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Wake Up Call: Omicron Spurs Courts to Drop In-Person Arguments

Jan. 6, 2022, 1:47 PM

In today’s column, U.K. Big Law firm Mishcon de Reya was hit with a big fine in a money laundering case; Holland & Knight, with 36 partner promotions, and Hogan Lovells, with 27, are among firms that announced promotion rounds to start the year; Midwest firm Michael Best acquired a North Carolina firm with 23 lawyers and seven offices.

  • Leading off, several federal courts have dropped in-person proceedings and/or announced other measures to respond to the rapid spread of omicron-variant Covid-19 infections nationwide. ( Several California state courts also announced measures to respond to the surge. (The Recorder)
  • Milwaukee-based Michael Best & Friedrich, whose president and chief strategist Reince Priebus is a former Trump White House Chief of Staff, acquired North Carolina business law firm Forrest Firm, getting its 23-lawyers and seven offices in the state. (

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • The U.K.’s legal profession regulator hit London-based Big Law firm Mishcon de Reya with a 232,500 pounds ($314,185) fine, reportedly the regulator’s biggest ever, for allegedly committing “serious breaches” of money-laundering rules. (The Lawyer) (The Guardian) (Financial Times)
  • Fried Frank is the latest Big Law firm to open an office in Brussels, the EU capital. It said the office will serve as the center of its work in EU merger control proceedings, with its London office. (
  • A former federal prosecutor and later partner at Morgan Lewis, Kaye Scholer, and Baker Botts, describes why after climbing Big Law’s “greasy pole” to the top she decided to get out after 20 years. (Business Insider)

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Cooley hired away Goldman Sachs’ Singapore-based executive director Tim Pitrelli, a senior counsel in Goldman’s investment banking division, as a capital markets partner in Singapore; Baker Botts grabbed project finance partner Dino Barajas, chair of DLA Piper’s renewable energy/energy M&A practice in San Francisco. Barajas, who was also co-chair of DLA Piper’s U.S. projects and infrastructure practice and its Latin American corporate and finance practice, will serve as co-chair of Baker Botts’ project finance practice group; Sidley Austin added Munger Tolles real estate partner George Fatheree in Los Angeles. (
  • Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher said employment partner Greta Williams is taking over from partner Cynthia Richman as co-partner-in-charge of its Washington office, with co-partner-in-charge Thomas H. Dupree Jr.; Fox Rothschild hired construction partner John Marshall Cook in Washington. He joins after 28 years at Smith Pachter McWhorter; growing Midwest firm Spencer Fane picked up Husch Blackwell litigation partner Chris Weiss as of counsel in its Springfield, Mo., office; Lowenstein Sandler recruited former New Jersey Bureau of Securities chief Christopher Gerold as a partner in Roseland, N.J., in its securities litigation group. (
  • Nixon Peabody hired Kamau Coar, former chief legal officer and chief inclusion officer at recruiting and consulting firm Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc., as counsel in Chicago; the Switzerland-based World Anti-Doping Agency hired its longtime external legal counsel, Ross Wenzel, as its new general counsel. A former corporate lawyer at Slaughter and May, Wenzel was recently a partner at Swiss law firm Kellerhals Carrard. (Inside The Games)


Legal Education

  • University of California, Berkeley, School of Law appointed Erwin Chemerinsky to another five-year term. (

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