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Wake Up Call: Texas Courts See Patent Suits Jump 96% in ‘Perfect Storm’

Aug. 12, 2020, 12:51 PM

In today’s column, the FBI named a King & Spalding partner its new general counsel; Norton Rose Fulbright became the latest major firm in London to cut pay for junior lawyers, but it raised pay for recently promoted staff and lawyers; employment for the last pre-covid law school graduating class hit a record high, but the pandemic will probably spoil the party for the next few years’ classes, a report says; in Philadelphia, a judge who refuses to wear a mask in court has prosecutors, lawyers, and witnesses worried; Wells Fargo was hit by new allegations of fraud.

  • Leading off, patent complaints filed in Texas by businesses and individuals reached 747 in 2020’s first six months, about double their level during the same period a year ago, and twice as much as any other state, a report says. An intellectual property partner at Baker Botts attributed the number of cases—up 350% in the Western District of Texas—to economic effects of the pandemic. (Houston Chronicle)

  • Norton Rose Fulbright is the latest Big Law firm in London to cut pay for “newly qualified” lawyers, in its case by by 5,000 pounds ($6,435). The firm said it’s raising pay for promoted staff and associates, but, for everyone else, it maintained salary cuts it implemented in April in a series of Covid-19 moves. (The Lawyer)

  • The employment rate reached a 12-year high of 90.3% for the last class to graduate law school before the pandemic. However, coming years’ graduating classes will likely see significantly lower rates because of Covid-19’s economic impact, a report says. (BLAW)

  • In Philadelphia, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and witnesses are complaining about a veteran judge who refuses to wear a mask during in-person court hearings and who ordered counsel to remove their masks, a report says. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • As business interruption lawsuits against insurers for denial of coverage stack up in New Jersey, some lawyers say the cases are unlikely to succeed. (New Jersey Law Journal)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Alternative dispute resolution services provider JAMS is creating a working group on racism amidst controversy and a lawsuit over a JAMS arbitrator’s email forward of racist blog post, a report says. (The Recorder)

  • Frost Brown Todd said it added a new nine-lawyer office in Houston, Texas, led by trial attorney Zenobia Harris Bivens. The firm added eight attorneys from three different firms for the office. (FrostBrownTodd.com)

  • Hogan Lovells said its U.S. capital markets practice group has closed three debt offerings—for Choice Hotels International Inc., FLIR Systems Inc., and Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co.—collectively worth over $1.95 billion, in recent a two-week period. (HoganLovells.com)

  • U.K.-listed law firm Keystone Law said it got approval to open an office in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Law.com International)

  • Georgia has paid Washington law firm Consovoy over $300,000 to defend its statutory ban on abortion, and that’s just for early work toward the state’s goal of reaching the U.S. Supreme Court to challenge Roe v. Wade. (Daily Report)

  • Wells Fargo was hit by a proposed Florida federal class action accusing the scandal plagued bank of fraudulently changing maturity dates on thousands of mortgages around the country. (Daily Business Review)

Laterals, Moves

  • Mayer Brown grabbed Bracewell energy lawyer Carl von Merz as a partner in its corporate & securities practice in Houston, where he’ll lead the U.S. upstream oil and gas group. According to LinkedIn, von Merz has been a partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, and was a private equity and M&A attorney at Vinson & Elkins. He was Austin-based lead legal counsel at Norwegian state-owned Statoil, now Equinor. (MayerBrown.com)

  • McDermott Will & Emery said life sciences-focused lawyers Michael Siekman and Jenny Chen joined its intellectual property practice as partners in Boston. They arrive from Polsinelli and both previously were at IP boutique Wolf Greenfield, where Siekman was chair of the practice group leaders and co-chair of the biotechnology practice group. (BLAW)

  • Reed Smith labor management relations partner Tom Posey jumped to Seyfarth as a partner in the firm’s L.A. and Chicago offices. He was earlier a Chicago-based partner at Faegre Baker Daniels. (Seyfarth.com)

  • Goodwin Procter hired investment firm in-house leader Joshua Ratner as a private equity partner based in New York. According to his LinkedIn, Ratner arrives from York Capital Management, where he’d been for 12 years as general counsel for private equity. He was a Skadden Arps associate before that. (GoodwinLaw.com)

In-house

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation named King & Spalding partner Jason Jones as FBI general counsel, replacing Dana Boente, who retired in June. At K&S, Jones, a former New York federal prosecutor, was in the special matters and government investigations practice group. (National Law Journal)(FBI.gov)

  • TerrAscend Corp., a North American cannabis operator led by FreshDirect founder Jason Ackerman, recruited biotech in-house veteran Jason Marks as its new chief legal officer. He was most recently general counsel at German biotech InflaRx NV. (BLAW)

Technology

  • Document scanning and cost recovery solutions provider nQueue and cloud-based automated collaboration services platform Zebraworks are merging and will develop more cloud-based tools aimed at legal professionals working remotely. (Legaltech News)

  • Chicago-based Reveal said it acquired NexLP, another eDiscovery company in the same city, including its artificial intelligence technology and the company’s team. (Legaltech News)

Legal Education

  • A group of recent law grads told the Florida Supreme Court the testing platform for the state’s online bar exam planned for Aug. 19 has serious technical problems. The handful of states that have held online bar exams so far have suffered glitches. (Daily Business Review)


Note: The Wake Up Call is taking a brief hiatus starting Aug. 17 and will return on Aug. 31.

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at rMitchell@correspondent.bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at rmintzer@bloomberglaw.com; Darren Bowman at dbowman@bloomberglaw.com