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Wake Up Call: Opposition Mounts to ABA Proposal on Law Firm Ownership

Feb. 6, 2020, 1:36 PM

In today’s column, the New York Times hired Morgan Lewis to defend it against a Harvard Law professor’s defamation suit; Davis Wright Tremaine grabbed a six-lawyer energy group from Alston & Bird; and flexible-legal staffing company Axiom added 60 lawyers to its network with an acquisition.

  • Leading off, New York bar leaders are seeking to lead a coalition of American Bar Association members who, they say, oppose a “dangerous” ABA proposal that could open the way to outside investment in law firms and to nonlawyers practicing law. (New York Law Journal)

  • The New York Times hired Morgan, Lewis & Bockius to defend the paper against a Harvard professor’s defamation suit attacking a Times article he says incorrectly linked him to child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein. (American Lawyer)

  • Several members of Airbus SE’s compliance team deliberately misled the France-based aircraft maker’s general counsel over a foreign bribery scheme, a report says. The company recently agreed to a $4 billion settlement of a multi-jurisdiction probe of the scandal. (Corporate Counsel)

  • Spotify Technology S.A., a Skadden Arps client, said it agreed to acquire The Ringer, a creator of sports, entertainment, and pop culture content, as the audio streaming subscription service tries to expand beyond music. Willkie, Farr & Gallagher advised The Ringer. Deal terms weren’t disclosed. (Bloomberg News)

  • Davis Wright Tremaine raided Alston & Bird for a six-lawyer energy group in Washington that has significant experience at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The team, including several staff, is led by partners Sean Atkins and Michael Kunselman and includes former FERC senior executive Andrea Wolfman, who spent 24 years at the commission and led its enforcement office and joins as of counsel. (

  • A Florida federal appeals court judge dismissed a long-running antitrust lawsuit against, its founder Roger Ver, and others, all represented by O’Melveny & Myers, for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim. However, plaintiffs, the crypto-coin mining company United American Corp., can amend and refile the suit, which observers called the first antitrust suit in the United States involving the cryptocurrency industry. ( (Bitcoinist) (

  • Axiom, a New York-based on demand legal services company, said it has acquired Bliss Lawyers, in a deal that adds about 60 lawyers to its network of over 2,400 attorneys, with more to come later. (American Lawyer)

  • Akerman said the firm’s managing partner, Scott Meyers, on Monday officially started a three-year term as the firm’s new chairman and CEO, taking over from Andrew Smulian, who became chairman emeritus. (

  • Former Willkie Farr & Gallagher co-chairman Gordon Caplan can’t represent clients before the SEC following his involvement in last year’s college admissions scandal, the agency said. (BLAW)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Blank Rome hired corporate & securities lawyer Stacy Louizos as a partner in New York and co-chair of its investment management group. She joins from another Philadelphia-based firm, Drinker Biddle & Reath, which recently launched its merger with Faegre. At Drinker Biddle, Louizos was a partner and member of the financial services steering committee and women’s leadership committee. (

  • Troutman Sanders, a few months ahead of the official launch of its merger with Pepper Hamilton, expanded its business litigation practice in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a raid on McGuireWoods. Partners William Mayberry, Jason Evans, and Joshua Davey advise on commercial litigation, bank regulatory and government enforcement matters across the country, Troutman said. (


  • Morrison & Foerster advised Japanese opthamology company Santen Pharmaceutical Co. on its new digital eye care joint venture with Verily Life Sciences, a subsidiary of Google parent Alphabet. ( (

  • Seward & Kissel released its first-ever study analyzing trends in M&A deals in the business-to-business services sector. (

Laterals, Moves

  • Morgan Lewis expanded its worklaw group grabbing Sidley Austin’s labor and employment practice head Ami Wynne and litigator Jonathan Lotsoff in Chicago. (BLAW)

  • Meanwhile, King & Spalding added Morgan Lewis benefits and compensation lawyer Jeanie Cogill in New York as a partner in the firm’s corporate, finance and investments practice group. (

  • Offshore law firm Appleby said it elected new board members, including new firm leader Malcolm Moller, who was elected group managing partner and will also continue as managing partner of Appleby’s Mauritius and Seychelles offices. (

  • Alternative dispute resolution services provider JAMS added retired Florida circuit court judge John W. Thornton to its Miami panel. (

  • Steptoe & Johnson’s government affairs & public policy group added two Kelley Drye advisers on government defense contract appropriations. Managing director Joe Corrigan, who was government contracts group chair at Kelley Drye, and senior government affairs adviser Mike Williams both join in Washington. (

  • A former compliance and investigations practice leader at accounting major Grant Thornton, forensic accounting specialist Bill Olsen, joined law firm Arnall Golden Gregory in Washington, as managing director of forensic advisory services. (

  • Advanced Medical Pricing Solutions appointed healthcare industry in-house veteran Laura A. Conte, as general counsel. She was previously top lawyer and chief claims officer for Massachusetts-based health care technology company Advanced Medical Strategies. (BioSpace)

Legal Actions, Decisions

  • “Sued Into Silence” : Environmental NGO Greenpeace is holding a Feb. 24 event in Amsterdam to discuss what it calls a “weaponization” of SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation) to shut up journalists. (


  • Some lawyers are advising clients they should avoid arbitration, because it has become expensive and time-consuming. (

  • Big, complex international arbitrations can typically take 12 to 18 months to complete, but a new artificial intelligence-powered startup incubated by a Harvard innovation program, ArbiLex, says it could help shorten that time. (Forbes)

  • LinkedIn said it hired some employees from UpCounsel last year, but it said it did not acquire the online legal marketplace, a report says. UpCounsel said it plans to shut down March 4. (

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