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Wake Up Call: JPMorgan ‘Learning Machine’ Reviews Contracts in Seconds

Feb. 28, 2017, 1:09 PM

• At JPMorgan Chase & Co., a learning machine is taking seconds to parse financial deals that once kept legal teams busy for hundreds of thousands of hours annually. The program, called COIN, for Contract Intelligence, is less error-prone and never asks for vacation. ( Bloomberg ) Meanwhile, an alliance of about 30 companies including JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft and other corporate giants is developing a computing system, based on the virtual currency network Ethereum, for tracking data and financial contracts. ( New York Times DealBook )

• Sullivan & Cromwell on Monday announced its first U.S. lateral partner hire in years. As the Justice Department’s former top antitrust lawyer, Renata Hesse presided over the DOJ’s blocking of the proposed $37 billion merger of health insurers Aetna and Humana. She arrives at the firm as more countries step up their merger review process to deal with a growing number of global transactions. ( BLB )

• After Blank Rome finally released information about pay raises for its junior lawyers, early reactions were not good, with some associates vowing to call recruiters. ( Above The Law )

• Turning the tables on a whistle-blower unit that can spend years investigating fraud cases, FBI agents are now questioning Justice Department lawyers about their ex-colleague, an Akin Gump partner accused last month of trying to sell secrets about a case for $310,000. ( Bloomberg via BLB )

Legal Business

• Last week Holland & Knight partner Sam Spital surfaced in the news when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a victory to one of his pro bono clients — Texas death row inmate Duane Buck. Spital’s practice is a rarity in Big Law, allowing him to spend as much time looking for death row inmates who need representation as he does developing his corporate clientele. ( BLB )

• In a 2016 litigation market in which clients aggressively pursued settling cases, Winston & Strawn’s gross revenue inched up half a percent, to $823 million, while profits per partner rose 1.1 percent to almost $1.83 million, as lawyer headcount shrank by 10 to 798. The firm began its new fiscal year looking ahead, with a big lateral hiring spree. ( Am Law Daily )

• Policy change can drive growth for law firms that bet on the right practices and talent. The big changes planned by the Trump administration could benefit firms with energy, M&A, tax, cybersecurity, project finance and health care practices. ( National Law Journal )

Legal Market

• The Oscars are over, but the legal battle to protect those stunning dresses is just starting. ( Bloomberg )

• U.K. firm Allen & Overy launched a new diversity policy that requires office heads to demonstrate that they have made adequate efforts to keep female associates rising through the pipeline. ( The Lawyer )

• A former Environmental Protection Agency official may not be able to escape testifying about his alleged role in helping Monsanto Co. suppress inquiries into whether its Roundup weed killer causes cancer. ( Bloomberg )

• As Deutsche Boerse AG’s $13 billion takeover of London Stock Exchange Group Plc teeters on the verge of collapse, observers say a key obstacle to the deal has been political stalemate that was magnified by the U.K.'s decision to leave the European Union. ( Bloomberg )

• A D.C. federal appeals court is due to hear a company’s challenge to an NLRB ruling that it jointly employed workers of a business with which it had a contractual relationship. The case’s outcome could have major implications for a broad range of companies. ( National Law Journal )

• A maker of fig jam won a $5.2 million verdict for misappropriation, trademark infringement and counterfeiting, in what her law firm called the first jury verdict under the 2016 Defend Trade Secrets Act. ( National Law Journal )

• A U.S. judge accepted Takata Corp.’s guilty plea, made as part of a $1 billion settlement deal with the Justice Department, removing another obstacle to the Japanese air-bag maker’s sale. ( Bloomberg )

President Trump’s First 100 Days

• The Trump administration is abandoning part of a lawsuit challenging Texas’s strict voter ID requirements, marking an abrupt shift in the Obama-era case two weeks after Jeff Sessions took over as attorney general. ( Bloomberg )

• Sessions said for the first time that he’ll recuse himself if necessary from investigations into contacts that associates of President Donald Trump may have had with Russian government officials. ( Bloomberg )

• Former President George W. Bush, in his first interview since the start of Trump’s administration, said he sees a need for an investigation into the Trump team’s ties to Russia and voiced skepticism about his successor’s approach to immigration and the media. ( Bloomberg )

• The leader of the largest group of House Republicans, Representative Mark Walker, said Monday he couldn’t support the party’s existing Obamacare replacement strategy. As Trump gets ready to address a joint session of Congress Tuesday, Walker’s opposition is a potentially serious blow to the plan. ( Bloomberg )

• Republicans in Congress have made cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood one of their top priorities, but the issue could stymie Trump’s Obamacare repeal plans and even trigger a government shutdown. ( Bloomberg )

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• U.S. Supreme Court justices cast doubt on a North Carolina law that bars registered sex offenders from using Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. ( Bloomberg )

• Trump’s war on the news media violates the spirit of the free press. How far can he go before he violates the letter of the First Amendment? ( Bloomberg View )

• A federal appeals court in Washington state rejected the Trump administration’s petition to stop proceedings over its controversial travel ban while the White House drafts a new one. ( National Law Journal )

• A stock promoter admitted in Brooklyn federal court Monday to joining a plot to dupe investors out of $131 million by touting stock in a worthless LED lighting distributor, lying to investors while appearing on a cable television business show. ( Bloomberg )

Laterals and Moves

• Cozen O’Connor said it has hired former Virginia State Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, in an expansion of its state attorneys general practice. ( Cozen O’Connor )

• Cooley LLP has hired the national chair of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan’s private equity practice group, Ray LaSoya. LaSoya, who at Stroock worked on a variety of transaction types and advised clients on public disclosure, reporting and governance, will work for Cooley in Los Angeles. ( BLB )

• Seyfarth Shaw is expanding its international employment law practice in the Asia-Pacific region with a new office in Hong Kong to be managed by Julia Gorham. Gorham comes from DLA Piper, for which she managed the Asia employment practice in Hong Kong. ( BLB )

• Reed Smith has picked up a team of five state tax lawyers from Morrison & Foerster, led by partner Andres Vallejo, to join its San Francisco office. Another MoFo tax partner, R. Gregory Roberts, jumped to Reed Smith in New York earlier this year. ( The Recorder )


• Uber Technologies Inc. executive Amit Singhal resigned after the ride-hailing company learned of a sexual harassment allegation from his previous job at Google. ( Bloomberg )

• San Francisco-based data management company Logikcull announced enhancements to its cloud platform that it said makes good on its promise to kill off pay-per-gigabyte pricing in the eDiscovery industry. ( Yahoo Finance )

• As Silicon Valley venture capitalists scratch their heads about Trump’s policies, startup deal-making has fallen 37 percent since December to its lowest level in three years. ( Bloomberg )

• Three-quarters of the legal tech professionals polled in a recent survey said they are unfamiliar with China’s new cybersecurity law, which is due to take effect in June. ( Legaltech News )

Legal Education

• The ethics complaint against Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway by 15 legal ethics professors is “dangerously misguided” and could set a terrible precedent, writes a professor who did not join the complaint. ( Slate )


• Bentley Kassal, the oldest lawyer at Skadden, officially turns 100 Tuesday. ( BLB )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.