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Wake Up Call: Big Philadelphia Firms Split on Omicron Response

Dec. 23, 2021, 1:50 PM

In today’s column, state and federal courts in New York said they haven’t made any big changes in response to the surge in omicron-variant Covid cases; dealmakers are expecting another big year in 2022; a former chief of staff to FBI Director Christopher Wray was appointed interim U.S. attorney for South Carolina.

  • Leading off, Philadelphia-based Blank Rome and Cozen O’Connor have told their lawyers and staff to work from home over the holidays while the firms take stock of omicron-variant Covid-19. Meanwhile, Ballard Spahr, Dechert, and Faegre Drinker said they’re sticking with existing hybrid work plans, while other Big Law firms in the city aren’t saying what their plans are. (Philadelphia Business Journal)
  • Officials at state and federal courts in New York said that, despite the recent surge in Covid cases, they’re mostly using remote capabilities and infection control procedures set up earlier in the pandemic. (New York Law Journal)
  • DLA Piper, Orrick, and Selendy & Gay are among firms representing nursing homes and other health-care providers fighting wrongful death lawsuits stemming from care provided during the pandemic. (National Law Journal)
  • After a blockbuster 2021, dealmakers said conditions are right for another big year for M&A work in 2022. (American Lawyer) Canadian firms had their best year ever in 2021, but talent loss to deep-pocketed U.S. firms remains a threat for 2022. ( International) Several Florida boutiques faced merge or die situations in 2021, while midsize and Big Law firms found opportunities to expand in the state. (Daily Business Review)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • McDermott, Will & Emery said it will pay David Polk scale special bonuses, running up to $23,000, combined with individualized year-end bonuses that are “above the Cravath scale.” Big billers can get more; Winston & Strawn said associates that meet their billing-hours targets can get Cravath scale bonuses, up to $115,000, while all associates can get the special bonus. Big billers are eligible for up to $30,000 more; Alston & Bird announced associate bonuses that match Cravath/Davis Polk, running up to a combined $138,000, depending on year of seniority. (Above The Law)
  • Buchalter said that as part of its expansion in Arizona it has signed a lease for 20,000 square foot premises in Scottsdale. Its 45 attorneys and support staff in the city will move into the new space by early March 2022. (Buchalter)
  • Veteran white-collar defenders, plaintiffs lawyers, and other trial attorneys recall playing trivia games, drinking bourbon, and other things they’ve done to ease their minds as they waited for verdicts in big cases. (Reuters)

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed Corey F. Ellis, former chief of staff to FBI Director Christopher Wray, to be interim U.S. attorney for South Carolina. ( Longtime federal prosecutor Dawn Ison was sworn in as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, reportedly making her the first Black woman and second woman ever to hold the post. (Detroit News)
  • McGlinchey Stafford hired commercial litigation attorney Alexis del Rio in Dallas; Boise, Idaho-based computer memory and storage company Micron Technology, Inc. promoted vice president for legal Rob Beard to senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary. Beard, former corporate attorney at Weil and Shearman & Sterling, succeeds Joel Poppen, who’s retiring after 26 years in the job. (GlobeNewswire)

Legal Education

  • University of Akron School of Law said that after a national search for a new dean it opted to promote internally. Current associate dean of academic affairs and law technology programs and law library director Emily Janoski-Haehlen will take over from current dean Christopher Peters Feb. 21, 2022, pending approval by the school’s board of trustees. (


  • Wake Up Call will not publish Dec. 24 in observance of the federal holiday. We will resume Dec. 27.

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer in New York at; Darren Bowman at