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Wake Up Call: More Big Firms Suing Clients for Upaid Bills

Dec. 5, 2016, 1:31 PM

• When it comes to unpaid legal bills it’s “no Mr. Nice Guy” at several major U.S. law firms. More firms are going after former clients for unpaid bills in court or arbitration. ( New York Law Journal )

• A software engineer has launched an effort to connect lawyers who have offered pro bono help for transgender people who may face legal hurdles getting passports and other identification documents under a Trump era. But so far no Big Law or corporate firm has openly offered its support. ( BLB )

• With legal approval for a planned $37 billion merger on the line, attorneys for giant insurance companies Aetna and Humana will face government antitrust lawyers today in a Washington, D.C. court. Concerned that consolidation in the health insurance market will raise prices and limit choice, regulators are also suing to block Anthem’s deal to buy Cigna for $54 billion. ( USA Today )

• The U.K. Supreme Court today begins hearing a case that argues Prime Minister Theresa May must hold a vote in Parliament before formally launching the process to take the country out of the European Union. ( Bloomberg ) Brexit is now in the hands of a golf enthusiast, a bellringer and ex-banker, who are among 10 men and one woman who sit as judges on the court. ( Bloomberg )

Legal Market

• U.K. soccer team Chelsea Football Club has hired Squire Patton Boggs for representation in an independent probe into allegations of child sex abuse. ( The Lawyer )

• M&A news: Jones Day and Thompson Hine advised Cleveland, Ohio-based manufacturer Parker-Hannifin Corp. in its planned $4.3 billion acquisition of Franklin, Tennessee-based Clarcor Inc. Baker & McKenzie and Bass, Berry & Sims represented Clarcor in the transaction. ( Am Law Daily )

• “Independent” lawyers from more than 30 firms have petitioned a federal judge for awards of legal fees and costs stemming from the $14.7 billion class action settlement with Volkswagen A.G. Most of those filings came after the judge last week issued an order preventing attorneys from submitting liens against their clients’ awards. ( National Law Journal )

• QuickTake Q&A on why Volkswagen, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors and several others in the car industry seem to be under legal siege. ( Bloomberg via BLB )

• Successful litigators in practices from product liability to patent law say the process is as important as the outcome. A special report looks at litigators from 20 firms. ( National Law Journal )

• More than a thousand Nevada attorneys who gave a total of 25,000 hours of legal work pro bono in 2016 will be honored at an awards luncheon hosted by the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada. ( Public News Service )

• London’s financial district will undergo large changes following the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union as banks operating there prepare to secure access to the bloc, according to BNP Paribas SA’s chairman. ( Bloomberg )

• South Korea starts what could be its biggest parliamentary hearing in history this week, as the heads of industrial behemoths Samsung and Hyundai line up with seven other top business leaders to be grilled by lawmakers over President Park Geun-hye’s influence-peddling scandal. ( Bloomberg )

• Editorial: North Carolina Republican legislative leaders have paid $10.5 billion and counting to party-affiliated outside lawyers to defend voter suppression laws and other “ludicrous” measures. ( News & Observer )

Transition to a Trump presidency, Election Recount Fight

• President-elect Donald Trump has alleged that Hillary Clinton got more popular votes than he did in the Nov. 8 presidential election because millions of people voted illegally. But a filing by his lawyers seeking to block a vote recount effort in Michigan asserts that “all available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.” They made similar arguments in Pennsylvania. ( Washington Post )

• A Green Party-backed campaign changed its strategy to force a statewide recount of Pennsylvania’s Nov. 8 presidential election, won by Republican Donald Trump, and said late Saturday night that it will seek help in the federal courts, rather than the state courts. The state Republican Party and Trump have asked the court to dismiss the state court case. A recount began Thursday in Wisconsin, while a recount could begin next week in Michigan. ( Bloomberg )

• The inauguration is more than a month away but Trump’s foreign policy is already here in a welter of tweets aimed at China. ( Bloomberg )

• Trump tweeted new warnings to companies considering foreign outsourcing, renewing his threats to slap 35 percent tariffs on goods that U.S. companies make abroad. ( Financial Times )

• Trump’s three eldest children have long mixed family and business ties. How can those dealings be separated from Trump’s work at the White House? ( New York Times )

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether Los Angeles County and two police officers must pay a $4 million award to a couple shot during a search for someone else. ( Bloomberg via BLB )

• The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether religious hospitals and schools must abide by the federal rules that govern most private pension plans, taking up an issue at the heart of dozens of lawsuits that seek billions of dollars. ( Bloomberg )

• The Detroit Free Press has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a court decision that limits public access to the mug shots of federal criminal defendants. ( National Law Journal )

• After petitioning last week to represent himself, the 22-year old man awaiting trial for fatally shooting nine members of a historic black church in South Carolina last year submitted a handwritten letter asking the judge in the case to get his lawyers back, at least for the sentencing part of the trial. ( New York Post )

Laterals and Moves • Four tax and wealth planning lawyers have joined Venable in Los Angeles from the Chicago-based law firm McDermott Will & Emery. The group also brings three paralegals and three staff members. ( BLB )


• The family of a woman killed in the 2015 Paris attacks claims that Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and Google profit from targeted advertising linked to terrorist propaganda promoting violence. It is one of several cases in U.S. courts alleging that the social media giants have played crucial roles in the growth of terrorist organizations. ( Bloomberg )

• Defense lawyers in a high-profile rape case of an Aspen, Colorado, developer are accused of secretly live-streaming the alleged victim’s deposition in the case. ( Aspen Times )

• Silicon Valley companies lack empathy for the people whose lives they affect with their products. ( The New Yorker )

• Sony Corp. has a hit game called “Fate/Grand Order” that is beating Pokemon Go in Japan in terms of revenues. ( Bloomberg )

• After Saturday Night Live made fun of Trump’s heavy use of Twitter during meetings, Trump tweeted that the skit was “unwatchable” and “not funny.” ( New York Times )

Legal Education

• Perspective: From giving dolls to girls and building blocks to boys, many tiny, subtle and often unintentional factors accumulate to contribute to the gender discrepancy that women face in the legal profession. Law schools are in a unique position to counteract this bias in a competitive law school landscape, writes a co-founder of Hire an Esquire. ( BLB )


• New York’s health commissioner said that state will add chronic pain to the list of conditions for which patients are eligible to receive medical marijuana. ( New York Law Journal )

• International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde said everyone has a responsibility to combat anti-woman attitudes, and global leaders who claim to be feminists need to take more action to help women enter and stay in the workforce. She said her comments were not directed at the U.S. president-elect. Video, text. ( Bloomberg )

Twelve diversity obstacles faced by firms: an interview with Meg Sullivan, chief business development and marketing officer at Paul Hastings, about findings from “Diversity and Inclusion,” the survey report the firm did with BLB.( Above the Law )

It’s critical that young lawyers learn their “craft,” the basics of practicing law, says Tony Pierce, Akin Gump’s Washington. D.C., partner in charge. In a recent interview with BLB, Pierce reflected on his 29 years since law school, all at Akin Gump.( BLB )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan .