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Wake Up Call: Six Firms Steer AT&T, Discovery Media Merger

May 18, 2021, 12:10 PM

In today’s column, Linklaters launched a U.S. data privacy practice with experts poached from Prudential; Covington & Burlington is reported to have paid a settlement to former CBS CEO Les Moonves for an alleged confidentiality breach; some firms are going gradual on office returns, but New York-based plaintiffs litigation firm Wigdor wants every everyone back July 6.

  • Leading off, Sullivan & Cromwell advised AT&T Inc. on its agreement to spin off its media operations in an approximately $43 billion deal with Discovery Inc. that will create a new entertainment company, combining assets ranging from CNN and HBO to HGTV and the Food Network. Debevoise & Plimpton advised Discovery, which also got advice from Proskauer Rose. Wachtell Lipton, Rosen & Katz advised a committee of independent directors of Discovery, while Paul, Weiss advised a Discovery shareholder. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson acted as counsel to LionTree LLC, financial advisor to AT&T. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)
  • Linklaters launched a U.S. data solutions, cyber and privacy practice based in New York and its first hire is former federal prosecutor Erez Liebermann as a partner. He arrives from Prudential Financial where he was chief counsel, cybersecurity and privacy, joined by counsel Andrew S. Pak, who was VP, corporate counsel in the practice and is also a former federal prosecutor. (Linklaters)
  • While several Big Law firms have announced gradual and flexible returns to the office from Covid lockdowns, New York-based plaintiffs litigation firm Wigdor told employees and lawyers it wants them back for full-time in-office work starting July 6; New York-based litigation boutique Selendy & Gay, created two years ago by former Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partners, announced special associate bonuses of up to $73,600, depending on seniority year, beating the Davis Polk scale by up to $9,600. (Above the Law) U.K.-based Taylor Wessing announced staff special bonuses of 5% of salary. (Legal Cheek)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Gibson Dunn & Crutcher and Akin Gump got hired by lenders getting ready for debt talks with private prison operator Geo Group Inc; according to several reports, Covington & Burling made an unspecified pay-out to former CBS CEO Les Moonves in a settlement over alleged confidentiality breaches stemming from Covington’s work on an internal investigation for CBS into sexual misconduct allegations against Moonves. (American Lawyer) (CNBC) (Vanity Fair) Lawyers for Rudy Giuliani are challenging the warrants used by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office to raid his home and office in April. (WSJ)
  • Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff earned about $1.22 million as a partner at DLA Piper in 2020 and $181,627 from Venable, according to a report citing his income tax return. (National Law Journal)

Laterals, Moves, In-House

  • King & Spalding hired government investigations and litigation attorney Cliff Stricklin as a partner in Denver. He’s a former federal prosecutor and arrives after 12 years at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner; DLA Piper got Baker Donelson health-care regulatory lawyer Tracy Weir as a partner in Washington; K&L Gates hired Crowell & Moring trial attorney Daniel Glassman as a partner in Orange County, Calif., in the firm’s complex commercial litigation and disputes practice. (
  • Management-side worklaw firm Littler said former shareholder Lori Brown is returning as office managing shareholder in Miami and a member of the firm’s management committee. Brown was most recently CEO of ComplianceHR, a Littler joint venture with automation platform Neota Logic. CHR named its current chief marketing officer, Kimball Norup, to step up to the CEO role. (
  • Skadden, Arps added former IRS official David Farhat in Washington as a partner in its tax group. He specializes in transfer pricing and tax controversy; Sidley Austin brought in renewable energy tax lawyer Hagai Zaifman as a partner in New York. According to his Linkedin profile, Zaifman’s a former tax director at GE Capital and arrives most recently from White & Case. (
  • CNA Insurance said former Sidley partner Susan Stone, currently top lawyer at insurance brokerage and risk management business Marsh LLC, will become its executive vice president and general counsel June 28, taking the job vacated when CNA’s previous GC, Jose Gonzalez, left for Equitable Holdings in March; Marsh McLennan also announced moves at its subsidiary, Marsh LLC; corporate field service management software provider ServiceMax hired a former senior vice president and general counsel at cybersecurity company McAfee, Nell O’Donnell, to be its new chief legal officer. (PR Newswire)

Legal Education

  • An American Bar Association body approved proposed changes to toughen law school accreditation standards that address diversity, inclusion. (ABA Journal)

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