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Wake Up Call: Biden Chief of Staff Pick Is Ex-Big Law Partner

Nov. 12, 2020, 2:08 PM

In today’s column, Baker McKenzie launched the year-end bonus season; Big Law attorneys looking to escape New York in the pandemic are sending their CVs to Connecticut firms; several Big Law firms advised in a billion dollar video game-developer deal.

  • Leading off, President-elect Joe Biden picked his longtime adviser Ron Klain to be his White House chief of staff. Klain, a former O’Melveny & Myers partner, was Biden’s chief of staff in the Obama White House and played a leading role during the economic and public health crises. He was also a White House lawyer in the Clinton administration and a chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Among his private roles, Klain was executive vice president and general counsel of technology-focused investment firm Revolution. (WaPo) (Bloomberg News via BLAW) (LinkedIn)
  • Biden has recruited close to two dozen Big Law attorneys for his transition team, including one each from Kirkland & Ellis and Jones Day, two firms that have done quite a bit of work for the Trump administration. (American Lawyer)
  • Meanwhile, Jones Day is catching flak for its work on Republican lawsuits challenging the results of the presidential election, for which all major networks have projected Biden as the winner. Jones Day in a statement insisted that it is not representing President Trump, his campaign or any affiliated party in any litigation alleging voter fraud. “Jones Day also is not representing any entity in any litigation challenging or contesting the results of the 2020 general election,” it said. (Businesswire)
  • One columnist said Jones Day is being “cynical,” because the firm says in its own statement that it is is representing the Pennsylvania GOP in litigation challenging the state’s extension of its deadline to return mail-in ballots in the election. (American Lawyer)
  • DLA Piper partner Doug Emhoff has faced some potential conflict-of-interest questions raised by his marriage to Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. The Biden campaign said Tuesday that Emhoff plans to leave the law firm before Biden is inaugurated. (BLAW)
  • Steptoe & Johnson’s new global trade policy blog starts out by considering what the Biden administration trade policy might look like. (SteptoeGlobalTradeBlog.com)

Law Firms and Covid

  • Big Law attorneys looking to get out of New York City in the pandemic are sending their resumes to Connecticut firms. (Connecticut Law Tribune)
  • Baker McKenzie launched the year-end bonus season, announcing payouts that will range from $15,000 for junior attorneys up to $100,000 for the most senior lawyers. (American Lawyer) Baker McKenzie said it will match any increases in the market and also said it’s ending Covid salary cuts a month earlier than it said previously. (Above the Law)
  • Clients of some of the country’s biggest law firms say they’re worried they could get stuck paying the tab for generous “pandemic bonuses” those firms are paying to their associates. (BLAW)
  • Orrick, which had already ended its Covid pay cuts in October, announced it’s retroactively restoring pay that employees and lawyers lost when the firm implemented pandemic austerity measures back in April. (Above the Law)
  • The Alaska Supreme Court explained why it denied requests by seven law graduates to be licensed without taking the bar exam due to Covid safety concerns. (BLAW)
  • Crowell & Moring said Peter Feldman, commissioner of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, will discuss use of digital technology in regulating distribution of consumer products, during a virtual event the firm is hosting today. (Crowell.com)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Ken Paxton has been called the “attack dog of Texas Republicans’ aggressive conservative agenda.” Now he looks to be in a heap of trouble. (NYT)
  • A new lawsuit filed by a Black former K&L Gates partner accuses the firm of systemically discriminating against Black lawyers even as it marketed itself as a diversity leader. (BLAW)
  • Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc., the company behind popular video games Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K, agreed to acquire British game developer Codemasters, in a transaction valued at an estimated $956 million (726 million pounds). Willkie Farr & Gallagher and Axinn and others advised Take Two, while Gowling WLG (UK), Reed Smith and others advised Codemasters, on the deal, expected to close in 2021’s first quarter. (Bloomberg News)
  • Hogan Lovells announced two new diversity & inclusion leadership roles, appointing former Sidley Austin East Coast diversity director Rosevelie Márquez Morales as D&I director for the Americas and Denver-based real estate associate Jennifer Guzman as D&I manager for the Americas. (HoganLovells.com)

Laterals, Moves

  • Baker Botts named corporate partner Terence Rozier-Byrd as its New York office partner-in-charge, taking over that role from partner Rob Scheinfeld, who is also chair of the firm’s intellectual property department. It named corporate partner Sam Dibble San Francisco office partner-in-charge, succeeding Patricia Stanton, who’s also the firm’s real estate practice group chair. (BakerBotts.com)
  • Japanese law firm Nishimura & Asahi said Tokyo-based project and asset finance lawyer Adrian Joyce, most recently a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, joined the firm as a “foreign law partner.” According to his LinkedIn, Joyce was previously in-house at Mizuho Bank. (Jurists.co.jp)
  • Foley & Lardner said William (Bill) Ball, a former deputy staff director for Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee , joined the firm as a public affairs director in its government solutions practice group in Washington. (Foley.com)
  • Alternative dispute resolution services provider JAMS said international arbitration lawyer Steven Bauer, former co-chair of Proskauer’s national patent and intellectual property group and litigation department, joined its Boston panel. (JAMSadr.com)
  • Detroit-headquartered Clark Hill added tax and estate planning lawyer Nicole Phatak in Pittsburgh as a member. She was previously counsel at Dentons Cohen & Grigsby. (ClarkHill.com) Clark Hill also added education and municipal law attorney Kari Shay, also a tax and accounting specialist, as a member in Birmingham, Michigan. (ClarkHill.com)
  • Buchalter hired former Perkins Coie real estate lawyer Kirsten Day as a shareholder in Portland, Oregon. According to her Linkedin, she’s the former top lawyer of a real estate company, worked earlier at Orrick, and arrives most recently from Landye Bennett Blumstein. (Buchalter.com)
  • New York-based tax and white-collar boutique Kostelanetz & Fink hired former IRS and U.S. Tax Court attorney Lawrence (Larry) Sannicandro as a partner. He joins from McCarter & English. (KFLaw.com)

In-House

  • The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office said it’s getting casino gaming industry in-house leader David Berdan as general counsel starting Monday. (Corporate Counsel)
  • Cetera Financial Group Inc. has its third legal chief in three years. The company, one of the largest U.S. independent broker-dealers, promoted in-house attorney Lisa Gok, a former federal prosecutor and assistant SEC regional director, to general counsel. (BLAW)
  • HanesBrands Inc. says it’s looking for a new legal chief to replace Joia Johnson, who’s planning to retire next May. (BLAW)
  • WeWork chief legal officer Jennifer Berrent, a former WilmerHale partner, is leaving the troubled shared workspace firm, a report says. (Corporate Counsel)

Promotions

  • Locke Lord promoted five lawyers (three women) to partner across five cities and four practice groups. (LockeLord.com)

Technology

  • London-based legal-tech firm Luminance said it has launched Japanese and Korean machine learning and also got Japanese firm Atsumi & Sakai as a new client. (Legaltech News)
  • Dentons is about to test an app, thought up by associate William Dougherty, that helps law firms allocate work and increases junior lawyer autonomy over what they do. (Artificial Lawyer)

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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