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Wake Up Call: Covid Powers Growth of Husch’s Virtual Office

Dec. 20, 2021, 1:36 PM

In today’s column, a major litigation funder fired its executive vice-chairman for allegedly violating its policy on expenses; Sheppard Mullin postponed its reopening to Feb. 7, citing omicron-variant Covid’s rapid spread; Congressional Black Caucus lawmakers warned Washington lobbyists that if they don’t diversify their firms, caucus members will refuse to meet with them.

  • Leading off, Husch Blackwell launched its The Link virtual office with 39 attorneys in July last year as Covid-19 pushed firms to rapidly shift to remote work. With the pandemic’s end nowhere in site, the office now has 85 lawyers. Of Husch’s 25 offices, only its St. Louis location has more lawyers. (St. Louis Business Journal)
  • Litigation funder Litigation Capital Management fired its London-based executive vice-chairman, Nick Rowles-Davies, accusing him of a “significant violation” of its policies on expenses. Davies, a co-founder of Vannin Capital and current chairman of the Commercial Litigation Association, has held top roles at other litigation fund firms, this report says. (Global Legal Post)
  • Sheppard Mullin is delaying its official return-to-office date to Feb. 7, citing the recent surge of omicron-variant Covid-19, among other factors. (The Recorder) The Wall Street Journal’s survey of omicron’s growing impact on business includes Paul Weiss dropping a requirement for vaccinated employees to work in office and Ropes & Gray canceling its 200-person law-firm partner lunch. (WSJ)
  • Philadelphia-based Duane Morris’ new Pittsburgh lease shrinks the office’s space by 8,000 square feet, although the firm plans to add lawyers in the city. (Legal Intelligencer) Law firms have cut their staff numbers recently, in particular shedding legal secretaries. But as soaring demand raises need for specialized professionals who have pricing, business development, and technology expertise, law firms’ staffing costs are likely to keep climbing, a report says. (American Lawyer)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Mayer Brown matched Cravath’s year-end bonus scale of up to $115,000 earlier this month for U.S. associates in offices in major markets. The firm has now also matched Davis Polk’s special bonus scale, up to $23,000, for all its U.S. associates who meet its hourly threshold; Fenwick & West announced bonuses that meet the combined Cravath/Davis Polk scale, totaling up to $138,000, depending on seniority for associates meeting its hourly threshold, 1,950 hours. Higher billers can get extra money for rest, recreation, and relaxation. (Above The Law)
  • Foley & Lardner advised employees at a Florida Power & Light consulting firm on “dark money projects” aimed at hiding origins of campaign contributions, according to a report. (Florida Times Union via Jacksonville.com)
  • Lawmakers in the Congressional Black Caucus warned Washington lobbyists that if they don’t diversify their firms, caucus members will refuse to meet with them. (Politico)

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Dechert added counsel Melissa Wollis in New York, with associates Erin Hood and Taylor Muller, to its collateralized loan obligation team in its global finance group. They arrive from Milbank; Duane Morris said labor and employment attorney Kevin Vance will be the Philadelphia firm’s first dedicated managing partner for its 11-lawyer Boca Raton, Florida, office, starting Jan. 1, 2022. (Daily Business Review)
  • Former PricewaterhouseCoopers director of legal operations Marina Makanova joined business and entertainment law firm Eisner, LLP as executive director based in Los Angeles; “psychedelic” drugmaker Compass Pathways grabbed Novartis International in-house leader Matthew Owens to be its general counsel and chief legal officer, starting Feb. 1, 2022. (Corporate Counsel)

Legal Education

  • George Washington Law School’s online resources crashed last week as students were taking an at-home test. It turns out the school also “lost” several students’ exams. (Above The Law)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at rMitchell@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer in New York at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; Darren Bowman at dbowman@bloomberglaw.com