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Wake Up Call: Wachtell Partner Takes to Twitter to Criticize Trump

June 6, 2017, 12:38 PM

• George Conway III of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz took to Twitter on Monday to level unexpected criticism against President Donald Trump, after the president posted a series of tweets that were critical of his own lawyers. That’s significant because Conway is the husband of White House senior advisor Kellyanne Conway and has been a Trump supporter. ( National Law Journal )

• Here’s the backstory: In a series of four Monday morning tweets, President Trump created what Bloomberg View columnist Noah Feldman called “a nightmare scenario” for the office of the solicitor general — the lawyers who must defend his ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries before the U.S. Supreme Court. ( Bloomberg View )

• One of Trump’s tweets read, “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.” Conway, the Wachtell partner, quoted the tweet, in his first Twitter post since Dec. 2015, saying, “These tweets may make some ppl feel better, but they certainly won’t help OSG get 5 votes in SCOTUS, which is what actually matters. Sad.” ( Twitter )

• Trump’s tweets also illustrated Trump’s souring on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. ( New York Times )

• Two law school professors and administrators contend in an Op-Ed that the legal profession as currently configured fails low-income and middle-class people, as the soaring price of law school makes it impossible for graduates to offer legal services at affordable prices. They argue for a tiered system of legal-services delivery that allows for lower barriers to entry, pointing, for example, to Washington state’s recent experiment with “limited license legal technicians.” ( Washington Post )

Law Firm Business

• Mega-deal maker Ante Vucic was elected to Wachtell’s partnership in 2008 but moved to an of counsel role last year, and now he has quietly left the firm, possibly Chicago-bound. ( Am Law Daily )

• K&L Gates, Locke Lorde, and other firms that have placed Texas-sized wagers on lobbying the state legislature are winning big in Austin. ( Texas Law Journal )

• Speaking of lobbying, former Republican U.S. Senator David Vitter has joined the New Orleans office of Butler Snow, which focuses on energy issues and will also do lobbying work with Mercury LLC, from both Washington, D.C., and Louisiana. ( Associated Press via U.S. News & World Report ) In his new book, “Giant of the Senate,” two-term Minnesota Senator Al Franken, who spent 15 years as a Saturday Night Live writer and cast member, describes partnering with Vitter despite disgust at the Republican’s personal history. ( Atlantic ) Vitter lost his 2015 run for Louisiana’s governorship, as he was unable to distance his admission years earlier of being linked to a prostitution ring. ( Washington Post )

Diversity and Inclusion

• With clients keen to see progress on diversity at their outside law firms, firms including Fried Frank, Ogletree Deakins, Saul Ewing, among others, are expanding and refining their diversity and inclusion programs. ( BLB )

• Tina Tchen, who was chief of staff to former First Lady Michelle Obama, was before that a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Chicago, where she spent 23 years as a commercial litigator. In a wide-ranging recent interview, Tchen said law firms are not doing enough to keep female talent, and that they need to organize work smarter. ( National Law Journal )

• Opinion: Recent survey data suggests that so-called millennials will be unlikely to bring much progress on gender equality in law firms. ( The Careerist via American Lawyer )

Legal Market

• An NSA report suggests that the Russian government tried to hack election-related hardware and software vendor in the U.S. ( The Intercept ) The Trump administration made good on its threats against “criminal” leakers, by charging an intelligence contractor with sending that classified report to the news media. ( New York Times )

• The U.S. Supreme Court put sharp new limits on a favorite tool used by securities regulators to recoup money from people found to have violated federal laws. ( Bloomberg via BLB )

• After several back-and-forths in the Royal Bank of Scotland’s fight with unhappy shareholders, a group that represents about 9,000 investors settled with the bank over its 2008 share sale, allowing the bank to avoid a court hearing. ( Financial Times )

