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Wake Up Call: Law Firms, Clients Disagree on Tech, Pricing

Feb. 9, 2021, 2:02 PM

In today’s column, Atlanta-based worklaw firm Fisher Phillips notched strong revenue and profit gains last year as clients asked for help with Covid-related matters; Dentons Europe is restoring staff pay cuts it made as a Covid financial measure, but it’s not reversing partner draw reductions; despite the rise of remote work during the pandemic, location is still important for law firm mergers.

  • Leading off, law firms and their corporate clients are diverging on such issues as how data and technology should be used effectively, how client problems should be handled, and on how alternative fee agreements should be developed, according to a new survey report from Blickstein Group and the Legal Value Network in collaboration with software company Intapp. The 34-page report is based on a survey of 70 law firm pricing and project management professionals, analyzed against results from a recent law department operations survey. It includes some suggestions on how these divergences can be narrowed, such as by improving communication. (American Lawyer) (Business Insider)
  • DLA Piper said its global managing partner, Simon Levine, was due to step down at the end of his second four-year term, on Dec. 31, 2022. But citing a need to maintain stability in uncertain times, DLA Piper said its partners have voted to extend Levine’s term through Dec. 31, 2024. (DLAPiper.com)
  • Dentons Europe is restoring staff pay cuts it made early in the pandemic as part of measures to protect its finances. However, the Europe branch is not yet restoring cuts it made to partner draws, a report says. (The Lawyer)
  • Atlanta-based worklaw firm Fisher Phillips posted a 13.5% gain in 2020, to $252.52 million, powered by hundreds of new clients, and by existing clients, looking for help with Covid-19-related workplace matters. The firm’s profits per equity partner rose 16.4% to $689,000. (Daily Report)
  • Law firms’ interest in growing through mergers & acquisitions cooled last year but looks set to warm back up. In that context it turns out that location is still a big consideration as firms shop for merger partners that can help them set up in places where the key industry matches their practice strengths. (Law.com)
  • Accelerating a pre-pandemic trend, M&A buyers and sellers are paying closer attention to environmental, social, and governance factors, especially those related to climate change, privacy and diversity, and labor practices, according to Morrison & Foerster’s latest M&A trends review. (Media.Mofo.com)
  • Mayer Brown has a new blog providing practical guidance to global businesses and clients on ESG matters. (EyeonESG.com)

Biden Administration, Election Litigation, Fallout From Capitol Riots

  • President Joe Biden’s Justice Department is preparing to ask most U.S. attorneys appointed by former President Donald Trump to resign. However, the DOJ is asking two officials working on politically sensitive cases to stay on. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)
  • The New York Times has a profile of Trump’s lawyers for his second impeachment trial, which starts this week. (NYT)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Saint Louis-based Armstrong Teasdale said it’s launching an office in London by acquiring local law firm Kerman & Co, with over 50 lawyers and staff. The firm said the acquisition gives it over 340 lawyers and over 300 staff professionals worldwide. (ArmstrongTeasdale.com)
  • Big Law firms say they’re working to improve their diversity pipelines, but Black lawyers are skeptical. (BLAW)
  • Law firms’ efforts to collect data to evaluate their diversity & inclusion efforts can be hindered by respondents’ fears of retaliation, and other snags, a report says. (Legaltech News)
  • Cooley is among the handful of firms that have launched programs that let associates and some others to get up to 50 hours of billable hour credit for their diversity and inclusion work. (Above the Law)
  • Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s Silicon Valley litigator Suong Nguyen discussed how she made partner at the firm. (Law.com)
  • The Harvard Law Review picked its first-ever Muslim president. (Above the Law)

Laterals, Moves

  • Fox Rothschild added two worklaw attorneys as partners to expand its labor and employment department in the U.S. Northeast. They include Kirsten White, who among other things served as policy director, 2009 to 2013, to then-Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden in Joe Biden’s first term as vice president. White arrives more recently from Schwartz Hannum PC, where she was a partner, and she was earlier an associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. She has a residence in Boston and will be affiliated with the firm’s Washington office. Also arriving is Lori Armstrong Halber, who joins from Reed Smith and is based in Fox Rothschild’s Warrington, Pa.-office. She teaches employment discrimination law at Temple University’s Beasley School of Law. (FoxRothschild.com)
  • Baker Botts recruited a former top EPA chemical safety official, Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, as a partner in Washington in its environmental, safety & incident response section of its litigation department. Dunn was assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s office of chemical safety and pollution prevention. She was previously general counsel at the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, was an in-house counsel at the American Chemistry Council, and Winston & Strawn associate. (BakerBotts.com)
  • Loeb & Loeb got experienced real estate lawyer Nicole Fenton as a partner in New York. She arrives from Eversheds Sutherland, where she was a partner, before which she spent close to 13 years at Greenberg Traurig as a shareholder. (Loeb.com)
  • Goodwin Procter added private equity investment funds lawyer Karen Chao as a partner in New York. She was previously a counsel at Sidley Austin. (GoodwinLaw.com)
  • Dechert added two life sciences intellectual property lawyers from Lathrop Gage in Boston. They include biotech-focused patent attorney Andrew Wilkins, who has a doctorate in molecular cell biology, joining as a partner, and patent prosecutor Sean Coughlin joining as counsel. (Dechert)
  • Plaintiffs firm Seeger Weiss LLP opened an office in Boston after recruiting environmental litigator Matt Pawa, who was most recently environmental practice group co-chair at class action firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro. Pawa, who joins Seeger Weiss as partner and chair of its new environmental practice, earlier spent four years at Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll. (SeegerWeiss.com)

In-House

  • Stock image company Shutterstock Inc. announced digital media in-house veteran John Lapham as its new general counsel, months after its former top lawyer, Heidi Garfield, left to join online travel agency Priceline. Lapham was most recently top lawyer at online pet services company Rover. (BLAW)
  • Snap Inc. General Counsel Michael O’Sullivan’s pay package dip nearly 15% last year because of his stock grants, per an annual proxy statement filed by the company. (BLAW)

Technology

  • Deal management platform Legatics hired the former head of software engineering at BBC News, Steve Wheeler, to be its chief technology officer. (Artificial Lawyer)

Legal Education

  • A Penn State Law fund’s auction raised thousands of dollars to support students pursuing public interest internships over the summer. (News.psu.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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