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Wake Up Call: Kirkland Targets Early November Office Return

Oct. 18, 2021, 12:35 PM

In today’s column, with their leaders increasingly vulnerable to burnout, law firms could face a wave of turnover at the top; Gibson Dunn’s London office got a three-partner private equity team from Vinson & Elkins; DocuSign launched an investment business aimed at the legal tech sector.

  • Leading off, Kirkland & Ellis is the latest Big Law firm to target early November for reopening U.S. offices after a long stretch of working remote because of the pandemic, a report says. Kirkland, which initially planned to reopen in September, now says it wants U.S. employees back in office Nov. 8, and that it will offer breakfast, lunch and other amenities. Kirkland’s memo says the firm will require vaccination or weekly Covid testing to get in its U.S. offices starting the same date and it will provide on-site testing. (Above The Law)
  • Other firms that have set early November return dates for their U.S. offices include Milbank, Hogan Lovells, Paul Hastings, Fried Franks, Akin Gump, Goodwin Procter, and Ropes & Gray. Meanwhile, at least eight firms have put off reopening until 2022. (BLAW)
  • Law firm leaders, facing crisis after crisis, are increasingly susceptible to burnout and fatigue, so firms should expect more frequent turnover, a report says. (American Lawyer)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Dozens of Texas law firms that used Houston-based bank BBVA USA have not been able to access important accounts because of transition problems after BBVA was acquired by PNC Financial Services Group. (Texas Lawyer)
  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer last week became the latest of several major U.K. law firms to offer specific leave and other policies aimed at supporting its employees who have lost pregnancies. (Law.com International)
  • The Dallas City Council plans to hire new Kirkland & Ellis partner Erin Nealy Cox, the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, for an independent investigation into the loss of more than 8 million data files. (Axios Dallas)

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Paul, Weiss said it hired a recently retired chancellor of the Delaware Chancery Court, Andre Bouchard, as a litigation partner based in Wilmington; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher poached a three-partner private equity team from Vinson & Elkins in London. Federico (Fede) Fruhbeck, who will serve as Gibson Dunn’s head of private equity in Europe and co-chair of the projects and infrastructure practice group, is joining with partners Robert Dixon and Alice Brogi; London-headquartered HFW said it hired away Riyadh-based partner Euan Pinkerton from Baker Botts for a new transactional offering in Saudi Arabia; Greenberg Traurig added litigator Thomas R. Heisler as a shareholder in Miami. He arrives from Chicago boutique Gair Eberhard Nelson Dedinas. (GTLaw.com)
  • Debevoise & Plimpton hired former Weil intellectual property tech lawyer Caroline Geiger, earlier in-house at General Electric, as a counsel in New York; Dentons hired two venture tech and emerging growth company lawyers from Wilson Sonsini, getting Angela Bernardi in Silicon Valley and Allison Bender in Washington. They both join Dentons as partners; Haynes and Boone hired former federal prosecutor, veteran Big Law employment attorney Sharon Jones to be the firm’s first ever chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer and a worklaw partner. She’s recently led her own New York-based diversity consulting business, Jones Diversity, Inc. (HaynesBoone.com)
  • Japan’s biggest law firm Nishimura & Asahi said it hired the former chief judge of the country’s intellectual property high court, Makiko Takabe, as of counsel; Lucas Oil Products hired veteran in-house leader Heather Cameron as its new general counsel based in Indiana. She was vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at appliances and electronics retailer H.H. Gregg, assistant general counsel at Ingersoll Rand, and vice president and assistant general counsel at student lending company Sallie Mae, Inc. She arrives most recently from car auction company ADESA, where she was VP of legal and customer compliance. (LucasOil.com)

Technology

  • Electronic signature giant DocuSign formally launched an investment arm targeting the legal tech sector. (Artificial Lawyer)
  • Remote bar exam vendor says it understands anger but problems are fixed. (Law.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: Chris Opfer in New York at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; Darren Bowman at dbowman@bloomberglaw.com