Wake Up Call: Fired Vaccine Expert Hires Kavanaugh Accuser’s Ex-Lawyer

April 24, 2020, 12:38 PM

In today’s column, the new managers at Boies Schiller, which lost over a dozen California partners yesterday, say they’re using the Covid-19 crisis to speed up a restructuring of the firm; 15 more law firms announced pay cuts and other measures to prepare for the pandemic’s financial hit; law schools, even Harvard Law, have also been forced to make Covid-19 austerity moves; as some states move to re-open for business, law firms are in no hurry to bring people back into their offices.

  • Leading off, lawyers for the ousted leader of the federal agency working on a Covid-19 vaccine, Dr. Rick Bright, said he plans to file a whistleblower complaint alleging he was fired because he insisted on limiting use of a controversial treatment that President Trump has touted as a possible coronavirus cure. According to reports, Bright, who wants his job back as head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, has hired #MeToo lawyers Debra Katz and Lisa Banks. They gained some fame representing California psychologist Christine Blasey Ford, who during Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 Senate confirmation hearings accused him of sexually assaulting her. (New York Post) (New York Times) (USA Today) (Forbes)

  • This week 15 more law firms announced austerity moves ranging from pay cuts to layoffs, as they gird their coffers for the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. (ABAJournal.com)

  • Some recent austerity moves: Kansas City-based Husch Blackwell, which previously cut equity partner draws by 15% for managing directors and by 10% for other executives, is making a second round of cuts. They include a 10% “holdback” of fixed-income partner compensation, plus a combination of layoffs, furloughs, and salary cuts for lawyers and staff. The firm also announced modifications to its 2020 summer associate program. (Above the Law)

  • Cincinnati-based Dinsmore & Shohl is laying off and furloughing attorneys. (Above the Law) London-based CMS delayed partner profit distributions and salary reviews but held off on furloughs. (The Lawyer)

  • The University of Arizona’s law school has been hit especially hard by a budget shortfall because of the pandemic, but several other major law schools have also had to make pay cuts, salary freezes, and furloughs. Law schools at several California universities, the University of Michigan, and even Harvard Law have been affected to varying degrees. (Law.com)

  • Some states are moving to open for business within weeks, but law firms, most of which have been working remotely, say they’re not in a hurry to get everybody back into the office. (American Lawyer)

  • Hogan Lovells launched an artificial intelligence-based tool aimed at helping financial institutions and insurers analyze countries’ policy and regulatory responses to Covid-19 affecting their sectors. (Engage.HoganLovells.com)

  • Hogan Lovells has also been lobbying for Saudi Arabia during the Covid-19 crisis. (National Law Journal)

  • Pomerantz and two other New York-based firms filed class action lawsuits against Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings on behalf of shareholders alleging the company used misleading sales tactics to book travelers during the pandemic. (South Florida Business Journal)

  • Legal aid organizations already had budget problems before Covid-19. Now, they’re dealing with daunting challenges as they try to continue providing services, according to this installment from a video and podcast series, “Coping with Covid,” by Duke Law and American Law Institute. (JudicialStudies.Duke.Edu)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Boies Schiller Flexner lost a dozen-plus trial partners in California this week to King & Spalding, the latest of about 70 to leave the New York-based firm in the last 18 months. (BLAW)

  • Last year, the firm’s partners picked co-managing partners Natasha Harrison and Nicholas Gravante to succeed its famous founder David Boies and co-founder Jonathan Schiller. Harrison and Gravante say they’re using the Covid-19 crisis to accelerate restructuring plans that include halving its number of offices and reducing staff, and increasing resources in bankruptcy and restructuring. (Financial Times)

  • As Covid-19 wrecks the U.S. economy, two groups of lawyers are trying to create a multidistrict litigation proceeding to coordinate what they expect to be a flood of virus-related business-interruption lawsuits against insurance firms. (Law.com)

  • For the second time in days, Google and its law firm convinced the Federal Circuit to hear a case to allow a female lawyer, in this case Williams & Connolly associate Kathryn Kayali, to present her first appellate argument. (BLAW)

  • Netflix’s chief legal officer David Hyman earned over $8.1 million in total compensation in 2019, up 24% from the year before. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Marriott International and its DLA Piper lawyer failed to convince a federal judge to dismiss a claim alleging the hotel franchise giant failed to stop sex trafficking at three of its franchisee hotels in Philadelphia. (Legal Intelligencer)

  • Covid-19 has yet to slow U.S. merger enforcement, according to a new Dechert report. (Dechert)

  • Steptoe & Johnson is representing several members of a mattress trade group, the American Mattress Alliance, which are fighting an anti-dumping petition filed at the International Trade Commission. (Furniture Today)

  • A lawyer says he plans to dress as the Grim Reaper to warn Floridians about returning to beaches too soon. (NBCNews)

  • Alternative dispute resolution services provider JAMS said the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing the $13.5 billion wildfire fire victims fund in the Pacific Gas & Electric Chapter 11 has appointed JAMS neutrals John. K. Trotter, as trustee, and Cathy Yanni, as claims administrator in the proceeding. (JAMSadr.com)

  • Sidley Austin and Paul Weiss represented investment funds managed by affiliates of Apollo Global Management, Inc., while Simpson Thacher & Bartlett advised private equity company Silver Lake, on their equity investment into travel website Expedia Group, Inc. Expedia yesterday said it’s raising approximately $3.2 billion of new capital, including $1.2 billion through equity and approximately $2 billion in new debt financing. (PRNewswire) (Bloomberg News)

  • Washington lawyer and private investigator Terry Lenzner, known, among other things, for serving subpoenas on President Richard M. Nixon, died yesterday in Washington at age 80. (WaPo)

Laterals, Moves

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

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