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Wake Up Call: Wilson Sonsini Inks Epiq for Backoffice Work

Oct. 14, 2020, 1:30 PM

In today’s column, Crowell & Moring grabbed an antitrust partner from McDermott in Washington, and Freshfields got a Hogan Lovells antitrust partner, also in D.C.; the University of South Carolina’s new law dean accidentally sent out a general email with an attachment including names of students who failed the state’s recent bar exam; U.K. lawyers stand to lose significant EU business in Brexit, a report says; Nelson Mullins is acquiring a nine lawyer litigation boutique in Raleigh, N.C.; University of Maine Law got a $255 million donation; New York City jury trials could resume next week, the state’s chief judge said.

Leading off, Silicon Valley-based Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati said it recently hired legal services firm Epiq to handle certain back-office functions. Epiq told American Lawyer it has about 90 employees handling Wilson Sonsini work in eight of the firm’s offices around the country. Firms have for a few years been outsourcing backoffice tasks to reduce costs and keep profits up, but the trend has gained momentum during the Covid-19 pandemic. (American Lawyer)

A Wilson Sonsini spokesman told Bloomberg Law in an email that the firm actually hired Epiq to take over from another provider whose contract had concluded, without expanding the scope of outsourced work the prior provider was already doing. “We did not replace any internal full-time staff positions in the process of engaging the provider,” the spokesman said.

Thompson & Knight said earlier this month that it will outsource services to Williams Lea in Ohio. Winston & Strawn opened a service center and laid off some staff that did some of those functions. Akin Gump, Orrick, and other big firms have been outsourcing tasks for years, but the trend has gained pace as the pandemic has forced firms to shift to remote work. (Legaltech News)

Portland-headquartered Stoel Rives said it’s completely reversing austerity cuts it made earlier in the pandemic. (Above the Law)

Several of the biggest U.S. law firms, noting that this year’s business has turned out better than they’d expected, have moved to reverse pay cuts they made early in the pandemic, and some are even offering “Covid-appreciation” bonuses to associates. But the “triage” is not over yet, observes a legal profession analyst. (BLAW)

In the U.K., several Big Law firms are paying back money they got from the government’s furlough program, because they’re also doing better than they expected at the outset of the crisis. (Financial Times) Meanwhile, the country’s lawyers and accountants could be big losers in Brexit, a report warns. (Financial Times)

U.K. elite firm Slaughter and May said it’s restoring quarterly partner distributions that it suspended earlier this year. (The Lawyer)

In its new 2020 legal trends report, practice management platform Clio sets out to quantify the pandemic’s impact on law firms in terms of lost work, income, and morale, and it outlines a plan for a better post-Covid legal profession it expects will be “cloud-based by design.” (Clio)

Lawyers, Law Firms

New Jersey’s judiciary beat a court challenge to its virtual jury-selection procedures. (New Jersey Law Journal)

New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said the state’s court system plans to resume New York City civil jury trials next week but, with Covid-19 still a concern, the system hasn’t yet decided how many trials to hold or where. (New York Law Journal)

Two New York judges’ associations wrote to DiFiore criticizing the state court system’s decision to force out 46 older judges as part of about $300 million in cost cuts to the judiciary budget. (New York Journal)

Senate Republicans Tuesday tried to put some daylight between Amy Coney Barrett and the president who nominated her to a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. (Politico)

Headhunting agency Boston Executive Search Associates Inc. dropped its case against Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer US over the law firm’s lateral hiring of a partner from Cleary. (BLAW)

As interest grows in hydrogen as a source of clean energy for industry, Baker Botts said it has added a dedicated carbon capture, utilization and storage group to the hydrogen practice it started in June within its energy group. (

A Beverly Hills urologist filed a trade secrets lawsuit to stop a competitor from using his patented penis-enhancement implant. (The Recorder)

Laterals, Moves

Antitrust has proved a resilient practice area for law firms amidst the pandemic crisis. Crowell & Moring today said it grabbed McDermott Will & Emery antitrust partner Stefan Meisner as a partner in Washington. Meisner, who’s been at McDermott for 21 years, is a first-chair defense litigator with extensive transactional and criminal antitrust investigations experience, representing Fortune 500 companies in major cross-jurisidictional matters, Crowell said. (

And in another antitrust hire, London-founded Freshfields took another step in its U.S. expansion, adding Hogan Lovells partner Meghan Rissmiller in Washington. (BLAW)

Reed Smith recruited the former co-chair of McGuireWoods’ energy disputes team, Megan Haines, as a partner based in Pittsburgh in its energy and natural resources industry group, along with associate Ryan Haddad. They rejoin oil and gas dealmaker Ryan T. Purpura, who recently joined the same office as a partner. Purpura was chair of McGuireWoods’ global energy group. (

South Carolina-based Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough said it’s expanding in North Carolina, acquiring nine-lawyer litigation and corporate boutique Shanahan Law Group in Raleigh on December 1, when the office will have over 30 lawyers. The team is led by former federal prosecutor Kieran J. Shanahan. (

Davis Polk & Wardwell hired Uzo Asonye, a veteran federal prosecutor in Virginia and member of Robert Mueller’s special counsel team who helped win the conviction of former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort. (BLAW)

Holland & Knight hired 10 financial services litigators from Reed Smith across five U.S. cities, including partners Abraham Colman in Los Angeles and Travis Sabalewski in Richmond, Virginia. (BLAW)

Sidley Austin hired a former Justice Department deputy attorney general, Sujit Raman, for its privacy and cybersecurity practice as a partner in Washington. (BLAW)

Levenfeld Pearlstein announced that insurance brokerage M&A lawyer Jason Romick, who was at the firm earlier in his career, has returned in Chicago as a partner in its corporate group. Romick spent 11 years at insurance brokerage HUB International as an in-house leader and executive and arrives most recently from Mayer Brown, where he was a partner. (

Alternative dispute resolution services provider JAMS said litigator Shelby Grubbs, Atlanta office managing member of Miller & Martin, joined its Atlanta panel. JAMS said California-based business litigator Alan G. Perkins, who recently retired after 15 years as a judge on Sacramento Superior Court, joined its Sacramento panel. (


KPMG launched a stand-alone service designed to help in-house corporate legal teams tap into the latest automation and digital tools to modernize their operations. (BLAW)

Legal Education

The University of South Carolina School of Law’s new dean, William Hubbard, has been apologizing after accidentally sending an email to law school students with an attached file containing confidential bar exam grades of recent grads, including those who failed the test. (

The University of Maine School of Law got a $255 million donation. (

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