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Wake Up Call: Japanese Firm Invests in Legal Tech App Store

Nov. 23, 2020, 1:54 PM

In today’s column, a new surge in Covid cases caused 25 federal courts to pause jury trials; a Texas federal judge declared a mistrial because of a Covid outbreak among trial participants; Skadden Arps is advising BuzzFeed on its deal to buy HuffPost from Verizon.

  • Leading off, major Japanese M&A law firm Nishimura & Asahi has invested in the legal tech ‘app store’ Reynen Court, joining three other law firms and VC fund Ventech as investors in the venture, according to report. Amsterdam-based Reynen Court, which also lists 19 Big Law firms in its consortium, recently announced security and other improvements to its platform, which aims to help firms and corporate legal departments to streamline tech procurement. (Artificial Lawyer)
  • Late this summer, state and federal courts started to resume trials in several areas of the country, amidst a general reopening of the economy from stay-at-home orders early in the pandemic. Now, with Covid-19 infections resurging, 25 federal courts in 21 states are stopping jury trials again, according to a report. (Texas Law Journal)
  • In one Texas federal case, the judge declared a mistrial after 13 participants tested positive for Covid-19. (Above the Law)
  • The new surge in Covid cases also has some law firms pausing plans to get workers back in their offices this year. (American Lawyer)
  • Whistle-blower lawyers say one effect of the pandemic has been an increase in employee reports of misconduct by their employers to law enforcement authorities. (National Law Journal)
  • As the pandemic pushes companies to confront workforce issues, Blank Rome, Dentons, Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck, and Ogletree Deakins all hired for their labor and employment practices last week. (American Lawyer)

Election Litigation

  • A federal judge in Pennsylvania threw out a lawsuit by President Donald Trump’s campaign seeking to block certification of the state’s election results, citing lack of evidence. Trump’s legal team was led by Rudy Giuliani, making his first court appearance in decades. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)
  • Democratic New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell asked bar associations in five states on Friday to disbar Giuliani and 22 other members of Trump’s legal team from continuing to practice law. Newsweek)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • China’s top law firms are going through their first leadership transitions in their history. (American Lawyer)
  • Three Sullivan & Cromwell defense lawyers beat $325 million in claims from some 150,000 consumers who had owned Volkswagens and Audis before it came out that those auto manufacturers used devices to cheat on emission standards tests. (Litigation Daily via The Recorder)
  • A corruption trial of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his lawyer starts this week in Paris. (Financial Times)
  • Skadden Arps said it’s advising BuzzFeed on its deal to acquire HuffPost from Verizon Media. The deal, for which no terms were disclosed, leaves Verizon Media a minority shareholder in BuzzFeed in a “strategic partnership.” (GlobeNewswire.com)

Pro Bono

  • Milbank and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. filed an amicus brief on Nov. 16 asking the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm a lower court ruling blocking the Trump administration’s efforts to exclude undocumented immigrants from the Census count. (Milbank.com) (Bloomberg Law)

Laterals, Moves

  • Greenberg Traurig hired a team of five real estate lawyers from Dutch law firm NautaDutilh in Amsterdam. (Global Legal Post)
  • Greenberg also added Miami-based torts litigator Enjoliqué Aytch Lett to its products liability practice. She arrives most recently from Akerman, where she was lead attorney for the medical device group. (Daily Business Review)
  • Baker Botts brought on Jenner & Block employee benefits litigator Chris Rillo as partner in its San Francisco office. According to his LinkedIn, Rillo, who specializes in complex ERISA cases related to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, has represented clients including The Boeing Company, El Paso Corporation; Northwest Airlines, Inc.; Financial Engines; The Home Depot; and General Motors Corporation. (BakerBotts.com)
  • Dorsey & Whitney added real estate and bankruptcy attorney Steven Smith as a partner in Dallas. He arrives from Frost Brown Todd, where he was a member. Before that he was at Perkins Coie, for which he opened the Dallas office and served as the office’s managing partner for seven years. (Dorsey.com)
  • Alternative dispute resolution services provider JAMS said retired San Bernardino Superior Court judge Keith D. Davis joined its panel in Inland Empire, California. (JAMSadr.com)

In-House

  • UnitedHealth Group Inc. said former Big Law partner and tech company in-house leader Matthew Friedrich will become its chief legal officer Jan. 11, 2021. (BLAW)
  • The Clorox Company said in a filing that general counsel and executive vice president Laura Stein has resigned and has been replaced by vice president and deputy general counsel Angela Hilt. (BLAW)
  • Penn National Gaming Inc., a casino and racetrack operator, hired veteran gambling industry lawyer Harper Ko to lead its in-house law department. Ko, currently chief legal officer and general counsel at slot machine maker Everi Holdings Inc., will succeed the retiring Carl Sottosanti on Jan. 1. (BLAW)

Technology

  • Legal tech company Verbit, an artificial intelligence-backed caption and transcription platform, said it raised $60 million during a recent investment round. (Verbit.ai)

Legal Education

  • A California state bar working group last week okayed measures that, if approved by the state’s Supreme Court, would allow certain law school graduates who have taken the California’s bar exam to become lawyers. The measures target about 2,000 applicants who failed to make the previous 1440 pass score for the exam, but would have passed if the state’s new 1390 cut score had applied. (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