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Wake Up Call: Some Firms Shy of Pot Biz, But Others Smell Opportunity

Aug. 10, 2018, 10:48 AM

• A large segment of Big Law remains wary of the recreational and medicinal cannabis industry, which is legal in a majority of U.S. states but still illegal under federal law. But with the market headed for $11 billion and climbing, law firms including Dorsey & Whitney, Duane Morris, and Fox Rothschild, among others, smell opportunity. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

• Latham & Watkins namedChicago-based banking partner Brad Kotler as vice chairman of the $3 billion, 2,400-lawyer firm. The appointment comes about a month after London-based capital markets partner Richard Trobman was elected as the firm’s chairman, to fill an unexpected vacancy created when former chairman William Voge abruptly resigned in scandal. ( American Lawyer )

• A requirement for prospective law students to take the LSAT or a similar test will live on, at least for now, after the American Bar Association unexpectedly dropped a proposal to ax the law school admission testing requirement. ( Bloomberg Law ) The ABA’s board of delegates adopted new rules on attorney advertising, in an attempt to make them clearer. ( American Lawyer )

• As accounting giants Deloitte, EY, KPMG, and Pwc increasingly move into the legal services market, general counsel at some companies, drawn by predictable fee arrangements among other things, are considering a shift of some of their business away from traditional firms to give the Big Four a try. But other GCs say they’re going to wait for evidence that these firms have something new to offer. ( Corporate Counsel )

• Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. saw its bid to become a nationwide powerhouse collapse yesterday after its would-be partner, Tribune Media Co., withdrew from a planned $3.9 billion merger that drew the ire of regulators. Tribune also filed a $1 billion lawsuit accusing Sinclair of conducting “belligerent and unnecessarily protracted negotiations” with antitrust officials and with the Federal Communications Commission. ( Bloomberg Law )

• AT&T’s former chief antitrust counsel Patrick Pascarella is joining Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton as a partner in Washington. Pascarella, who has also served as a Justice Department antitrust lawyer, has been involved in major antitrust cases including Pacific Bell v. linkLine Communications, Bell Atlantic v. Twombly, and New York v. Microsoft. He spent his most recent nine-plus years at Cleveland, Ohio, firm Tucker Ellis. ( National Law Journal )

• Snap Inc. senior counsel Thomas Chow left to become GC and secretary at California-based PubMatic, which creates online advertising software for publishers. Chow, who Snap’s adtech and measurement legal group, has been GC, chief compliance officer and secretary at Exponential Interactive, and held various other inhouse roles. ( Globe Newswire )

• United Airlines failed to take appropriate steps when one of its pilots continually posted on the internet sexually explicit photos and videos of an ex-girlfriend, a flight attendant, despite her repeated pleas for help, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges in a lawsuit. ( Bloomberg Law )

Lawyers and Law Firms

• The federal Office of the Director of National Intelligence said former Homeland Security Department deputy general counsel, Jason Klitenic, is its new general counsel. Klitenic, a former Holland & Knight partner and a brother-in-law to FBI Director Christopher Wray, was nominated by Donald Trump last year and was confirmed by the Senate last week. ( )

• Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s first major public business decision since its transatlantic merger earlier this year was an “underwhelming” announcement on associate-pay raises. ( Above The Law )

• The New York state court system agreed to a settlement that would ensure that people accused of misdemeanors in the Bronx would have their right to due process and a speedy trial, said Morrison & Foerster, which was plaintiffs co-counsel with legal aid group Bronx Defenders and New York litigation boutique Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady. ( New York Law Journal ) ( )

Laterals, Moves

• Goodwin added life sciences lawyer Shane Albright to the firm’s Silicon Valley office as a partner. Albright, who in addition to a Stanford Law degree has a Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology from U.C. Berkeley, arrives from DLA Piper. ( )

• McGuireWoods added two litigators from Haynes and Boone as partners in Houston: trial lawyer Yasser Madriz, who advises corporate clients in complex litigation, and employment litigator Meghaan Madriz, who advises employers in wage-and-hour matters. ( )


• California’s sweeping new consumer privacy law, due to take effect Jan. 1, 2020, is going to mean a big increase in compliance challenges for the digital advertising industry, two lawyers write. ( Bloomberg Law )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Tom Taylor.