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Wake Up Call: Private Equity In-House Teams Eye Cuts to Legal Budgets

July 16, 2020, 12:46 PM

In today’s column, New Jersey canceled its September in-person bar exam and will hold an online one in October, while Louisiana just canceled in-person and on-line exams scheduled for July 27; the ABA’s upcoming virtual annual meeting will discuss Covid’s impact on the legal profession, among other things; Mintz poached a five-lawyer insurance/reinsurance team from Squire Patton Boggs; Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is out of the hospital after her latest health scare; George Floyd’s estate is suing the city of Minneapolis; a Connecticut prosecutor’s comments on Zoom calling his boss a “liar” cost him two paid-vacation days.

  • Leading off, legal departments at a majority of private equity firms in the U.S. and U.K. plan to cut their legal spending in the coming year, as the pandemic hits their business and they worry they’re not being billed accurately, according to a recent survey report of in-house lawyers. The report, commissioned by Apperio, which makes tools for automated legal spend tracking, says that in 2019, U.S. PE firms spent an average $10.5 million on external legal services, while U.K. firms spent $8.6 million on average. Almost 80% of U.S. respondents and over half of U.K. respondents said that their legal bills are not transparent, it says. (American Lawyer) (Global Legal Post) (

  • A report last month said U.S. private equity firm KKR, citing the pandemic’s economic hit, asked its legal and financial advisers for discounts. (Financial Times)

  • Transatlantic firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner says it is closing its small Beijing office and cutting lawyers and staff in London. However, it’s also easing some of the salary reductions it made in May. (BLAW)

  • Husch Blackwell sees a “virtual office” as a way to retain and recruit lawyers drawn to the remote work lifestyle. (BLAW)

  • U.K. firm Taylor Wessing plans to bring back about 30% of its London office lawyers for in-office work next month, a report says. (The Lawyer)

  • Some observers say bringing attorneys and staff back into the office might not increase productivity. (Above The Law)

  • A Connecticut prosecutor got docked two paid-vacation days after getting overheard calling his boss a liar during a Zoom session. (Connecticut Law Tribune)

  • Big Law firms don’t deserve the criticism they’re getting for taking those Paycheck Protection Programs loans, writes a columnist. (

  • The American Bar Association’s annual meeting, virtual this year, is running July 29-Aug. 4. It will address legal problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, among other subjects. (

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Almost 40% of LGBTQ attorneys and lawyers with disabilities reported they have experienced discrimination, harassment, and bias at work, a new national study by the ABA and Syracuse University finds. (

  • The U.S. Supreme Court said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was released from a Baltimore hospital she was in for a possible infection and is doing well at home. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

  • Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and others advised Google on its deal with India’s Reliance Industries Ltd., advised by Davis Polk and others, in which Google is to invest about $4.5 billion and to cooperate on technology initiatives including the development of affordable mobile phones. (Bloomberg News) (Inc42)

  • Goodwin Procter advised Chinese biotech company Beigene Ltd. on its plans to raise ~$2.1 billion in a direct offering of 145.8 million shares to fund drug research and market its treatments in the U.S. and China. (Bloomberg News)

  • Plaintiffs firm Pomerantz said it’s suing Deutsche Bank in New Jersey federal court on behalf of shareholders for damages related to alleged violations of federal securities law. (

Laterals, Moves

  • Mintz grabbed a team of insurance and reinsurance lawyers from Squire Patton Boggs. Deirdre G. Johnson, Paul W. Kalish, Ellen MacDonald Farrell, join in Washington as members, while Elaine Panagakos joins as special counsel. Suman Chakraborty joins as a member in New York. (

  • Orrick named employment law partner Emmanuel Bénard as Paris co-office leader, with M&A, private equity partner Patrick Tardivy. Bénard is also Orrick’s employment practice chief for France and Europe. (

  • Distributed firm FisherBroyles hired commercial litigation partner Scott Goldsmith in Southern California. He arrives from Dorsey & Whitney, where he was a partner and led the Telephone Consumer Protection Act practice group. He began his career as a deputy district attorney in San Diego. (

  • Former U.S. Solicitor Noel Francisco is back at Jones Day. (BLAW)


  • Kit Check, which makes automated and intelligent medication-management solutions, hired former Coca Cola intellectual property counsel Mialeeka Williams-Bibbs as its first general counsel. Williams, a former Dickstein Shapiro associate who’s been top lawyer or senior counsel at pharmaceutical, chemical, and healthcare companies also has a chemical engineering degree and arrives most recently from Engage Partners Inc. (Yahoo! Finance)

  • New York-based risk management company Assurant Inc. said its interim chief legal officer Jay Rosenblum now is its CLO and vice president on a permanent basis. (BLAW)

  • A prosecutor on the Justice Department trial team that won Roger Stone’s conviction is leaving the DOJ to join Facebook Inc. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

  • EY Law’s former chief for global innovation and tech, ex King & Spalding lawyer Ed Sohn, jumped to legal process company Factor. (Artificial Lawyer)

  • AptarGroup, which makes dispensing systems and protective packaging, hired in-house leader and former Morgan Lewis attorney Kimberly Chainey as executive vice president and global general counsel, effective July 27. She was most recently top lawyer at Panasonic Avionics Corporation, and has previously been in-house at The Hershey Company and Avis Budget Group. (Corporate Secretary)


  • With many employees working from home during the pandemic, it’s a good time for companies to review their BYOD (bring your own device) policies, addressing employees’ use of their own laptops or other devices for company work. (

  • As grand jury proceedings go virtual in New Jersey, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys and are warning of problems. (

Legal Education

  • New Jersey canceled its Sept. 9-10 in-person bar exam, which had already been rescheduled from July, and will instead hold it remotely in October. It’s the latest of several other states that have canceled bar exams. (New Jersey Law Journal)

  • Louisiana canceled in-person and online bar exams scheduled for July 27. It’s the first state to cancel a planned online exam. ( (New Orleans Advocate)

  • Law schools criticized the Trump administration’s flip-flop on foreign student visa rules. (

Visit our virtual AALL experience July 13-24 to discover our Coronavirus and post-pandemic resources and content. Reopening During Coronavirus: What Employers Need to Know session available now. Learn More

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