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Wake Up Call: Hour Targets in Big Firms’ Bonus Memos Get Boos (Corrected)

Dec. 2, 2020, 1:53 PMUpdated: Dec. 3, 2020, 2:52 PM

In today’s column, Wachtell, Morrison & Foerster, Latham, and Goodwin are advising in Salesforce.com Inc. $27.7 billion deal to buy Slack Technologies Inc.; a former U.S. cybersecurity official suggested he might sue the Trump lawyer who called for him to be “shot”; in-house counsel in a recent survey say they’re don’t benefit from their law firms’ legal tech innovation efforts.

  • Leading off, Paul Hastings, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, and Davis, Polk & Wardwell on Tuesday joined the parade of firms that in the last week have matched Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s standard for two-part year-end bonuses, which go up to $140,000 depending on seniority. The Cravath scale combines the up-to $100,000 seniority-based scale for year-end bonuses that Baker McKenzie launched in November, with the up-to $40,000 scale that Davis Polk established back in September for special “Covid-appreciation” bonuses. (American Lawyer)
  • In Davis Polk and Weil’s case, matching means paying a year-end bonus on top of the fall bonuses they already announced a few months ago, so that most senior associates at both firms may get up to $140,000 in bonuses. (BLAW)
  • Meanwhile, some associates at Paul Hastings are complaining about language in the firm’s announcement that only “qualifying associates” will get the money. That suggests the awards will be tied to hourly requirements, as a few other firms have done, Above the Law reported. (Above the Law) At Weil, there’s also disappointment about a billable hour requirement for its fall bonuses. (Above the Law)
  • Pass rates for several states’ online bar exams in October are starting to come in and they are looking up, with some exceptions. (Law.com)
  • Law firm subsidiaries that focus on e-discovery, alternative staffing and automated legal expertise said they experienced drop-offs in activity early this year but now are seeing a surge in interest. (American Lawyer)

Biden Transition, Election Litigation

  • President-elect Joe Biden’s appointments for lower-profile but influential legal roles will shape the new administration’s work on pollution, climate change, and natural resources. (BLAW)
  • Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department hasn’t uncovered significant voter fraud that would change the outcome of the presidential election. That’s a blow to President Donald Trump’s claims of a rigged vote. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)
  • Former CISA director Chris Krebs, fired by Trump after rejecting his fraud allegations, hinted he may take legal action against Trump campaign lawyer Joe DiGenova, who suggested Krebs should be “taken out at dawn and shot.” (Axios) (NBC News)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Salesforce.com Inc. the leader in software for managing customer relationships, agreed to buy workplace communications platform Slack Technologies Inc. for $27.7 billion in one of the biggest tech deals of the year. Wachtell and Morrison & Foerster are advising Salesforce, while Latham & Watkins and Goodwin Procter are advising Slack on the deal. (Bloomberg News) (Businesswire.com)
  • Two Big Law firms—Venable and Dickinson Wright—announced new offices in Chicago on Tuesday. (BLAW)
  • General counsel say in a new survey that their outside counsel should make more use of the telephone to communicate important messages. (American Lawyer)
  • The Houston Chronicle reports that Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, weeks after intervening in a civil lawsuit involving his friend and campaign donor Nate Paul, received a $25,000 donation from the law firm that Paul hired in the case. (HoustonChronicle.com)

Laterals, Moves

  • Fried Frank said former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman, who was ousted by the Trump administration in June, is joining the firm to lead its white collar work. (BLAW)
  • Former Senate Intelligence Committee and DOJ staffer Aaron Cooper joined Jenner & Block in Washington as special counsel. (BLAW)
  • Gibson Dunn hired Thomas Kim, former chief counsel for the Securities and Exchange Commission’s corporation finance division, from Sidley Austin in Washington. (BLAW)
  • Steptoe & Johnson LLP said it got back commercial litigator Erica Gerson, who most recently was associate director at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Gerson, who previously practiced close to a decade at the firm as of counsel and associate, returns as a partner in Washington. (Steptoe.com)
  • Mayer Brown hired oil and gas deal lawyer Larry Murphy as a partner in its Houston office. He joins from Fullstream Energy Holdings, a private equity-backed midstream company that he founded in 2015. Earlier in his career, Murphy was an attorney at several Big Law firms. (MayerBrown.com)
  • Baker Botts said former deputy executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Stephanie Bergeron Perdue joined the firm in Austin as a litigation partner in its environmental, safety & incident response group. (BakerBotts.com)
  • On the flip side, Baker Botts lost an experienced Texas environmental litigator to Morgan Lewis, which recruited partner Stephen Fitzgerald for its Dallas and Houston offices. Fitzgerald earlier spent six years in-house at oil and gas company Oxy. (MorganLewis.com)
  • Distributed firm FisherBroyles added intellectual property attorney and patent litigator Christopher Kinkade in Princeton, NJ. According to his LinkedIn, he arrives from Fox Rothschild, where he was an administrative partner. (FisherBroyles.com)
  • Fox Rothschild also lost health care litigation partner Dorothy Cornwell, who jumped to BakerHostetler in Atlanta. (BakerLaw.com)
  • Norton Rose Fulbright got Clark Hill corporate, M&A and securities partner Debra Gatison Hatter in Houston. Norton Rose’s St. Louis office added real estate partner Danette (Dani) Davis, who joined from Dentons this week. (NortonRoseFulbright.com)
  • Blank Rome recruited Perkins Coie insurance recovery lawyer Dennis L. James as of counsel in Washington. (BlankRome.com)
  • Squire Patton Boggs hired former Norton Rose energy lawyers Natalie Lonergan and Tatiana Gotvig as partners in Sydney, Australia, with a team of associates. (SquirePattonBoggs.com)
  • Delaware-based Potter Anderson added eDiscovery counsel Laura G. Readinger. She arrives from Morris James and was at Morgan Lewis earlier in her career. (GlobeNewswire.com)

In-House

  • Mastercard Inc. hired ex Steptoe partner Richard Verma, a former U.S. ambassador to India and ex-senior national security adviser, to oversee its public policy, regulatory affairs and global litigation teams. (Businesswire.com)
  • Stock trading startup Robinhood Markets Inc. snapped up in-house talent from financial firms Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Wells Fargo, and Ameritrade. (BLAW)
  • Soros Fund Management general counsel Boyd Johnson, a former New York federal prosecutor, is rejoining WilmerHale as a white collar investigations partner in New York starting in January. (BLAW)

Promotions

  • Squire Patton Boggs said longtime partner Robert (Bob) Labes will take over as leader of its public & infrastructure finance practice group, effective January 1, 2021. He succeeds partner Mike Sharb. (SquirePattonBoggs.com)
  • Cooley promoted 16 lawyers (nine women) to partner, effective Jan. 1. (Cooley.com)

Technology

  • Most in-house counsel responding to a recent survey by Thomson Hine say they are not getting any benefits from their law firms’ claimed legal tech innovation efforts. (American Lawyer)
(Removes incorrect reference to Venable's headquarters in "Lawyers, Law Firms" section of Dec. 2 story.)

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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