Weekly Update – 27th of November 2023

 

 

 

 

 

Moves:

UK & Ireland

Latham Makes Double Partner Hire From Akin in London

Fergus Wheeler and Paul Yin will both join Latham’s banking practice in London and are leaving Akin after less than a year with the firm.

Kirkland Looks to Macfarlanes for Latest London Partner Hire

Kirkland & Ellis has turned to U.K. firm Macfarlanes for a new senior tax partner hire in London.

Ceinwen Rees joins Kirkland after five years at Macfarlanes, which she first joined as partner back in 2018 after a spell U.S. firm Debevoise & Plimpton.

Paul Weiss Continues Raid on Kirkland with 14th London Partner Hire

John Patten will depart Kirkland’s technology and IP transactions practice after over five years—according to a person close to the hire—two of which he spent as a partner, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to that, he was an associate at Linklaters for nearly five years.

Eversheds Sutherland appoints Lisa Boyd as Belfast procurement partner

Ms Boyd brings over 17 years of experience advising businesses and large organisations on all aspects of public procurement law and construction. The firm said the addition of a procurement partner to the Belfast office underscores its full-service strategy in Northern Ireland.

Mason Hayes & Curran welcomes Laura Herangi

Mason Hayes & Curran has announced the appointment of Laura Herangi as a partner and head of the firm’s data solutions group.

Ms Herangi has expertise in all areas of data retrieval and management. She primarily advises clients in the management of large-scale discovery projects, information and data gathering for regulatory and corporate investigations, and in the management of responses to data subject access requests.

IP specialist law firm FRKelly consolidates presence in Cork 

The appointment of David Keane as partner in the Cork office highlights FRKelly’s enduring investment in the region. He brings a wealth of IP experience from roles in both in-house and law firm roles.

EMEA

King & Spalding, White & Case Boost Dubai Offices With New Hires

White & Case and King & Spalding have added new partners to their growing Dubai benches in the fields of finance and real estate, respectively, as the emirate continues to remain central to regional prospects.

APAC

M&A Lawyer Departs PwC Legal for Australia’s McCullough Robertson

Natalie Kurdian has left PwC Australia as departures from the firm’s legal business continue in the wake of its tax advice scandal.

Yulchon Expands Disputes Practice with Two Prosecutor Hires in Seoul 

Big Six South Korean law firm Yulchon has further bolstered its dispute resolution practice with the double hire of Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office’s director prosecutors, Wook Jin Rha and Woo Young Choe. Rha and Cho are joining the private practice’s global white-collar crime and financial investigation teams as Seoul-brd partners, respectively.

Australian Firm Takes Projects Lawyers from White & Case, Holding Redlich

Australian law firm Hall & Wilcox has hired a project and infrastructure partner from international firm White & Case and another from an Australian firm.

Mark Montag joins from White & Case while Shaun Whittaker, along with a senior associate and another lawyer, join from Holding Redlich. All will be brd in Melbourne.

Singapore Firm Bayfront Law Lands Drew & Napier’s Disputes Director 

Bayfront Law, the Singapore Formal Law Alliance (FLA) partner of Japan’s largest law firm Nishimura & Asahi, has strengthened its dispute resolution capability with the hire of Paras Lalwani, who was most recently a director at Big Four Singapore firm Drew & Napier. Lalwani has joined Bayfront as a director and head of the firm’s international arbitration practice.

The Americas

Sidley Energy Capital Markets Partner Moves to Locke Lord

In a Big Law hire in Houston, Locke Lord has added Sidley Austin energy capital markets and corporate partner Jon Daly, who said his clients will benefit from his new firm’s expertise in the energy space, particularly in the midstream area.

Clark Hill Adds Financial Services Practice to Collin County Office With Vedder Price Shareholder

Aaron Turner joined Clark Hill on Oct. 13, after nearly three years at Vedder Price, where he helped launch the Dallas office in January 2021.

McDermott IP Trio Split to Launch Rimon’s Japan Practice, Citing Big Law Rates

Three of McDermott Will & Emery’s longtime IP partners have relocated to distributed firm Rimon P.C., citing their new firm’s greater flexibility on rates.

