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Wake Up Call: Big Firms Advise on Deal to Speed Ventilator Production

March 26, 2020, 12:05 PM

In today’s column, federal authorities are easing antitrust rules to let a coalition of health care and tech companies team up to fight the coronavirus pandemic; as leaders in two of Latin America’s biggest economies send mixed messages on the outbreak, multinationals with business in those countries are turning to Big Law firms for advice; BakerHostetler officially launched its Dallas office; and Detroit-based Clark Hill blamed its flat 2019 results on continued costs from a 2018 merger with a Texas firm.

  • General Motors Co. is getting advice from Jones Day on its partnership with Ventec Life Systems Inc. to try to use automotive component-making technology to speed production of urgently needed ventilators and other medical equipment during the pandemic of new coronavirus Covid-19. Covington & Burling is advising Ventec, whose CEO, Chris Kiple, spent time at law firms Sidley Austin and Husch Blackwell earlier in his career. (BLAW)

  • 3M’s general counsel, Ivan Fong, a former top lawyer at the Department of Homeland Security, talked about the company’s efforts to help speed production of equipment needed by hospitals and health care workers during the crisis. (BLAW)

  • A coalition of big health care and tech companies, including Amazon Web Services, Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, Walgreens, and others is collaborating on a project aimed at helping health care organizations get data needed to fight Covid-19. (Healthcare It News) The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are easing antitrust rules to allow the companies involved to contribute to fighting the pandemic. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Because Covid-19 has most law firms working from home, some lateral candidates may have to interview for their next job via videoconferencing, recruiters say. (American Lawyer)

  • Big law firms that were implementing lawyer well-being programs, policies, and incentives before Covid-19 disrupted the legal profession most likely have a head start in responding to the pandemic, a survey finds. (BLAW)

  • Meanwhile, some early tries at remote litigating in the “age of Zoom” have led to some awkward moments with the judge and opposing lawyers. (Law.com)

  • In Latin America’s biggest economies, law firms including Clifford Chance and Baker McKenzie are advising multinational companies on how to respond to the pandemic, even as country leaders send mixed messages. (Law.com International)

  • As the pandemic forces the hospitality industry to make mass layoffs, lawyers in the sector are helping Marriott and other companies deal with legal issues for employment and other matters. (Corporate Counsel)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Detroit-based Clark Hill said its 2018 merger with Texas firm Strasburger & Price weighed on its financial results for 2019. Early data show the firm’s gross revenues grew 0.8% from the previous year to reach $298.2 million. Average profits per equity partner edged up 0.2%, to $519,000. (American Lawyer)

  • Cleveland, Ohio-based BakerHostetler, which has had a Houston office for 30 years, officially opened a second Texas office, in Dallas, led by white collar litigation partner Shawn Cleveland. The office, its 16th nationwide, starts out with nine partners, one counsel, and six associates, whose experience ranges from M&A and business transactions, to complex litigation, white collar and tax. (BakerLaw.com)

  • Baker McKenzie is in talks to lease a new London headquarters at the former offices of Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc’s top executives. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

  • A cannabis industry financial publication includes Fox Rothschild, Greenspoon Marder, and Duane Morris on its list of the “top 11" cannabis law firms in the United States. (GreenMarketReport.com)

Pro Bono

  • Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Willkie Farr & Gallagher joined a group of civil rights legal organizations in a motion seeking an emergency federal court injunction in a lawsuit aimed at requiring Immigration and Customs Enforcement to protect detainees in its centers from Covid-19. (SPLCenter.org)

Laterals, Moves

  • Baker McKenzie got back in-house tax leader Matthew Nochowitz as a partner in Chicago in its North America tax practice. Nochowitz, who started his career as a tax associate at Baker McKenzie in 2000, was at Whirlpool Corp. for over 15 years, most recently as vice president of global tax, corporate treasurer and corporate controller. (BakerMcKenzie.com)

  • Allen & Overy grabbed Orrick federal enforcement partners Billy Jacobson and Jonathan Lopez in Washington, in a re-focus of its enforcement practice from New York to Washington. Both partners previously worked in the fraud section of the U.S. Department of Justice. Jacobson was an in-house leader at oil and gas multinational Weatherford, and was a partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, and Kirkland & Ellis. Lopez, an adjunct professor at Georgetown Law, was at Sidley Austin earlier in career. (American Lawyer)

  • DLA Piper added L.A.-based finance partner Dino Barajas as co-chair of its U.S. projects and infrastructure practice, as well as of the Latin American corporate and finance practice. According to his LinkedIn, he arrives from Akin Gump, where he’d been almost 10 years, recently as a partner. He was also previously Latin America co-leader at two other major firms. (DLA Piper)

  • Axinn hired Qualcomm Incorporated’s director of antitrust policy & litigation Koren Wong-Ervin, who will join the firm March 30 as a partner in its antitrust group in Washington. Among her earlier roles, she’s been at the FTC as attorney adviser and counsel for IP and international antitrust. (Axinn.com)

  • K&L Gates’ Paris office added corporate & M&A lawyer Raphaël Bloch as a partner. He joins from Allen & Overy and, earlier, spent four years at Jones Day. (KLGates.com)

  • Fox Rothschild added veteran patent and intellectual property lawyer E. Bradley Gould in New York City as a partner. On top of his law degree from George Washington University Law School, he has a mechanical engineering degree from MIT. He was a partner nearly 12 years at Dorsey & Whitney and seven years at Winston & Strawn. (FoxRothschild.com)

  • Former Reed Smith commercial litigation partner James Neudecker joined California firm Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell as a partner in San Francisco. (JMPB.com)

Legal Education

  • Several of the largest U.S. states could delay their summer bar exams because of Covid-19 concerns. (BLAW)

  • Meanwhile, the debate over whether law schools should switch to pass/fail grading during the crisis got more fuel this week. On Tuesday, the University of Chicago Law School said it won’t follow Harvard, Columbia, and other top schools in making the switch. (Law.com)

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