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Wake Up Call: Kirkland Partners Meet Remotely, Save Millions

Oct. 16, 2020, 12:16 PM

In today’s column, Fox Rothschild is the latest firm to reverse pay cuts it made early in the Covid-19 pandemic; an independent review of racism in New York courts, led by a Paul, Weiss partner, found a “toxic culture” in which even judges hesitate to report bias incidents; a trend of corporations asking their top lawyers to contribute to strategic decisions has gained momentum during the Covid crisis; McDonald’s Corp. top lawyer Jerry Krulewitch retired because of illness and the burger giant’s U.S. GC is filling in on an interim basis; DLA Piper lost a four-lawyer life sciences IP litigation team to Kilpatrick; private equity is fueling a boom in legal tech M&As.

Leading off, Kirkland & Ellis, which is among firms whose top practices have been thriving amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, this year saved about $2.5 million by holding its annual equity partners conference virtually instead of gathering its approximately 450 share partners in person in Newport Beach, Calif., a report says. (Law.com International via National Law Journal)

Big companies were already asking their general counsel to participate in strategic business decisions before the pandemic. Now, the crisis is accelerating that trend. (LAW.com)

Fox Rothschild joined a growing group of Big Law firms that have reversed the austerity measures they made earlier this year to protect their finances from the pandemic’s anticipated economic hit. (BLAW)

Several big corporations including Microsoft, Ford Motor, Google among others, have told workers they can keep working remotely until July 2021. But major law firms have avoided saying they’ll do that. (American Lawyer)

With some courts returning to in-person proceedings despite the pandemic, a large Atlanta family law firm is offering an alternative: a new private courtroom where one of the firm’s lawyers will act as judge/arbitrator in proceedings that are binding. (Daily Report)

Sidley Austin’s Dallas office managing partner, Yvette Ostolaza, talked recently about the firm’s shift to employment law and bankruptcy work to adapt to the changing business climate brought on by Covid-19. (Dallas Innovates)

Lawyers, Law Firms

An independent review of institutional racism in New York’s state court system found, among other things, a “hostile environment” created by white court officers, in which court officers and even judges of color hesitated to report instances of bias, for fear of retribution, a report says. The report follows a review led by Paul, Weiss litigation partner Jeh Johnson, who was U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama. Johnson was appointed by New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore in the wake of protests over the police killing of George Floyd. (New York Law Journal)

Dechert denied new allegations that the firm and its white collar practice head were involved in torture and blackmail of a Jordanian citizen of Palestinian origin detained in the UAE emirate of Ras-Al-Kaimah. (Law.com International via American Lawyer)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbot appointed Baker Botts partner Rebeca Huddle to the state’s Supreme Court, to replace recently retired Justice Justice Paul Green. (Texas Lawyer)

Seventy years after the landmark Supreme Court opinion Sweatt v. Painter that led to desegregation of Texas law schools, the state’s legal profession still has a long way to go on diversity, two legal education leaders write. (Houston Chronicle)

Dentons tops this ranking of the seven “most influential law firms in the world.” (CEOworld.biz)

As interest grows in hydrogen as a source of clean energy, at least three firms—Baker Botts, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, and K&L Gates—have started hydrogen and related practices. (Texas Lawyer)

Fenwick & West represented payment tech company Stripe as it expanded its international payment options in Africa with an agreement to acquire Nigeria-based Paystack. No terms were disclosed. (Fenwick.com) (TechCruch)

Laterals, Moves

White & Case hired two Sidley Austin restructuring lawyers in Chicago, with Andrew O’Neill joining as partner and Matthew Linder as counsel. They arrive on the heels of three Sidley partners, including the co-leaders of Sidley’s bankruptcy practice, who joined White & Case earlier this month. (BLAW)

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton grabbed a five-lawyer life sciences intellectual property litigation team with experience in the area of biologics/biosimilars, including three partners and a counsel from DLA Piper. April Abele Isaacson joins as a partner in San Francisco. Abby Markeson joins as counsel in Seattle; in New York Brian D. O’Reilly and Michael Furrow, who was DLA’s U.S. life sciences patent strategy chair, joined as partners, and Erica Kuo as counsel. (KilpatrickTownsend.com)

Holland & Knight got executive compensation and employee benefits attorney Maureen O’ Brien as a partner in Chicago in its corporate, M&A and securities practice group. She arrives from McDermott Will & Emery, where she was a partner. According to her LinkedIn, she spent close to 10 years at Kirkland & Ellis, including five as a partner, and was an associate GC in the Social Security Administration. (HKLaw.com)

Locke Lord hired DLA Piper capital markets and energy industry partner Gislar Donnenberg as a partner in Houston. According to his LinkedIn, he was earlier a partner at Paul Hastings and spent close to 17 years at Andrews Kurth. (LockeLord.com)

Duane Morris named intellectual property litigator Bert Greene as its new Austin office managing partner. He takes over from Houston office managing partner Tom Sankey, who is the firm’s IP litigation chair and had also managed the Austin office since it opened in 2017. (DuaneMorris.com)

Shearman & Sterling, after losing a partner and counsel from its Asia project finance practice in Singapore to King & Spalding last month, made a couple of local promotions to take their places, and it’s bringing an energy counsel over from Houston later this year, according to this report. (Global Legal Post)

In-house

McDonald’s Corp. general counsel and executive vice president Jerry Krulewitch has retired after his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease. The company’s U.S. general counsel Mahrukh Hussain is serving as interim GC during the search for a replacement. (BLAW)

Technology

Seyfarth Shaw is still working to restore its systems after getting hit by a cyber attack during the weekend. (American Lawyer)

Private equity is fueling a boom in legal technology, according to a report. (Artificial Lawyer)

Reed Smith started a new firm-wide “Innovation Seasons” initiative to promote specific themes, through presentations, discussion forums with industry professionals, case studies and technology demonstrations, among other things. Reed Smith lawyers working on innovation projects can get up to 50 billable “innovation hours” per year, the firm said. (ReedSmith.com)

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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