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Wake Up Call: DOJ Targets $330M Held by U.K. Firm in 1MDB Probe

Sept. 22, 2020, 12:52 PM

In today’s column, the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is set to become the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol; President Trump is said to be already zeroing in on his pick to replace her; Sullivan & Cromwell matched Davis Polk’s Covid bonus scale, but a prestigious litigation boutique opted out; the world’s 200 biggest earning law firms had a solid 2019 before the pandemic hit; summer associates gave firms mostly positive marks for their programs forced to adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic; Wyoming College of Law for a second time had to shift its classes to all online because of a Covid outbreak.

  • Leading off, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed civil forfeiture proceedings over $330 million that U.K. law firm Clyde & Co is holding on behalf of a client. The DOJ claims the funds are linked to an international fraud to launder money stolen from the Malaysian state investment fund in the 1MDBscandal. ( International via National Law Journal) (The Guardian)

  • Sullivan & Cromwell joined the Covid “appreciation” bonus wars yesterday, telling associates via memo they’ll get bonuses ranging from $7,500 to $40,000, depending on year, to be paid out Oct. 15. That echoes the scale set last week by Davis Polk & Wardwell and matched by Milbank, L.A. firm Irell & Manella and litigation boutique Hueston Hennigan. Sullivan didn’t say whether associates’ year-end bonuses will be affected by the fall bonuses. (Above the Law)

  • Not everyone’s jumping onto the Covid bonus bandwagon. Litigation boutique Selendy & Gay, which was started by former Quinn Emanuel lawyers, followed Kirkland & Ellis’ lead by telling associates they will have to wait until December to get their bonuses. (Above the Law) Cooley started the bonus competition early last week with a more modest scale, and later said staff will also get appreciation bonuses. (BLAW)

  • Big Law firms got mostly positive marks from summer associates after holding summer programs that were mainly virtual and many of which shortened because of the pandemic. (American Lawyer)

  • As businesses and political groups fight Covid-19 restrictions in Pennsylvania, Big Law firms are getting work representing them as well as the government departments they are suing. (Legal Intelligencer)

  • An attorney who’d started his own law firm after once making about $700,000 a year as a partner at a big Connecticut firm now finds himself working at an Amazon warehouse for $15.75 an hour. (Connecticut Law Tribune)


  • Former Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will lie in repose at the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday. (Bloomberg News via BLAW) She’ll then lie in state at the U.S. Capitol, the first woman to get that honor. (NYT)

  • President Donald Trump is said to be moving toward nominating Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative Midwestern Catholic known for anti-abortion views, to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

  • President Jimmy Carter appointed Ginsburg to her first federal bench seat in April 1980. First she had to get past Carter’s attorney general. (Daily Report)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • A Florida appeals court found that R.J. Reynolds has to keep paying tens of millions of dollars a year under the landmark 1997 settlement that Florida made with tobacco companies. Reynolds, represented by Greenberg Traurig, has been trying to get out of paying on the argument that it sold off the affected brands years ago. Akerman, Wachtell, and Baker & Hostetler are advising other tobacco companies in the case, which don’t want to get stuck with paying R.J. Reynolds’ share of the $11.3 billion settlement. (Daily Business Review) (Florida Politics)

  • A Houston immigration law boutique filed a $1 million suit against a legal assistant it accuses of violating a non-compete agreement by going to a competitor firm. (Texas Lawyer)

  • Latham & Watkins and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett advised Microsoft Corp. on its $7.5 billion deal to acquire ZeniMax Media, parent company of game developer Bethesda Softworks. Skadden Arps advised ZeniMax. Cravath, Swaine & Moore represented health care company Illumina on its $8 billion acquisition of early-stage cancer detection company GRAIL, advised by Latham & Watkins. (American Lawyer)

Laterals, Moves

  • Lowenstein Sandler hired longtime Skadden Arps corporate partner Rossie Turman III as a New York-based partner and chair of its international finance practice. (

  • Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison said its former antitrust group co-chair, Jonathan Kanter, left to start his own firm , Kanter Law Group, in Washington, “due to a complicated legal conflict.” According to his LinkedIn, earlier in his career he was a Cadwalader partner and Federal Trade Commission attorney. (American Lawyer)

  • Arnold & Porter added Sedgwick LLP’s former appellate task force chair, Kirk Jenkins, to the firm’s appellate and Supreme Court practice as senior counsel in San Francisco. According to his LinkedIn, Jenkins arrives most recently from Horvitz & Levy. (

  • Sidley Austin said tax and employee benefits lawyer Eric Winwood joined as a partner in Dallas, where he’ll lead the office’s tax, employee benefits and executive compensation group. He arrives after 13 and half years at Baker Botts. (

  • Alternative dispute resolution services provider JAMS added retired California county judge Mark H. Pierce to its Silicon Valley panel. (

  • Brown Rudnick’s London office added bankruptcy & corporate restructuring partner Tony Horspool, who advises on special situations and distressed debt. He arrives from Baker McKenzie and was at Ropes & Gray before that. (


  • KLA Corp., a top U.S. microchip maker caught up in the federal government’s fight with China’s Huawei Technologies Co., announced its hire of former Hogan Lovells partner MaryBeth Wilkinson as chief legal officer. She spent the last decade in-house at O-I Glass Inc., an Ohio-based glass container manufacturer that promoted her to general counsel in 2017. (BLAW)

  • Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co. promoted two in-house attorneys to general counsel positions created to split responsibilities of its recently departed CLO, Kevin Reynolds. It promoted GC of insurance operations and corporate secretary Frank Best, who’s been at the company since the 1970s, to general counsel of insurance. Longtime FINRA executive and counsel Ann-Marie Mason, who most recently served as vice president of shared services and enterprise compliance at Penn Mutual, is now serving as general counsel of asset management and broker/dealer. (Corporate Counsel)

  • A former Cozen O’Connor insurance corporate and regulatory practice co-chair, James Potts, joined Barrett Business Services to take the recently created role of executive vice president and general counsel. (


  • Inc. accused American LegalNet Inc. in Manhattan federal court of hiring away its head of sales, stealing its confidential information and using it to solicit CourtAlert clients. (BLAW)

Legal Education

  • The University of Wyoming College of Law planned to have some fall semester classes in-person but twice has had to move all classes online, at least temporarily, after a Covid-19 outbreak among its students. (

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