Ukrainian Legal Developments:
Three Big Law firms representing Russian banks sanctioned following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine—White & Case, Debevoise & Plimpton, and Latham & Watkins—have been trying to withdraw as counsel for months now, but it’s proving not to be so easy. White & Case and Debevoise & Plimpton were granted permission to withdraw provided that substitute counsel file a notice of appearance by June 24. But, on that date, William H. Taft of Debevoise & Plimpton and Nicole Erb of White & Case jointly submitted a letter to Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein stating that new counsel would be unable to appear on behalf of their client, Sberbank.
When Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan filed an $80 billion claim against Russia on behalf of Ukraine at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg last week, it was just getting started. “We will be filing further submissions with the court to demonstrate Russia’s ongoing violations,” said Hughes-Jennett, who is leading the Quinn team along with partner Alex Gerbi.
Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner’s Russia managing partner Andrey Goltsblat has relocated to the firm’s London office, as law firms’ continue to deal with the fallout of shuttering their operations in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Corporate partner Goltsblat held the role of BCLP Russia managing partner for over 13 years, according to his LinkedIn, and had been based in Moscow.
Baker McKenzie pledged in March to spin off its Moscow and St. Petersburg offices in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the slow pace of disentangling these operations enabled a partner to present under the firm’s name Wednesday at an international legal conference in St. Petersburg that featured a welcome message from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
UK & Ireland
Charles Cooper-Isow joins from Fried Frank while Wilson Szet joins from Simpson Thacher.
Shameer Shah joins Shearman & Sterling from White & Case as a partner in the leveraged finance practice.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher has added Linklaters partner Daniel Gendron to its finance practice according to a press release from the firm on Thursday. Gendron had been a partner at Linklaters since 2013 according to his Linkedin profile. He was previously an associate at Borden Ladner Gervais.
Technology partner Joel Harrison and special counsel Alison Beal have joined Gibson Dunn, according to a statement on Monday.
Dr Torsten Pokropp, Frank Schwem, Christian Lonquich and Mike Danielewsky will join BCLP at the start of next month and bring experience in real estate finance, real estate and insolvency and restructuring.
The new recruits include prominent trial lawyers Patty Eakes and Angelo Calfo, who join as partners and will co-lead the Seattle office. In total the new office will be home to a team of 34, including 19 lawyers supplemented by existing Morgan Lewis attorneys who were already working remotely in Seattle.
Jin Hee Kim, who joined A&O in 2019, has moved to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. She left A&O in May, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Erez Liebermann is joining Debevoise’s New York office a little more than a year after he moved to Linklaters as part of the firm’s launch of a U.S. data and privacy group.
Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt brought in two new partners to spearhead its burgeoning digital assets and blockchain practice. Matthew Burgoyne and Laure Fouin will be co-chairs of the group, which will be part of the Canadian firm’s corporate and emerging high-growth teams.
Evelyn Ang and Glenda Lee, both former Dentons Rodyk corporate partners, are returning to Dentons alongside EY partner Emily Low, a statement on Thursday said.
Linklaters’ Hong Kong head of corporate Gilbert Li and partner Iris Yeung have moved to Allen & Overy.
Norton Rose Fulbright has lost its second Australian partner in a week after insurance lawyer Matthew Ellis resigned to join Clyde & Co.
Employment and labour partner Melinda Bell joins the firm’s Melbourne office from Hall & Wilcox.
Adrian Wong advises equity sponsors, government authorities and others on energy, infrastructure and data centre project development, including M&A.
Niamh Grogan has joined Sky as its new group general counsel after leaving multinational insurance adviser Willis Towers Watson.
Promotions & Appointments:
A total of 75 lawyers globally have been given the nod to partner by Baker McKenzie, with three lawyers making the grade in its London office.
In London, corporate counsel Connie Milonakis has been promoted to partner. As such, she becomes the first woman to be promoted in Davis Polk’s London office, as well as its first female partner in the City.
New York-based litigation partner Phoebe Wilkinson has been named global managing partner for growth, which will focus on growing the firm’s strategic client relationships, while Munich-based commercial and regulatory partner Patrick Ayad has been named global managing partner for sectors.
