Wake Up Call: Kasowitz Work for Trump Cited in Malpractice Suit

• Kasowitz Benson Torres is fighting a malpractice suit that highlights risks that the firm’s work for President Donald Trump could be used against it. A Florida insurance servicing company that Kasowitz earlier sued for unpaid bills alleges, among other things, that it was billed 154.4 hours for a single non-trial day, and it complains that it didn’t receive legal services at a quality level to be expected from a U.S. president’s firm. (New York Law Journal)

• Enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act has produced dozens of big penalties for foreign bribery over the last decade or so, creating a major source of work for Big Law firms. But a slowdown in new FCPA cases since Trump’s inauguration has white collar lawyers wondering if the administration plans to soften enforcement. (BLB)

• As Google deals with a growing heap of EU legal problems, it is getting advice from at least five major law firms–Cleary Gottlieb, Allen & Overy, Slaughter and May, Garrigues and White & Case. (CNBC) A Paris court could rule as soon as Wednesday on whether Google owes 1.12 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in back taxes to France, just days after the company was slapped with a record antitrust fine by the European Union. (Bloomberg)

• Law firm managing partners are getting more optimistic about the U.S. economy, despite continued anemic demand for legal services, according to a a new report from Citi Private Bank. (Am Law Daily)

• Zachary Fardon, who left as Chicago’s U.S. attorney in March, apparently won’t be going back to Latham & Watkins, whose Chicago litigation department he headed before leaving for government service in 2013. Instead, he’ll open King & Spalding’s first office in Chicago. Fardon started his career at King & Spalding in 1992, and spent four years there in white-collar criminal defense and corporate investigations. (Crain’s Chicago Business)

 

 

Law Firm Business

• The recent contrasting examples of Shearman & Sterling and Debevoise & Plimpton illustrate that law firms are usually mum when top partners leave for posts in the Securities and Exchange Commission, but they pull out the corks and do handsprings when those partners return. (Am Law Daily)

• Ballard Spahr, which recently lost two partners to Dinsmore & Shohl, said it has closed its office in San Diego, transferring other lawyers from the city to its Los Angeles office. (Legal Intelligencer)

• Jones Day has hired Shearman & Sterling partner Alan Seem for its capital markets practice in Palo Alto. A fluent Mandarin speaker, Seem helped several companies go public, including the Chinese social media platforms Weibo and Renren and online lender China Rapid Finance. (The Recorder)

• Gibson Dunn & Crutcher poached Allen & Overy arbitration partner Jeffrey Sullivan in London, in its latest addition in the city. (The Lawyer)

 

 

Legal Market

• Quinn Emanuel lawyers representing a group of Banco Popular SA’s wiped out junior bondholders sent a letter to the European Parliament questioning the transparency and valuation of a resolution that forced a write down. (Bloomberg)

• General counsel from about 30 companies, including Mastercard, Panasonic, PayPal and Sony and others, are participating in a project by consultancy AdvanceLaw in which GCs send data on their experiences with outside law firms, such as performance reviews, billing rates and arrangements, matter types, practice areas and relationship length. The plan is to try to assess which arrangements work best, but the ultimate goal is to establish dialogue between general counsel and law firms, the consultancy said. (Corporate Counsel)

• Women who experience sexual harassment on the job should tell trusted friends and family, and keep records like incriminating emails and voicemails, and document their own efforts to stop the abuse, according to two law professors from Southern Methodist University and Stanford University. The professors recently released a paper considering legal options of victims of workplace sexual harassment, which one observer said is “thriving” at Big Law firms. (Harvard Business Journal) (Careerist at Am Law Daily)

• David Wildstein, the mastermind of the New Jersey George Washington Bridge lane-closing plot, joined prosecutors in urging a judge to spare him prison. (Bloomberg)

 

 

 

The Trump Administration

• Georgetown University law professor Daniel Gorfine has been named the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s chief innovation officer and director of its initative to encourage innovation in financial technology. (Bloomberg BNA via BLB)

• Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer during the presidential campaign adds to legal problems for the White House. (Bloomberg)  Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer Trump Jr. met expecting to get dirt on Hillary Clinton, has a long history of fighting sanctions. (Washington Post) Veselnitskaya is “successful” but she’s not the high-level Kremlin power broker that some have suggested. (Bloomberg View)

 

 

 

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• A single robocall that resulted in no fee to the recipient is sufficient injury to support a Telephone Consumer Protection Act lawsuit, a federal appeals court held. (Bloomberg BNA)

• The Columbia University-affiliated Knight First Amendment Institute sued Trump and high-ranking White House staff members, alleging that the president’s blocking of dissenting Twitter users violates the Constitution. (Bloomberg)

• U.S. televison maker Vizio Inc. is suing Beijing-based LeEco Inc. in California federal court in the wake of the Chinese technology conglomerate’s failed attempt at a $2 billion acquisition of the U.S. company. (Bloomberg)

 

 

 

 

Technology

• An Ohio judge ruled that data taken from a man’s pacemaker can be used against him in his trial on charges that he set his own house on fire. The man’s defense attorney argued that the search that turned up pacemaker evidence violated his client’s constitutional rights. (Journal-News)

• About 70,000 sites and organizations–including Amazon.com, Google, Facebook and Twitter–have pledged to participate in an online protest aimed at derailing a Republican plan to roll back net neutrality rules. (Bloomberg via BLB) AT&T is joining the action, although it has fought against the current Obama era rules. (Recode)

• Although a handful of states have legalized recreational use of marijuana, Facebook’s user policy bars content that promotes marijuana sales, and the social media company continues to take down pages of marijuana businesses, even when they’re operating legally. The editor of a technology and marketing law blog said Facebook’s actions are logical, considering that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. (The Recorder)

• After a joint opinion by three New Jersey Supreme Court committees barred state attorneys general from working with LegalZoom, Rocket Lawyer and Avvo, the first two online legal service companies, faulted only for failing to register with the court, took steps to correct the problem. However, Avvo, whose services the report said constitute “improper fee-splitting,” said it is considering leaving the state. (New Jersey Law Journal)

• Uber Technologies Inc. told investors to expect improved bookings, narrower losses and a possible settlement with Alphabet Inc. that could resolve one of the company’s biggest legal hurdles. (Bloomberg)

• IBM is launching a new services platform, named “IBM Services Platform with Watson,” that uses machine learning to help businesses manage their IT infrastructure. (TechCrunch)

 

 

Legal Education

• Virginia’s Appalachian School of Law is fighting a former visiting professor’s lawsuit alleging the school failed to take action when, she says, a student who talked about having guns sexually harassed her over a period of months. The school contends the student was only “obnoxious.”  (Law.com)

 

Miscellaneous

• The widow of Lynyrd Skynyrd-founder and front man Ronnie Van Zant is trying to block a film about the 1977 plane crash that killed several members of the southern rock band. (Courthouse News Service)

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.

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