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Wake Up Call: VOA Gave Firms $4 Million No-Bid Deal, Suit Says

Jan. 26, 2021, 1:55 PM

In today’s column, Goodwin poached Hogan Lovells’ entire consumer finance litigation team; Katten hired the CFTC’s former top lawyer; a major Australian law firm and two financial agencies got hit by a cyberattack that breached file-sharing systems provided by a U.S. company; Sheppard Mullin is offering a big bonus for its hardest working staff.

  • Leading off, a whistleblower complaint alleges that the former head of Voice of America’s parent agency, Trump appointee Michael Pack, hired Washington law firms McGuireWoods and Caplin & Drysdale to no-bid contracts that have cost taxpayers close to $4 million over a five-month period, the Post reported. The contracts, part of Pack’s controversial effort to weed out anti-Trump forces from news agencies under the U.S. Agency for Global Media, possibly violated federal contracting regulation, the Post said. (WaPo)
  • Sheppard Mullin is offering a 200% profit-sharing bonus that will pay eligible staff two weeks of extra salary to thank them for their work during the pandemic, a report said. (Above the Law)
  • Big Law firms risk losing talent if they don’t come up with better solutions to address the “impossible schedule” faced by many working parents during the pandemic. (American Lawyer)
  • Getting lawyers to shift to remote work during the pandemic was challenging, but getting them back into the office post-Covid could be even harder. (Law.com)

Biden Administration, Election Litigation, Fallout From Capitol Riots

  • Former President Donald Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial started, and Chief Justice John Roberts is not scheduled to preside. (Bloomberg via BLAW) (BLAW)
  • The Justice Department’s inspector general is investing whether department staff members sought to use the agency to alter the outcome of the 2020 election. (Bloomberg via BLAW)
  • Dominion Voting Systems Inc. filed a $1.3 billion defamation suit against Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, accusing him of promoting lies about election fraud. (BLAW)
  • Another Trump lawyer, L. Lin Wood, has also been hit by fallout over his involvement in lawsuits seeking to overturn the election results. Wood was fired by Nicholas Sandmann, the pro-Trump Catholic school student who sued media over their coverage of his 2019 face-off with a Native American activist in Washington. (U.S. News & World Report) Wood may also get ejected from a libel suit against MSNBC host Joy Reid. (Politico)
  • Jenner & Block said the Justice Department appointed its partner Emily Loeb as associate deputy attorney general. Loeb, who was co-chair of Jenner’s government controversies and public policy litigation practice, previously served as counsel in the Obama White House, as well as in the DOJ. (Jenner.com)
  • The Biden administration appointed former WilmerHale counsel Lynn Eisenberg general counsel of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. She earlier served as deputy general counsel to Biden’s campaign, counsel to the Biden transition, and as an associate counsel in the Obama White House. (FCW.com)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Goodwin Procter said it launched a 17-person task force to fight systemic anti-Black racism and to examine the firm’s global systems, processes, and practices to improve the experience and career trajectories of the firm’s Black lawyers and staff. (Goodwinlaw.com)
  • Television advertising by law firms seeking clients for litigation targeting makers of drugs and consumer products declined in 2020, as advertising related to claims that weedkiller Roundup can cause cancer declined when Bayer AG moved to settle many of those cases. (Reuters)

Laterals, Moves

  • Goodwin Procter poached the founder and head of Hogan Lovells’ consumer finance litigation team, partner Allison Schoenthal. She joins in New York as head of Goodwin’s consumer financial services litigation and enforcement practice, bringing her entire five-person team. (American Lawyer)
  • Kansas City-based Spencer Fane’s Denver office is adding 10 litigators who, at their previous firm, represented insurance carriers in high-stakes civil litigation. (BLAW)
  • Katten Muchin Rosenman hired former general counsel for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Daniel Davis as a partner in Washington in the firm’s financial markets and funds group. (Katten.com)
  • Sidley Austin added three health care transactional partners—Ankur Gupta, Sam Wales, and Benjamin Kirschner—and an associate from McDermott Will & Emery to its global M&A and private equity practice. At McDermott, Gupta led the global health care real estate practice. (BLAW)
  • Willkie Farr & Gallagher said asset management lawyer Benjamin Allensworth rejoined the firm as counsel. Allensworth spent the last 13-plus years at the Managed Funds Association, as managing director and tax and finance counsel, before which he was a Willkie associate. (Willkie.com)
  • Steptoe & Johnson LLP got Alston & Bird patent litigator Steve Yang as a partner in its intellectual property group in New York. He advises Chinese and Taiwanese companies. (Steptoe.com)
  • Haynes and Boone brought on Venable patent lawyer Benjamin Pelletier as a partner in San Francisco in its precision medicine and digital health practice. (HaynesBoone.com)
  • Frost Brown Todd got back Russell Coleman, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, who rejoined the firm as a partner in its investigations practice and as a principal in the firm’s lobbying subsidiary. (BLAW)
  • Former Missouri Democratic Congressman Russ Carnahan joined Bryan Cave Leighton Pasiner in St. Louis as a senior policy adviser in the firm’s public policy/government affairs group. (BCLP.com)
  • Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck said employment litigator Allyson Thompson joined the firm as a partner in Los Angeles. (KDVLaw.com)
  • Kelley Kronenberg hired Greenspoon Marder land use and zoning attorney Alicia J. Lewis as a partner and business unit Leader in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area. The firm also launched a land use and zoning practice. (KelleyKronenberg.com)
  • Another Florida firm, Brinkley Morgan, appointed family law attorney John Lambros as the firm’s new managing partner. (BrinkleyMorgan.com)

In-house

  • Auto parts giant Tenneco Inc. said it hired veteran law department leader Thomas Sabatino as general counsel. Sabatino, who starts his new job Feb. 15., has spent over two decades as legal chief for half a dozen major public companies. (BLAW)
  • The Biden administration named a veteran National Labor Relations Board attorney as the agency’s acting general counsel. (BLAW)

Technology

  • A major Australian law firm got hit by a cyberattack as hackers breached its file-sharing system, which is provided by Californian cloud company Accellion. (Law.com International) The Australian Securities and Investments Commission and The New Zealand Reserve Bank also reported breaches of their servers that use Accellion software. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)

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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