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Wake Up Call: Omicron Fuels Debate on Firms’ Office Returns

Jan. 7, 2022, 1:29 PM

In today’s column, former Arnold & Porter chair John Hawke died at age 88; the Federal Aviation Administration’s new chief counsel is a former Saab and Rolls Royce in-house leader; the SEC got a flood of comment letters on its planned rules for climate-related disclosures.

  • Leading off, the Covid-19 variant omicron is reported to be much more contagious than the Delta variant but less lethal. That combination is adding fuel to disagreements at law firms about their policies on in-office attendance and other future-of-work considerations. (American Lawyer)
  • Washington firms have paused or put off their return-to-office dates. (National Law Journal)
  • As courts adjust their proceedings to omicron, an Albany County court ordered former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to appear virtually for a proceeding in a misdemeanor groping case against him. (New York Law Journal) Many Pennsylvania jury trials are continuing despite omicron (Legal Intelligencer)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission has received a flood of letters from general counsel and other in-house legal department leaders of publicly traded companies about rules it is expected to issue this year for climate-related disclosures. The letters’ divergent positions suggest the agency can’t please everyone. (
  • Former Arnold & Porter chair John D. Hawke Jr., a banking lawyer who served six years as comptroller of the currency, died Jan. 3 at age 88. Among other roles, he was general counsel to the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System. (WaPo)

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Jones Day poached Kirkland & Ellis intellectual property, trade secrets partner Kristina Hendricks as a partner in Chicago; Debevoise & Plimpton named partner Marilyn Lion co-chair of its insurance group, replacing former co-chair John Vasily, who continues as senior partner. She joins co-chair Nicholas Potter; Saul Ewing hired IP litigator Matthew Kohel as a partner in Baltimore; Saul Ewing also added health-care counsel Brenda Abrams in Philadelphia; Willkie Farr & Gallagher added Katten Muchin real estate finance partner Christine Murphy as a partner in New York; Dentons recruited former Illinois assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Storino to its litigation practice as a partner in Chicago. (Dentons)
  • Squire Patton Boggs brought in former Brighthouse Financial corporate secretary and BB&T executive and in-house leader D. Burt Arrington as financial services of counsel in Atlanta; Norton Rose Fulbright’s Paris office got DLA Piper financial partner Sébastien Praicheux as a partner in the firm’s French and EU financial services regulatory practices. He was earlier head of legal at Crédit Agricole CIB; Manatt, Phelps & Phillips hired entertainment lawyer Christopher Chatham as a partner in Los Angeles; former Baker McKenzie chief knowledge officer Mark Ford took a job at EY Legal as associate partner and the company’s first global law knowledge leader in London. ( International)
  • Former Saab, Inc. executive and top lawyer Marc Nichols said he was appointed chief counsel of the Federal Aviation Administration. Nichols was earlier legal counsel and compliance director at Rolls Royce. ( Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation hired nuclear industry in-house veteran Steven Cuevas, a former Department of Energy policy adviser/director of investment security, as vice president of legal affairs and general counsel; hybrid health-care care provider Crossover Health hired its outside counsel, former Latham & Watkins life sciences attorney Fred Melendres, as general counsel; e-discovery services firm HaystackID announced Warren Kruse joined the company as vice president of data forensics and consulting. He was previously at legal tech rival Consilio LLC; software company NetApp promoted senior vice president and general counsel Elizabeth O’Callahan to chief legal officer and general counsel. She’s a former DLA Piper corporate and securities attorney. (Businesswire)


Legal Education

  • Judge Judy Sheindlin, a New York Law School graduate, gave a legacy gift to the school to establish a scholarship program to benefit women in law. (New York Law Journal)

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