Partners Tomoki Tanida, Takashi Saito and Michael “Mike” Fogarty arrived at Rimon’s Northern Virginia office Oct. 23, bringing a team of five patent agents, staff and a 100% Japanese clientele from the Am Law 50 firm, lawyers at the firm said. Their moves fuel Rimon’s growth in the IP space and help it launch a new Japan practice.

Dentons, Bracewell and Polsinelli Add to Partner Benches in DC

Polsinelli brought on a three-lawyer real estate team from Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough to join the firm’s real estate practice group. The team—including shareholder Anitra Androh, shareholder Tim Donovan and associate Reid Mene—represents commercial real estate clients in transactions involving the acquisition, disposition and development of mixed-use, commercial and residential projects.

Dentons hired partner Seamus Curley from dissolving firm Stroock.

Pa. Firms Among Those Picking Up Talent From Dissolving Ward Greenberg

Buffalo-brd Hodgson Russ and Atlanta-brd Freeman Mathis & Gary are each taking their share of the mid-Atlantic litigation boutique Ward Greenberg, divvying up the firm’s 19 lawyers across its four offices in New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey effective January 1, 2024.

Hodgson Russ announced its acquisition, led by firm co-founder Eric Ward, on Tuesday, taking over Ward Greenberg’s existing Rochester lease and adding 10 litigators to its commercial litigation practice. Freeman Mathis, meanwhile, is bringing on nine attorneys, including the firm’s other founder Edward Greenberg, from Ward Greenberg’s Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey offices, similarly taking responsibility for the firm’s leases until they come due. Hodgson Russ and Freeman Mathis will be incorporating the firm’s administrative staff as well.

On the Move and After Hours: K&L Gates; Porzio; Capehart Scatchard; Sherman Atlas; Sills Cummis

K&L Gates welcomed Jennifer Mazawey as a partner in the real estate practice area in the Newark office, according to an announcement by the firm. Mazawey joins the firm from Genova Burns, where she worked for over 20 years.

Blank Rome Adds Former Federal Prosecutor to Pittsburgh Office

Blank Rome has added former assistant U.S. attorney Yvonne Saadi to its Pittsburgh office, expanding its commercial litigation and white-collar capabilities.

Saadi is the 24th lateral addition brought on to the firm this year, joining former federal appellate and district court Judge Timothy K. Lewis at the firm’s Pittsburgh office.

Paul Hastings Continues Growing Funds Practice, Landing Partner from Skadden

Anna Rips, who was at Skadden for 17 years, is the eighth partner to join Paul Hastings’ funds practice in the last nine months.

In-House

Biden’s Former Chief of Staff Leaves O’Melveny for Airbnb

Ron Klain, President Joe Biden’s former chief of staff and longtime Democratic political operative, will leave O’Melveny & Myers after seven months to become chief legal officer at Airbnb on Jan. 1.

Klain left the White House in February and two months later rejoined the Washington, D.C., office of O’Melveny, where he was a partner from 1999 to 2004. He returned after O’Melveny chair Brad Butwin recruited him to lead the firm’s new crisis management practice.

Ailing Tupperware Rehires Legal Chief After Replacing CEO

As it struggles for survival, Tupperware Brands, the once-iconic maker of airtight storage containers, has restored Karen Sheehan to her former role as chief legal officer, three months after she abruptly announced her resignation.

Fintech Veteran Tapped as GC of Pipedrive

Phillip Mellet will head worldwide legal for customer relationship software firm Pipedrive. Mellet currently is GC of Nashville, Tennessee-brd digital insurance broker Healthpilot.

Lesley Wan Exits FBN Bank for GC Role in Banking Venture

The First Bank of Nigeria’s general counsel in the U.K., Lesley Wan, has departed from her position to join banking venture All Africa Capital.

Promotions & Appointments:

‘I’m Eager to Build on Successes’: BCLP Names Next UK Managing Partner

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner has named its next U.K. managing partner, Jinal Shah, after elevating its current London head, Segun Osuntokun, to global senior partner.

