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Wake Up Call: New York Probes Video App Used by Home-Bound Lawyers

March 31, 2020, 12:07 PM

In today’s column, a new report sees a steep drop in M&A deals for a recent period; more law firms say they’re worried that shutdowns to stem spread of new coronavirus Covid-19 will hit their cash-flow; as a result, one firm announced slower cash distributions to partners; another announced layoffs and pay cuts; while another reduced matching pension contributions; whatever Covid-19 has in store for them this year, top lawyers at some big U.S. companies earned big money last year.

  • Leading off, Zoom, which has been the videoconferencing tool of choice for many remote working attorneys, judges, and others in the legal profession during Covid-19 lock-downs, is getting investigated by the New York Attorney General over reported data privacy and security vulnerabilities. (New York Times)

  • Global mergers & acquisitions activity last week plunged to its lowest weekly level since April 2009, and the drop was led by the United States, the Financial Times reports. (Financial Times)

  • In the U.K., lawyers said they fear that long lock-downs caused by Covid-19 and other virus panic will cause billing delays, bonus reductions, and job cuts, as their clients’ businesses struggle. (Law.com International)

  • Out of similar concerns, Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith said it would slow cash distribution to partners as a “precaution.” (BLAW)

  • Meanwhile, transatlantic firm Womble Bond Dickinson, coming off a tough financial 2019, said it furloughed some employees and laid off others, while cutting pay by 10% for some lawyers and staff. (BLAW)

  • Philadelphia-based litigation firm Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, with about 1,200 employees, said that, in order to avoid layoffs and staff cuts, it is suspending its 4% employer 401(k) match program until next year. (Legal Intelligencer)

  • Employers’ top worry in the age of Covid-19 is that they’ll have to temporarily close offices, factories, or stores if an employee or customer tests positive for the virus, according to a new survey by management-side worklaw firm Littler Mendelson. (Littler.com)

  • An American Bar Association “fact check” post discusses who has the legal authority to order quarantines, business closures, and stay-at-home directives during health emergencies like the Covid-19 pandemic. (ABAlegalfactcheck.com)

  • Racking up billable hours from the dining table: about a dozen lawyers from Washington area Big Law firms described their “new normals” during the pandemic. (National Law Journal)

  • Some Covid-19 resources: Morrison & Foerster has a post on financial services provisions in the new $2 Trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act. (MoFo.com) A Dechert post addresses temporary measures by the London Stock Exchange’s Alternative Investment Market to support companies during market volatility caused by Covid-19. (Dechert)

  • Greenspoon Marder said it’s hooking up with insurance-coverage firm Pasich LLP, to advise clients on insurance coverage concerns for economic losses and litigation during the crisis. (GMLaw.com)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • After several years of financial gains, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison’s gross revenue tumbled to $1.39 billion in 2019, down 3.6% from 2018, while its average profits per equity partner shrank 6.4%, to $4.7 million. But the firm said early data for 2020 have been strong. (New York Law Journal)

  • Compensation cuts spurred by Covid-19 may be coming for in-house counsel across the U.S., but recent filings show that 2019 was lucrative for some law department leaders. (BLAW)

  • Hogan Lovells said a former senior trade adviser to President Trump, Kelly Ann Shaw, is joining its international trade and investment practice as a partner. (BLAW)

  • O’Melveny & Myers has revamped its leadership by promoting at least 15 partners to roles that include office managing partner and practice group chair. (BLAW)

  • The New York Times Company, advised by Morgan Lewis, acquired Audm, a subscription-based app whose audio content features human narrators reading long-form journalism. Audm was advised by Fenwick & West. (GlobalLegalChronicle.com)

Laterals, Moves

  • Stroock & Stroock & Lavan added distressed transactions and special situations lawyer Allison Miller as a partner in its financial restructuring group in New York. She was previously at Akin Gump. (Stroock.com)

  • Axinn added former Department of Justice antitrust trial attorney Craig Minerva as antitrust counsel in Washington. In three years at the DOJ, Minerva, among other things, led the government’s investigation into Walt Disney Co’s $71 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox Inc.’s entertainment assets. (BLAW.com)

  • Schiff Hardin said its New York City office is getting back partner Philippe Manteau, as its international practice chair, after four years at Loeb & Loeb, where he was Western Europe corporate practice chair. Earlier in his career, Manteau established Herbert Smith Freehills’ Paris office merger/antitrust and commercial law practice, before taking a top role at a U.S. firm affiliated with Ernst & Young. Also arriving is Loeb & Loeb complex commercial litigator Patrick Downes, who joins as a partner in ‘s San Francisco office. (SchiffHardin.com)

  • Clifford Chance’s New York office grabbed private funds lawyer David Goldstein, the global co-head of DLA Piper’s investment funds practice, as a partner. (CliffordChance.com)

  • Allen & Overy hired back IP litigation partner Paul Keller from Norton Rose Fulbright in New York, after losing him to the same firm five years ago. At Norton Rose, Keller became head of the New York IP disputes group and co-head of the autonomous vehicle international business group. (LegalBusiness.co.uk)

  • Holland & Knight added the former Miami U.S. Attorney’s office special prosecution section chief, Barbara Martinez, as a senior consultant on the firm’s global compliance and investigations team. At the DOJ, Martinez supervised a group that specializes in prosecuting child exploitation, human trafficking, and violent crimes cases. (HKLaw.com)

  • Holland & Knight also said tax attorney Alan Schwartz joined the firm in New York as a partner in its corporate, M&A and securities practice group. He spent 15 years at McDermott, Will & Emery, including as a partner, and arrives most recently from Reed Smith. (HKLaw.com)

In-house

  • NeoPhotonics Corporation, a California-based maker of devices for ultra-fast communications networks, hired veteran tech industry in-house leader Barbara Rogan as SVP and general counsel. (Finance.Yahoo.com)

Technology

  • The U.K. government’s new online platform to help courts deal with Covid-19 disruption is being led by author Richard Susskind, who’s an IT adviser to England’s chief justice and a frequent author and speaker on the future of law. (Legaltech News)

  • Although so-called “immersive tech” including augmented and virtual reality is making progress, slow adoption by business and consumers is among factors limiting venture capital investment in startups, according to a new Perkins Coie survey of 200 startup founders. (PerkinsCoie.com)

Legal Education

  • As three states so far have canceled their July bar exams and are planning to hold the test in the fall, third-year law students have been pushing for an emergency option that would allow them to skip the bar altogether. (Law.com)

  • Former Facebook vice president and general counsel Colin Stretch is teaching a Columbia Law School seminar on general counsel’s role in the modern economy. (Corporate Counsel)

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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