Taras ‘Terry’ Szmagala Jr is taking over from April Miller Boise as CLO having joined the American-Irish power management company back in 2007 and served in a number of roles including deputy general counsel and, most recently, senior vice president of public and community affairs and corporate communications.
Morrison Foerster (MoFo) has elected San Francisco M&A partner Eric Takeshi McCrath as its new chair, replacing Larren Nashelsky who has led the firm for the past decade. McCrath will be the firm’s first ethnically diverse chair in its almost 140-year history when he takes over the role in October. He is currently a member of MoFo’s executive committee and its compensation committee, as well global co-chair of the firm’s corporate department.
Mergers & Alliances:
Slater & Gordon has finalised part of a strategic review of its UK business, with discussions ongoing as to whether certain practices fit into its revised model. As a result of the review, the firm will split its business into two main departments named Essential Legal Services (ELS) and Specialist Legal Services (SLS).
The multi-year arrangement will see Factor lead commercial contracting for procurement and sales across BT’s customer facing units, provide multi-lingual lawyers to support BT in negotiations, and work to improve efficiencies for the company’s legal team, such as using new technologies to reduce time to market and risk.
Office Openings & Closing:
The joint Brussels office of the UK’s three law societies is to close in November in a move being put down to falling workload in the aftermath of Brexit. Opened in 1991, the office monitors EU policy and legislative developments and helps represent the profession to the EU.
Pinsent Masons is launching an office in Luxembourg after the acquisition of one of the country’s local firms. From today Pinsents is taking over Wildgen’s office, adding seven partners to the firm and 16 lawyers in the office. The office will be headed by partner, Michel Bulach. This brings the total number of Pinsents’ Continental European offices to seven.
Firms in Texas have been aggressively hiring IP lawyers, particularly in Austin, which is located in the Western District of Texas, a hotspot for IP litigation, because of U.S. District Judge Alan Albright’s court in Waco. A number of Big Law firms have opened offices in Austin to take advantage of the robust IP market. A spokesperson for Baker Botts confirmed that these partners have given notice: Syed Fareed, Steve Hash, Paula Heyman, Kevin Meek, Brian Oaks, Margaret Sampson, Nick Schuneman and Brett Thompsen.
Magic circle firm Linklaters is to put financial sponsors at the heart of its Asia-Pacific operation after a strategy refresh led by regional managing partner William Liu. As part of the strategy, Linklaters is aiming to increase revenue by 10 per cent each year as well as making commitments to flesh out what the firm can offer to financial sponsors.
Kennedys has reported its highest revenue yet in its latest financial results, with global turnover in the 12 months to the end of April rising 8% to hit £286m. The percentage increase represents a slight drop from the previous financial year, when the firm grew turnover by 11% to £264m.
Herbert Smith Freehills is increasing the base rate of its newly-qualified lawyer salaries, having last upped pay for its junior lawyers in December. The firm will be increasing its London NQ base salary to £120,000, plus bonus, effective from today.
The 2022 Enterprise Legal Management Trends Report showed that M&A represented 7.4% of total legal billing in 2021, up from 4.3% in 2020, reflecting the surge in deal activity last year. Firms also charged more for their M&A advice – the median partner billing rate for M&A work was $878 an hour, a 6.1% increase on 2020’s median rate. Average hourly partner rates also increased across the board, growing 3.4%. Insurance partners billed the least at $234 an hour.
Linklaters is not looking to raise its newly-qualified solicitor pay imminently, it told its London associates in an email in June, while Herbert Smith Freehills has opted to raise its rate. Linklaters currently pays out £107,500 to its NQ lawyers, a rate which it set in September 2021.
A spokesperson for the firm said: “After careful consideration and consultation we have decided not to increase the London NQ salary at this time. It was last increased in November 2021, to £107,500. This is a prudent decision based on a number of factors, including the more challenging business environment. We will keep the situation under review.”
Eifion Morris is determined to fast-track Stephenson Harwood’s future with an ambitious plan to double firm revenues in five years. “The firm is at the beginning of a period of change. In the last two and half years we’ve made some significant changes to future-proof our business,” the firm’s chief executive said.
