Wake Up Call: Williams & Jensen Chair Quits Amidst Pruitt Lobbying Questions

April 23, 2018, 11:47 AM

• J. Steven Hart, the Williams & Jensen lobbyist whose wife gave EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt a sweetheart rental deal on a Washington, D.C., bedroom, quit his firm, as new questions came up about a meeting he had with Pruitt in July. Hart, who was chairman of the law firm, said several of his corporate clients had matters pending before the agency, raising concerns about conflicts of interest. Hart’s name is no longer on the firm’s web site. ( Bloomberg )

• Kirkland & Ellis is using its strong revenue flow from private equity dealmaking to fund lateral partner recruitsaimed at diversifying into other practices while simultaneously shrinking its gender gap. Notable acquisitions for the Chicago-based firm include recently poached M&A litigator Sandra Goldstein from Cravath. She was a former practice leader there, and brought along with her an associate. ( American Lawyer )

• Corporations have done a much better job than law firms at recognizing that diversity is critical to success, Malini Moorthy, vice president and associate general counsel at Bayer Corp. said in a recent interview. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

• Johnny Depp’s legal team looks to be in disarray for the star’s $25 million fraud lawsuit against his former business managers. Depp lost Manatt, Phelps & Phillips from the team three weeks ago, and now his replacement lawyers from Michelman & Robinson, LLP have also exited. ( Deadline Hollywood )

• Wisconsin’s state bar association took back a prestigious volunteer award from former Seyfarth Shaw associate Stephan Addison. The withdrawn prize came after it emerged Addison had been convicted in connection with 2005 sexual assault allegations. ( Wisconsin Law Journal ) ( Law.com )

• The Democratic National Committee sued Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, alleging widespread interference in the 2016 election as part of a “brazen attack on American democracy.” ( Bloomberg )

• Fifteen months after President Trump ordered his first travel ban, the controversy finally comes before the U.S. Supreme Court in a showdown over the limits of the president’s power to control who enters the country. ( Bloomberg )

• Jenner & Block, Miller & Chevalier, Paul Hastings, and Ropes & Gray are among 37 law firms to get special recognition by the D.C. Circuit for their pro bono service in 2017. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

Lawyers and Law Firms

• Former FBI Director James Comey once worked for former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, back when Giuliani was a federal prosecutor in Manhattan. And other observations aboutTrump’s new lawyer, Giuliani, and other lawyers linked to the president. ( The New Yorker )

• Eversheds Sutherland LLP hired James Duncan, previously at Akin Gump, as of counsel for its intellectual property group in Houston. And other news about moves and other moves from IP law firms and other IP-related organizations. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

Legal Actions/Court Decisons

• Kraken, one of the longest-running cryptocurrency exchanges, said it will ignore a request from New York’s top lawyer for detailed information about its operations, despite its New York registration as a money-services business. ( Bloomberg ) Meanwhile, the co-founder of cryptocurrency firm Centra Tech Inc. was arrested on federal charges that he duped investors into committing more than $25 million to the company by lying about an initial coin offering. ( Bloomberg )

• Lawyers don’t usually need to preserve or turn over information about a prospective client who doesn’t become an actual client, the District of Columbia legal ethics committee said in a recent opinion. The opinion gives a green light to D.C. lawyers who want to dispose of notes of meetings with prospective clients that never result in an attorney-client relationship. ( Bloomberg Law via BLB )

• Dykema Gossett lawyers for Honeywell International Inc. won a ruling that allows the company to cut 50 Michigan retirees’ health benefits. But Honeywell’s former employees asked a federal appeals court to force the company to keep paying their benefits while they appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. ( Bloomberg Law )


• Clearview Social, which in 2014 introduced a social media management tool for law firms, has launched a blog automation and management platform for lawyers called PostHaste. ( Legaltech News )

• The Justice Department is investigating whether AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. colluded to make it tougher for consumers to change wireless carriers. The probe signals DOJ’s intent to focus on maintaining a competitive market environment. ( Bloomberg )

• Online giants ranging from Facebook to PayPal to Uber are scaling back their complex user agreements to comply with new European Union data regulations. ( Bloomberg Businessweek )

• Facebook spent a record $3.3 million on lobbying in the first three months. That cash infusion came around the same time an uproar arose over a leak of the social media network’s data on millions of users to a company that worked for the Trump campaign. Other big tech companies are also spending large amounts on lobbying. ( Bloomberg )

Legal Education

• The Columbia Law Review named Tomi Williams its new editor-in-chief, making him the first black male to that position in the publication’s 117-year history. ( New York Law Journal )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Tom Taylor.

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