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Wake Up Call: Uber Lays Off Legal Staff as Virus Batters Business

May 22, 2020, 12:35 PM

In today’s column, Pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline poached the top lawyer at education publisher Pearson; electric car company Lucid Motors snagged a top lawyer from its big rival, Tesla; most of President Trump’s re-election campaign spending in April went to a boutique known for libel actions against media; the College of William & Mary’s law school hired an African-American dean, the university’s first; Burford Capital released a new survey report on gender diversity in the legal profession; the suspended chief legal officer of the U.S. Soccer Federation has resigned; Wake Up Call is taking a break Monday for Memorial Day and will be back Tuesday, May 26.

  • Leading off, Uber Technologies Inc. cut at least 16 jobs from its legal department, among thousands of layoffs the ride-hailing company has made this month as the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown have slammed its core business. (Corporate Counsel)

  • The number of law firms announcing pay and other austerity cuts this week was down sharply from last week, although one Big Law firm was reported to be making “stealth layoffs,” which the firm did not confirm. (ABAJournal.com)

  • Transatlantic firm Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner has set out a multi-step plan for returning to its London headquarters once the Covid-19 lockdown is lifted. (The Lawyer)

  • Bloomberg Law put together a general counsel’s guide to help legal departments steer their companies through re-opening plans. (BLAW)

  • A survey by workplace social network Fishbowl finds that about 34% of lawyers and health professionals responding said they’re working more hours because of the pandemic, compared with 55% of the 16,585 respondents overall who said that. (Fishbowl)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Some 80% of legal departments lack formal policies requiring outside law firms they hire to meet gender diversity requirements, while 52% of general counsel said they are entirely unaware of how origination credit, a key criteria in gender gap issues, is awarded when they hire a law firm. That’s according to a new survey report by litigation finance company Burford Capital. Burford said its 2020 Equity Project study interviewed over 75 general counsel and senior in-house lawyers at large companies in 12 countries. (BurfordCapital.com)

  • Of the $500,000-plus that President Trump’s re-election campaign spent on legal fees in April, over half went to a boutique law firm known for winning the massive libel verdict that killed Gawker Media, a report says. Jones Day, the firm of former White House counsel Donald McGahn, got most of the rest. (National Law Journal)

  • Former Fannie Mae general counsel Brian Brooks, an ex-Big Law practice leader who worked with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at OneWest Bank, is set to become acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, one of Wall Street banks’ main regulators. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

  • A Manhattan federal judge sanctioned the Trump Administration for not turning over documents in the dispute over a proposed citizenship question on the 2020 census. (New York Law Journal)

  • Skadden Arps is advising New Residential Investment Corp., a mortgage investor and servicer, on a $600 million capital raise through entry into a private senior secured loan agreement structured and led by Canyon Partners, LLC, advised by Sullivan & Cromwell. (Newresi.com)

  • California defense lawyers say they’re interested in questions raised about credentials claimed by Joe Biden-accuser Tara Reade, because she participated as prosecution expert witness on domestic violence in cases in which their clients were convicted. (NYT) (Politico)

Laterals, Moves

  • Legal recruiter Lauren Drake is finally at the Washington office of Mlegal Group, working with Jane Roberts, wife of Chief Justice John Roberts, after settling non-compete litigation with her former employer, Major, Lindsey & Africa. (National Law Journal)

  • Covington & Burling hired Marlene Aquino, former head of diversity at management and information tech consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, as its first chief diversity and inclusion officer. (BLAW)

  • The RealReal Inc., an online reseller of high-end goods, hired veteran in-house leader and former U.S. Navy flight officer and Reserve commander Todd Suko as its new top in-house lawyer. Suko was most recently chief financial and legal officer at retail technology network OneMarket Ltd. RealReal said general counsel Dana DuFrane is no longer at the company. (BLAW)

  • Electric car company Lucid Motors poached a top lawyer from its rival Tesla, getting industry veteran Jonathan Butler as vice president and general counsel. According to his LinkedIn, Butler’s a former senior associate at Pillsbury and worked as counsel at Airbus SAS in Toulouse, France. (InsideEVS.com)

  • The suspended chief legal officer of the U.S. Soccer Federation, Lydia Wahlke, has resigned in fallout over mismanagement of the federation’s defense against a pay bias lawsuit by women players, a report says. (Corporate Counsel)

  • The Corporate Legal Operations Consortium named former legal marketing association executive Betsi Roach its new executive director. With a master’s degree in international management, she’s, among things, a former director of the American Bar Association’s intellectual property law section. (Corporate Counsel)

Technology

  • Morgan Lewis client MVP Capital Partners invested in Golf Genius Software, a cloud-based provider of golf tournament management software. Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy also participated in the financing round. (Forbes)

  • Two hacker groups have claimed responsibility for data theft from at least seven law firms in the last half year, a report says. (Legaltech News)

  • In a deal eyeing cyber-risks of remote work, Smarsh, a communication archiving and monitoring company, acquired Entreda, a cybersecurity compliance and risk analytics firm. (Legaltech News)

  • The publisher of legal blog Overlawyered.com said it will cease publication on May 31, after a 21-year run. (Overlawyered.com)

Legal Education

  • The College of William & Mary Marshall-Wythe School of Law used Zoom to hire University of Virginia law professor Benjamin Spencer as dean. He’s the first new dean hired at a top 50 law school during the pandemic and the first African American dean across the wider university. (Law.com)

  • After President Trump tweeted congratulations to his daughter Tiffany for graduating Georgetown Law, he got a lot of responses. (Twitter)

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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