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Wake Up Call: Litigators Eye Covid-19 Boon, but Others Tout Mediation

May 6, 2020, 12:25 PM

In today’s column, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in the hospital again; a security flaw in a U.K. data base exposed client data of 190 law firms; Vedder Price is laying off staff and lawyers in a Covid-19 survival move; a new program aims to connect out-of-work lawyers with legal departments that need help on matters related to the pandemic; Verizon agreed to pay $125 million to a former top lawyer who was crushed by a falling utility pole on her way to work; FINRA barred a former SEC enforcement lawyer for allegedly cheating on a qualification exam; Deutsche Bank promoted in-house for its new general counsel.

  • Leading off, lawyers are expecting a flood of potentially profitable litigation when individuals and companies seek compensation for losses stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic and insurers and others seek to avoid paying such compensation. Meanwhile, dispute resolution pros and others say public compensation funds worked out in mediation outside of courtrooms might be a better solution. Such funds have already been used to compensate victims of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, as well as cases involving big tobacco, Volkswagen, and other cases, they say. (Financial Times)

  • Rick Bright, the ousted leader of a federal agency working on a Covid-19 vaccine, has filed a whistle-blower complaint in which he alleges, among other things, that he was pressured to steer millions of dollars in federal money to companies with political connections. (Bloomberg News) (NYT)

  • Attorneys, staff, and paralegals are facing layoffs at Chicago-headquartered Vedder Price, in the latest law firm austerity move to combat the financial impact of Covid-19. (Above the Law)

  • As France prepares to start lifting its two-month-old Covid-19 shutdown order next week, managing partners in Paris said most of their lawyers will probably continue to work from home. (Law.com International)

  • Seyfarth said it’s teaming up with nonprofit groups in a coalition aimed at mitigating Covid-19’s impacts on diversity and inclusion in the legal profession. (BLAW)

  • The administrative arm of the U.S. judiciary said Federal courts need $36.6 million to address “emergent needs” in combating Covid-19. (BLAW)

  • The Atlanta-based top lawyer of a major company’s business risk analytics division midnights during weekends as a volunteer chief of an emergency medical technician crew in Connecticut. (Corporate Counsel)

Lawyers, Law Firms, Pro Bono

  • A security flaw on an open database exposed potentially sensitive client information in documents from some 190 law firms including Weil, Gotshal & Manges, White & Case, Baker McKenzie, DLA Piper, reports say. (Law.com International) (Financial Times) (Tiess.co.uk)

  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent non-surgical treatment for a benign gallbladder condition and will be in the hospital for a day or two, the U.S. Supreme Court said. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

  • Attorneys for a former Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement lawyer vowed to appeal after the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority barred him from associating with any FINRA members. FINRA’s ruling said Thomas J. Lykos, Jr, a Big Law attorney earlier in his career, cheated on a securities qualification exam he needed to pass to keep his job as chief compliance officer and general counsel of a Houston brokerage. (AdvisorHub.com)

  • A new program connects out-of-work attorneys with corporate legal departments facing a flood of Covid-19-related work. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Verizon agreed to pay a record $125 million to a former Big Law attorney and in-house leader who was paralyzed by a falling utility pole on her way to work. Her current and former attorneys are fighting over fees. (New Jersey Law Journal)

  • Wells Fargo & Co., advised by Troutman Sanders, has settled with whistle-blowers who accused the bank of making false claims to get emergency bailout loans in the 2008 financial crisis. (BLAW)

  • Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. were sued by California for allegedly violating a new state law designed to give gig-economy workers the benefits of employees. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

  • Law firms in Connecticut have been adding chief talent officers as they gear up to compete for top lawyers. (Hartford Business)

  • An Australian judge approved a AUD$ 35 million ($22.5 million) settlement of a shareholders class action funded by two litigation finance firms, but he refused to give an order that would have substantially increased the funders’ commission on the case. (Lawyers Weekly) (WoodsfordLitigationFunding.com)

  • Former director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Q. Todd Dickinson, died May 3. He most recently was an Washington-based intellectual property shareholder at Polsinelli. (BLAW)

Laterals, Moves

  • Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz corporate partner Edward Lee is joining Kirkland & Ellis’ M&A practice in New York, in a rare case of a lawyer leaving Wachtell for another firm. (BLAW)

  • Former Ropes & Gray national worklaw practice chief Jeffrey Webb jumped to Paul Hastings in Los Angeles. He’s a veteran of several Big Law firms and led the Fair Labor Division at the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. (BLAW)

  • Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman picked up a three lawyer leveraged finance team from White & Case for Pillsbury’s New York finance and corporate and securities practices. (BLAW)

  • Holland & Knight hired securities litigators Roger Lane and Courtney Worcester as partners in Boston office. They were both most recently partners at Foley & Lardner and previously worked at other Big Law firms. (HKLaw.com)

  • Cozen O’Connor added tech law attorney Frank Pugliese as a member in its corporate department in New York City. He was previously a partner at BakerHostetler. (Cozen.com)

In-house

  • Deutsche Bank promoted longtime in-house lawyer Karen Kuder to take over as general counsel and global head of its legal department when Florian Drinhausen leaves May 31. (Finance Feeds)

  • Robinhood Markets Inc., a commission-free startup stock trading platform and app, hired a new chief legal officer, getting former SEC Commissioner Daniel Gallagher Jr. who’s most recently at WilmerHale as deputy chair of its securities department. He replaces Anne Hoge, who’s leaving “to attend to an illness in the family,” after arriving six months ago from WhatsApp Inc. (BLAW)

Technology

  • Wisconsin-headquartered Quarles & Brady said it registered its Quarles.pharmacy domain name, making it the first and only law firm to get approval to register a .Pharmacy domain to date. (Quarles.com)

Legal Education

  • Nineteen jurisdictions have announced plans to postpone the bar exam to September, while the remaining jurisdictions have either said they plan to give the test as scheduled in July or have yet to make any announcement about their exam plans. (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: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Darren Bowman at dbowman@bloomberglaw.com

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