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Wake Up Call: Jones Day Alleged to ‘Hide’ London Covid Outbreak

Oct. 15, 2020, 12:21 PM

In today’s column, Ropes & Gray won’t offer special Covid bonuses; Jones Day is alleged to have contributed to fraud in a German real estate rip-off; a South Carolina judge rejected a suit aimed at blocking two law firms from getting $75 million in fees linked to a huge plutonium settlement; China is offering money to get law firms to come to Shanghai; a new ABA initiative is bringing together dozens of U.S. law schools to fight racial injustice in police practices; DocuSign joined a $3.2 million financing round for an automated contract-editing startup.

Leading off, Jones Day’s London office has raised the hackles of its staff by allegedly failing to inform most of them about a Covid-19 outbreak that hit attorneys in the office’s corporate and restructuring teams, according to reports. Legal blog Above the Law said Thursday that Jones Day hadn’t responded to its request for comment about the allegations, first reported by U.K. blog RollOnFriday. (Above the Law)

Ropes & Gray joined the Cravath and Kirkland camp of Big Law firms that have passed on offering the special fall Covid appreciation bonuses that Davis Polk, Willkie, and several other firms have said they will offer, ALT reported. But Ropes did say it will take associates’ efforts during the crisis into account when calculating their usual year-end bonuses, the blog reported. (Above the Law)

Major domestic and international airlines face over two dozen class actions asserting breach-of-contract claims by plaintiffs alleging they didn’t get refunds for flights canceled amidst the Covid crisis. But at least two of the suits have already been thrown out by federal judges, according to a report. (Law.com)

So-called per diem lawyers who used to be able to earn good money making New York court appearances for other lawyers have seen their income dry up as court proceedings have gone virtual. (Business Insider)

Lawyers, Law Firms

A Texas lawsuit filed by a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway accuses Jones Day of “aiding and abetting” a $756 million fraud to trick the organization into buying a German company for far more than its real value. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

China is offering money to lure law firms to set up in Shanghai’s special free trade zone, a report says. (Law.com International)

Law firms are used to internal power struggles, but now those struggles are starting at law school. (BLAW)

A South Carolina judge denied a request to block a controversial $75 million payout to two law firms in the state’s big legal settlement with the U.S. government over a clean-up of plutonium contamination. (The Post and Courier)

A lawyer for George Floyd’s family told a meeting of attorneys they should use outrage over Floyd’s death at the hands of police to demand policing reforms. (ABA Journal)

In her testimony to the Senate Judiciary committee yesterday, President Trump’s latest Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, said climate change is “a very contentious matter of public debate,” and “of political controversy,” and she refused to express a view on it. (YouTube.com) (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

Sullivan & Cromwell mergers & acquisitions partner Alexandra Korry, one of the first women elected partner in the firm’s M&A practice, died at age 61 after a three-and-a-half-year battle with cancer. (American Lawyer)

Squire Patton Boggs released analyses by two of its public policy partners on potential electoral college, litigation, economic, and other scenarios that could unfold in the wake of the upcoming presidential election. (SquirePattonBoggs.com)

Pro Bono

A federal judge extended Virginia’s voter registration deadline by 48 hours after accidental damage to a fiberoptic cable knocked out the state’s elections website on the last day to register. Hogan Lovells and advocacy groups had filed a lawsuit seeking an extenstion. (NPR.org)

Laterals, Moves

Greenberg Traurig added veteran bankruptcy and restructuring lawyer Kevin Walsh as a shareholder in Boston. He joins from Mintz Levin, where he was a partner. (GTLaw.com)

Ropes & Gray grabbed Hogan Lovells global health care regulatory partner Margaux J. Hall in Washington as a partner. (RopesGray.com)

Squire Patton Boggs recruited two international arbitration partners in Paris from DWF and hired a consultant in Brussels from WilmerHale. (Global Legal Post)

Professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal hired former federal prosecutor and Latham & Watkins trial attorney Steve Spiegelhalter as a Washington-based managing director and North America investigations practice leader in its disputes and investigations group. He was most recently at EY as practice leader for forensic & integrity services in the Washington and Virginia area. (AlvarezandMarsal.com)

Fox Rothschild hired commercial litigator David J. DePiano as a partner in West Palm Beach, Florida. He has experience handling high-stakes ERISA-related matters, product liability claims and contract disputes for major companies throughout Florida. (FoxRothschild.com)

Holland & Knight hired “energy policy expert” Sydney Bopp as a senior public affairs advisor in its public policy & regulation practice group in Washington. She spent seven years in the U.S. Department of Energy and was most recently associate director for technology policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center. (HKLaw.com)

In-house

Airbnb Inc. recently added tech in-house veteran Mary Huser as deputy general counsel for risk and regulatory, one of handful of in-house hires the San Francisco-based travel company has made as it faces regulatory scrutiny and prepares to go public. (BLAW)

Deloitte’s fledgling Legal Business Services unit this month added former Hewlett Packard in-house leader Steven Walker, most recently head of law department consulting at alternative legal services provider Elevate, as an L.A.-based managing director. (Corporate Counsel)

Promotions

Management-side worklaw firm Littler Mendelson announced several leadership changes in its practice and industry groups. (Littler.com)

Greenspoon Marder promoted its practice development director, Cynthia Howard, to chief marketing officer. (GMLaw.com)

Technology

Several U.K. general counsel complained recently that their law firms aren’t telling them about legal tech offerings. (Law.com International via Legaltech News)

Electronic signature company DocuSign joined a $3.2 million investment round for BlackBoiler, an automated contract-editing company. (Artificial Lawyer)

Legal Education

A new American Bar Association consortium is bringing together dozens of U.S. law schools in a five-year initiative to fight racial injustice in police practices. (Law.com)

Fordham Law School said it received donations totaling over $3.5 million to fund new initiatives aimed at addressing structural racism. It said some of that money will go to funding its new role of director of diversity, equity, and inclusion, for which it hired Kamille Dean, who recently held a similar title at Saint John’s University School of Law. (Law.Fordham.edu)

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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