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Wake Up Call: Will Tie Up Mean Massive Growth for Greenberg Traurig?

Feb. 4, 2016, 1:13 PM

• Greenberg Traurig said Wednesday that it is inpreliminary talks to combine with the London-based law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner, in a tie-up that would create a firm with more than 2,500 lawyers, including nearly 750 in New York and London. (Big Law Business)

• More than a third of practicing U.S. attorneys are problem drinkers, a far higher level than for other professions, according to a new study from the American Bar Association and the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation that observers called “very alarming” and “disheartening.” (National Law Journal)

• Partner profits at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison increased for the 20th straight year in 2015, surging 6.4 percent to over $4 million per equity partner, the firm reported. (American Lawyer)

• Africa’s largest wireless company, MTN Group Ltd., has hired former U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder,now a Washington-based partner at Covington & Burling, to participate in talks with Nigerian regulators about settling a $3.9 billion fine, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission. (Bloomberg News)

Legal Market

• As companies’ in-house legal departments look to cut costs and reduce inefficiencies, they are increasingly using a procurement process to extract competitive bids from law firms and to push firms to make changes in how they provide legal services, practitioners said. (Big Law Business)

• Law firms competing for market share and talent are working to build their brand and reputation , the recent Acritas U.S. Law Firm Brand Index shows. (Big Law Business)

• Davis Polk & Wardwell and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett played major parts advising in China National Chemical Corporation’s (ChemChina) $43 billion acquisition of the Swiss-based agrochemical and seeds multinational Syngenta AG. (The Lawyer)

• Lawyers and other observers said the deal could raise U.S.security concerns,because SyngentaAG owns certain “high risk” U.S. chemical facilities in Louisiana and Texas that are potential terror targets. (Wall Street Journal)

Law firms would initially benefit from increased billing hours if the U.K. ends up leaving the European Union, but such a move would wreak economic havoc and eventually hurt law firms, too, several attorneys said. (Bloomberg)

• Federal judges in Washington are considering a proposed rule that would clearly describe prosecutors’ obligation to turn over evidence to defense lawyers. (National Law Journal)

• Luxembourg said it aims to become Europe’s center for mining space resources , such as on asteroids and the moon, by establishing a legal and regulatory framework and investing in research and development projects. (TechCrunch)

Laterals and Moves

• DLA Piper’s global co-chair of investigations practice, Tara Lee, has left to join Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan,on the heels of Gregg Galardi,DLA’s now former global co-chairman of restructuring practice, who left for Ropes & Gray. (Big Law Business)

• A trio of private equity partners have left Boston-based Locke Lord for Choate, Hall & Stewart, also in Boston, a year after they joined Locke Lord through its merger with Edwards Wildman Palmer. (American Lawyer)

• Dechert said it has hired Joseph Fazioli--who won several white collar fraud convictions during his 12 years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California--as a litigation partner for the firm’s Mountain View, California, office. (The Recorder)

Technology

• Twitter Inc. has hired a team from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr to defend against a suit, filed by the widow of an American contractor killed by ISIS in Jordan, alleging that the company provides material support that enables the terror group to spread propaganda. (The Recorder)

• European Union privacy watchdogs said they are awaiting details of a new trans-Atlantic data-transfer pact dubbed the “privacy shield” before acting on their threat to probe workarounds that thousands of U.S. companies have resorted to since the EU’s top court struck down the previous framework, known as Safe Harbor. (Big Law Business/Bloomberg News)

• Privacy lawyers say the new agreement will lead to stronger enforcement of EU privacy laws. (The Recorder)

• The legal technology company LegalZoom takes a“customer is always right approachto business that many profit-driven global law firms have largely forgotten how to do, says a consultant. (Big Law Business)

Legal analytics tools can be valuable, among other things by cutting time needed for research, but to get the most out of them you still have to define what you are looking for, according to a Feb. 3 panel at the Legaltech conference in New York. (LegalTech news)

• A California lawsuit alleges that a school district committed genetic discrimination by forcing a child to transfer because he has genetic markers for cystic fibrosis. (Wired)

• In a lawsuit that alleges that Led Zeppelin’s hit” Stairway to Heaven ” ripped off an obscure song by the band Spirit, the discovery could make for good listening. (Bloomberg News)

Legal Education

• As plunging enrollment forces law schools to cut staffing and course offerings, iLaw, a tech company that specializes in online legal education ,has emerged to help schools fill course gaps, writes a law professor specializing in emerging legal technology. (Big Law Business)

Miscellaneous • A Pennsylvania judge Wednesday said a sexual assault case against comedian Bill Cosby can proceed. (Washington Post)

• In the light of recent egregious cases of police brutality and unfair treatment of African American men by the justice system, Johnnie Cochran, the lawyer who got O.J. Simpson acquitted of murder, has emerged as a “ civil rights icon .” (Washington Post)