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Wake Up Call: MoFo Hires WHO Consultant to Advise on Reopening Plan

June 25, 2020, 12:53 PM

In today’s column, over 125 law firms have signed on to an ambitious anti-racism charter group that plans to hold two summits this year; LegalMatch got another denial from California in its bid to run a lawyer referral service; Bayer agreed to pay about $12 billion to settle tens of thousands of U.S. lawsuits over its Roundup weed killer; litigation finance firm Burford Capital acquired a minority stake in a London-based dispute resolution firm; Fox Rothschild hired a former Rivers Casino top lawyer as counsel in its gaming practice group; distributed firm FisherBroyles hired a Davis Polk capital markets lawyer as a partner for New York and London.

  • Leading off, Morrison & Foerster hired California-based epidemiologist Kavita K. Trivedi to advise on its firm-wide plan for re-opening its international offices, which have been closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The firm said Trivedi, who among other things is a consultant at the World Health Organization, “has been integral in advising us and developing a firm-wide protocol that we strictly adhere to when reopening any of our offices, as we have done in Asia and in Berlin.” (The Lawyer)

  • As authorities around the world start lifting Covid-19 stay-at-home orders, Big Law firms are mulling plans for reopening offices for in-person business after working remotely for several months. Several firms this week announced reopening plans in London and New York, with Simpson Thacher the latest to open in London. (Law.com International) MoFo said that in London, given current U.K. government recommendations and the firm’s own guidance, it plans to continue to work remotely for “at least the near future.” Several firms have also said they don’t plan to open right away in New York City, despite having a green light to do so since Monday. (BLAW)

  • Baker McKenzie said it will delay the start of its first-year associate class from September to January 2021, citing the impacts of the pandemic. (BLAW)

  • The pandemic could force law firms to finally embrace new ways of working more efficiently, a new survey says. (BLAW)

  • Close to 200 in-house leaders from major companies including Amazon, Twitter, NBCUniversal, among others, urged Congress to boost funding for the Legal Services Corporation. They said the legal aid nonprofit is essential for helping lower and middle income Americans get help dealing with the pandemic’s fallout. (BLAW)

The Legal Profession Reacts to George Floyd Protests, Systemic Racism

  • At least two pro bono initiatives were announced this week in the wake of protests over recent police and vigilante killings of black people in several American cities and of systemic racism. Skadden is hosting a list of over 125 law firms, so far, that have signed on to the charter of the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance, which plans two summits this year. The charter says it aims to get law firms and legal services groups working together to fight racism and promote equity in the law. (American Lawyer)

  • The ACLU of Louisiana said 18 major firms have joined its “Justice Lab” campaign to bring 1,000 Louisiana court challenges to racially motivated stops and seizures, “to test the impact that litigation has on police conduct.” (ACLU Louisiana)

  • Suspended Pryor Cashman lawyer Colinford Mattis pleaded “not guilty” to seven federal charges in the alleged firebombing of an NYPD vehicle during George Floyd protests in New York. (New York Post) Mattis’ supporters interrupted the arraignment, which was held via conference call because of the pandemic. (New York Law Journal)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Bayer AG agreed to pay about $12 billion to resolve 75% of the 125,000 law suits it faces over Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer and other substances. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

  • Litigation finance firm Burford Capital acquired a minority stake in London-based dispute resolution firm PCB Litigation. (Global Legal Post)

  • A federal appeals court said a former female NTT executive waited too long to appeal the dismissal of her sex bias suit against the company. The judge criticized the JAMS arbitrator in the case for failing to disclose her major stake in the dispute resolution company. (BLAW)

  • Major League Baseball’s 30 teams and the MLB Players Association this week reached a deal that allows a Covid-19 shortened 2020 season. At least half a dozen law firms, including Proskauer Rose, and dozens of in-house lawyers, participated in the weeks of intense negotiations. (BLAW)

  • Clearlake Capital Group, advised by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, acquired a majority stake in WhiteStar Asset Management, an investment firm that specializes in collateralized loan obligations. With WhiteStar’s $6 billlion, the combined firm’s assets under management total about $24 billion. Skadden Arps advised seller Pine Brook Capital Partner and Milbank advised WhiteStar. (Bloomberg News)

  • Goodwin advised Yumanity Therapeutics on its $500 million strategic research collaboration and license agreement with Merck focused on accelerating development of new treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. (BioSpace.com)

Laterals, Moves

  • FisherBroyles, which calls itself the world’s first and biggest “distributed” firm, added capital markets lawyer Thomas K. Wiesner II as a partner in London and New York. He was previously at Davis Polk & Wardwell, mainly in Madrid, and earlier spent time at Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s New York office. (FisherBroyles.com)

  • Fox Rothschild hired former Rivers Casino top lawyer Evan Davis as counsel in its gaming practice group, based in its Philadelphia and Atlantic City offices. Earlier in his career, Davis was at Pepper Hamilton and Dechert, where he focused on antitrust matters and other complex commercial disputes. (FoxRothschild.com)

  • Katten Muchin Rosenman said its two-year-old Dallas office got is first worklaw attorney, with former Haynes and Boone associate Michael Gaston-Bell joining the firm as a special counsel in its litigation practice. (Katten.com)

  • Barnes & Thornburg added worklaw veteran Terese Connolly as a partner in Chicago. According to her Linkedin, she’s been at Sheppard Mullin, Baker McKenzie, and Littler, and arrives most recently from Culhane Meadows, where she was partner and chair of the labor & employment practice. (BTLaw.com)

  • Frost Brown Todd said a former mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, Bill Purcell, joined the firm as counsel in its government services practice group. He was a founding partner of Nashville firm Farmer Purcell White & Lassiter, and earlier was a director of Harvard University’s Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. (FrostBrownTodd.com)

In-house

  • Sterling Construction Co. Inc., one of several companies contracted to build President Trump’s U.S. border wall with Mexico, is looking for a new top lawyer. (BLAW)

Technology

  • Hogan Lovells launched an artificial intelligence-based tool aimed at helping financial industry clients tackle logistical challenges of dealing with the European Banking Authority’s new guidelines on outsourcing agreements. (HoganLovells.com)

  • U.K.-based legal tech provider Apperio says it’s expanding sales to the United States for its platform helping corporate legal departments track, manage, and analyze their spending on outside legal costs. (Apperio.com)

  • California’s state bar again rejected LegalMatch’s certification request to run a lawyer referral business. (The Recorder)

Legal Education

  • Validity Finance said a University of Chicago Law student won its 2020 Equal Access Fellowship for 1Ls of diverse backgrounds. This year virtual because of Covid-19, the 10-week paid summer fellowship lets students spend the first half of their summer at Validity and the second half at a nonprofit of their choice. (Validity-Finance.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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