Wake Up Call: White & Case Delays Australia Opening Over Lawsuit

• White & Case has delayed its opening of an Australian practice as a result of a lawsuit filed by London-based Herbert Smith Freehills against eight partners poached by the U.S. firm. (The Lawyer) In court papers, Herbert Smith Freehills alleges that the departures were “coordinated.” (Lawyers Weekly)

• Microsoft Corp. is planning to overhaul its internal system for picking the outside law firms it routinely uses, with a move toward prioritizing firms with expertise in specific practice areas rather than general services, one of its lawyers said. (BLB)

• President Donald Trump nominated a conservative alumni of the law firm Kirkland & Ellis to be his labor secretary: R. Alexander Acosta, dean of Florida International University College of Law. A former U.S. attorney, Acosta would be the first Latin-American on Trump’s cabinet. (BLB) When Acosta was an associate at Kirkland & Ellis in 1996, he worked on a case alongside future U.S. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., then at Hogan & Hartson (now Hogan Lovells). (BLB)

• The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and its embattled director Richard Cordray won a second chance to defend his independence from the political pressure of being fired at any time for any, or no, reason by Trump. The ruling by a U.S. appeals court in Washington, D.C., keeps Cordray “on a hot seat, but it’s not on fire yet,”  observed an analyst. (Bloomberg)

• A Georgia federal judge’s ruling allowing a libel case to go forward against CNN could make it easier to sue the media. (Hollywood Reporter)

 

Legal Business

• GE announced this week that it hired Senator William “Mo” Cowan as vice president of litigation and legal policy, to start April 1. Cowan joins from Mintz Levin, where he is president and chief executive officer of ML Strategies, the law firm’s government relations and business advisory affiliate. (BLB)

• BuckleySandler, a Washington, D.C.-based financial services litigation and regulatory-focused firm, faces a test in the Trump era, with litigation from the financial crisis tailing off, and the fate of the CFPB uncertain. (National Law Journal)

• Revenue fell 10 percent at Pepper Hamilton and profits per partner plunged 28 percent last year, amidst several key partner departures and shrinking demand in the firm’s health effects litigation practice. Adding to the clouds, the recent failure of the firm’s merger talks with Reed Smith is said to be pushing more lawyers to the exit. (Legal Intelligencer)

• Locke Lord’s gross revenue fell 6.4 percent, to $559 million, in 2016, as it lost almost 100 lawyers. But, partly fueled by its booming energy practice, the Dallas-based firm’s net income surged 11.1 percent, to $175 million, and profits per partner gained 6.7 percent, to hit $950,000. (Texas Lawyer)

• Months after Massachusetts became the latest state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, Boston-based Foley Hoag has announced a new practice group focusing on regulatory issues facing companies looking to capitalize in the legalized cannabis market, estimated at $5.7 billion nationwide. Several other big firms have plans for practices in the sector. (Am Law Daily)

• Mayer Brown is creating a more flexible path to partnership, in part by viewing the role of counsel as a waypoint to get there.(Am Law Daily)

 

Legal Market

• President Trump clearly needs a strong lawyer to keep the White House out of the many ethics and legal controversies it has already stumbled into. But so far, White House Counsel Donald McGahn has yet to show he’s up to the task. (Bloomberg Businessweek via BLB)

• As it hunts for misconduct in the $34 trillion U.S. futures market, the cash-strapped Commodity Futures Trading Commission has more data than it can afford to sift through. (Bloomberg)

• Maryland’s General Assembly voted to give the state’s Democratic attorney general the power to sue the federal government without permission from the state’s Republican governor. The state Senate had already approved the measure, which comes as Democrats in the state prepare to contest Trump Administration policies. (AP via Lawnewz.com)

 

 

President Trump’s First 100 Days

• Robert Harward, a retired U.S. Navy vice admiral, turned down Trump’s offer to become national security adviser, officials said, just days after the resignation of Michael Flynn following revelations he misled administration officials over his contact with Russia. (Bloomberg)

• During his press conference yesterday, Trump said Flynn had done nothing illegal, but he vowed to punish “illegal” leaks of classified information to the press of Flynn’s conversations with a Russian official, and of his own telephone conversations with foreign leaders. (Bloomberg) • Leaks aren’t antithetical to American democracy, they’re just easier now. (Wired)

• Flynn could be in legal jeopardy over statements he made to the FBI in the case. (Washington Post)

• Trump has ordered a review of the Dodd-Frank Act, which spawned a raft of financial regulations while also creating the CFPB, a favorite target of Republicans. A Q&A on how Trump might address the bureau. (Bloomberg)

• The acting chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Michael Piwowar, taking full advantage of his temporary powers, has started to roll back two controversial regulations, and even hired a press aide. That activism is raising some eyebrows. (Bloomberg)

 

 

Travel and Immigration Crackdown

• Trump said he’ll sign a new executive order on immigration that will be “tailored” to address the objections of a federal appeals court that halted his temporary ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations. (Bloomberg)

• A legal showdown over a 23-year-old Seattle man threatened with deportation to Mexico after he was granted protected status for having entered the U.S. as a child may become an early test of the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigrants. (Bloomberg)

 

 

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• Following decades of declining membership, unions face an existential crisis as right-to-work laws being pushed at state and federal levels would ban their ability to collect mandatory fees from the workers they represent, a key source of revenue for organized labor. Pending a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, such laws could soon cover a majority of the unionized workforce in the U.S.  (Bloomberg Businessweek)

• A Florida law that prohibits doctors from asking patients whether they have guns in their homes violates the First Amendment, a Florida federal appeals court ruled Thursday. (Daily Report)

• Now that Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, a phase of the confirmation process begins to try to predict how he will vote on particular issues and cases in the future. (SCOTUSBlog)

 

 

Laterals and Moves

• In a rare-loss for Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, London-based partner Simon Ovenden has left for Simmons & Simmons. (The Lawyer)

• U.K. firm Slaughter and May made its first-ever lateral hire in London, grabbing Herbert Smith Freehills pensions chief Daniel Schaffer. (The Lawyer)

• Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe hired Squire Patton Boggs technology partner Matteo Daste in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. (The Recorder)

 

 

Technology

• High-frequency trading firms already analyze Twitter to find market-moving information to use in their trading strategies. But no one has yet figured out how to glean useful data from Donald Trump’s erratic presidential tweets. (New York Times DealBook)

• Snap Inc. set the valuation on its initial public offering at between $19.5 billion and $22.2 billion in what could be the third-biggest technology offering of the past decade, people familiar with the matter said. (Bloomberg)

• Los Angeles County Superior Court launched a new electronic filing system for probate cases, and it plans to roll out a similar system for civil lawsuits next year. (Courthouse News Service)

• The developer of an app called Vertigo said it allows free streaming of music from Spotify Premium or Apple Musicfor free, without getting sued by record companies. (Quartz)

• The prospect of flying cars raises new legal and other considerations. (Bloomberg View)

 

 

Legal Education

• An exhibit at Yale Law School’s library lets students experience solitary confinement in a 10-by-12-foot cell with gray cinder block walls, fluorescent lights, and a prison toilet-sink combo, and real jail sounds. (National Law Journal)

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.

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