Wake Up Call: HP to Dock Fees on Firms Lagging on Diversity

Feb. 15, 2017, 1:40 PM

• HP Inc.'s chief legal officer and general counsel, Kim Rivera, warned law firm partners in a recent letter that U.S. firms could see 10 percent of their fees withheld if they fall short of the company’s diversity requirements. In an interview, Rivera said law firms have “embraced” the policy. ( Corporate Counsel )

• The recently reported layoffs at K&L Gates totaled nearly 200 staff across the firm, including director levels in Human Resources and Marketing, sources said.( Above The Law )

• The University of Michigan plans to invest $50 million with a fund co-founded by Boaz Weinstein and Lee Drucker that specializes in litigation strategy. ( Bloomberg via BLB )

• Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, which has Washington, D.C.'s biggest lobby show, said it is moving out of its offices on New Hampshire Avenue to the north building of 2001 K St., which it plans to rename the “Robert S. Strauss Tower,” after the firm’s late, legendary name partner. ( National Law Journal ) Akin Gump’s global profits topped $2 million in 2016. ( The Lawyer )

• Vermont Law School named as its its next president and dean, Thomas J.P. McHenry, an L.A.-based environmental law partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. McHenry is to replace Marc Mihaly, who has served as the school’s president and dean since 2012, this summer. ( Valley News )

Legal Market

• Volkswagen AG won a U.S. judge’s preliminary sign-off on its $1 billion settlement with about 78,000 drivers of premium diesel Audis, VWs and Porsches over the company’s emissions-cheating scandal. ( Bloomberg via BLB ) • The VW scandal suggests that, to prevent cheating, regulators in the automotive and other sectors should be vague about how testing works, not transparent. ( Financial Times )

• Major consolidation in the insurance sector looked less likely Tuesday. Aetna Inc. ended its $37 billion takeover of Humana Inc., after opting not to appeal a ruling by a federal judge who blocked the health insurers’ combination on antitrust grounds. ( Bloomberg )

• After Aetna’s move, Humana said it plans to exit all Obamacare marketplaces for 2018, another blow to the government health law that’s already facing the threat of repeal or significant alteration by Republicans and President Donald Trump. ( Bloomberg )

• Meanwhile, simmering tensions between Anthem Inc. and Cigna Corp. exploded as Cigna sued to end their $48 billion deal, and Anthem moments later said it would fight to keep the merger alive. ( Bloomberg )

Legal Business

• Lateral hires in key markets helped spark a 13 percent jump in Detroit-based Dickinson Wright’s gross revenue, to $209 million, in 2016, while profits per equity partner jumped 7 percent, to reach $550,000, the firm reported. ( Am Law Daily )

• “Shock is the word” for the recent arrest of Akin Gump partner Jeffrey Wertkin, accused of trying to sell access to a sealed false claims lawsuit to a potential defendant. ( Bloomberg BNA via BLB )

• Former U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, perhaps best known for defending the Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court, could have taken it easy on leaving the Obama Administration. Instead, he’s building from scratch a D.C. office for L.A.-based Munger, Tolles & Olson. ( Am Law Daily )

• Sidely Austin and its Washington, D.C., partner Edward McNicholas are fighting a suit that alleges they aided and abetted a con man’s criminal wire fraud schemes. ( Am Law Daily )

• Law firms could improve their success in hiring of new attorneys by learning from public interest law organizations and government agencies — that is, by paying more attention to practical legal experience and character, and less to a job candidate’s class rank and prestige, according to a new report. ( National Law Journal )

• Haley Altman, a 36-year-old mother of two children and a former equity partner at Ice Miller, says she loved being a lawyer. But she recently left to start her own legal tech company, and her former firm helped her get $2.2 million in seed financing. ( BLB )

Travel Ban and Immigration Crackdown

• President Donald Trump summoned Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to the White House Tuesday to review options for dealing with court rulings that put a hold on an executive order restricting immigration and travel to the U.S. from citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries. ( Bloomberg )

• The administration has suggested the president could issue an entirely new order to get around the ruling. However, Trump’s comments about Muslims in the years before the presidential election are still likely to haunt the administration in court, as are comments by former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, lawyers and legal scholars said. ( Bloomberg )

• Steven Vladdick, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, and Lyza Goyteen, a co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, talk to Bloomberg reporters about the latest developments in the various legal challenges to Trump’s executive order on immigration. Audio. ( Bloomberg )

• Recent raids by U.S. immigration authorities targeting undocumented immigrants are creating a wave of distress through America’s agricultural sector, an industry that’s heavily dependent on foreign workers. ( Bloomberg )

President Trump’s First 100 Days

• The Trump Organization was cited in a Brazil corruption probe involving two state pension funds. ( Bloomberg )

• President Trump’s administration was preparing to replace National Security Adviser Michael Flynn as early as last week, a senior administration official said, after a warning from the Justice Department that he may have misled the president and vice president about his conversations with a Russian envoy. ( Bloomberg )

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• A special bipartisan committee is due to begin the process of vetting at least six of Trump’s candidates for two seats on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, for appointments that could have a big impact on Texas federal judiciary. ( Texas Lawyer )

Laterals and Moves

• The recently merged Haynes and Boone CDG added three partners to expand its London practices in finance, shipping, and energy. ( Global Legal Post )


• Bryan Cave said it has launched an incubator, called TechX, aimed at expanding the company’s legal technology awareness, depth and expertise, in an initiative that spans several practice areas. ( Global Legal Post )

• A top Google lawyer said governments need to set new rules for how to handle law enforcement requests for data stored in the cloud. Laws drafted for a pre-digital economy that depended on where documents are physically held are no longer adequate, she said. ( The Recorder )

• Meanwhile, Microsoft Corp. is urging countries to step up protection for civilians from state-sponsored cyberhacking, through the formation of international agreements similar to the Geneva Conventions and an independent group to investigate and share evidence on the attacks. ( Bloomberg via BLB )

• As in-house legal departments look to email encryption as a way to combat law firm data breaches, some in-house lawyers say complications in technology and installation are hindering their efforts. ( Am Law Daily )

• Editorial: The recent social-media spectacle of President Trump handling his first international crisis in a country club restaurant provides a useful metaphor for an administration alarmingly unprepared for the dangers of the digital age. ( Bloomberg View )


• The first African-American lead on ABC’s “The Bachelorette” will be Rachel L. Lindsay, a 31-year-old personal injury lawyer at the Dallas firm Cooper & Scully. ( New York Times )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.

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