Both roles will take effect on January 1, 2024.

Gleiss Lutz Elects New Managing Partners

Ralf Morshäuser and Johann Wagner will jointly lead the firm and will take office from January 1, 2024.

Geoff Moore to continue as head of Arthur Cox

Arthur Cox managing partner Geoff Moore has been reappointed to serve a second four-year term. Mr Moore has served as the firm’s managing partner since 2019 and as a partner since 2007. Prior to his current role, he served as co-head of the firm’s corporate/M&A group, specialising in mergers and acquisitions and strategic advisory work for leading corporates.

People in the News—Nov. 20, 2023—Pollock Begg, Duffy + Fulginiti

Pittsburgh divorce lawyer and Pollock Begg partner Brian C. Vertz was named president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Foundation for a two-year term, beginning this afternoon.

Vertz will lead the AAML Foundation in making grants to agencies that assist needy families and children facing domestic violence, parental conflict and barriers to legal services. The foundation makes annual charitable grants from the donations of fellows of the AAML, a national group of 1,600 top family lawyers.

People in the News—Nov. 21, 2023—Lamb McErlane, Rosen & Perry, Capehart Scatchard

Lamb McErlane announced that partner Steve E. Jarmon has been appointed by the federal judges of the District of Delaware to serve on its Criminal Justice Act (CJA) panel.

The CJA panel is composed of a group of experienced private attorneys to represent individuals in federal criminal cases who are financially unable to retain counsel. Jarmon currently serves on the CJA panel for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, since he was selected in 2021.

Morris Nichols Partner Inducted Into Estate Planning Hall of Fame

Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell announced that partner Todd Flubacher has been inducted into the Estate Planning Hall of Fame by the National Association of Estate Planners and Councils (NAEPC).

This recognition, conferred as part of the class of 2023, celebrates Flubacher’s lifetime achievements and dedicated service to the estate planning field.

NY Court Leaders Pick Antonio Seda to Head Bias Investigations

The New York court system on Tuesday named longtime Metropolitan Transportation Authority attorney Antonio Seda managing inspector general for bias matters within the Office of Court Administration.

NY Judicial Watchdog Gets New Member From Big Law

New York Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt, R-Lockport, has appointed Attorney Brian C. Doyle, co-managing shareholder of the Long Island office of Greenberg Traurig, to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct.

People in the News—Nov. 22, 2023—King Spry, Tucker Arensberg

King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul announced that attorney Dorota Gasienica-Kozak has been named a fellow of the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA).

Former Deputy Public Defender Ash Kalra Named Chair of Assembly Judiciary Committee

In his seven years in the Legislature, Kalra has worked to amend criminal justice procedures and to enact labor-friendly measures.

Diageo General Counsel Named Interim Chair of Comic Relief

Drinks giant Diageo’s general counsel Tom Shropshire, who was previously Linklaters’ U.S. head, has been named interim chair of British charity Comic Relief.

Mergers & Alliances:

 

Office Openings & Closing:

Am Law 200 Boom in Miami Picks Up Steam, as Dinsmore Enters With Lewis Brisbois Group

Miami is continuing to attract Am Law 200 firms, with Dinsmore & Shohl the latest to launch in the city by adding a six-partner litigation team from Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith.

Dinsmore, a Cincinnati-founded firm that ranked No. 114 in the Am Law 200 this year, had already doubled down in Florida this year, adding an office in Orlando by merging with a boutique there. The firm also has a location in Tampa.

Brazil’s Lefosse Launches Office in Brasília to Handle More Federal Work

Leading full-service Brazilian law firm Lefosse has opened an office in Brazil’s capital, anchored by a partner who joined earlier this year from the country’s Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Miura & Partners Announces Fourth International Office Launch This Year

The firm’s plans to open in Vietnam follows its opening of three other international offices in San Francisco, Jakarta and London in recent months.

Financials:

Wachtell Seeks Balance Between ‘Continuity and Change’

For the first time in 17 years, there’s new leadership at storied mergers and acquisitions law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, with Andrew Nussbaum and William Savitt replacing Ed Herlihy and Daniel Neff as co-chairs.

