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Wake Up Call: Snap, Inc. General Counsel Departs

July 26, 2017, 12:19 PM

• The company behind Snapchat, Snap Inc., has lost its general counsel, Chris Handman, who said he wants to spend more time with his family, but will continue to advise the company. Before joining Snap in 2014, Handman was an appellate partner at Hogan Lovells, in Washington, D.C. Snap said its deputy general counsel, Dom Perella, will step into the role until the company makes a permanent replacement. ( The Information ) ( The Recorder )

• Kirkland & Ellis is losing the star New York restructuring partner who handled the recent Chapter 11 case of Caesars Entertainment Operating Corp., which earned the firm over $70 million. Paul Basta, a member of the firm’s 15-person management committee, confirmed he is leaving after about 11 years there, but he didn’t say where he’s going or what his plans are. ( Am Law Daily )

• President Donald Trump publicly unloaded his anger over the Russia investigations, leaks and loyalty on the head of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, sparking speculation that Sessions will soon get the boot. ( Bloomberg ) Conservative lawyers expressed shock at Trump’s attacks on his own attorney general, and suggested finding a replacement will be difficult. ( Talking Points Memo ) Sessions, meanwhile, shows no signs of planning to quit. ( Washington Post )

• Lawyers who take top positions in-house often forgo high salaries but get other forms of compensation. For example, Apple Computers’ general counsel Bruce Sewell for the second-straight year tops BLB’s top-30 ranking for GC compensation with a reported $22.8 million, most of which was from a $20 million stock award. ( BLB )

• The Association of American Law Schools told the mayor of Austin that Texas legislation that discriminates against immigrants and the LGBTQ community will cost the city a 2018 legal education meeting, which is moving to Chicago.( Inside Higher Ed )

Law Firm Business

• Seeing untapped sources of business, U.K.-based litigation finance firm Woodsford Litigation plans to set up shop in Philadelphia, steering clear of more mature markets in L.A., Chicago and New York. The firm has hired a former federal judge as an adviser and plans to invest $150 million over two years, with 75 percent of that into domestic U.S. litigation. ( BLB )

• Willkie Farr & Gallagher is potentially on the hook again in a former client’s $2.8 million malpractrice claim after a New York appeals court revived it. ( New York Law Journal )

• In the wake of a string of hacks into law firms, Blank Rome has hired Faegre Baker Daniels’ former IT head, Andrea Markstrom, as its new chief information officer. Markstrom said her number one priority in her new role is data security, although she’s responsible for overseeing all technology initiatives at the firm. ( BLB )

• Kerry Campbell, the Chadbourne & Parke lawyer evicted from the firm’s partnership after she filed a $100 milion gender discrimination lawsuit against it, has started her own shop in Washington, D.C. ( Am Law Daily )

• The 50 firms on Working Mother Media’s new annual “50 Best Law Firms for Women” list outperformed national averages for having female equity and nonequity partners, and 83 percent of them had at least one woman among their top 10 rainmakers, according to the report. ( Above The Law )

Legal Market

• The German national who was Volkswagen AG’s liason to U.S. regulators will plead guilty in Detroit federal court to charges in the company’s emissions-cheating scandal, U.S. prosecutors and the man’s lawyers said. ( Bloomberg )

• Pharma bro Martin Shrekeli has been as vocal as ever on social media during his criminal fraud trial but said he won’t take the stand in the case. ( Bloomberg )

• In its first whistle-blower award to a government agency employee, the SEC paid nearly $2.5 million to a government worker who gave investigators information that eventually led to a crack-down on a company’s misconduct. Phillips & Cohen partner Sean McKessy, who was the SEC whistleblower office’s first director, said the award signals the agency is still interested in maximizing chances of getting tips. ( National Law Journal )

• A record 226 class securities fraud suits were filed in the first half of 2017, according to a recent report. ( Bloomberg BNA via BLB )

The Trump Administration

• Trump’s pick as acting head of the Office of Government Ethics, the office’s current general counsel David J. Apol, has often clashed with agency colleagues over his efforts to roll back or loosen ethics requirements on federal employees, including those in the White House, three former senior officials at the agency said. ( New York Times )

• If confirmed, Trump’s pick for U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, Byung J. “BJay” Pak, would become the state’s first Asian-American U.S. attorney. ( Daily Report )

• Trump’s pick to become permanent head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Ann Marie Buerkle, who is currently its interim chairwoman, has consistently voted against penalties for companies that report dangerous product defects late. ( National Law Journal )

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• Federal attorneys prosecuting alleged government leaker Reality Winner in a Georgia court are insisting Winner’s defense team has to treat news reports and other public sources citing classified material as top secret. Winner’s attorneys say that could hurt Winner’s ability to defend herself. ( Daily Report )

• The Supreme Court delivers a blow to “plaintiff paradise.” ( Bloomberg Businessweek )

• Lawyers for Trump argued that he can’t be held liable for violence against protesters at one of his campaign rallies, because he had a 1st Amendment right to urge his supporters to expel protesters, including when they used force. ( Los Angeles Times )

• NFL cheerleaders failed in their federal lawsuit accusing the NFL and 27 of its clubs of colluding to suppress their pay. A California federal judge threw out the suit, in which cheerleaders sought up to $300 million in damages — times three. ( The Recorder )

• Johnson & Johnson’s recent trial win in a lawsuit over its pelvic mesh was short-lived, reversed by a Philadelphia judge who granted plaintiff’s post-trial motion for a damages hearing. ( Legal Intelligencer )


• The Wells Fargo & Co. attorney who mistakenly released reams of sensitive data about wealthy clients asked a judge to order the records returned to the bank and that they not be spread any further, after being leaked to a newspaper. ( Bloomberg via BLB )

• Tracking data from Uber, road tolls and other sources is increasingly used in divorce cases in some jurisdictions. New York judges tend to ignore such data because of the state’s no-fault divorce law, but social media posts can come up in divorce matters, lawyers said. ( Legaltech News )

• Celgene Corp. agreed to pay $280 million to resolve a whistle-blower’s claims the drugmaker used illegal marketing tactics to turn its Thalomid and Revlimid cancer drugs into blockbuster sellers, the U.S. said. ( Bloomberg via BLB )

• Chinese police arrested nine of the hackers behind the “Fireball” malware that infected an estimated 250 million computers worldwide, or about 20 percent of corporate networks, according to a report. ( Mashable )

• Adobe said it will stop updating and distributing the much-maligned Flash player plug-in by end of 2020. ( Wired )


• Lawyers for Venus Williams said the man killed when his car crashed with the tennis star’s SUV wasn’t wearing a seat belt. ( Palm Beach Post )

Written by former law firm partner Avery Duff, “Beach Lawyer” is a page-turner that tells the story of a California attorney’s fall from almost making partner to getting fired, and then seeking revenge. It’s also a “modern day window” into the life of a young lawyer on track for junior partner at a prominent firm.( ABA Journal )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.