Wake Up Call: Firms Reverse Pay Cuts, Eye Post-Covid Hiring

Aug. 31, 2020, 11:51 AM

In today’s column, Hawaii should cancel plans to hold an in-person bar exam in September, the state legislature’s health committee chair said; Mayer Brown is advising Nestlé on its $2.6 billion acquisition of a biopharmaceutical company that developed a leading treatment for peanut allergies; Pierce Bainbridge is representing a teenager accused of killing two people during protests against the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin; the FBI recently released files on a 2008 cyber attack in which hackers created fake versions of four Big Law firms’ web sites.

  • Leading off, a dozen-plus Big Law firms that have recently moved to reverse temporary pay cuts made early in the Covid-19 pandemic to protect their liquidity. The roll backs were at least partly motivated by a need to retain partners and to stay competitive in the market for lateral hires, law firm and recruiting consultants said. (American Lawyer)

  • Atlanta-headquartered Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton last week said that, effective Sept. 1, it will restore pay for staff and attorneys to pre-pandemic levels. That reverses the 5% cut it made to non-partner attorney and staff salaries on April 16 and the 10% on average cut to partner draws that took effect April 7. (Daily Report)

  • Many Big Law firms took their summer programs totally online because of the pandemic, but Richmond-based McGuireWoods tried to maintain some of its program’s in-person experience. (American Lawyer)

  • Managing partners of U.K. law firms responding to two recent surveys cited cash flow and employee well-being among their top business and professional worries. (Global Legal Post)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Arizona last week became the first state to formally allow nonlawyers to co-own law firms and other legal service operations, as part of changes aimed at boosting access to legal services. (BLAW)

  • California attorneys would pay up to $515 for their one-year license to practice law, under adopted legislation heading to the governor’s desk for signature. (BLAW)

  • Winston & Strawn partner Abbe Lowell, co-chair of the firm’s white-collar team, had to bone up on Japanese law and language for his work defending two men against extradition to Tokyo. Japan accuses the men of helping fugitive auto executive Carlos Ghosn escape the country, where he faced finance charges. (National Law Journal)

  • Pierce Bainbridge said it is representing the 17-year-old accused of shooting three people, killing two, during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over the latest police shooting of a black man. (Spectrum News 1) (WSJ)

  • Mayer Brown is representing Nestlé Health Science in its $2.6 billion acquisition of Aimmune Therapeutics, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company that develops and commercializes treatments for potentially life-threatening food allergies. Aimmune is a leader in treatment of peanut allergies. (Bloomberg News)

Pro Bono

  • Dechert said it’s working pro bono on behalf of civil rights organizations litigating in five states to protect the rights of eligible citizens to vote in the 2020 election. (Dechert)

  • Philadelphia civil rights lawyer Thomas K. Gilhool, who served as lead counsel in two landmark federal cases that changed treatment of disabled people in the U.S., died at age 81. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • The Allstate Corp. hired a new general counsel: Rhonda Ferguson, who for the last four years was chief legal officer and corporate secretary at Omaha, Nebraska-based railroad operator Union Pacific Corp. Ferguson will succeed Susan “Susie” Lees as the insurer’s chief legal officer and corporate secretary when Lees retires in 2021. Also, Pacific Life Insurance Co. said Jason Orlandi, president and COO at Baltimore-based Transamerica Corp., will become its general counsel Nov. 2. (BLAW)

  • Walmart Inc. said Deborah Vaughn, currently Singapore-based vice president and chief legal counsel for the Asia-Pacific region at Kimberly-Clark Corp., will join the retail giant as a senior vice president and general counsel for international. She’ll join the company Nov. 2 at its headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, taking over from Samuel Reeves, who retired earlier this year after 18 years in-house there. (BLAW)

  • Dentons hired former German ambassador to Uganda Albrecht Conze as counsel in its Berlin office, where he will advise German investors on their business activities in Africa, particularly in energy and infrastructure projects. (Global Legal Post)


  • The FBI recently released files on a 2008 cyber attack that created fake versions of the web sites of Greenberg Traurig; Sullivan & Cromwell; Cravath, Swaine & Moore; and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. (American Lawyer)

Legal Education

  • The heath committee chair of Hawaii’s State House of Representatives called for the state’s planned in-person bar exam to be canceled because of the pandemic. (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 at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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