But other big changes may not be in store. The Wall Street firm may keep its same approach in firm operations for as long as possible, whether it’s the firm’s lockstep compensation system, partnership structure or practice-area focus.

Litigation Boutique Gives 175% Above-Market Bonuses

Washington, D.C.-brd litigation boutique Wilkinson Stekloff announced it will give 175% above-market bonuses for each associate class year, starting at $26,250 for the class of 2023 and topping out at $201,250 for the class of 2016 and beyond, founding partner Beth Wilkinson confirmed to The National Law Journal on Monday.

Pennsylvania Firms on Track to Hit National Averages in Revenue, See Success in Collections

Pennsylvania’s legal market, in which Philadelphia-brd firms play an outsized role, has largely kept pace with the national trendline of modest revenue growth through the first nine months of 2023, according to two recent surveys from Citi Bank and Wells Fargo, with firms in the region having greater success on collections thus far this year compared to national averages.

Citi’s Global Wealth at Work Law Firm Group surveyed 11 Pennsylvania-headquartered firms and found 3.9% revenue growth in the region through the third quarter, compared to 4.8% revenue growth nationwide. Wells Fargo, meanwhile, surveyed six firms headquartered in Philadelphia and found their 4.5% revenue growth was almost identical to the 4.6% nationwide figure.

‘Wait-and-See Mode’ for Associate Pay: Law Firms in DC Bide Time

Despite Milbank announcing earlier this month a $10,000 raise in associate salaries and a match to last year’s year-end bonuses, law firms in Washington, D.C., like others across the country, are still waiting to see what other firms will do before making a final decision of their own, legal observers say.

Multiple legal observers indicated that it is likely D.C. firms will ultimately match Milbank’s move, but they aren’t expected to be “leading the charge,” as many remain in a “wait-and-see mode” for what other market leaders, such as Cravath, Swaine & Moore and Davis Polk & Wardwell, do first.

Slower Collections Hamper Revenue Growth In Fla. Law Firms As Year End Approaches

For the first time this year, revenues at Florida law firms did not outpace the national average, according to a nationwide survey studying legal industry trends.

In fact, Florida saw the lowest revenue growth out of any market singled out in the latest quarterly survey conducted by the Wells Fargo Legal Specialty Group. And while revenue shrunk, expenses kept growing along with headcount.

How Can Law Firms ‘Crack the Nuts on Collections’ While Closing Out 2023?

Law firms have already turned up the volume on their push to get paid on time this year, especially in the lead-up to the fourth quarter. But with clients taking longer to pay bills and firms’ ability to meet budget goals hinging on successful year-end collections, law firms will do everything in their control to get cash in the door by Dec. 31, analysts say.

That includes everything in the pandemic era playbook—recording time more frequently, reviewing and sending out bills earlier, and staying in front of clients more than usual. But it can also include setting up milestone payments on next year’s work, negotiating closer to the sticker price, or using discounts to incentivize payment of outstanding bills, particularly as clients try to hold onto cash longer in a high-interest environment.

New York Law Firms See Good News, But Still Have Some Cause for Concern

New York law firms this year have seen a better demand picture than peers across the country, but they also have some reason to be concerned, including trailing revenue growth and increasing expenses, according to third-quarter bank reports about the legal market in the Empire State.

Overall, the nine-month results from Citi Global Wealth at Work Law Firm Group and Wells Fargo Legal Specialty Group show the legal industry increasing revenue as a whole by the third quarter, partly due to rising billing rates. But firms’ overall profits will depend on how much they can collect on their bills.

DC Law Firms on Road to Finish Strong 2023, Amid Billing Rate and Demand Growth

Law firms in Washington, D.C., are on track for a successful year, profiting from increased demand for antitrust and regulatory practices and surging billing rates in the first nine months of this year, according to bank survey of law firms.

Technology & Innovation:

Slaughter and May Launches Tech Group

Slaughter and May is launching a new technology, digital, data and IP (TDDI) group, as well as a technology cross-stream practice.

Effective Jan. 1, 2024, the TDDI group will include the firm’s existing IP, information technology and data privacy groups, according to a firm statement.

