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Wake Up Call: Sheppard Mullin Tightens Vaccine Rule for Lawyers

Aug. 11, 2021, 12:32 PM

In today’s column, a rapid surge in Delta-variant Covid-19 cases is forcing firms to balance their office returns and remote working plans; Big Law firms are still reaping savings because of the pandemic, but not as much as last year; a recent study from California offers more evidence of a stark shortage of women lawyers working on large M&A deals.

  • Leading off, Sheppard Mullin is dropping an exception to its vaccine mandate that allowed lawyers and staff to get into its U.S. offices by showing a recent negative test for Covid-19. “Starting Aug. 16 in order to come into one of our offices you must be vaccinated,” Guy Halgren, the firm’s executive committee chairman, said in a firmwide email viewed by Bloomberg Law. “This rule is consistent with those adopted by dozens of other AmLaw 100 firms, the U.S. military and many of our clients, with more every day.”
  • Halgren said the firm is also delaying its planned Sept. 7 return for U.S. offices, and will announce a new date later. Sheppard Mullin is bringing back mask requirements and six foot distancing requirements, and working on an update to its on “flexibility” policy. It is the latest of dozens of Big Law firms that have recently delayed office reopenings, added vaccination requirements, or tightened existing ones. (Above The Law)
  • The surge of Delta cases is forcing firms to juggle different goals: safely reopening their offices, while planning for the future of remote work without undermining professional development. (American Lawyer)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Law firms will continue to have lower expenses in 2021, thanks to less travel, entertainment, marketing, and other outlays, because of the pandemic. But the savings will be less in 2020, a report says. (American Lawyer)
  • A recent study from U.C. Irvine Law Review provides more evidence of a “dearth” of women attorneys involved in Big Law firms’ work on major M&A deals. (Axios)
  • Milbank elected two new members to its five-member executive committee. They are New York-based litigation and arbitration partner Atara Miller and London co-managing partner Suhrud Mehta, co-chair of global leveraged finance group; plaintiffs’ firm Keller Lenkner launched a new office in Washington. (
  • The Biden administration announced new nominations for eight U.S. attorneys, including Cleary Gottlieb Steen litigation and white collar-defense partner Breon Peace for the Eastern District of New York. (White

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Seyfarth hired a group of four real estate lawyers in New York, including partners Michael Fein and Jeffrey Lampiasi, counsel Karen Levine and associate Daniel Kessler. They arrive from Watson Farley & Williams; Blank Rome recruited hospitality and real estate partner Christy Reuter in New York. She arrives from Meister Seelig & Fein, where she was hotel and hospitality group chair. (
  • Davis Wright Tremaine rehired former associate Brian Nixon as a partner in Washington in its technology, communications, and privacy & security practice. He returns after about a decade at Loeb & Loeb, including as partner; Crowell & Moring hired information security specialist Alex Urbelis as senior counsel in its privacy and cybersecurity group. He briefly served as the NFL’s chief information security officer and co-founded Blackstone Law Group, a law firm that also provides data services including threat monitoring; Goodwin Procter got insurance and tech lawyer Greg Hoffnagle as a partner in New York. He arrives from Cooley. (
  • Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough hired white collar and securities litigator Adam Safwat, a former federal prosecutor, as a partner in Washington. He joins from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, where he was counsel; K&L Gates recruited former Securities and Exchange Commission attorney-advisor Julie Rizzo as a partner in Raleigh in its public companies practice. A former Red Hat corporate counsel, Rizzo arrives recently from Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein, where she was counsel; Cullen and Dykman added corporate lawyer Dario Nolasco as a partner in New York; Carlton Fields hired Erin VanSickle, a former deputy chief of staff in Florida’s insurance regulation office, as a senior government consultant focused on insurance regulatory matters, based in Tallahassee. (

Legal Education

  • Fordham Law School said it’s launching a virtual leadership academy for women in law that will run via Zoom Sept. 24 through Nov. 19. (

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at