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Wake Up Call: U.K. Firms’ Reopening Plans Include Mask Buying, Covid Kits

May 27, 2020, 12:51 PM

In today’s column, commercial litigation filings fell 21% nationwide since the pandemic was declared, with wide variation by region; most lawyers in a recent survey said the pandemic has hit them in the wallet; Morgan Lewis’ chair says sticking to its “relationship model” despite the pandemic has helped the firm avoid making painful cost cuts; global law firms are starting to re-open in China; a Texas U.S. attorney who was appointed by President Trump said he’s quitting.

  • Leading off, Hogan Lovells and other big U.K. law firms are buying face masks in bulk as part of preparations to reopen their offices later this year. Fieldfisher plans to give employees Covid-19 packs including masks, hand sanitizer, and desk wipes, while Norton Rose plans to ask staff to cover their faces in the office and will provide masks, this report says. (Financial Times)

  • In Hong Kong, lawyers say they’re expecting a wave of lawsuits by landlords going after business tenants unable to pay rent because their revenues have been hit, first by protests and now the pandemic. (South China Morning Post)

  • Bird & Bird has postponed salary reviews and split bonuses, in the London-based firm’s latest cost-cutting moves to protect its cash during the Covid-19 crisis, a report says. (The Lawyer)

  • The pandemic has forced many firms to make cost cuts including reductions or delays to partner compensation, pay cuts for associates and staff, as well as furloughs and layoffs. But Morgan Lewis chair Jami Wintz McKeon said in a recent interview that her firm has been able to avoid such moves. She credits the firm’s continued adherence to a “relationship” model, plus a “combination of good luck and good management” and “fiscal responsibility.” (American Lawyer)

  • New commercial litigation filed in federal courts in the 10 weeks ending May 17 was 21% lower overall than in the same period the year before, but there are significant differences between jurisdictions, new data show. (Law.com)

  • ALM Media’s survey of 294 lawyers nationwide found 59% said their income has dropped because of the pandemic and about 64% expect to keep losing money because of it. (Texas Lawyer)

  • With airlines worldwide hit by Covid-19 travel shut-downs, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton is advising Latin America’s largest air carrier, Latam Airlines Group S.A., and its affiliates in Chile, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, and the U.S. on their voluntary restructuring under Chapter 11 protection in the U.S. (Bloomberg News)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Two minority women lawyers, both in-house veterans at tech giants including Facebook, Microsoft, and VMware, as well as at law firms, have launched their own boutique firm specialized in tech-focused government contracting. (BLAW)

  • The New York County Lawyers Association had to put off its plan to move to new offices after the sale of its headquarters in Manhattan fell through when the prospective buyer defaulted and didn’t show for the virtual closing. (New York Law Journal)

  • A new insurance-broker report finds the number of big legal malpractice verdicts surged in 2019, but observers said the Covid-19 crisis is likely to produce a much bigger jump in such cases. (American Lawyer)

  • Northeast regional firm Barclay Damon, which has about 300 lawyers, says it is planning to reopen all 12 of its offices, but will keep working from home as an option. (New York Law Journal)

  • Trump-appointed Texas U.S. Attorney Joseph Brown said he’s resigning effective May 31 to pursue opportunities in the private and public sectors. (Texas Lawyer)

  • Williams & Connolly lawyers for Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes are challenging federal prosecutors’ move to add charges against her and co-defendants without getting a grand jury indictment. (The Recorder)

  • National Law Journal named its 2020 D.C. litigation departments of the year, including 13 firms in six categories. (National Law Journal)

  • Microsoft Corp., advised by Reed Smith, acquired robotic process automation platform Softomotive, which was advised by Hogan Lovells. No terms were disclosed. (HoganLovells.com) (Tech Crunch)

  • Millbank advised food and beverage company Del Monte Pacific on its $120 million sale of a 12% stake in its subsidiary Del Monte Philippines, Inc to a Singapore-based investor. (The Business Times)

Laterals, Moves

  • Haynes and Boone added San Francisco-based intellectual property lawyers Roger Kuan and Jason Novak as partners in its new precision medicine and digital health practice, for which Kuan is chair. Both arrive from McDermott, Will & Emery, where they were partners, and both previously were partners at K&L Gates and before that had senior in-house IP roles at biotech company Thermo Fisher Scientific. (HaynesBoone.com)

  • Sidley Austin added London based life sciences licensing lawyer Helen Middleton as counsel. She was previously in-house at Mundipharma International. (Sidley.com)

  • Michael Best’s litigation group added banking and financial services industry lawyer Christopher Schreiber in Milwaukee. He arrives from von Briesen & Roper, s.c. where he was a shareholder. He was previously chair of that firm’s bankruptcy and creditors rights section and co-chair of its hemp, CBD and cannabis section. (MichaelBest.com)

In-house

  • Contis, a digital banking and payments solutions company, hired former Barclays senior counsel Lara Oyesanya as its first general counsel and chief risk officer, based in London. She arrives most recently from Swedish payments and shopping service Klarna, where she was U.K. counsel and director for legal. (Yahoo! Finance)

Technology

  • Financial intelligence provider Reorg launched a new database that it said aims to provide corporations and law firms with benchmarks on outside counsel’s bankruptcy fees. (Legaltech News)

Legal Education

  • The American Bar Association international law section’s 2020 virtual annual meeting started yesterday and its 45-plus programs are set to run through July 2. It was originally supposed to happen in New York City but the pandemic changed plans. (AmericanBar.org)

  • A legal blog collected advice for law school graduates from a wide range of practicing lawyers across the country. Suggestions ranged from “find a mentor” to clerk to learn the practice you wish to enter, but “don’t just follow the money.” (Lawdragon.com)

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

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