Wake Up Call: Covid Hits Big NYC Firms’ Partner Promotions

April 13, 2021, 12:39 PM

In today’s column, Boies Schiller’s profits dropped by close to a third in 2020, but the firm is still offering market-level special associate bonuses; Morgan Lewis, WilmerHale, and Morrison & Foerster are among firms that got high marks in Yale Law Women’s latest gender equity report for Big Law; Paul, Weiss and Simpson Thacher steered on Microsoft’s deal to buy speech-recognition specialist Nuance.

  • Leading off, partner promotions at New York’s 25 biggest law firms plunged 10.7% in the year that ended March 31, as many firms put off adding partners amidst the economic crisis caused by Covid-19. However, there was wide variation among individual firms, and it remains to be seen if the drop will continue, according to a report. (New York Law Journal)
  • Despite a brutal 2020, Boies Schiller Flexner joined the long list of firms handing out special associate bonuses on the Davis Polk scale of up to $64,000 depending on year of seniority, according to reports. (American Lawyer) (Above the Law) Hunton Andrews Kurth told associates it’s matching the market standard, but, because of the firm’s fiscal year, they’ll get the second and biggest of two installments in 2022. (Above the Law)
  • Yale Law Women’s latest report ranking Big Law firms for their “gender equity & family friendliness” names Morgan, Lewis & Bockius as having the most diverse hiring practices, while WilmerHale comes out on top for promotion practices and Morrison & Foerster has the most diverse leadership. The group says it publishes the annual report to raise awareness of of inequities within the legal profession while highlighting progress being made in the industry. (YLW.Yale.edu)
  • New Jersey’s judiciary said in-person jury trials in the state’s courts have been postponed to June 15 or later, because of an increase in Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations. Meanwhile, after over a year without jury trials, Connecticut’s judicial branch is considering letting individuals appear remotely for jury service. (Connecticut Law Tribune)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Simpson Thacher & Bartlett is advising Microsoft Corp. on its deal valued at around $19.6 billion to buy speech-recognition pioneer Nuance Communications Inc., which is getting advice from Paul, Weiss, according to a statement. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)
  • London-based associates for Kirkland & Ellis are seeing their billable hour targets soar as the firm gets a flood of work, according to a report. The Chicago-founded firm had $4.83 billion in global revenues in 2020, amid a big increase in restructuring matters during the pandemic, steady litigation work, combined with a comeback in M&A and private equity in the year’s second half. (The Lawyer)
  • President Joe Biden nominated former New Jersey attorney general Anne Milgram to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration. She’s a Lowenstein white-collar crime and technology special counsel and professor at New York University School of Law; Biden nominated Morgan, Lewis & Bockius partner Kenneth Polite to be assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division. If confirmed, Polite will become the second African American to lead DOJ’s criminal division; the White House nominated Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton partner Jonathan Meyer as general counsel of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Paul Hastings partner Robert Silvers for DHS under secretary for strategy, policy and plans. (Whitehouse.gov)

Laterals, Moves, In-House

  • Jenner & Block said it hired former Illinois federal prosecutor Shoba Pillay, who focused on cyber crime and national security, as a partner in Chicago. (LinkedIn) Latham & Watkins recruited a former top EU antitrust official, Carles Esteva Mosso, who was most recently European Commission deputy director general for state aid after earlier serving as deputy DG for mergers. He joins the firm’s antitrust & competition practice in Brussels as a partner. (LW.com)
  • Boies Schiller lost partner Ian Dumain to a New York-based litigation boutique that was earlier founded by other former Boies partners who left the first boutique they joined after a disagreement. (American Lawyer)
  • Clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Oncternal Therapeutics, Inc. named biotech in-house leader Chase Leavitt general counsel. He’s a former Latham & Watkins corporate attorney, arrives most recently from Lineage Cell Therapeutics, Inc., where he was top lawyer; Sprout Mortgage hired experienced financial service in-house leader Laura LaRaia as executive vice president, general counsel, and chief compliance officer. (PR Newswire)

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

To read more articles log in.

Learn more about a Bloomberg Law subscription.