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Wake Up Call: Musk Told Cooley to Fire Ex-SEC Lawyer: Report

Jan. 18, 2022, 1:35 PM

In today’s column, with inflation soaring, some law firms worry it could kill M&A deals; U.K. law firm partners say banks are no longer their top tier clients; pro bono attorneys should continue to use technology they were forced to adopt during the pandemic, a report says.

  • Leading off, Tesla CEO Elon Musk demanded in 2021 that Cooley fire an associate who had interviewed him when the lawyer worked earlier at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission. Musk told Cooley, which was representing Tesla in several matters at the time, that it would lose the electric-vehicle company’s business if it didn’t sack the lawyer, the Journal reported. (WSJ)
  • Some law firm leaders are worried that inflation could sink M&A deals. (American Lawyer)
  • The surge in omicron variant Covid-19 infections hitting courtrooms across the country is forcing plaintiffs firms to reassess their strategies for litigation. (National Law Journal)
  • The pandemic forced pro bono attorneys to use new technologies for their work, and they should continue using those tools after the pandemic ends, a report says. (American Lawyer)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Banking and finance partners say firms no longer consider banks their top tier clients. ( International)
  • Davis Wright Tremaine has built programs to help women-led startups connect with investors, a report says. (Business Insider)

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • U.K. elite firm Linklaters grabbed Morgan Lewis partner Joel Seow to launch a Singapore investment funds practice. (Global Legal Post); Norton Rose Fulbright announced two leadership appointments for the Europe, Middle East and Asia region. It named London-based head of corporate disputes Patrick Bourke as EMEA head litigation and disputes. He replaces Michael Godden, who recently jumped to Allen & Overy. Norton Rose named London-based infrastructure and projects lawyer Madhavi Gosavi as EMEA head of banking and finance; Kirkland & Ellis’ Paris office brought in debt finance partner Kalish Mullen, who arrives from Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Winston & Strawn poached tax attorney Edouard de Rancher from Baker McKenzie as a partner in Paris; Hong Kong-based Karas LLP, allied with big U.K. firm Mishcon de Reya, added five attorneys to expand its dispute resolution practice. (
  • Baker McKenzie hired two tax advisers from Deloitte as principals. It said Miles Humphrey, in New York, and Jim Charlton in London, will focus on international projects for large and significant financial services MNEs; trial firm McKool Smith hired patent litigator and former computer engineer at IBM Ryan McBeth from Bracewell as a principal in Houston; alternative dispute resolution services provider JAMS added family law attorney Fern L. Frolin and retired Massachusetts Superior Court chief justice Judith Fabricant to its Boston panel. It added retired Orange County, California, judge Kirk H. Nakamura to its Orange County panel; Mitchell Sandler, a Washington-based boutique financial services law firm started two years ago by a group of Buckley Sandler lawyers, said it hired nine mortgage and litigation attorneys and six staff. Partners Daniella Casseres and Ari Karen and some others came over from Offit Kurman. (
  • British carmaker Aston Martin hired away Mercedes-Benz USA in-house lawyer Audra Dial as its first U.S. general counsel. She’s based in Atlanta. (Corporate Counsel)
  • Savage, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based global provider of industry infrastructure and supply chain services, hired Amy Smedley as its new executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. She was previously vice president and deputy GC corporate services and government affairs at Huntsman Corporation, a multinational manufacturer and marketer of chemical products. (

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

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer in New York at; Darren Bowman at