Bloomberg Law
Sept. 29, 2020, 12:32 PM

Wake Up Call: Trump Jacks Up Legal Spending for Election Fights

Rick Mitchell
Rick Mitchell
Freelance Correspondent

In today’s column, Shearman & Sterling yesterday joined the Covid bonus bonanza; Jones Day and Kirkland & Ellis are among Big Law firm tenants in buildings minority-owned by President Trump; Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises Inc. promoted a longtime in-house leader to become its top lawyer, filling a job that became vacant in May; in South Carolina a government watchdog group and a lawyer are to suing to block two law firms from getting $75 million in legal fees from the government’s plutonium cleanup settlement; and Nelson Mullins’ Miami office hired a former litigator in the U.S. bankruptcy trustee’s office.

  • Leading off, President Trump’s presidential campaign has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers for Trump’s legal battle against voting by mail in Pennsylvania. Most of the money is going to firms Porter Wright Morris & Arthur and Jones Day, according to a report citing federal election data. (U.S. News & World Report) Politico says lawyers from Consovoy McCarthy, Jones Day, and King and Spalding, are also getting most of the legal work as Trump’s campaign prepares to fight the election in court. (Politico)

  • Shearman & Sterling yesterday joined the list of firms offering Covid appreciation bonuses to associates. The New York-headquartered firm said that, starting Oct. 30, it will pay bonuses ranging from $7,500 to $40,000, depending on seniority. That matches the standard set by Davis Polk earlier in September, a few days after Cooley kicked off the bonus competition. (Above the Law)

  • Thompson & Knight said it plans to outsource document processing and marketing work to a Columbus, Ohio-based administrative resource center, in a collaboration with business services provider Williams Lea. The Dallas-based firm said the center will open Oct. 1 and operate “on a nearly 24/7 basis.” (

  • Thompson & Knight becomes the the latest big firm to outsource back-office tasks, following Winston & Strawn’s announcement, earlier this month, that it was launching a Winston Resource Center. Akin Gump, Orrick, and other big firms have been outsourcing tasks for years, but the trend has gained momentum as the Covid-19 pandemic has forced firms to shift to remote work. (Legaltech News)

  • Skadden has used its philanthropic arm to support public interest lawyers in helping to tackle Covid-related legal issues affecting the poor. (BLAW)

Amy Coney Barrett

  • The legal world is divided over Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (National Law Journal)

  • If Barrett is confirmed, Trump may find Republicans have no further use for him. (Above the Law)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Jones Day and Kirkland & Ellis are among several elite law firms that are tenants in two office towers in New York and San Francisco that Donald Trump has a stake in but doesn’t own outright or manage, according to a report. (American Lawyer)

  • A government watchdog group and a Columbia lawyer are suing to stop South Carolina’s attorney general’s plan to pay $75 million in legal fees to two Columbia law firms for work he says they did to help the state get a $600 million plutonium waste removal settlement. (

  • Florida-based Greenspoon Marder is restructuring its Fort Lauderdale headquarters. The firm is reducing its square footage while adding a high visibility reception and event space on the first floor of the same building. (Daily Business Review)

Laterals, Moves

  • Former Justice Department trial attorney Zana M. Scarlett, a bankruptcy litigator, joined Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in Miami as a member of the financial institutions, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights group. (

  • DLA Piper hired former Intel senior tax counsel Eileen O’Pray as a tax partner in its Silicon Valley office in California. Arriving after about a year at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, she advises on tax implications of strategic transactions, including in emerging technologies, such as drones, autonomous driving, and artificial intelligence. (DLA Piper)

  • Carlton Fields added commercial real estate lending lawyer Stephen Glatter as of counsel in Washington. He arrives from Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton and represents real estate lenders in transactions, primarily multimillion-dollar mortgage loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration. (

  • London headquartered Withers hired the former U.K. attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, a prominent Brexit supporter, as a consultant to the firm’s dispute resolution group. (Global Legal Post)

  • Quarles & Brady recruited Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s former legal ops chief Chris Emerson to be its senior director of legal operations and innovation based in Milwaukee. (


  • Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises Inc. promoted longtime in-house leader Jennifer Hightower to senior vice president, general counsel, and corporate secretary, effective Oct. 4. Hightower has been at Cox Communications for over 23 years, most recently serving as senior vice president and general counsel for the telecommunications division. She replaces Juliette Pryor, who left to join Albertsons Cos. Inc., the Idaho-based grocery giant, in May. (

  • Grocery delivery service Instacart Inc., which has been shopping for in-house talent, hired one of its outside counsel, Cooley partner Bradley Libuit, as a second deputy legal chief. Plus, other in-house moves at BlackBerry, HP, and other tech companies. (BLAW)

  • Diamond Hill Capital Management, an independent active asset manager and a subsidiary of Diamond Hill Investment Group, Inc., hired investment industry in-house veteran Carlotta King as general counsel, effective yesterday. King, an associate at Dechert and Davis Polk earlier in her career, arrives most recently from Managed Funds Association, which she joined in 2010 as associate general counsel. (


  • Commercial data collectors would be prohibited from selling or purchasing personally identifiable information of federal judges under bipartisan legislation proposed in the House and Senate. The bill responds to a call from a judge whose son was slain in July at their home in New Jersey. (BLAW)

  • A Richmond, Virginia, law firm says somebody keeps ripping out their power and internet cables. (

Legal Education

  • Washington, D.C., a few days ago became one of the few jurisdictions offering a way for recent law school graduates to practice law without taking the bar exam. But advocates in the district say the three years of supervised practice the district’s diploma privilege measure requires to become a lawyer is much too long. (

  • The University of Ulster’s legal innovation center in Belfast, Northern Ireland, backed by investments from Allen & Overy and Baker McKenzie, has launched a new degree aimed at training lawyers to be confident with technology when they start their first day on a job. ( Internationall via Legaltech News)

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

To contact the editor on this story: Chris Opfer in New York