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Wake Up Call: Rio Tinto Fires Top Lawyer Amidst Probe

Nov. 17, 2016, 1:14 PM

• Rio Tinto Group has fired its top legal official and other top executive amidst an investigation into a payment connected to a giant iron ore project in Guinea in West Africa. ( Bloomberg )

• Kevin O’Connor, the general counsel for Steven A. Cohen’s investment firm, has left President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, an early casualty of a messy power struggle. ( Bloomberg )

• Trump’s election raises fears about the future of forgiveness programs for lawyers’ law school debt. ( Above The Law )

• Retired Jones Day attorney G. Roger King may be in line for a National Labor Relations Board member position and for the role of the board’s next general counsel. ( Bloomberg BNA via BLB )

• Associate salary hikes, which started in July and continued to spread during the summer, are showing up as a source of drag on profit growth, according to new data from Citi Private Bank. ( BLB )

Legal Market

• A looming $12 billion-plus fine by the U.S. Justice Department has put the brakes on a U.K. government plan to sell off part of its holding in Royal Bank of Scotland. ( Am Law Daily )

• The federal board that is looking to hire a counsel as part of its work supervising Puerto Rico’s financial overhaul has interviewed candidates from several major law firms. ( Reuters )

• Perspective: At many corporations, employees learn to avoid running their innovative ideas by their legal department, because they are just going to get a “no.” For their part, the lawyers see their job as protecting the company from litigation, but great inside counsel find ways to say “yes” to good ideas. ( BLB )

• American Spirit sold smokers on the idea that its cigarettes were “natural” and made a lot of money in the process. Now it’s getting sued for fraud. ( Bloomberg Businessweek )

Transition to Trump presidency

• What is the future of the Securities and Exchange Commission under a Trump presidency? James Cox, a professor of law at Duke University, and John Coffee, a law professor at Columbia University discuss that and the performance of outgoing SEC Chair Mary Jo White. ( Bloomberg Radio via BLB )

• Traffic on New York’s Fifth Avenue has come to a grinding halt as Donald Trump uses his Tower as a base for his transition to the presidency. ( New York Times )

• William Schultz, who as general counsel at the Department of Health and Human Services since 2011 has been tied closely to the Affordable Care Act, is returning to Zuckerman Spaeder as a partner. Trump’s presidency could reverse many of the policy changes Schultz worked on at the department, but he thinks some will survive. ( National Law Journal )

• An economist who helped write Trump’s tax proposals suggested a plan in which Congress tackles business taxes, while putting off consideration of individual income taxes. But it’s not clear that Trump himself favors the idea, which has political risks. ( Bloomberg )

• Trump’s threats on trade have pushed Canada to cozy up to Argentina. ( Bloomberg )

• Having a burger at the 21 Club sitting next to President-elect Trump. ( Bloomberg )

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• Trump will choose the next nominee for U.S. Supreme Court justice from the lists of 21 candidates released earlier this year by his campaign. ( Bloomberg BNA via BLB )

• Trump’s first nominee from the list could be a champion of “economic liberty,” Texas Supreme Court Justice Don R. Willett, who also known to be a big-time Tweeter like the president-elect. ( Bloomberg BNA via BLB )

• Trump’s nominee to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the court is likely to be a conservative. That’s the only thing that can be said with any confidence for now. ( Bloomberg View )

• Will the Trump-Era Supreme Court threaten public sector unions? Paul Secunda, a professor at Marquette University Law School, discusses with Bloomberg BNA Senior Legal Editor Kevin McGowan. ( Bloomberg Radio )

• Just because the Republicans dissed Merrick Garland, the Democrats can’t now “shun” a Trump-appointed Supreme Court justice, as a law school professor has proposed doing. ( Bloomberg View )

• Recent criminal complaints against the operators of Backpage.com for alleged sex trafficking test the limits of a federal law that many major internet companies have used as a business model. ( Bloomberg via BLB )

• Free speech protections may lead to the criminal charges against Backpage.com getting thrown out.( Bloomberg )

• Delaware’s powerful Chancery Court approved the breakup of a real estate LLC that had been embroiled in out-of-state litigation linked to a private equity firm. ( National Law Journal )

• A Florida judge vacated sanctions he had slapped on a Boies, Schiller & Flexner tobacco defense attorney he said had “wasted some of his time” with a long deposition. ( Daily Business Review )

Gender and Diversity Issues

• There’s a disconnect between the diversity and inclusion efforts corporate counsel want to see from their law firms and what they’re actually getting, and money is the best tool for closing that gap, attorneys said in a recent survey by BLB and sponsored by Paul Hastings. ( BLB )

• Perspective: If the legal profession really wants to close the pay gap, it should focus on helping women lawyers to be better rainmakers. Litigation funders can help with that, writes Burford Capital’s managing director. ( BLB )

• After years of ineffectual cajoling, new binding targets and quotas may be the only way to get Canadian companies to boost representation of women on corporate boards, according to a University of Toronto business professor. ( Bloomberg )

Technology

• Facebook helped Donald Trump’s campaign get most of the $250 million it raised online, according to the campaign’s digital director. ( Wired )

• Personal devices such as Fitbits have recently been used as evidence to demonstrate employees’ physical state in a particular time. This shows how data from the so-called internet of things can have profound implications for eDiscovery. ( IT ProPortal )

• Fieldfisher has become the first U.K. firm to implement the cloud-based LexisOne enterprise resource planning technology platform, in what the firm’s managing partner called “a complete re-engineering of the way we do things.”( The Lawyer )

• Uber Technologies Inc. is trying to settle with California drivers to resolve potentially billions of dollars in claims stemming from the company’s refusal to give them the protections and benefits of employees, in a case involving the state’s so-called bounty hunter law. ( Bloomberg )

• Donald Trump’s election could lead to a thaw in relations with Russia, but U.S. tech companies such as Google, Linkedin and Microsoft shouldn’t expect the Kremlin effort to ease its effort to freeze out their products. ( Bloomberg )

• Lawyers should not use “web bugs” to track emails sent to opposing counsel, according to an Alaska ethics opinion. ( Bloomberg BNA )

Legal Education

• The former dean at University of California, Berkeley’s law school dropped his federal discrimination lawsuit against the school on Tuesday. His lawyers made the move a week after a San Francisco federal judge refused to intervene in the university’s pending disciplinary proceeding against him for alleged sexual harassment. ( The Recorder )

• The American Bar Association disciplined Indiana’s Valparaiso University School of Law and Charlotte School of Law, of North Carolina, for having lax admission rules. ( National Law Journal )

Miscellaneous

• Before he graduated law school in 2012, the 39-year-old president of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York worked as a program administrator at Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, and before that as a paralegal at the Bronx district attorney. ( Am Law Daily )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.

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