Wake Up Call: U.S. Firms Starting to Get New Work, New Data Show

June 29, 2020, 12:33 PM

In today’s column, about 40% of U.S.-based in-house counsel told a recent survey they’re considering looking for a new job in the next year because of compensation issues; Berkeley University School of Law is going all-remote in the fall; Concordia University School of Law, in Boise, Idaho, is closing; in Covid cost cuts, London-based Simmons & Simmons is cutting working hours and pay by 20% for its global staff, effective July 1, and Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner cut pay for its newly qualified lawyers in London; Baker McKenzie promoted 85 lawyers to partner worldwide.

  • Leading off, U.S. law firms are starting to get new legal work after a steep plunge right after the Covid-19 pandemic hit early in the year, according to practice management platform Clio, based on data from its tens of thousands of firms and lawyers using its platform and survey data. Clio’s data early in April, found that weekly openings of new U.S. legal matters were down close to 40% compared with their level in late February. “Now we’re starting to see a bit of a recovery, as new matter velocity is at negative 20%,” compared to its level in February. “That means that we’ve recovered close to half the ground we lost,” Clio founder and CEO Jack Newton told Above the Law last week. (Above the Law)

  • About 40% of U.S.-based in-house counsel told a recent survey that they’re considering looking for a new job in the next year because of compensation issues, up 2% from the same survey last year. Boutique executive search firm BarkerGilmore notes in its 27-page “2020 In-House Counsel Compensation Report” that the period of market uncertainty and strain caused by the Covid-19 crisis will likely influence lawyers’ decisions to leave differently, depending on their industry. The survey found counsel in the health care and technology industries are more likely to be looking for new jobs. (GlobalLegalPost.com)

  • Law firm offices in Chicago, and New York City recently got permission from their states to reopen, but most aren’t hurrying to bring lawyers and clients back in. More comfortable working remote, and still cautious about risks from the pandemic, firms in London and elsewhere around the world are also taking a cautious approach to opening. (Law.com)

  • Mass tort lawyers tend to prefer a hands-on approach to complex litigation, but Covid-19 has forced them to fight court battles remotely. On the upside, the lawyers say that, so far, the change hasn’t hurt their bottom lines. (BLAW)

  • London-based Simmons & Simmons said its global staff voted to reduce their working hours and pay by 20%, effective July 1, after the firm earlier this year delayed partner distributions and made other moves to protect its cash flow from Covid-19’s economic impact. The firm said staff could get a bonus at year’s end if the firm does better than expected. (Law.com International)

  • In another Covid-19 cost cut in London, transatlantic firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner followed Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance’s lead in cutting salaries for beginning lawyers. (The Lawyer) (Legalbusiness.co.uk)

  • A Pennsylvania trial court judge rejected a request by U.S.-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals to force a South Korean company, a Blank Rome client, to transfer proprietary DNA information that Inovio said is needed to develop adequate quantities of a potential Covid-19 vaccine. (Legal Intelligencer)

The Legal Profession Reacts to George Floyd Protests, Systemic Racism

  • In-house leaders should use their voices and senior positions to push for change in corporate America, or risk damage to their brands, Black top lawyers at major companies and the diversity chief of a major legal recruiter said recently. (BLAW)

  • Of the 93 U.S. attorneys currently serving nationwide, most appointed under the Trump administration, seven are women and seven are Black or people of color, Buzz Feed reported. (BuzzFeednews.com)

  • Cooley and Axios are hosting a live, online event tomorrow on the impact of Black Americans’ underrepresentation in venture capital. (Inequity in Venture Capital)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Getting funding from a third-party litigation finance company doesn’t void a whistleblower’s ability to pursue federal False Claims Act claims on behalf of the United States, a federal appeals court ruled last week. (National Law Journal) Skadden Arps represented Consulate Health Care and other defendants in the case. (BLAW)

  • “I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be who I am, fully, with people I work with,” by coming out as non-binary, says a litigation partner at Squire Patton Boggs in a recent interview. (American Lawyer)

  • A former Fox Rothschild partner who was sentenced to federal prison for insider trading can practice law again, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled. (ABA Journal)

  • Haynes and Boone advised investment firm Capital Peak Partners on its winning joint bid, with KKR & Co., to acquire Borden Dairy Company as a part of the milk producer’s process to sell its assets out of bankruptcy. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

Laterals, Moves

  • U.K. elite firm Linklaters hired back banking partner David Irvine from Kirkland & Ellis, a report says. Irvine’s been working for Kirkland in Hong Kong since 2015 but plans to return to London, a report says. (Law.com International)


  • Health-care companies continue to be among the busiest bringing on new legal and compliance leadership, with Silicon Valley-based Guardant Health Inc. and Germany’s Fresenius SE & Co KgaA among the latest making hires. (BLAW)


  • Debevoise & Plimpton promoted seven attorneys to partner in New York, including three women. (Debevoise.com)

Legal Education

  • The University of California, Berkeley School of Law said it will stay all-remote for the fall semester, the latest law school to make that decision because of the pandemic. (Law.com)

  • Boise, Idaho-based Concordia University School of Law school said it is closing after its rescue plan fell apart. It’s not clear what will happen to its students. It’ll be the sixth American Bar Association-accredited law school to shut down since 2016, a report says. (Law.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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