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Wake Up Call: Lockdown Helped Speed Vaccine Work, Lawyers Say

Dec. 14, 2020, 2:07 PM

In today’s column, Seyfarth Shaw and Kelley Drye & Warren joined the list of firms restoring pay they cut earlier in the pandemic; elite U.K. firms are dropping their rigid “lockstep” pay structures to compete with U.S. rivals for top talent; legal research company ROSS Intelligence says its lawsuit with Thomson Reuters is forcing it to shut down, for now; Boies Schiller elected new leaders.

  • Leading off, Big Law intellectual property lawyers advising pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer, BioNTech, and AstraZeneca in the race to develop a Covid-19 vaccine say the need to work remotely because of the Covid-19 pandemic helped accelerate their projects. The attorneys, from firms including Clifford Chance, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Gowling WLG describe, among other details, “very, very long Zoom calls” and working day and night under time pressure. ( International via American Lawyer)
  • Elite U.K. law firms Allen & Overy and Freshfields are moving away from rigid “lockstep” pay structures for their star partners, as their battle with U.S. rivals for top talent continues to heat up, this report says. (Financial Times)
  • Leaders of Seyfarth Shaw and Kelley Drye & Warren said Friday via emailed statements that, because they’re doing better than expected this year, their firms are joining the list of firms rolling back Covid-19 pay cuts implemented earlier in pandemic. In the spring, many firms moved to protect their finances from the pandemic’s economic impacts. Seyfarth’s chair and managing partner, Pete Miller, said that the firm reversed pay cuts on Oct. 1 and on Dec. 24 will make “retroactive salary adjustments” to employees whose pay was reduced in the Covid measures.
  • Kelley Drye Chair James Carr said the firm would fully restore salaries to pre-Covid levels via a “lump sum” paid Dec. 31. Equity partner draws will return to pre-COVID levels beginning in January, he said. (BLAW)
  • Judges’ tolerance for what they consider excessive fee requests seems to be evaporating. (

Biden Transition, Election Litigation

  • The U.S. Supreme Court rejected the bid by Texas and President Donald Trump to nullify the election results in four swing states. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)
  • More than 40 current and former Justice Department employees said they want President-elect Joe Biden to appoint an attorney general who will restore the department’s independence from the White House. (NYT)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Boies Schiller Flexner Friday named a new leadership group, including three new managing partners and two new executive committee members, as the 23-year-old litigation firm heads toward the close of a year in which it has lost nearly 60 partners. (BLAW)
  • Freshfields advised AstraZeneca on its $39 billion acquisition of Boston-based Alexion Pharmaceuticals, which was advised by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. (Bloomberg News) Macfarlanes worked on the deal’s U.K. facets, with Wachtell, according to a report. (American Lawyer)
  • Morrison & Foerster is advising Softbank on its $1.1 billion deal to sell a majority of its stake in robotics company Boston Dynamics to South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor Company, which was advised by Skadden Arps and Latham & Watkins. (
  • Sullivan & Worcester served as legal counsel to OneTen, a coalition of Fortune 50 organizations that say they are working to hire and promote one million Black Americans over the next decade in jobs with opportunities for advancement. ( (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

Laterals, Moves, In-House

  • Because of Hawaii’s Covid-19 quarantine restrictions, Bank of Hawaii’s new general counsel Patrick McGuirk had to wait a while to start his new job in “paradise.” (BLAW)
  • Squire Patton Boggs said it appointed regulatory litigation partner Keith Bradley as co-chair of the firm’s appellate & U.S. Supreme Court practice. Bradley replaces Benjamin Beaton, who was sworn in as a U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Kentucky last week. He joins partner Lauren Kuley, who has served as co-chair of the practice since 2019. (
  • Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft hired former Deputy Associate Attorney General Mark A. Grider as a partner in Washington. Grider, also a former special counsel to President Trump, was previously a Husch Blackwell litigation and cybersecurity partner. He will lead Cadwalader’s crisis management and congressional investigations practice, the firm said. (BLAW)
  • McKool Smith hired former Trump adviser Nicholas Matich, most recently acting general counsel of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, as a principal in its intellectual property practice, effective Jan. 1, 2021. Matich was previously a USPTO senior legal adviser, deputy GC in the Office of Management and Budget, and he was a Williams & Connolly attorney. (
  • Alston & Bird recruited national and international tax partner Laura Gavioli in New York. She arrived after close to six years as a partner at McDermott Will & Emery, before which she was at Dentons for seven years. (
  • White & Case’s Paris office added corporate attorney Marc Petitier as a partner in the firm’s mergers & acquisitions practice. Petitier made the move after 20 years at U.K. firm Linklaters, where he’d been a partner since 2012. (


  • Legal research company ROSS Intelligence said it will halt operations because its lawsuit with Thomson Reuters is keeping it from raising funds for development and marketing. Ross’s CEO said the company will return if it wins the lawsuit. (Legaltech News)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Darren Bowman at