All Eyes on GenAI for Slaughter and May’s Latest Collaborate Round

Slaughter and May is on the lookout for products with a focus on generative AI for its latest legal tech programme.

The latest 12-week programme, dubbed Collaborate, will select a number of businesses to receive feedback and mentoring, as well access to the firm’s industry connections and its client innovation network.

OpenAI’s Unique Corporate Structure May Have Been Recipe for Trouble

The mind-spinning developments at OpenAI since Friday are a cautionary tale for the legion of companies that have become interested in mixing traditional business with altruism, a prominent corporate governance expert said.

Mass Resignations Could Gut OpenAI’s Legal Department

OpenAI’s legal department would be severely diminished if scores of OpenAI attorneys follow through with threats to leave the company and join ousted CEO Sam Altman at Microsoft.

The lawyers, many of them hired in just the last few months, say they’re prepared to quit unless the six-person OpenAI board resigns. The board outraged most of the company’s 770 rank-and-file workers by abruptly firing Altman Friday afternoon.

Altman Was Out, Until He Wasn’t: Lessons Learned From OpenAI’s Leadership Drama

Legaltech News caught up with some industry insiders to discuss OpenAI’s head-spinning leadership changes from the past week, ranging from the board’s ousting of Sam Altman to reinstating him as CEO as of Nov. 21.

Can Lawyers Trust AI?

There’s been no shortage of news in the legal world surrounding artificial intelligence and what it means for lawyers and the legal landscape. While some lawyers reject the concept, others have embraced it and reported positive experiences. The main risk for lawyers, though, is that there are serious concerns about whether open-source AI is a reliable tool.

Antitrust Regulators Poised to Pounce as AI Firms Jostle for Dominance

At its first developer conference earlier this month, OpenAI—whose biggest backer is Microsoft—unveiled an update to ChatGPT whose new features for its paying users, like the ability to read PDFs, threaten to wipe out small startups that built their businesses around filling a gap in ChatGPT’s functionality.

Law’s Lightbulb Moment: Why AI Needs More Time to Develop

The adoption of AI into law will be gradual, not sudden, and we are probably still waiting for that perfect product to arrive.

A Roadmap for AI Success In Modern Legal Firms, Part 2

The use and integration of technology into the practice of law is among the most exciting and controversial subjects being addressed in law firms, courtrooms and law schools everywhere. The reality of AI is causing many legal professionals to wonder whether they may be replaced by the ever-evolving technology.

At a September panel discussion sponsored by the Miami Dade Bar Association Law and Technology Committee, the experts unanimously concluded that AI will not replace lawyers, but lawyers who use AI effectively will replace lawyers who don’t. Panelists included Stephanie Wilkins, Editor-in-Chief of Legaltech News, Steve Salkin, Editor-in-Chief of Law Journal Newsletters, and Ralph Losey, Esq. of Losey Law, PLLC.

A Spooky Fall: 5 Recent Cybersecurity Incidents and Shortcomings in the Legal Market

Legaltech News looked back at some of the significant cybersecurity incidents from this fall, from “lax” practices to evolving strategies from bad actors.

Are Legal Proceedings, Courts and Laws Ready for the Rise of Deepfakes?

Panelists from the CIA, Relativity and the Institute for Advanced Study came together during the Toledo Bar Association’s “Utilization of AI Applications in the Legal System and Throughout the Nation” webinar to explore how generative AI is infiltrating the legal market.

Inventorship and Patentability of Artificial Intelligence-Based Inventions

The quandary is whether an AI platform that assists in creating an invention should be named as an inventor in a patent. For example, an AI-powered system may be employed pharmaceutically to identify molecular compounds in the discovery of a newly invented drug, without much human involvement. Does such AI assistance rise to the level of inventorship?

5 Jurisdictions, 5 AI Approaches: How AI Regulation is Shaping Up Globally

Jurisdictions differ on their approach to AI governance, from some countries taking a more hands off approach to others looking to pass new AI legislation.

