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Wake Up Call: Legal Departments Don’t Plan Spending Cut: Survey

Aug. 7, 2020, 12:26 PM

In today’s column, in-house lawyers are struggling with an increased workload during the Covid-19 crisis, a survey finds; the pandemic has caused Asian-Pacific law firms to accelerate innovations; Baker Mckenzie started a U.S. practice group to advise tenants and landlords on lease negotiations and disputes; Nevada’s going ahead with its online test next week after the state’s top court rejected recent law grads’ petition for diploma privilege; Latham & Watkins poached Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s Palo Alto-based tax practice leader.

  • Leading off, the majority of corporate legal departments responding to a recent survey said they don’t plan to reduce spending and they expect to keep using outside counsel pretty much as they did before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the economy. The study surveyed over 130 in-house counsel across a broad spectrum of companies and industries. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Meanwhile, a survey report from Garner finds in-house legal and compliance officers say their planned work is getting “hijacked” by urgent work during the Covid-19 crisis. The report says 68% of the 286 participating legal leaders are having a hard time dealing with an increased workload stemming from the pandemic. (Corporate Counsel)

  • The pandemic has accelerated changes at Big Law firms operating in the Asian Pacific region, in such areas as digital delivery of services, flexibility of work arrangements, and productivity, among others, according to this Financial Times special report on innovative law firms in the region. (Financial Times)

  • The report includes brief profiles of a half-dozen law firm leaders in the region with a major impact on their firms and the practice of law. (Financial Times)

  • In-house lawyers at businesses in the Asian Pacific region are playing essential parts in helping their companies maintain operations during the pandemic. (Financial Times)

  • As the Covid-19 crisis continues to slam the economy, Baker McKenzie said it has started a group to advise companies looking to renegotiate, terminate, or “reimagine” their lease agreements. The new lease litigation and restructuring practice is headed by Los Angeles securities litigation partner Perrie Weiner and Miami-based restructuring partner Paul Keenan. (BLAW)

  • The Texas Supreme Court issued a new emergency order delaying by another month the date on which jury trials can resume statewide, to Oct. 1. (Texas Law Journal)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Black general counsel have reached a milestone of accounting for more than 5% of general counsel in Fortune 1000 companies, according to a report. (BLAW)

  • A former paralegal at Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht yesterday accused an ex-partner at the firm, Donald Lewis, of sexual assault and defamation. Lewis has denied the allegations. The lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court on the paralegal’s behalf by Wigdor, is the latest salvo in a legal fight over Lewis’ ouster from Pierce Bainbridge. (New York Law Journal)

  • In a merger of intellectual property firms, Houston’s Nolte IP Law Group, strong on patents, is merging with Lackenbach Siegel, an IP boutique in Scarsdale, New York, that specializes in trademark and litigation. The new 38-lawyer firm will be named Nolte Lackenbach Siegel. (Texas Lawyer)

  • A New York federal judged picked Grant & Eisenhofer as lead counsel and consolidated suits of investors alleging they lost money in’s 2017 initial coin offering. Davis Polk & Wardwell and Baker Marquart represent (BLAW)

  • Dechert says in a new report that it advised clients on 16 financial services transactions in the first half of2020. (

Laterals, Moves

  • Latham & Watkins poached Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s Palo Alto-based tax practice leader, Katharine Moir. She advises private equity firms and major companies on tax matters in connection with sophisticated corporate transactions. (

  • McDermott Will & Emery added entertainment litigator Jeffery (Jeff) McFarland, who mainly represents major media production companies but also advises real estate developers and financial institutions. He previously served as co-chair of Quinn Emanuel’s national media & entertainment practice and is the third partner to join from Quinn in the last month. (BLAW)

  • Baker Donelson named litigator Eve Cann as its new Fort Lauderdale managing shareholder,to take over from Sam Felker. (Daily Business Review)


  • Former Alabama U.S. Attorney Jay Town took a job as vice president and general counsel at Gray Analytics, a privately owned defense contractor and cyber solutions provider. (

  • Jones Day partner David Woodcock, who served as head of litigation for the law firm’s Dallas office, left in July to join Exxon Mobil Corp. as an assistant general counsel in Irving, Texas. In New York, Una Dean left Fried Frank last month to join International Business Machines Corp. as associate general counsel and vice president of investigations and regulatory. (BLAW)

  • Chegg Inc., a California-based education technology company, said it hired sports industry in-house veteran Woodie Dixon become its top lawyer Sept. 8, replacing former GC, Dave Borders. Dixon has been GC for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and was on the NFL’s management council. He was an attorney at Sidley Austin and Dorsey Whitney. He’s currently GC at college sports conference Pac-12. (Corporate Counsel)


  • The U.S. government charges too much for access to PACER, an electronic database of federal court records, a federal court ruled. (BLAW)

  • Wilson Elser said it joined a legal panel created by insurtech company AAAtraq, which offers a compliance identification and management service aimed at helping web site owners achieve full compliance under the Americans with Disabilities Act. (

Legal Education

  • Nevada’s Supreme Court Wednesday rejected a petition by law graduates seeking an emergency diploma privilege. The state still plans to hold its online bar exam next week, despite concerns about technical problems with the test. (

  • Use of facial recognition tech at bar exams in Michigan and California added anxiety to an already stressful situation. (The Recorder)

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

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