals; a Pennsylvania casino and racetrack operator is reversing pay cuts for its top lawyer and other executives, citing improved business; a Virginia federal judge overseeing a high-stakes bench trial involving Cisco Systems Inc. refused to recuse, despite learning that his wife owned Cisco stock.

  • Leading off, Baker Botts is headed for the exit in Beijing, with plans to shutter it’s 13-year old office in the city at year’s end and concentrate its China operations in Hong Kong, a report says. The Houston-based firm said it wants to align its Asian strategy with its long-term goals. Another Texas-based firm, Vinson & Elkins, pulled out of Beijing earlier this year. Observers point to low oil prices and the pandemic-related economic slowdown among factors making life tough for energy-focused firms in China. (Texas Lawyer)

  • Kirkland & Ellis advised pharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb on its $13.1 billion acquisition of heart-drug maker MyoKardia Inc., which was advised by Goodwin Procter. (Bloomberg News)

  • As many states have been preparing to hold online bar exams as a Covid safety move, critics warned that the remote-proctored tests seemed bound for technical problems. Several states started their exams yesterday, and there were plenty of such snafus reported. (BLAW)

  • Meanwhile, the bar exam itself could be in for a profound re-think, as online tests and other temporary fixes the states have come up with during the pandemic could open the way to longer-term improvements for the system for licensing lawyers. (BLAW)

  • Law firm leaders say budgeting for 2021 has been a challenge as they consider whether this year’s deep cuts to travel and other client-contact spending, and other unique circumstances, will continue next year. The U.S. presidential election, Brexit, and threats to global trade are other big question marks, they said. (American Lawyer)

  • Executives at a Pennsylvania-based casino and racetrack operator, Penn National Gaming Inc., including its top lawyer, all agreed to take pay cuts earlier this year, to protect the company’s cash from Covid-19’s impact. Now the casino, citing improved business, is rolling back those pay cuts, much as several big law firms have done recently for their lawyers and staff. (Corporate Counsel)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Law firms, looking to grow faster, have become more likely to hires associates laterally than develop them “organically,” says a new study looking at 800 law firms. (American Lawyer)

  • A Virginia federal judge who oversaw a high-stakes bench trial between Cisco Systems Inc. and Centripetal Networks Inc. refused to recuse himself from the case after discovering his wife owned several thousands of dollars worth of Cisco stock. (BLAW)

  • Judges have allowed many claims to go forward for students suing for refunds for tuition and fees after their colleges and universities shut down during the first Covid-19 lockdowns. (

Laterals, Moves

  • Reed Smith hired Ryan Purpura, chair of McGuireWoods’ energy practice, as a Pittsburgh-based partner in the firm’s global energy and natural resources industry group. (BLAW)

  • Crowell & Moring added intellectual property and trade litigator Joshua Pond from Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. He joins as a partner in Washington. (BLAW)

  • Morrison & Foerster recruited bankruptcy litigator Theresa Foudy, the sixth partner to join the firm’s New York office this year. She arrives from Katten Muchin Rosenman and joins MoFo’s bankruptcy, restructuring and insolvency group. She’s a former a New York County assistant district attorney. (

  • Steptoe & Johnson LLP hired legal career coach and “LinkedIn for Lawyers” author Shauna C. Bryce as its new director of legal recruiting & professional development. A graduate of Harvard Law and the Johns Hopkins University, Bryce was a Manhattan-based Paul Weiss associate early in her career. (

  • Former Shearman & Sterling Asia managing partner Matthew Bersanileft the firm after 23 years to become a New York-based legal recruiter and consultant, at Cliff Group and Asia Search Partners. ( International)

  • Greenberg Traurig recruited health care and life sciences attorney Chia-Feng Lu as a shareholder in its health care & FDA practice and life sciences & medical technology group. He arrives from Baker McKenzie and will spend most of his time in Washington and the Tokyo/Osaka area, but will also regularly visit other parts of the U.S., such as Boston; as well as European countries. (


  • San Francisco-based Pliant Therapeutics, Inc., a clinical stage biotechnology company focused on discovering and developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of fibrosis, hired former Pillsbury M&A partner Mike Ouimette as general counsel and corporate secretary. Ouimette arrives most recently from Portola Pharmaceuticals, Inc., where he was executive director and assistant corporate secretary. (


  • LexisNexis Legal & Professional is working with contract intelligence company Knowable to start a new searchable database, called Market Standards, gathering thousands of publicly filed U.S. deals. (Artificial Lawyer)

Legal Education

  • Harvard Law School is hooking up with Howard University School of Law on a a year-long initiative to teach future lawyers about social justice. (Harvard Crimson)

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