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Wake Up Call: Cleary Makes Layoffs; More Firms Restore Pay Cuts

Sept. 9, 2020, 12:45 PM

In today’s column, legal consultancy Altman Weil said firms should get a “head start” on their year-end compensation plans; Paul Weiss advised GM on its $2 billion electric truck deal with startup Nikola; a consortium of eight law schools led by Black women deans is holding a teach-in on racism and injustice in the legal profession; Working Mother magazine announced its latest list of “60 best” firms for women.

  • Leading off, Cleary Gottlieb last week became the latest entry in this fall’s season of layoffs unfolding in Big Law. Cleary showed its seriousness about reducing staff by making its voluntary severance package more generous than the package for people waiting to be laid off, this report says. (Above the Law)

  • Most law firm managing partners interviewed recently by legal consultancy Altman Weil said they think their early messaging, economic adjustments, and other actions to counter the economic impact of the pandemic were effective, and they find themselves in much better shape than they’d feared early in the pandemic. But the managers said keeping their core teams together into next year will require a steady work flow and restoring pay, in particular for high contributors, Altman says in a new pandemic compensation note. (

  • Holland & Hart is reversing pay cuts and other austerity measures it took as the coronavirus pandemic spread. (BLAW)

  • This roundup looks at law firms’ recent moves to tweak pay cuts and other austerity measures they made earlier in the pandemic. (American Lawyer)

  • Eversheds Sutherland is partially paying back a 10% cut in compensation to its U.S. lawyers and staff that the firm made in early May, but it said it will continue to apply the cut in coming months. (Daily Report)

  • Over 1,700 people appeared for grand jury duty in New York City courthouses in one August week despite the pandemic, the state’s chief judge said. (New York Law Journal)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • If Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, is elected vice president in November her husband, DLA Piper partner Douglas Emhoff, could be pressured to leave the firm to avoid conflict-of-interest questions, the Times reports. (NYT)

  • The Kanye2020 presidential campaign of rap star Kanye West spent a little over $400,000 in legal fees in July and August. (American Lawyer)

  • The 60 law firms on Working Mother magazine’s latest listing of the best firms for women have shown slow progress toward gender equality in their equity partner ranks. (American Lawyer) (Above the Law)

  • Six of the biggest litigation finance firms are teaming up in an international trade association aimed at unifying the growing industry’s voice to counter regulation efforts. (BLAW)

  • Troutman Pepper Hamilton Sanders faces a $5 million malpractice claim filed in New York state court by two co-founders of an e-commerce startup. (New York Law Journal)

  • Alternative dispute resolution services provider JAMS announced the Sept. 15 launch, with the Shanghai Commercial Mediation Center, of a U.S.-China commercial co-mediation panel that provides solutions for cross-border commercial disputes. (

  • This year’s annual Labor Day report by management-side worklaw firm Littler has a focus on Covid-19’s impact on the labor market and employment trends. (

  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison advised General Motors Co. on its acquisition of a $2 billion equity stake in electric vehicle startup Nikola Corp. in a deal to make an electric-truck. (Bloomberg News)

Laterals, Moves

  • Willkie Farr & Gallagher said Dechert real estate finance partner Krystyna M. Blakeslee joined the firm in New York as a partner and chair of its real estate finance practice group. Among other things, Blakeslee served in Iraq as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps. (

  • Lowenstein Sandler added veteran Big Law bankruptcy lawyer Brent Weisenberg as senior counsel in its bankruptcy, financial reorganization & creditors’ rights department. Weisenberg most recently was picked by a court-appointed receiver to serve as general counsel to Platinum Partners to unwind hedge funds with claimed value at more than $500 million. (Lowenstein)

  • K&L Gates grabbed Hogan Lovels international finance partner Richard Hayes as a partner in Sydney, Australia. (

  • McDermott Will & Emery added Morrison & Foerster partner Tracy Bacigalupo to its transactions practice in New York. (BLAW)

  • Veteran Sidley Austin intellectual property partner Peter Kang is going to Baker Botts in Palo Alto, as co-chair of the firm’s Korea-based IP practice. (The Recorder)

  • Troutman Pepper recruited law firm marketing professional Nancy Kostakos from Goodwin Procter. She’ll be chief marketing officer based in Boston. (American Lawyer)

  • Cozen O’Connor hired former Snell & Wilmer litigator Karl O. Riley as a member and office managing partner in Las Vegas. Cozen said Riley, who spent two years as a federal appeals law clerk, is the first African American to serve as office managing partner of a major law firm in Nevada. (

  • Akerman hired former Faegre Baker Daniels corporate partner Kevin Hein as a partner and co-chair of its franchise and licensing practice in Denver. Hein arrives from managed legal services and operations company Alexius Solutions, where he was co-founder and principal and from which he brings two other lawyers, special counsel Trish Barrett MacAskill and associate Leilani Argersinger. (Akerman)

  • Holland & Knight added litigator and current Texas state representative Travis Clardy as of counsel in the firm’s Austin office. He arrives from Kelly Hart & Hallman, where he was a partner. (

  • Fisher Phillips said via email that Honda Motor Company America top lawyer Raymond Perez joined the firm as of counsel in Columbus, Ohio, to build its governance and ethics practice group. (LinkedIn)


  • Orrick hired biotech in-house veteran Shana Solomon as a partner to lead its new life sciences licensing team. (BLAW)

  • The U.K.'s top government lawyer Jonathan Jones quit yesterday in a disagreement over the changes to the country’s Brexit deal. (Financial Times)

  • Biopharmaceutical company VelosBio hired pharmaceutical industry in-house veteran Paul Bavier, a former Ropes & Gray attorney, as its new general counsel. (


  • Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Kirkland & Ellis steered an acquisition by Apax Partners-affiliated funds of 100% of equity in legal practice management software company MyCase Inc. for around $193 million in cash. (BLAW)

Legal Education

  • A consortium of eight law schools led by Black women deans is collaborating on a two-day “teach-in” on racism and inequality in the law and the legal profession. (

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