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Wake Up Call: Clients Pressure London Firms to Include Partners in Pay-Gap Data

March 26, 2018, 11:34 AM

• U.S. firm Norton Rose Fulbright last week became the first London law firm to publish three sets of data: one for employees only, another for equity partners and a combined all-firm number. U.S. firm Reed Smith earlier published partner data, but not an all-firm figure. As other firms have reported pay-gap data to comply with U.K. law, they have faced accusations that a lack of partner info obscures the real gender-gap picture. Facing pressure from clients, some London-based law firms are expected to follow Norton Rose’s lead this week and issue more complete statistics. ( Financial Times )

• Big Law firms are waking up to the benefits of litigation funding. The market has been booming in the U.K and Australia, where it started, but it faces criticism over lack of transparency in the U.S., particularly from those on the defense side of cases. ( BLB )

• Former Gibson Dunn white collar partner Nicola Hanna, now in charge of the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, reported a $3.76 million partnership share, as required by disclosure rules for U.S. executive agency picks. ( )

• Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren said National Labor Relations Board Member William Emanuel should resign in the wake of a report by the NLRB’s inspector general that concluded Emanuel violated ethics pledge by participating in a controversial case involving his former law firm, Littler Mendelson. ( Bloomberg Law ) Emanuel’s lawyer, Zuckerman Spaeder Chairman Dwight Bostwick, rejected the report’s conclusion. ( National Law Journal )

• California’s Judicial Council paid over $500,000 to settle sexual harassment accusations against judges and court employees since 2011, according to a report. ( Los Angeles Times )

• Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Debevoise & Plimpton have seen a series of recent exits by partners fleeing their rigid lockstep compensation regimes, which reward partners based on seniority rather than on revenue streams. Those exits, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s recent change in its compensation model to better compete for lateral talent, cast a shadow over the lockstep model’s future at elite U.S. law firms. ( New York Law Journal )

• When BakerHostetler’s Washington-based tax partner Paul M. Schmidt takes over as the firm’s global chairman at the beginning of next year, he’ll be the first leader the 102-year-old firm has had who is not from Ohio. ( BLB )

Lawyers and Law Firms

•Littler, a global employment and labor law practice representing management, said it added Michael Hornback as special counsel in the firm’s Lexington, Kentucky, office. Hornback’s experience includes claims and issues related to discrimination, retaliation, non-compete agreements, and representing clients handling before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. He was previously at Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs LLP. ( )

• London-based tech startup SuperAwesome said it named as its first general counsel, Peter McIntyre, who was previously associate GC at market data company App Annie. ( The Lawyer )

• Another female Covington & Burling partner has found a job inhouse at a major company. Pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. said Covington partner Jennifer Zachary will become the company’s general counsel as of April 16. Zachary served as associate chief counsel for enforcement in the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Chief Counsel from 2005 to 2011. She takes over from Michael Holston, who is set to become General Electric’s top lawyer next month. Covington partner Tammy Albarran was named deputy general counsel at Uber Technologies Inc. last week. ( Corporate Counsel )

Legal Market

• Toys “R” Us Inc. last week pledged in a bankruptcy brief that each of its 30,000 workers nationwide has a job for at least the next 60 days. Attorneys from Ogletree Deakins, Robins Kaplan, and other firms said the so-called WARN pledge is part of a trend as big brick-and-mortar retailers are killed off by e-commerce competitors. ( Bloomberg Law )

• The fate of Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Media Co.'s proposed merger could hinge on the outcome of a case against the Federal Communications Commission that starts next month in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. ( Bloomberg Law )

Legal Actions

• A Philip Morris subsidiary in Argentina, a Gibson Dunn client, won’t have to litigate four suits in Delaware over whether injuries to hundreds of Argentinian farmers were caused by the herbicides they used on their tobacco crops, the Delaware Supreme Court ruled. ( Bloomberg Environment )

• Lewis & Bockius client Moody’s Investor Services Inc. defeated a sex bias and retaliation lawsuit filed by a female former executive represented by Wigdor. ( Bloomberg Law )

• Among the recent fraud lawsuits against Wells Fargo, one by former employee Duke Tran accused the company of firing him because he refused to lie to customers facing foreclosure. Tran sought at least $10 million and insisted the bank admit to wrongdoing. Tran, represented by law firm OlsenDaines, recently settled his case and is now a millionaire, the Times reports. ( New York Times )

• A federal judge’s decision last week allowing a proposed class action against Cigna to proceed could be a big turning point in efforts to bar a health insurance practice that critics say ratchets up the cost of prescription drugs, attorneys and other experts said. ( Bloomberg Law )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Tom Taylor.

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