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Wake Up Call: Dollars Draw Young Canadian Lawyers to U.S.

June 25, 2021, 12:34 PM

In today’s column, three more firms announced Davis Polk scale salary hikes; a federal judge in opioid litigation against major pharmacies backtracked on his order requiring jurors to be vaccinated against Covid; a New Jersey legal tech firm is suing the New York Times for alleged nonpayment.

  • Leading off, fierce competition for talent has spurred some Big U.S. law firms, especially those with booming private equity and M&A practices, to look abroad for qualified lawyers, including to Australia. According to a new report, about 31 young lawyers, mainly with transactional law experience, have moved to U.S.-based jobs from Canada, attracted by much bigger salaries. At Wall Street firms, first-year associates can get $200,000 and up, compared with $89,000 in Toronto, the report says. (Business Insider)
  • Perkins Coie, King & Spalding, and Brown Rudnick are the latest of several dozen firms that have said they’re matching Davis Polk’s scale for associate pay hikes, which runs from $205,000 to $365,000, depending on seniority; the pay competition for associates is forcing less cash-flush firms to make tough choices. (American Lawyer)
  • Midsize firm Hanson Bridgett had a hybrid work plan 14 months before the pandemic arrived. (Harvard Business Review) As more and more firms announce post-pandemic office return policies, firms that stay silent about their remote-work policies could lose lawyers, a report says. ( At Sidley Austin’s Dallas office, returning to the office is voluntary, for now. (Texas Lawyer)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Ohio federal judge Dan Polster, presiding in litigation over the opioid crisis to start Oct. 4, had ordered that only jurors fully vaccinated against Covid-19 would be able to sit for the trial. But after hearing from defendants, a group of pharmacies that include Walmart and CVS, Polster changed his mind. ( UnitedLex urged a Virginia federal bankruptcy judge to throw out a $128 million suit that blames the legal services outsourcing firm for the 2019 bankruptcy of LeClairRyan. (American Lawyer)
  • African Americans make up only about 2.1% of U.S. law firm partnerships, and even a smaller percentage have leadership roles. Reuters recently profiled Christopher Porter, Quinn Emanuel’s new Houston office co-managing partner. Reuters.

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Steptoe & Johnson recruited former Morgan Lewis Washington co-managing partner Lizzie Baird, who arrives most recently from the Securities and Exchange Commission, where she was deputy director of trading and markets; Norton Rose Fulbright brought on government contracts lawyer Tom Coulter, a former federal trial attorney, as a partner in Washington; Greenberg Traurig recruited former Florida and Minnesota federal prosecutor William Michael, who joins as shareholder and will co-chair the firm’s trial practice group, working from Miami and Minneapolis. Michael joins from Mayer Brown’s Chicago office. (
  • Epstein Becker Green said former federal health care prosecutor Sarah M. Hall joined the firm as a member in Washington, representing white collar clients. She arrives most recently from Thompson Hine; Sheppard Mullin added Haynes and Boone health-care partner Phillip Kim as a partner in its corporate practice in Dallas; Troutman Pepper hired tax and benefits lawyer Alyson Pirio as a partner in Atlanta. Most recently, she was senior corporate counsel for GSMA, Ltd., a global telecom trade association. (
  • Kirkland & Ellis’ Paris office hired Willkie Farr & Gallagher investment funds lawyer Raphaël Bloch as a partner; Womble Bond Dickinson elected Paul Stewart, a partner and commercial disputes and regulatory team chief, to take over as U.K. managing partner when Jonathan Blair steps down in early 2022; cyber insurance company Corvus Insurance hired insurance industry in-house veteran Kori Johanson as its first-ever general counsel; former Katten trusts and estates attorney Jason Smith founded his own private wealth management firm, Smith Legacy Law LLC in Greenwich, Ct. (


  • New Jersey-based legal tech firm Ultria Inc. is suing the New York Times for allegedly failing to pay for its contract-management software and services. (Corporate Counsel)

Legal Education

  • University of Chicago, University of Virginia, and Duke make up the first three in Above the Law’s latest top 50 rankings for law schools, while Harvard Law tied for ninth place. (Above the Law)

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