Diversity & Inclusion:

Morris James Partner Speaks at Human Resource Management Conference

The Delaware Society for Human Resource Management (DE-SHRM) conference was held on Nov. 14-15 and provided a platform for HR professionals and industry leaders to discuss the latest workplace trends and challenges, and Morris James partner Jim McMackin was a panelist on the “Legislative and Legal” panel.

The event, themed as “Leading HR in a Boundaryless World,” brought together over 300 attendees.

In the Face of Affirmative Action: Persisting With Law Firm Diversity Efforts

The legal industry must press ahead aggressively to achieve better representation in business for all demographic groups.

Market Commentary:

Preparing for Transition: Building the Leadership Pipeline

The recent rash of leadership transitions may have just recently caught the eye of the media, yet this conversation has dominated executive and policy committee discussions for some time. There is a dearth of up-and-coming leaders due in large part to the baby bust, or significantly smaller size of Gen X, sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and millennials. This generational phenomenon has left many firms with two choices—allow senior leaders to hold the reins longer than planned (or desired); or encourage younger leaders to take on roles for which they may not yet have the training and experience.

Professionalism as Interpretation

A good part of the lawyerly trade is learning how to manipulate rules and make fine distinctions—after all, law is an argumentative discipline. But what does that mean within the parameters of what we’re calling the virtuous practice of law?

Legal Tech Veteran Rick Hellers Discusses Return to the Industry, Market Evolution

Longtime legal technology veteran Rick Hellers, who came out of retirement to start a new role at Scan Logic, talked to Legaltech News about what the industry is still lacking in all these years later, and what it’s doing well.

The Ethics of Lawyer Movement

This article considers a recent opinion from the New York City Bar Association Committee on Professional and Judicial Ethics Opinion 2023-1 on the topic of attorneys departing from a law firm.

Back to the Office You Go! Issues Impacting Remote Work in a Post-Pandemic World

Employees now comfortable (and even excelling) with working from home may face new challenges if employers mandate a return to the office.

Countercyclical and Regulatory Practices Dominate Partner Promotions in 2023

Big Law is minting more partners in regulatory and countercyclical practices than it did last year, according to an American Lawyer analysis of 23 Am Law 100 firms that already announced promotions this fall.

Debt finance promotions rose 36% from 2022 while tax partner elections were up 29%. The group of firms doubled regulatory partner promotions in 2023 and tripled promotions in antitrust. Health care and FDA practices added 25% more partners.

Big Fish, Small Ponds: How Big Law Is Slowly Infiltrating Emerging Markets

From Kirkland & Ellis kicking off a wave of elite firms moving into Salt Lake City to Holland & Knight becoming Nashville’s largest law firm overnight, Big Law firms have set their sights on developing markets.

Are the Google, Amazon Suits This Generation’s Microsoft?

The claims against the online search engine and etailer bear limited similarity to the case against the personal computer giant, antitrust attorneys and law professors say.

A Glimpse Into 2024’s M&A Market

With December closing in, the traditional end-of-year deal flurry has arrived on time. But it has a slightly different look to previous years, which may point to how the economy will look in 2024, and the type of work law firms will be getting.

2023 has been mostly unkind to deal markets. High interest rates and inflation have driven funds to explore growth sectors that in years prior they wouldn’t have had much to do with.

Should Allen & Overy Pay the Ransom?

The firm has been hacked by one of the world’s most infamous hacking groups and is likely to be facing ransom demands if it wants to avoid having data published on the dark web as soon as next week.

Singapore’s Promise Proves Slow to Deliver for Law Firm Entrants

Faced with a down market and increasing competition in Singapore, will new law firm entrants be forced to reevaluate their hopes for Southeast Asia? Lawyers say their sector focus is the secret sauce but is it too little too late?

Rethinking Law Firm Workplaces in the Age of Hybrid Work

Bringing the office ‘buzz’ back and enhancing employee experience is crucial to making everyone feel that their commute is worthwhile, argues Carlos Posada at Gensler.

The Challenger Law Firm Which Puts Staff Before Clients

Happy staff mean happy clients, says pwc Locke managing partner Nick Humphrey, whose firm spent over A$1 million last year on staff development and training programs.

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