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Wake Up Call: Baker McKenzie Eyes September Return to Office

May 12, 2021, 11:59 AM

In today’s column, Belgium indicted the biggest law firm in Benelux on money-laundering charges;”staggering” legal fees in the bankruptcies of the Boy Scouts and Purdue Pharma are getting negative attention; the Pritzker School of Law named a new dean.

  • Leading off, Baker McKenzie plans to bring lawyers and staff back into the office in early September, considering some in-person contact essential to the firm’s success. While the firm’s North America chief executive officer Colin Murray said he also expects working from home to be part of the firm’s post-pandemic model, the firm is not planning to have fully remote partners or associates. (American Lawyer)
  • Recent moves by several major law firms to “standardize” associate pay across their U.S. offices could have “ripple effect” on the U.S. legal market, which has become more open to remote and satellite work during the pandemic, a report says. (American Lawyer)
  • Lawyers and consultants working the bankruptcy of Stamford, Ct.-based Purdue Pharma LP. have racked up fees close $400 million. That’s more than half the amount that all individuals harmed by OxyContin would share under the drugmaker’s proposed settlement of personal injury claims linked to the opioid drug; “Staggering” legal fees are also being charged to the Boy Scouts’ estate in that organization’s bankruptcy. The legal fees come out of what could be paid to victims in sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts, the Times reports. (NYT)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • Former White House Counsel Don McGahn, who returned to Jones Day as a partner in 2019, could still end up testifying to Congress about Russian interference in the 2016 election. Congress and the Biden administration yesterday announced an “agreement in principle” to settle a legal dispute over Democrats’ subpoena for McGahn’s testimony; a Texas federal judge threw out the National Rifle Association’s bankruptcy filing, leaving it vulnerable to a New York attorney general who is seeking to dissolve the gun group. (Bloomberg News via BLAW)
  • A top Hogan Lovells corporate partner in London, Richard Diffenthal, who started his career at the firm, “died suddenly of natural causes” at age 40 on May 3, a report says; a Belgian court indicted one of Benelux’s biggest law firms, NautaDutilh, on money-laundering charges stemming from an investigation into a bankrupt fashion retailer. ( International) (GIR)

Laterals, Moves, In-House

  • Kirkland & Ellis got veteran tax partner Stanley Ramsay in New York. He arrives after 21 years at Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Weil grabbed capital markets partner Merritt Johnson from Shearman & Sterling in New York; Dechert got Paul, Weiss leveraged finance counsel Soo-ah Nah as a partner in New York; Husch Blackwell got three three partners from K&L Gates. Construction attorney Bart Turner joined in Houston. In Charleston, S.C., tax lawyer Jason Walton and corporate attorney C. Cartwright “Carty” Bibee joined the firm’s financial services and capital markets practice in its virtual office, The Link. (
  • Baker McKenzie hired Jones Day partner Aarthi Belani, a former Credit Suisse in-house leader, as a partner in its technology transactions practice in Palo Alto; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe caught “rising star” venture capital transactions lawyer Yael Li-Ran Perl from Fenwick & West as a partner in its Silicon Valley tech companies group. (
  • Jones Day recruited two global disputes partners: Frankfurt based Amy Kläsener arrives from Dentons, where she was a partner and led the Germany arbitration team; In Perth, Australia, veteran litigator Michael Lundberg arrives from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Goodwin Procter got Dechert fund formation partner Sebastian Bruchwitz for its Frankfurt office, which it has been expanding to serve clients investing into U.S. funds and international funds clients investing in Germany; K&L Gates added antitrust and competition lawyer Jens Steger in Frankfurt as a partner from Simmons & Simmons. (K&L Gates)


  • Legal tech platform Filevine acquired contract-lifecycle-management provider Outlaw; in London, the U.K.’s legal profession watchdog agency warned of fraudsters posing as law firm Linklaters on WhatsApp. (

Legal Education

  • Northwestern named Penn State Law dean and professor Hari Osofsky to take over as the new dean of the Pritzker School of Law on Aug. 1, according to a report. (The Daily Northwestern); Joblessness among recent law school grads in the Philadelphia area doubled to about 7% during the pandemic, according to a report. (Philadelphia Business Journal)

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