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Wake Up Call: Four Firms on Square’s $29 Billion Buy of Afterpay

Aug. 2, 2021, 12:15 PM

In today’s column, a legal services app started by a Stanford student more than doubled its valuation to $210 million; with Delta Covid cases soaring, several Big Law firms are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their offices, but many remain silent on the issue; Fried Frank won a $1.5 million contract to represent New York State’s Health Department, which faces Covid-19 investigations.

  • Leading off, Wachtell and Hong Kong-based King & Wood Mallesons are advising Square Inc., Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s digital-payments platform, on its deal to acquire Australian buy-now, pay-later company Afterpay Ltd. Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Australian firm Gilbert + Tobin are advising Afterpay on the deal, which, at $29 billion, is Square’s largest-ever acquisition. The deal has to be approved by Afterpay’s shareholders. (Businesswire)
  • As Delta-variant Covid-19 cases soar in the U.S., several Big Law firms that are either Washington-based or have large DC offices have added vaccine mandates. However, a recent survey of close to 40 firms found that most firms remained silent on the issue. (National Law Journal) McGuireWoods’ return to office plan calls for lawyers to be in-office at least three days a week after Labor Day, and staff four days a week, depending on their roles. But the Delta surge is causing McGuireWoods and other Big Law firms to reconsider their reopening plans; some firms are losing staff, leaving because they perceive they’re not getting equal treatment, in particular on the issue of who gets to work remotely. (American Lawyer)
  • After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week updated its guidance on mask wearing indoors by vaccinated people, courts around the country are bringing back mask requirements. (National Law Journal) With cases piled up because of pandemic shut-downs, some judges are pushing lawyers to settle their cases. ( Nine of the 12 circuit courts saw decreases in the number of appeals filed during the pandemic. (National Law Journal)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Fried Frank won a $1.5 million contract to represent the New York state Department of Health in law enforcement and regulatory investigations over Governor Andrew Cuomo’s alleged mismanagement of the state’s nursing homes during the pandemic. (New York Post)
  • U.K. elite firm Freshfields reported revenue and profits per equity partner up 5% for its fiscal 2020, the latest big firm to report strong results despite the pandemic. (Global Legal Post)
  • Vinson & Elkins, one of the oldest and most profitable law firms in Texas, is getting a new leader for the first time in a decade, as the firm faces intense competition from out-of-state giants. (Houston Chronicle)

Laterals, Moves, In-House

  • Husch Blackwell said former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas Gregg Sofer, a longtime federal and local prosecutor, is joining the firm’s white collar team as a partner in its Austin and Washington offices. Sofer, who started his legal career in the Manhattan District Attorneys’ office, has served as counselor to the U.S. Attorney General, Justice Department trial lawyer, and criminal division chief in Austin, Texas. (
  • Baker McKenzie added project finance lawyer Li Zhang in Beijing as special counsel. Li arrives from Covington & Burling’s London office, where she was of counsel; Jones Day hired veteran arbitration lawyer Thomas Weimann, former co-head of German disputes at U.K. firm Herbert Smith Freehills, in Düsseldorf. (Global Legal Post)
  • With Bill & Melinda Gates’ divorce in headlines, their foundation has lost a veteran deputy general counsel, Ruth Atherton. Atherton left to become chief legal officer at another nonprofit, The Commons Project Foundation. (Corporate Counsel)


  • DoNotPay, which describes itself as the “world’s first “robot lawyer,” has more than doubled its valuation to about $210 million via a fund raising, according to its CEO. The legal services app, started by a Stanford student, started with a focus to help people get out of paying parking tickets, and it later added a “do not pay lawyers” credo. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

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