• Walt Disney Co.’s ABC News is heading to trial in South Dakota, where the network faces as much as $5.7 billion in potential damages over allegations that it made false and misleading statements about the food additive “pink slime” in a 2012 series of reports. A Q&A about the case. ( Bloomberg via BLB )

• Lyft Inc. and Uber Technologies Inc. got administrative subpoenas from San Francisco’s City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who is investigating the ride-hailing companies’ records in several areas. ( The Recorder )

• Core lenders to Noble Group Ltd. are said to have hired law firm Clifford Chance LLP to advise them amid crisis talks over the embattled commodity trader’s $2 billion credit facility that expires this month. ( Bloomberg )

• A federal jury is poised to take up the fate of three former Nomura Holdings Inc. traders following a month-long trial on charges they lied to their customers about the prices of mortgage bonds and trained their subordinates to do the same thing. ( Bloomberg )

• More than 4,100 men are suing the maker of testosterone-replacement med Androgel, looking to hold the company responsible for health problems ranging from blood clots to heart attacks. ( Bloomberg )

• Twenty years after approving medical marijuana, Californians come 2018 will be able to consume it for recreational purposes, too, and certain localities are positioned for what could be a billion-dollar tax windfall. ( Bloomberg )

The Trump Administration

• The administration said Joseph Otting, a former lieutenant of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s at OneWest Bank, is Trump’s pick to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversees more than 1,000 lenders--including Wall Street giants. If confirmed, Otting would be the first comptroller in decades without an advanced degree, with the agency’s most recent heads all holding law degrees. ( Bloomberg )

• The White House said Trump won’t try to stop former FBI Director James Comey from testifying to the Senate this week about investigations of Russian meddling in the U.S. election that could touch on Trump as well as his current and former associates. ( Bloomberg )

• The top U.S. diplomat in China quit over Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. ( NBC News )

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• Eleven states are doing what the Justice Department declined to do--asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review an appeals court win for American Express Co. that allows it to continue telling merchants not to steer customers to cheaper credit cards. ( Bloomberg via BLB )

• More than 7,000 Kansas farmers went to trial Monday seeking to convince a jury that Swiss agrochemical giant Syngenta AG failed to prevent its genetically modified corn seed from contaminating U.S. crops, which led to a devastating rejection of imports by Chinese officials. ( Bloomberg )

Laterals, Moves, Law Firm Work

• McDermott Will & Emery hired former federal financial prosecutor Sarah E. Walters as a litigation partner in for its Boston office, defending white collar cases. As head of the Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s office’s economic crimes unit, Walters led a multiyear undercover federal securities fraud investigation, called “Operation Pennypincher.” ( BLB )

• Reed Smith moved to expand its finance practice on both coasts, adding three new partners. In San Francisco it hired banking and finance partners William Veatch and Catherine Young Hagerty from Morrison & Foerster and in New York it got Don Andrews from Venable, where he led the firm’s risk and compliance group. ( The Recorder )

• Herbert Smith Freehills’ allied firm in Singapore hired a corporate partner from Latham & Watkins. And other recent lateral hires in Asia. ( The Lawyer )

• Telecom company Ericsson restructured its legal team. ( The Lawyer )

Technology

• Technology companies are refuting U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s claims that they provide a “safe space” for terrorists. ( Bloomberg )

• Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook said the company has helped U.K. officials investigate terror attacks, while reiterating his dismay over U.S. plans to quit the Paris climate agreement. ( Bloomberg )

• Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc. are among dozens of companies that pledged their support for policies combating climate change following Trump’s decision. ( Bloomberg )

• A German researcher attended a recent Colorado conference “in robot form” to protest the Trump administration’s immigration and travel ban, which she said would keep many of her students and colleagues from attending in person because of where they’re from. ( Wired )

Miscellaneous

• Bill Cosby’s lawyer asked jurors Monday not to view him as a fallen celebrity on trial in a sexual assault case, but as a flawed man “whose infidelities have made him vulnerable” to these types of accusations. ( Associated Press via Bloomberg )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.