Bloomberg Law
Sept. 15, 2020, 12:02 PM

Wake Up Call: Cooley Pays Out Bonuses While Winston Lays Off Associates

Rick Mitchell
Rick Mitchell
Freelance Correspondent

In today’s column, Mayer Brown and Norton Rose are rolling back their Covid pay cuts, but Baker Donelson is not; Hong Kong-based King & Wood Mallesons displaced Baker McKenzie as the Asia Pacific’s top-ranked law firm brand; when South Dakota police investigated Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s report that he hit a deer with his car, they found a dead human; Calibrate Legal Inc., a law firm management consulting and executive search firm, said it launched a new program aimed at helping firms identify blind spots in their diversity efforts.

  • Leading off, Cooley, which wasn’t among firms announcing Covid austerity cuts early in the pandemic, has announced special “appreciation bonuses” to thank associates for their work during the crisis. They range from $2,500 to $7,500, depending on how long they’ve been at the firm. The firm also said especially productive associates will get another, “materially higher” bonus, and the new bonuses won’t affect or replace 2020 year-end bonuses. (Above the Law)

  • Meanwhile, a report citing “tipsters” says the mood was darker at Winston & Strawn, which apparently has laid off 30 to 40 lawyers, or around 10% of its associates, across multiple offices. The firm has also eliminated most secretarial positions, but it’s creating new positions as part of a “resource center” aimed at improving “efficiencies,” the report says. (

  • Mayer Brown and Norton Rose Fulbright said they are rolling back pay cuts made early in the Covid-19 pandemic to protect their finances, the latest firms citing stronger-than-expected business for moves to restore compensation. ( Mayer Brown disappointed some because its pay move was not retroactive, while at Baker Donelson, which is not reversing its pay cuts, associates will have to do extra work to get their pay back. (

  • Hong Kong-headquartered King & Wood Mallesons passed Baker McKenzie to become the Asia Pacific region’s number one law firm brand on Acritas’ 2020 Asia Pacific Law Firm Brand Index. U.K. Australian firm Herbert Smith Freehills was third in the ranking, which says KWM’s Covid-19 efforts help fuel its rise in the rankings. (Global Legal Post)

  • Former DLA Piper corporate partner Nick Roome, now the U.K. head of KPMG’s legal unit, KPMG Law, said he expects Covid-19 to permanently change the legal industry. (Legaltech News)

  • Defense lawyers in New Jersery say they are getting calls from recipients of Paycheck Protection Program loan recipients who have been contacted by investigators. (New Jersey Law Journal)

  • In-house leaders are watching to see how widespread teleworking amid the pandemic affects corporate diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. (Corporate Counsel)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Disparities in Big Law partner pay widened in the last decade, a report says. (BLAW)

  • South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg reported hitting a deer with his car Saturday night on a rural road. It turned out he’d hit a person who was found dead next to the road, this report says. (Politico)

  • Leaders of many of New York City’s biggest law firms joined over 160 business leaders in writing to New York Mayor Bill de Blasio urging him to restore essential services they say are important to quality of life and safety. (New York Law Journal)

  • A comma in a 1975 law is getting a lot of attention in a Washington, D.C., federal court battle over whether Alaska Native Corps should get millions in Covid-19 funds intended for tribes. (

  • Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler launched a podcast on judicial clerkships that it says is aimed at “demystifying” the application process while also helping to expand the pipeline of diverse applicants for the coveted positions. (

  • Calibrate Legal Inc., a law firm management consulting and executive search firm, launched a research program it said it will help address a “blind spot” that exists in most law firms’ diversity and inclusion statistics because they only count lawyers, not professional staff. (

Laterals, Moves

  • Kirkland & Ellis capital markets partner Richard Aftanas jumped to Hogan Lovells as a partner in New York after six years at Kirkland. According to his LinkedIn, he previously spent 20 years at Skadden Arps, including close to 12 as a partner. (

  • DLA Piper said longtime Hunton & Williams capital finance and assets workout specialist Tom Rice joined as a corporate partner in New York, where he’ll also chair the firm’s new asset recovery and workouts group. (

  • In Big Law’s latest Texas lateral, Kirkland & Ellis recruited a founding partner of Winston & Strawn’s Dallas office, litigator Taj Clayton, who was Winston’s chair of the domestic alternative dispute resolution group. He was also co-chair of Winston’s Global Black Lawyers’ Network. He joins Kirkland as a partner. (

  • Veteran Cleary Gottlieb dealmaker Neil Whoriskey joined Milbank as a partner in New York. Whoriskey was a co-chair of Cleary’s M&A practice and its corporate advisory practice. (BLAW)

  • In London Shearman & Sterling hired Simon Marchant, the former corporate co-head of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, as a senior adviser. In 21 years at Freshfields, Marchant served stints as the firm’s Asia managing partner, M&A co-head, and chair of its energy and natural resources and telecom, media & technology practices. (The Lawyer)

  • Also in London, Latham & Watkins added Linklaters capital markets counsel Manoj Tulsiani as a partner. Tulsiani had at Linklaters nearly 15 years. (

  • Veteran commercial litigator and sports industry lawyer Jeffrey Gordon joined O’Melveny & Myers as a partner in Washington. According to his LinkedIn, he was senior attorney at Hunton Andrews Kurth, and earlierwas a partner at several Big Law firms. (

  • K&L Gates added intellectual property lawyer Mincheol Kim as a partner in Orange County, California, in its IP procurement and portfolio management practice. He arrives after 23 years at Knobbe Martens, bringing with him associate Nathan Lee and patent agent Hank Lee. (

  • Duane Morris named a new managing partner of its Wilmington office: Christopher M. Winter, who, among other things, is co-chair of the firm’s finance and restructuring transactions division. (


  • Encora Inc., a Scottsdale, Arizona-based provider of outsourced product development services, hired former Big Law corporate attorney Asaf Kharal as its new executive vice president and general counsel. Kharal spent 16 years at Wilson Sonsini, close to three at Sidley Austin, and was most recently top lawyer at Prysm, maker of displays and solutions for visual collaboration. (

  • Kraken chief legal officer Marco Santori, a former Cooley partner, expects his outside counsel to have strong knowledge of cryptocurrency and its regulatory complications, because his team at the growing crypto exchange doesn’t have time to play teacher. (BLAW)

Legal Education

  • California law deans yesterday urged the California Supreme Court to make the state’s bar exam open book. (BLAW)

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