Wake Up Call: Goodwin Nabs 5 Sidley London Private Equity Partners

Sept. 24, 2020, 12:46 PM

In today’s column, London elite firm Freshfields is the latest big firm to match Davis Polk’s scale for Covid appreciation bonuses for associates; Ruth Bader Ginsburg arrived in her casket at the U.S. Supreme Court yesterday to lie in repose for two days; an ousted general counsel of an Atlantic City casino claims she was fired in retaliation after blowing the whistle on her employers’ filing of false official documents; California’s high court declined to cancel its upcoming online bar exam; California’s Supreme Court closed its San Francisco offices because of Covid; Duke is No. 1 in Above the Law’s latest law school rankings; UCLA said a Native American tribe made a record-breaking donation for its law school.

  • Leading off, Goodwin Procter grabbed a five-partner private equity team from Sidley Austin in London, including two who left Sidley in July: that firm’s ex-private equity co-chair Erik Dahl and former co-head of Sidley’s European corporate and private equity group, Christian Iwasko. Dahl and Iwasko, who joined Sidley from Kirkland & Ellis four years ago, will start at Goodwin Oct. 1. The other partners, Sava Savov, Michelle Tong, and John Van De North, will start when their notice periods end, Goodwin said. (GoodwinLaw.com)

  • U.K. elite firm Freshfields is the latest big firm matching the scale for special Covid bonuses for associates, which was set earlier this month by Davis Polk and runs from $7,500 to 40,000, depending on seniority. (Above the Law)

  • The legal profession had, until recently, avoided major changes brought on by new technology. However, the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular by pushing firms to work remotely, is obliging lawyers to contend with an increasingly digital future, according to this report. (Financial Times)

  • The shift to remote work and digital tools has improved flexibility, efficiency and collaboration at law firms. But it may also be causing burnout and sapping morale, according to a study. (American Lawyer)

  • California’s high court declined to waive the state’s online bar exam set for Oct. 5-6 and rejected a request to grant “diploma privilege,” which would allow grads to work as attorneys immediately without passing the bar exam. (BLAW)

  • Meanwhile examinees for New York’s upcoming online bar, which like California’s exam is running on ExamSoft’s systems, complained in a letter to the New York State Board of Law Examiners that the test is plagued with technical glitches and vulnerable to cheaters. (New York Law Journal)

  • Lex Machina said it updated its tools for tracking litigation related to Covid-19, to include wider date ranges. The legal analytics vendor, owned by LexisNexis, said nearly 4,000 cases have been filed in federal district court since Jan. 1, with filings peaking in May and “leveling off” since. The top practice areas with cases caused by Covid-19 are insurance, contracts, and employment, it said. (PRWeb.com)

  • California’s Supreme Court yesterday closed its San Francisco offices, citing “circumstances associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.” (The Recorder)


  • Over 100 clerks who worked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg through her 40-year career on the federal bench stood on the U.S. Supreme Court’s steps yesterday as her casket arrived to lie in repose through Thursday. (National Law Journal)

  • Before Ginsburg became a judge she was a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, including its general counsel. (Law.com)

  • Senate Republicans are developing plans to begin confirmation hearings around Oct. 12 for President Donald Trump’s pick to replace Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • A former general counsel and SVP at Atlantic City-based Ocean Casino Resort is suing her ex-employer, alleging she was fired after raising concerns that the company filed a falsified document with New Jersey’s gaming division. (Cherry Hill Courier Post) (Casino Games Pro)

  • After tech entrepreneur Justin Kan dropped his effort to build a business automating lawyers’ work, a former Seyfarth Shaw partner is still working on a similar project. (BLAW)

  • Embattled environmental and human rights lawyer Steven Donziger this week filed legal papers in New York State’s high court asking it to review his recent disbarment. (New York Law Journal)

  • Blank Rome and Winston & Strawn have started data privacy and security practices, as their clients face tougher data privacy rules in California and the European Union. (Business Insider)

Laterals, Moves

  • As Big Law firms see a surge in demand for their bankruptcy and restructuring practices amidst the Covid crisis, Winston & Strawn recruited a veteran in the field, James T. Bentley, as a partner in New York. According to his LinkedIn, Bentley was previously special counsel at Schulte, Roth & Zabel. (Winston.com)

  • Crowell & Moring added an international trade team in Brussels from DWF, led by Vassilis Akritidis, who was DWF’s Brussels managing partner and led the firm’s international trade and WTO practice. Previously, he was a partner at McGuireWoods and Squire Sanders. He’s joined from DWF by Lorenzo Di Masi, a former Crowell & Moring senior associate with whom, at DWF, Akritidis worked on EU investigations, customs, and regulatory matters. (Crowell.com)

  • Former SEC top cop Steven Peikin is headed back to Sullivan & Cromwell in New York after a three-year stint as co-director of the Security and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division. Peikin, who left the agency in August, is due back at Sullivan Nov. 2 and will lead its securities and commodities practice. (BLAW)

  • Mintz said it poached Kirkland & Ellis litigator James Rapore, calling him known for ”victories in complex white-collar, government investigations, and high-stakes commercial litigation matters. He joins Mintz as a member in Los Angeles. (Mintz.com)

  • Holland & Knight is expanding its corporate and Latin America practices by adding New York-based partner Steven Sandretto from Paul Hastings. (HKLaw.com)

  • Alternative dispute resolution services provider JAMS recruited retired judge Mitchell H. Kaplan to its Boston panel. Kaplan served on the Massachusetts Superior Court in its business litigation section, before which he spent 31 years at Choate, Hall & Stewart, where he chaired the securities litigation group and handled business, commercial, and insurance matters. (JAMSadr.com)


  • Vindex LLC, an esports investment and infrastructure company that launched nearly a year ago, picked up former DLA Piper partner Gina Reif Ilardi as its first-ever general counsel. (BLAW)

Legal Education

  • Duke supplanted the University of Virginia in Above the Law’s latest top 50 law school rankings, which place high importance on schools’ ability to get their graduates into gainful legal employment. UVA fell to third behind University of Chicago, which rose one spot to No. 2. (AbovetheLaw.com)

  • The University of California at Los Angeles received the biggest donation on record, $15 million, from a Native American tribe to a law school, according to a report. (The Recorder)

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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