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Wake Up Call: More Big Law Firms Cut Jobs Amid Covid-19 Crisis

Sept. 2, 2020, 12:00 PM

In today’s column, Wigdor is representing women who accuse Big Four accounting firm Deloitte of punishing them for using parental leave; Wigdor is also among plaintiffs’ firms criticizing a new, reduced settlement offer to Harvey Weinstein victims; Fox Rothschild lost nine bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers to two firms, as the rash of Covid insolvencies keeps heat on the lateral market for bankruptcy expertise; two Big Law firms made major data privacy hires in Brussels, the EU capital and home of the world’s toughest data privacy law.

  • Leading off, over a dozen-Big Law firms recently rolled back temporary pay cuts they made early in the Covid-19 pandemic to shore up their cash flow. But Tuesday brought news of job cuts at Baker McKenzie, Davis Wright Tremaine, and McDermott Will & Emery. Baker McKenzie, among the world’s biggest law firms by headcount, said it is shrinking its North American workforce by 6% as part of a move to realign practices and prepare for “the next normal.” The layoffs include lawyers, “timekeepers,” and business professionals in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. (BLAW)

  • Davis Wright Tremaine was among firms walking back some austerity measures it took earlier this year, but it is also converting some staff furloughs to permanent layoffs. (BLAW) A report from London says McDermott recently laid off “a small number” of business support staff from its office in the city. (The Lawyer)


Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Consumer law will likely benefit first and most from Arizona’s move last week to become the first U.S. state to formally allow nonlawyers to co-own law firms and other legal service operations. (American Lawyer)

  • The Wigdor law firm is representing a group of women whose proposed class action in Manhattan federal court accuses Deloitte of “penalizing” them after they availed themselves of the accounting giant’s 16-week parental leave policy. (BLAW)

  • Lawyers for victims of convicted rapist Harvey Weinstein cried foul after The Weinstein Co. bankruptcy estate proposed a new settlement that is $7.2 million less than their previous one. (Variety)

  • Morrison & Foerster released an update to its handbook aimed at helping people affected by California’s wildfires. (Mofo.com)


Laterals, Moves

  • The lateral market for bankruptcy and restructuring lawyers is still hot, as firms respond to an upsurge in business from companies slammed by the Covid crisis. Cozen O’Connor yesterday said it doubled the size of its bankruptcy practice by getting eight lawyers from Fox Rothschild, in a move Cozen says will enable it to take on cases of any size. (BLAW)

  • Katten Muchin Rosenman hired two insolvency and restructuring partners yesterday. Terence Banich, who was a co-chair of the bankruptcy litigation practice group at Fox Rothschild in Chicago, joined in that city. John Mitchell, who was a partner at Akerman, joined in Dallas. (American Lawyer)

  • Irell & Manella lost securities litigation practice chair and executive committee member Craig Varnen to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher in the latest major lateral departure from the high-end litigation boutique. Varnen, who also served as vice chair of Irell’s litigation group and spent 26 years at the firm, will join Gibson Dunn in Los Angeles. (BLAW)

  • Kirkland & Elllis hired back former partner Brian Benczkowski, who’s returning to the firm after a two-year stint leading the criminal division of the U.S. Department of Justice. (BLAW)

  • Philadelphia-based Blank Rome snagged Perkins Coie’s insurance recovery chair, Robert Jacobs, as a partner in Washington, D.C. He arrives, with two other lawyers and a paralegal, to Blank Rome’s national policyholder group. The group has more than doubled in size, to 36 lawyers, since the firm absorbed 100-plus attorneys from Dickstein Shapiro when that firm shut down in 2016. (BlankRome.com)

  • Cooley grabbed DLA Piper global data privacy and cybersecurity practice co-chair Patrick Van Eecke for its office in Brussels, which it opened last year. Arriving with a team of data protection lawyers from France, Spain, and Latvia, Van Eecke becomes head of Cooley’s European cyber/data/privacy practice and vice chair of the global practice. (Cooley.com)

  • Also in Brussels, Steptoe & Johnson LLP recruited Mayer Brown privacy and cybersecurity partner Charles-Albert Helleputte as a partner. He’s joined by associate Diletta De Cicco. (Steptoe.com)

  • Litigation finance company Omni Bridgeway announced that former Morgan, Lewis & Bockius partner Tim DeSieno joined the firm as its new global director of distressed debt and senior investment manager. He’s based in New York. (OmniBridgeway.com)

  • Loeb & Loeb added international tax lawyer Matthew McKim as a partner in Chicago in its trusts and estates department. He has previously been at several Big Law firms and arrives most recently from Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff, where he led the international private client group. (Loeb.com)

  • Holland & Knight said international trade lawyer Nasim Fussell joined the firm as a partner in Washington. Most recently, Fussell was chief international trade counsel for the Senate Finance Committee, advising Chairman Chuck Grassley, committee members and staff on international trade and customs matters. (HKLaw.com)

  • Michael Best added worklaw litigator Emily Hobbs to its labor and employment relations practice as a partner in Denver. She arrives after close to 17 years at Holland & Hart, including about seven as partner, and is the first member of Michael Best’s worklaw practice to be based in the firm’s Denver office. (MichaelBest.com)

  • Veteran business immigration attorney Ian Wagreich joined Hinshaw & Culbertson as a partner in its labor & employment practice in Chicago. He started his legal career at Baker & McKenzie in 1996 and arrives most recently from Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym. (HinshawLaw.com)

  • Distributed firm FisherBroyles picked up another Big Law partner, this time Winston & Strawn intellectual property litigator Steven Anzalone, who joins FisherBroyles as a partner in Washington. (FisherBroyles.com)

In-House

  • Covetrus Inc., an animal health services and technology company, hired ex-Big Law partner and blockchain tech company counsel Jamey Seely as general counsel based in Denver. (BLAW)

  • Greenberg Traurig insurance law shareholder Julie Mix McPeak joined Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, as senior deputy general counsel based in Nashville, Tennessee. She’s a former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. (Business Insurance)


Technology


Legal Education

California lawmakers yesterday passed a resolution urging the state’s Supreme Court to apply a new, lower passing score on the bar exam retroactively. (BLAW)

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at rMitchell@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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