Welcome

Wake Up Call: Utah to Get ‘First Non-Lawyer Owned’ Law Firm

March 16, 2021, 1:00 PM

In today’s column, several law firms said their summer associate programs will stay remote this year; jury trials are set to resume in New York, but the state’s chief judge said virtual court proceedings are going to continue for awhile; Morrison & Foerster’s trial practice took a hit last year amidst the pandemic, but its transactions team came through to power profits.

  • Leading off, a Utah-based registered agent company said it’s launching the first “entirely nonlawyer-owned” law firm in the United States, made possible by the state’s pilot “sandbox” program that targets more affordable and accessible legal services. The Law on Call service, which will be available in Utah this spring, will charge clients $9 a month for unlimited phone access to licensed lawyers with legal work starting at $100 per hour and no retainer, according to a statement. The firm said it plans to eventually expand to other states. San Francisco-based Rocket Lawyer and a handful of smaller providers announced plans last year to participate in Utah’s program. California has been working on similar programs, while Arizona last August become the first U.S. state to allow nonlawyer ownership of law firms. (PR Newswire)
  • The U.S. Covid-19 vaccination program is gathering steam but several Big Law firms have nonetheless decided to keep their summer associate programs virtual for a second straight year. Some firms say they may hold some in-person events. (Law.com)
  • Jury trials are set to resume in New York’s court system next week after a months’ long pause because of the pandemic. However, Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said most court proceedings in the state will continue to be virtual “for the foreseeable future.” (New York Law Journal)
  • Morrison & Foerster’s gross revenue grew 1.6% to $1.17 billion in 2020, as court closures caused by the pandemic took a bite out of its litigation work. Still, the firm’s M&A group advised on 158 transactions including 19 billion-dollar-plus deals and the firm’s profits per equity partner rose 9.4% to $2.24 million. (American Lawyer)
  • Obama-administration antitrust regulators “misread the evidence before them” when they decided against suing Google a decade ago, a report contends. In a who’s who inventory, Politico says that many of the lawyers who were involved in the Federal Trade Commission’s probe back then are now key actors in current antitrust fights involving tech giants, although sometimes they’re working for the opposite side. (Politico)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Atlanta-based Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton’s expanded work for its existing clients who needed help with pandemic-related matters, especially in tech, life sciences and private equity, helped push its revenues up 4% to $497.94 million last year. Its PEP increased 10.4% to $1.36 million, even as it increased its equity partnership. (Daily Report)
  • An investor lawsuit filed in Delaware last week among other things accuses Tesla’s board of directors of failing to appoint a general counsel who could stand up to CEO Elon Musk, in particular to keep him from sending out tweets that violate the company’s 2018 settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. A report says the Delaware lawsuit casts light on limited options that company counsel have when dealing with difficult bosses. (Corporate Counsel)
  • A former executive assistant to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo met with investigators via Zoom for hours and provided them with corroborating documents for her accusations that Cuomo sexually harassed her, says her lawyer Debra Katz. Katz is known, among other things, for representing California psychologist Christine Blasey Ford, who during Brett Kavanaugh’s 2018 Senate confirmation hearings accused him of sexually assaulting her. (Forbes)

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Willkie Farr & Gallagher hired real estate in-house leader Noah Bilenker, most recently director and general counsel at Mesa West Capital the asset management division of Morgan Stanley as a partner in New York. (Willkie.com) Also in New York, Duane Morris grabbed three partners and an economist from Reed Smith in New York. The partners include a corporate lawyer and two commercial litigators. (DuaneMorris.com)

Technology

  • DLA Piper launched an artificial intelligence powered service it says is designed to find cartel risks within corporations. The law firm created the service with Reveal, a provider of AI-enabled ediscovery software. (DLA Piper)

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

To read more articles log in.

Learn more about a Bloomberg Law subscription.