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Wake Up Call: Mattel Gets New Top Lawyer from ViacomCBS

Dec. 9, 2020, 1:55 PM

In today’s column, Dentons, which already has more lawyers than any firm in the world, got 80 more by adding an Iowa firm; law firm leaders are taking a cautious approach to vaccine policies; and a cinema chain’s restructuring lawyers helped it negotiate a creative settlement to get out of bankruptcy.

  • Leading off, Toy giant Mattel, Inc. said it recruited ViacomCBS Media Networks general counsel Jonathan Anschell to be its executive vice president, chief legal officer, and secretary. According to his LinkedIn profile, Anschell became ViacomCBS Media Networks’s general counsel in December 2019, when the company was created out of a merger of Viacom and CBS Corporation. Former Shearman & Sterling partner Christa D’Alimonte is ViacomCBS’s legal department leader overall, as executive vice president, general counsel, and secretary, Inc. Before the merger, Anschell spent 15 years in-house at CBS. At Mattel, he will take over from Robert Normile, who will continue in his current role through Dec. 31 and then stay on as an executive advisor through early next year, according to a statement. ( (The Toy Book)
  • Mattel Inc., which has faced fallout over a whistle-blower claim that said it misled investors in financial statements dating back to 2017, earlier this year hired a former Campbell Soup Co. executive as new chief financial officer. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)
  • As Covid-19 vaccines get closer to becoming available, law firm leaders say they’re considering vaccine policies but many say they are not in a hurry to implement new policies or mandates. (American Lawyer)
  • Most midsize firms are very focused on collecting from clients this year, and whether they are able to collect can affect this year’s profits and next year’s demand, a report finds. (The Mid-market Report)
  • As Covid forces law firms to work remote, Norton Rose Fulbright is the latest big firm to reduce its footprint, with a plan to cut its London office space by one-fourth, according to a report. (The Lawyer)
  • New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said she expects the nonjudicial workforce in the state’s court system to shrink sharply next year as the system absorbs about $300 million in pandemic-related budget cuts. (New York Law Journal)
  • During the pandemic, podcasts can help law firms set their messaging apart from other firms, but they’re hard to do. (American Lawyer)

Biden Transition, Election Litigation

  • With a key deadline set to pass in his unsubstantiated bid to reverse the election, President Donald Trump and his supporters rallied around a lawsuit Texas filed in the U.S. Supreme Court that seeks to get the vote of four swing states thrown out. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)
  • Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, who works with Rudy Giuliani, tested positive for Covid-19. She also recently attended a large White House party, not wearing a mask, according to Axios. (Axios)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Dentons, the world’s biggest law firm by headcount, said it’s adding an 80-lawyer firm Iowa. The move is part of the firm’s “Project Golden Spike” expansion in the U.S., where it now has 39 locations. Dentons has 93 total locations across 77 countries. (Des Moines Register) (
  • Episode 1 from a new BLAW podcast, “Black Lawyers Speak,” features interviews with African American lawyers at elite law firms and companies about their work for equality in the profession. (BLAW)
  • Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner set out new diversity and inclusion targets for partners and business staff. (
  • Management-side labor and employment law firm Littler said it aims to double the number of attorneys of color, women and LGBTQ+ shareholders in the top quarter of Littler’s compensation system within five years, as part of its efforts to boost diversity. (
  • The U.K. legal profession, and its clients, are in for a “rude awakening,” as Brexit-related changes to the legal system take effect, writes a McDermott, Will & Emory partner. (
  • Industry in-house leaders criticized a recent move by a Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’ owned building products company to lay off its entire legal team. (Corporate Counsel)
  • Restructuring attorneys at Florida firm Bast Amron and Quinn Emanuel helped negotiate a creative solution to get cinema chain Cinemex Holdings USA Inc. out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, making it the first U.S. cinema chain to do that during the pandemic, a report says. (Daily Business Review) (Miami Herald)
  • Locke Lord advised Houston-based private investment firm Race Rock Group on its acquisition of Structural and Steel Products, Inc. from Highland Capital Management. No terms were disclosed. (

Laterals, Moves

  • Proskauer Rose added litigator Todd Ohlms as a partner in Chicago. According to his LinkedIn profile, he arrives after 25 years at Freeborn & Peters, where he was partner, and co-chair of the private equity/portfolio company and litigation practice groups. (
  • Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough hired veteran work attorneys Colin L. Barnacle and Christopher Eby as partners in Denver. They arrive from Akerman, where they were also partners. (
  • Cozen O’Connor said it expanded its international arbitration practicing by bringing in commercial and international dispute litigator Kurt Lindquist as a shareholder based in Washington. Lindquist arrives after 12 years at Womble Bond Dickinson, where he was a partner, according to his LinkedIn profile. (


  • Stripe Inc., an online payments processor, has recruited at least a half-dozen lawyers since Labor Day as the company reportedly seeks a funding round that could see its valuation soar above $70 billion. (BLAW)
  • International Money Express, Inc. said it’s appointing former Yahoo! Inc. in-house leader Ernesto Luciano as the company’s new general counsel and chief compliance officer. Luciano has been in-house at HBO and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. and arrives most recently from Kaplan Higher Education, where he was vice president and associate GC. (
  • The Hershey Company said general counsel and senior vice president Damien Atkins has left his post due to family illness. (BLAW)
  • A former general counsel at Toyota North America, Mark Stall, who also spent time as top lawyer at a division of International Paper Company, announced that he started his own business law firm. (Cincinnati Business Courier)
  • Law firm performance review platform Qualmet hired its first top lawyer, getting veteran general counsel and former Duff & Phelps managing director Rich Cohen as general counsel and president, based in Weston, Florida. (


  • Munger, Tolles & Olson said it promoted four lawyers (two women) to partner in its L.A and San Francisco offices. (
  • Kramer Levin promoted promoted two lawyers to special counsel, effective Jan. 1, 2021. (


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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at