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Wake Up Call: Willkie to Match Davis Polk on Covid Bonuses

Oct. 13, 2020, 2:05 PM

In today’s column, Seyfarth Shaw said its email is out after the firm got hit by a sophisticated cyber attack this weekend; Senate Democrats today get their first opportunity to question Judge Amy Coney Barrett; Quinn Emanuel hired the French prosecutor who led the recent bribery case against Airbus; 600 law students descended on Paul Weiss’ New York office to protest its work representing fossil fuel company ExxonMobil in climate litigation; Cooley and Goodwin advised on cloud communication company’s Twilio’s $3.2 billion acquisition of data startup Segment.

Leading off, Willkie Farr & Gallagher on Friday said it will match the scale that Davis Polk set last month for Covid appreciation bonuses for associates. Willkie’s the first firm to say it will offer the fall payouts since Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Kirkland & Ellis opted to stay off the Covid bonus train with late September announcements. (Above the Law)(American Lawyer)

After Cooley was the first firm to announce fall bonuses in early September, Davis Polk set what would become the standard scale for bonuses to thank associates for their work during the Covid-crisis. Several firms then matched Davis Polk’s scale, which ranges $7,500 to $40,000, depending on year of seniority. But after Kirkland & Ellis and Cravath, Swaine & Moore said they would not offer the bonuses, several other firms followed their lead. (BLAW)

Mintz on Friday became the latest firm to roll back pay cuts for attorneys and staff as firms, citing better than expected business, continue to drop Covid-19-related austerity measures. (BLAW)

But even as Big Law firms say they’re making more money than they thought they would be this year, close to a dozen of them have announced layoffs since the beginning of September, as firms adapt to a changing work environment brought on by the pandemic. (American Lawyer)

In the U.K., several law firm partners are saying that, because lawyers are working remotely, wide salary gaps between lawyers working in London and those in less prestigious regional hubs may no longer be justified. ( International)

The lateral market has declined sharply this year because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandmic. Nevertheless, several firms--including King & Spalding, DLA Piper, Cozen O’Connor and Greenberg Traurig, among others-- are remaining active in the lateral partner market, a report says. (American Lawyer)

The pandemic has been an eye-opener for divorce lawyers of the wealthy. (Financial Times)

Lawyers, Law Firms

Seyfarth Shaw said it got hit by a “sophisticated and aggressive” cyber attack over the weekend. It said its email system remains down but it’s phones are working. “We understand that a number of other entities were simultaneously hit with this same attack. Our monitoring systems detected the unauthorized activity, and our IT team acted quickly to prevent its spread and protect our systems. We have found no evidence that any of our client or firm data were accessed or removed. However, many of our systems were encrypted, and we have shut them down as a precautionary measure,” the firm said. (

Democrats will get their first opportunity to question Judge Amy Coney Barrett today during her U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearing. (Bloomberg News via BLAW) (BLAW)

In Barrett’s nearly three years on the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, she has hired 16 law clerks. (National Law Journal)

Two small immigration firms located on opposite sides of the country have merged, with one citing a need for better case-management software and the other a need for a better East Coast foot print. (The Recorder)

The National Basketball Players Association halved its outside legal bills to a little over $1 million during its most recent fiscal year, while Dechert and Winston & Strawn were its top billers, a financial statement shows. (BLAW)

Cooley advised cloud communications company Twilio on its $3.2 billion-dollar agreement to acquire San Francisco-based Segment Inc., a customer data startup. Goodwin Procter advised Segment. (Bloomberg News)

Munich Re Specialty Insurance launched a professional liability, errors and omissions insurance policy that specially targets mid-size law firms. (Insurance Journal)

Laterals, Moves

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan hired top French state prosecutor Eric Russo as a partner in Paris. As a prosecutor for France’s National Financial Prosecutor’s Office, Russo, among other things, secured deferred prosecution agreements against HSBC, Société Générale and Airbus totaling billions of euros. (

Holland & Knight added executive compensation attorney Howard Clemons as a partner in its Mid-Atlantic corporate, M&A and securities practice group in Tysons, Va. He previously spent close to 29 years at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, including as a partner. (

Barnes & Thornburg hired M&A lawyer Marcantonio Barnes as a partner in Washington. According to his LinkedIn, he’s held public service positions at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the chief counsel’s office of the U.S. House Oversight Committee, and the Fairfax County Small Business Commission. He was most recently a partner at Seyfarth Shaw. (

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius said it expanded its Abu Dhabi office, adding funds in-house lawyer Richard Knott as a partner. He was most recently senior legal counsel at Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala and was a senior associate at Allen & Overy before that. (

Lowenstein Sandler recruited McGuireWoods antitrust & competition partner Jonathan Lewis to the firm’s Washington office as a partner. He’s previously been a partner at BakerHostetler and Mayer Brown. (

Arnold & Porter said former New York judge Rosalyn Richter, a former associate justice of the New York Supreme Court’s appellate division, joined the firm’s complex litigation practice as senior counsel in New York. (

Willkie Farr & Gallagher added asset management lawyer Chip Lunde as a partner in in Washington. He was previously a shareholder at Carlton Fields, where he was co-chair of the firm’s securities and investment companies industry group. (

Northeast regional firm Cullen and Dykman added litigator Christopher F. Mansfield as a partner in its general liability, tort and insurance litigation practice. He arrives from New York-based Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC. (

Polsinelli appointed shareholder Prithvi Tanwar as the firm’s first managing partner for its four-year-old Boston office. In his practice, Tanwar, who joined Polsinelli from Foley Hoag last December, serves as outside general corporate counsel to early and growth stage technology companies. (


Former Deloitte vice chair Carol Lindstrom joined the board of legal services provider Factor. She spent 25 years at Deloitte, during which she helped start its technology consulting practice. (Artificial Lawyer)

Legal Education

Over 600 law students from 47 law schools gathered outside Paul, Weiss’ New York office to deliver their letter vowing not to work for the firm until it stops representing fossil fuel giant Exxon in climate litigation. ( (

To contact the correspondent on this story: Rick Mitchell in Paris at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rebekah Mintzer at; Darren Bowman at