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Wake Up Call: Covid Cuts Helped Partner Profits, Report Says

Jan. 12, 2021, 2:16 PM

In today’s column, a prominent Greenberg partner accused of sexual harassment left the firm; the FDA said its top lawyer is stepping down; Twitter’s global litigation counsel left for Pinterest; Corporate Counsel Women of Color started as an idea and now has thousands of members.

  • Leading off, most Big Law “market segments” will likely see over 10% average growth in profits per equity partner overall, thanks to cost savings from such pandemic crisis moves as furloughs, reductions in partner draws, cuts in overhead expenses, as well as a boost from government stimulus money, according to a new report from the Thomson Reuters Institute and Georgetown Law. (American Lawyer)
  • But in 2021, law firm leaders will have to consider the consequences of their pandemic-related cuts for such items as physical space and staff. (Law.com)
  • Although law firms’ virtual retreats went well enough in 2020, leaders at several firms said they’re eager to get back to face-to-face gatherings as soon as it’s safe again. (American Lawyer)
  • Managing partners at several Big Law firms in Brussels, meanwhile, say they’re not planning to reduce their physical space and some say they even plan to expand their presence in the city, which is home to one of the world’s most powerful regulators. (Law.com International)
  • Schulte Roth & Zabel’s Manhattan landlord asked a judge to throw out the firm’s lawsuit seeking a $10 million rent abatement. The landlord criticized the firm for trying to get a Covid windfall. (New York Law Journal)
  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott appointed a judge to fill a bench vacancy created by the December death from Covid-19 of its previous occupant. (Texas Lawyer)
  • The founding shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Atlanta office, who was accused of sexual harassment last year by the fired chief of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, is leaving the firm, according to reports. Joel Katz, chairman of Greenberg Traurig’s entertainment and media practice, has resigned “by mutual understanding” from the firm and plans to launch his own firm. Deborah Dugan alleged in an EEOC discrimination complaint that she was ousted as head of the academy after accusing Katz. Dugan also accused the academy of paying “exorbitant” fees to Greenberg and Proskauer. (Variety) (Hollywood Reporter) (Atlanta Business Journal)

Biden Transition, Election Litigation, Fallout From Capitol Riots

  • President-elect Joe Biden named more than 20 lawyers to his White House counsel’s office. (BLAW)
  • Big Law and plaintiffs lawyers are on the list of donors to Biden’s inauguration. (National Law Journal)
  • The executive director of the Republican Attorneys General Association left the group after it was criticized for encouraging thousands of Trump supporters to march on the Capitol last week. (WSJ)
  • Cybersecurity experts say it will take some time to assess potential data security harm caused by rioters who entered offices in the Capitol. (The Recorder)
  • Parler, the conservative social media platform, sued Amazon.com Inc. for ending web-hosting service for the site in the wake of the attack on the Capitol. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • As many as 11 Boies Schiller Flexner summer associates in New York declined full-time job offers last year, as the prestigious firm hit a recruiting snag. (BLAW)
  • A Texas federal judge gave a recruiter a week to revise a filing that criticizes the judge’s handling of his trade secrets dispute with a recruiting firm. (Texas Lawyer)
  • Corporate Counsel Women of Color started out as the idea of an in-house lawyer at ViacomCBS, and since then has grown into a global “sisterhood” of more than 4,500 diverse in-house lawyers. (Corporate Counsel)
  • Norton Rose Fulbright said sponsorship of younger women attorneys and lawyers of color by veteran partners at the firm is producing significant successes at boosting diversity. (Houston Chronicle)

Laterals, Moves

  • Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher said former California federal prosecutor Nick Hanna, who previously spent 20 years at the firm, returned to its Los Angeles office as a partner and co-chair of its white collar defense and investigations practice group. (GibsonDunn.com)
  • Morrison & Foerster snapped up Justice Department fraud investigation veteran Brian K. Kidd as a partner in Washington on its white collar defense team. (BLAW)
  • DLA Piper hired two veteran litigation partners. Buffy Mims arrived in Washington from Shook, Hardy and Bacon, where she was a partner and co-chair of the diversity & inclusion committee; in Boston, Matthew Matule, who previously spent over 19 years at Skadden, Arps, arrives after five years in Amsterdam at Dutch telecommunications provider VEON, where he was a deputy general counsel for litigation. (DLAPiper.com)
  • Stoel Rives said former Tesla associate general counsel Adam C. Walters returned to the firm, as of counsel in San Diego in its renewable energy practice. He’s got almost 20 years of commercial and transactional experience in-house at battery storage and solar industry companies and at law firms. (Stoel.com)
  • Big Law demand remains high for capital markets lawyers. Proskauer hired former Deutsche Bank associate general counsel Steve Burwell, on the heels of Orrick’s moves to pick up three corporate partners from rival firms. (BLAW)
  • Also, DLA Piper got Goodwin Procter partner Michael Maline as co-chair of the firm’s capital markets practice, based in New York. (DLAPiper.com)
  • Brown Rudnick brought on trial lawyer David Moreno as a partner in New York in its litigation and arbitration group. He’s a former New York county assistant district attorney and was most recently a partner at Spar & Bernstein PC. (BrownRudnick.com)
  • Watson Farley & Williams poached Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s five-lawyer aviation team in Hong Kong, led by partners William Ho and Jackson Chow. (LegalBusinessOnline.com)

In-House

  • The Food and Drug Administration’s top attorney, Stacy Cline Amin, was to step down effective Monday, the agency’s head announced. (BLAW)
  • Twitter Inc.’s former head of global litigation, Michele Lee, wasn’t around when the micro-blog site booted President Trump, because she’d already left to join Pinterest Inc. as associate general counsel. (Corporate Counsel)
  • The Washington-based nonprofit advocacy Center for Democracy & Technology said Jones Day cybersecurity and data privacy partner Samir Jain joined the organization as policy director. Jain, a former WilmerHale partner, served in the Obama administration as a DOJ associate deputy attorney general and was senior director for cybersecurity policy at the National Security Council. (CDT.org)
  • Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. hired bio-pharmaceutical in-house veteran Jared M. Freedberg as general counsel and secretary. Freedberg, a Littler attorney earlier in his career, was most recently GC and secretary at Immunomedics, Inc., which was acquired by Gilead Sciences in 2020. (GlobesNewswire.com)
  • Facebook Inc. said it has hired Roy Austin, a former Justice Department official under President Barack Obama, to oversee its civil rights strategy. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)
  • Salesforce.com Inc. and Zendesk Inc., competitors in the customer service software space, are starting 2021 with new general counsels. (BLAW)

Promotions Effective Jan. 1, 2021

  • Milbank promoted five lawyers (one woman) to partner across the firm’s corporate, capital markets, leveraged finance, and project, energy and infrastructure finance practices. (Milbank.com)

Legal Education

  • Rutgers Law School-Camden plans to use an anonymous $3.5 million gift it received to fund a program for high-achieving students headed for public-service careers. (New Jersey Law Journal)

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

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