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Wake Up Call: More Firms Follow Cravath on Covid Bonus Opt-Out

Oct. 7, 2020, 12:57 PM

In today’s column, New York’s governor plans new Covid shutdown orders that will force law firm offices and other nonessential businesses to close in some parts of the state; an Amazon employee who says he’s male and pregnant is suing the company for discrimination; 35 Big Law firms have started in-house alternative legal service providers to protect their “turf” from outside competitors, a report says; Goodwin nabbed the life sciences co-chair of Hogan Lovells in Washington; three top women bankruptcy lawyers in India are trying to help more women get into the country’s legal profession; a new San Francisco-based virtual law firm is expanding at Big Law’s expense.

  • Leading off, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, the firm that usually sets the industry standard on generous year-end bonuses for associates, is getting pegged with allegedly derailing this fall’s Covid appreciation bonus train, after several big firms have followed the Wall Street elite firm’s move to opt out of the bonus-fest that started in early September. Yesterday, Paul Weiss and Fried Frank were the latest firms to say they will not offer the bonuses. (Above the Law)

  • Prospects were looking good for Big Law associates after several firms in September matched the $7,500 to $40,000 Covid-bonus scale set by Davis Polk, after Cooley got the train rolling at a lower scale. But then Kirkland & Ellis, O’Melveny & Myers, and Cravath, followed by two more firms yesterday, have slammed on the brakes. Paul Weiss chair Brad Karp said in an email to associates and counsel that “providing a special cash reward in direct response to the pandemic does not feel right at this time.” (BLAW)

  • Law firm offices and other nonessential businesses will have to shutter in some parts of New York state at the end of this week, as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday he will issue new lockdown orders for areas fighting Covid clusters. (New York Law Journal)

  • The company that made the experimental “antibody cocktail” given to President Donald Trump to treat his Covid-19 symptoms over the weekend is getting sued for patent infringement. The plaintiff company says it just wants recognition for what it calls its important contribution to Covid vaccine efforts. (The Recorder) (Bloomberg News via Bloomberg Law)

  • Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton is reversing attorney and staff pay cuts it made in response to the Covid crisis but it’s also eliminating 22 furloughed staff positions. (BLAW)

  • Digital materials, 3D resumés, and coffee chats are the some of the tools Big Law hiring directors are using as they adapt their summer associate hiring to the virtual constraints of Covid, a report says. (Business Insider)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Close to three dozen of the 100 biggest U.S. law firms have created in-house alternative legal service providers to protect their “home turf” as they gear up to compete with outside providers in a fast-growing part of the legal services market, according to a study by Baretz+Brunelle’s NewLaw Practice. (Hubspot)

  • New San Francisco-based virtual law firm Scale is expanding with talent grabbed from Big Law firms. (American Lawyer)

  • Sidley Austin will offer more diversity and inclusion scholarships for summer associates and paid internships in Los Angeles and New York, as part of a settlement with the U.S. Labor Department. (BLAW)

  • Three lawyers who resolved India’s biggest bankruptcy case last year are using their professional standing to try to help more women get into the country’s legal profession. (Bloomberg News)

  • The Republican Senate candidate in New Hampshire, Corky Messner, a former Kirkland & Ellis lawyer, is getting flak because his current law firm once represented an insurance company that was run by the Chinese government and that sued a U.S. manufacturer. Messner’s campaign takes a tough stance on China. (Associated Press)

  • A pregnant warehouse worker who identifies as male is suing the company for discrimination. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius is representing Amazon. (New Jersey Law Journal)

  • The white lawyer couple who became famous for pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in Saint Louis was indicted by a grand jury on weapons and evidence tampering charges. (CNN)

  • Bankrupt denim retailer True Religion Apparel Inc., represented by Cole Schotz, won court approval of its reorganization plan that hands a bulk of equity to term loan lenders. (BLAW)

  • Orrick advised San Francisco-based insurance company Clover Health on its $3.7 billion SPAC merger with Social Capital Hedosophia, which was advised by Skadden Arps. ( (Bloomberg News)

Laterals, Moves

  • Goodwin Procter recruited Hogan Lovells’ life sciences transactions co-head Adam Bellack as a partner in Washington. He specializes in licensing, collaborations, and other strategic and commercial transactions for clients in the life sciences and health care industries. (

  • Orrick added IP and data privacy lawyer Sarah Schaedler from Kirkland & Ellis as a partner in its San Francisco office on its tech transactions team. (BLAW)

  • Holland & Knight added a former Senate Finance Committee senior counsel for energy and tax, Todd Wooten, as a partner in its public policy & regulation practice group in Washington. He’ll be the firm’s senior Democratic Senate lobbyist. (

  • Venable hired former House committee general counsel and staff director Michael Bloomquist, also a former Wiley Rein partner, as a partner in Washington in its legislative and government affairs practice. (Venable)


  • A former senior regulatory counsel at Pay Pal Inc., Jeanette Hait Blanco, got promoted to top lawyer at Nacha, a Herndon, Va.-based nonprofit electronic payments association, where she’s been an associate GC since 2017. (

  • Anchorage Hold LLC, a cryptocurrency custodian backed by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, added coin industry veteran and former Big Law attorney Georgia Quinn to be its new general counsel. (BLAW)


  • Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati’s automation arm, SixFifty, has launched a product to help companies manage diversity and inclusion programs as their popularity surges. (BLAW)

  • Covid-19 has not stopped in-house leaders from wanting to tweak their legal departments, but they still have to deal with old obstacles to innovation, according to a recent report by Allen & Overy. (Corporate Counsel)

Legal Education

  • A new survey report looks at areas where law schools are “failing on diversity.” (

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Darren Bowman at