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Wake Up Call: Disney Lawyer Tops New ALM Rankings for GC Cash Earnings

July 28, 2020, 12:31 PM

In today’s column, two states postponed online bar exams days before they were supposed to happen; Georgia’s next bar exam will be online but one part of it will include a lot of paper; meanwhile, Tennessee bar exam takers can have their scores canceled for “fidgeting” too much; a former Ropes & Gray chief operating officer advised law firms to avoid “stealth layoffs” and “stupid stuff” in the coming performance review cycle; Michael Avenatti’s lawyers in a New York criminal case filed a motion seeking to withdraw because he can’t pay them.

  • Leading off, The Walt Disney Co. general counsel and senior executive vice president Alan Braverman tops this year’s pay rankings, in cash terms, for top lawyers at Fortune 1000 companies, put together by ALM Intelligence. Knocked down a peg to No. 2 was Morgan Stanley chief legal officer and executive VP Eric Grossman, who was No. 1 for the past two consecutive years. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Indiana and Nevada postponed their online bar exams that were supposed to happen today. The delays, purportedly to fix software problems, raised questions about the tests’ reliability. (

  • Georgia’s next bar exam, Oct. 5-6, will be conducted online and candidates will be required to have a connected camera monitoring them continuously. But part of the test will include a lot of paper. (Daily Report)

  • Thousands of law school grads, across 23 states, are set to take the bar exam in person today, despite the Covid-19 pandemic raging in the U.S. Some grads said they will skip the test to avoid risk of infection. (BLAW)

  • Tennessee bar exam takers can have their scores canceled for touching their faces, twirling their hair, or “excessive fidgeting,” a report says. (Business Insider)

  • Law firms entering their fall review cycle amidst the Covid-19 crisis should avoid making “stealth layoffs,” in which they blame job cuts on performance and productivity reasons rather than admit they were for economic reasons, writes a former Ropes & Gray chief operating officer and analyst at Boston Consulting Group. Unlike in the Great Recession, today’s millennial associates would see stealth layoffs as lacking compassion, irresponsible, and just dishonest, he said. (American Lawyer)

  • London-based Bird & Bird is closing its year-old Berlin office because of the pandemic crisis. (The

  • Courts, whose backlogs are swelling because of the pandemic, are being forced to try alternatives to in-person jury trials. They’re also urging litigators to consider bench trials and mediation. (

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Herbert Smith Freehills is the latest U.K. firm to post strong results for the fiscal year ending April 30. The firm’s gross revenues grew 9% to 195.2 million pounds ($251.1 million), while its profits per equity partner gained 11%, to 526,000 pounds, after sliding 11% the previous year. (Legal Business)

  • Billboard released its 2020 list of top in-house and outside music lawyers. (Billboard)

  • Michael Avenatti’s lawyers filed a motion seeking to withdraw, telling the New York court Avenatti can’t afford to pay them in the case in which the California lawyer is accused of stealing money from his ex-client Stormy Daniels. (New York Law Journal)

  • Management-side worklaw firm Littler said its Mexico office launched a tech-based app to help in-house counsel and human resources managers comply with the country’s new requirements for employers to conduct workforce surveys on mental health-related issues. (

Laterals, Moves

  • With clients facing Food and Drug Administration regulations amidst the pandemic, Wiley Rein grabbed two former Morgan, Lewis & Bockius lawyers for its FDA regulatory practice. Ann Begley arrives as a partner who will chair its food and drug practice, while Gary Yingling, a former FDA deputy chief counsel and trial attorney, arrives as senior counsel. (National Law Journal)

  • Goodwin & Procter added life sciences and tech patent prosecutor Sabrina Poulos in San Francisco as a partner. She arrives after close to 13 years at Wilson Sonshini Goodrich & Rosati, most recently as partner. (

  • Latham & Watkins added infrastructure partner John Guccione in London. He arrives from OMERS Infrastructure, where he was managing director, legal. Earlier in his career, Guccione was a member of the energy and infrastructure group at Linklaters in London and the corporate group at Torys LLP in Toronto. (

  • Loeb & Loeb poached four lawyers from Stephenson Harwood for its new trusts and estates team in Hong Kong, led by partners Erik Wallace and Laurence Ho and associates Sarah Lai and Letao Tao. (

  • Former Pennsylvania federal prosecutor Shannon Voll Poliziani joined Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani as a partner in Pittsburgh, in the health care and professional liability defense practice groups. She was earlier a Reed Smith counsel and arrives most recently from Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin. (

  • Bressler, Amery & Ross hired patent litigator and prosecutor Pierre R. Yanney in New York as a principal in its corporate and commercial transactions practice group. He was most recently a partner at Baker & Hostetler. (


  • Prudential Financial Inc.'s deputy general counsel and head of external affairs, Ann Kappler, will take over from Timothy Harris as general counsel once he steps down Sept. 1, the company said. (BLAW)

  • Meritor Inc., a Michigan-based automobile component maker, hired veteran in-house leader Hannah Lim-Johnson as senior vice president and chief legal officer, the same role she previously had at Kelly Services Inc. Johnson replaces April Miller Boise, who is now general counsel at power management company Eaton Corp. (BLAW)

  • Veracyte, a San Francisco-based genomic diagnostics company, hired former Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner lawyer Jim Erlinger as executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary. He was earlier top lawyer at IQVIA, a global provider of advanced analytics, technology, and contract research services to the life sciences industry. (


  • The Trump administration is continuing its crackdown against online companies it accuses of censoring conservatives, asking regulators to weaken a decades-old law that social media giants such as Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc., and Google say is crucial to them. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

Legal Education

  • The Association of American Law Schools yesterday officially announced that its annual meeting, originally scheduled for Jan. 5 to 9 in San Francisco, will be virtual instead of in the flesh, because of the pandemic. The gathering is ordinarily the year’s biggest law school gathering. (

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