‘There is a two-tier system creeping across the UK’s legal system: highly-paid commercial lawyers in state-of-the-art buildings and criminal lawyers being paid peanuts in broken buildings.’ The assets that are needed for justice have been depleted as a result of underinvestment, neglect and cashing-in on property sales. Over 250 courts have closed since 2010 and there is no evidence of those proceeds being ploughed back into the system.
Technology & Innovation:
The legal sector as a whole is placing ever greater emphasis on technological and systemic innovation as a tool to gain a competitive edge – yet Marco Imperiale, head of innovation at LCA, believes that practitioners are only scratching the surface of what can be achieved.
A broader exception to copyright infringement is proposed for text and data mining, but no further changes are proposed. The UK Government has, from the outset of its consultations, signalled that fostering innovation in AI is central to its plans for the future. Where, then, does this response leave those ambitions and how will this affect those with IP protection?
Diversity & Inclusion:
The order blocks the state from implementing three laws written to come into effect once Roe was overturned, immediately banning and criminalizing all abortions in the state. The TRO effectively gives Louisiana women two weeks’ grace until at least the hearing scheduled for July 8. Boies Schiller is challenging what it sees as unconstitutionally “vague” laws written by the Republican-led Legislature. The firm—with local co-counsel Ellie Schilling and Jenny Ma of the Center for Reproductive Rights—claims it is impossible to tell whether the trigger laws are actually in effect and, if so, which ones. The petition also questions what conduct would be prohibited by the trigger laws, including what exceptions exist for doctors performing procedures to save a pregnant person’s life.
Under Dobbs, abortion services will, by and large, be unavailable in anti-abortion states, but still freely available in pro-abortion states. Thus, the effects of Dobbs on an employer’s health plan will depend largely on geography, and in many instances, especially for smaller employers, these effects will be obvious and unavoidable. However, Dobbs poses numerous questions for employers that want to offer abortion benefits to employees working in anti-abortion states.
At least 15 Am Law 100 firms with offices in US states that have imposed abortion bans have so far said they will cover travel expenses for out-of-state medical care, according to Above The Law. Those firms include Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Cozen O’Connor, Dorsey & Whitney, Hogan Lovells, Kirkland & Ellis, Mayer Brown, McDermott Will & Emery, Morgan Lewis, Morrison Foerster, Proskauer, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Ropes & Gray, Seyfarth Shaw, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
The average number of Black lawyers across the largest U.K. law firms remains well below the national average in the U.K. population, according to the latest research by Law.com International. Across 68 major legal institutions, 2.2% of lawyers and 1.05% of partners are Black, the research found, compared with 4.1% of the U.K. population recorded by the Office for National Statistics in 2020.
As many as 84% of women in law say they won’t see true pay parity in their working lives, while almost a third (29%) say it won’t happen within the next century. More than half (54%) say gender pay equality in law is only likely to be achieved for the next generation of women workers. Almost two-thirds of respondents (62%) believe that senior management in their firms are not prioritising fixing the pay gap. The survey marks 100 years since women were first admitted to the UK Law Society as solicitors.
It’s true that in comparison to the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community prior to 1967 we have come a long way, but it is a pretty low bar. As recently as the mid-19th century, sexual acts between men were punishable by death, and remained illegal until 1967. We no longer condone state sanctioned murder, and many of the rights enjoyed by heterosexual, cisgender people can also be extended to those who do not fall into those categories.
Shearman London head Matthew Readings said in a statement: “We are implementing this initiative to encourage productivity and support the wellbeing of our most important asset, our people. New working practices have been formalised over the past few months and hybrid and remote working are now commonplace within the legal industry and many others.
How quantifiable is happiness? It’s a question many law firm leaders may be struggling with as they seek to improve the humour of their ranks, amid feelings that a summer of discontent may be settling on the U.K. The ‘post-pandemic’ glow appears to have worn off, as we’re all now used to meeting in person sometimes now and the frisson of a face-to-face lunch isn’t quite what it once was. Meanwhile the train strikes have done nothing to improve the City’s spirits – though perhaps some lawyers will have been secretly glad to be able to find a legitimate excuse to avoid the office this week.
David Barnden has played a role in making the country a prime jurisdiction for test cases with broad policy implications for the environment at a time when climate change litigation has been spreading around the world.