Wake Up Call: Elite U.K. Firms Brush Off Brexit to Post Strong Results

• Elite U.K. law firms Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance, Freshfields, Bruckhaus & Deringer, and Linklaters posted strong financial results, including record profits per partner, for their most recent financial year. Brushing off the impact of Brexit and international political uncertainty, all four firms had global revenues topping 1.5 billion pounds ($1.93 billion). (Financial Times) Allen & Overy, whose revenues rose 16 percent and profits per equity partner rose 26 percent in 2016, is now the second largest magic circle firm by revenue, behind Clifford Chance. (The Lawyer)

• U.K. authorities are investigating Clifford Chance over a controversial litigation financing arrangement in a $1.6 billion suit filed in 2013 by oil exploration company, Excalibur Ventures, against U.S. oil companies Gulf Keystone Petroleum and Texas Keystone. (Legal Week)

• Philadelphia-based Fox Rothschild acquired 39-lawyer firm Riddell Williams P.S. in Seattle, upping its attorney headcount to around 800 and giving it a foothold in the Pacific Northwest. (Philly.com)

• Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom handled the largest volume of M&A deals among law firms through the first half of 2017, taking on 108 deals worth more than $170 billion, representing 11.1 percent of the market share of global, announced deals. The rest of the top five–Davis Polk & Wardwell, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, Kirkland & Ellis, and Sullivan & Cromwell–each eclipsed $118 billion in deal volume. (Bloomberg via BLB)

• Plaintiffs attorneys from the 22 law firms who sued Volkswagen over its diesel emissions test-cheating scandal are asking for an additional $125 million in fees on top of the $175 million they already got. (The Recorder)

• The Federal Reserve announced Mark Van Der Weide, now deputy director in its division of supervision and regulation, will replace Scott Alvarez as the Fed’s general counsel later this summer. (MarketWatch)

 

Law Firm Business

• Hogan Lovells’ recent move to start a consulting business for its financial services clients in the U.K. takes a page out of the book of the Big Four accounting services firms, which have been expanding their legal practices. It’s an interesting idea but it remains to be seen if Hogan Lovells will succeed. (Goingconcern.com)

• Powered by 33 percent growth in Asia, London-based Clyde & Co. had its 19th straight year of revenue growth for 2016/2017, posting 14 percent overall expansion to pass 500 million pounds ($645 million) for the first time. Its average profits per partner dipped 2 percent, to 650,000 pounds ($838,502), which it attributed to adding 40 partners during the year. (American Lawyer)

• Litigators and trial lawyers need different skill sets to do their jobs. (California Lawyer)

 

Legal Market

• Faced with a potential $5.7 billion verdict, ABC News last week settled a lawsuit brought by a South Dakota meat company objecting to negative coverage of a beef product critics have called pink slime. Media-law experts warned that the agreement could dissuade media from pursuing essentially accurate coverage that companies don’t like. (Bloomberg via BLB)

• Baker Botts and Davis Polk & Wardwell played leading roles in a $2 billion-plus deal to combine Pennsylvania-based QVC with rival video shopping giant HSN Inc., of St. Petersburg, Florida. (Legal Intelligencer)

• Fox Business Network has suspended host Charles Payne pending an internal investigation of sexual harassment allegations against him, the company said. (Bloomberg)

• Companies are showing increasing awareness and concern about the potential costs of shareholder activism even as the rate of growth of activist campaigns has slowed. (Bloomberg BNA via BLB)

• The legal profession often gets a bad rap, but many lawyers and judges are working to fight injustice, writes a legal blogger who goes on to give a list of recent examples from her “Legal Freedom Fighter Series.” (HuffPost)

 

Regulators

• The Commodity Futures Trading Commission wants to standardize data it gets from banks related their trading in the $483 trillion global swap market. Dan Berkovitz, a former CFTC general counsel now a partner at law firm WilmerHale, says standardization has proven “remarkably elusive” since the reporting requirement was created after the economic crisis. (Bloomberg)

• Hobby Lobby, the arts-and-crafts chain whose devout Christian owners won a landmark Supreme Court ruling on religious freedom, agreed to pay a $3 million fine over its role in what federal prosecutors said was the smuggling into the U.S. of ancient clay tablets, seals and other Iraqi archaeological objects that might have been looted from the war-torn country. (Associated Press via Bloomberg)

 

Trump Administration

• President Donald Trump will soon be able to name his own ethics watchdog. Walter Shaub, the director of the federal ethics agency who challenged Trump over his plans for dealing with potential conflicts of interest, said he is stepping down. (Bloomberg)

 

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• Election Law Blog follows reporting by NPR on July 1 that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy told his October 2018 clerkship applicants that he’s considering retirement just before the 2018 Congressional midterm elections. (Election Law Blog)

 

Laterals, Moves, Law Firm Work

• Holland & Knight said it has hired luxury fashion lawyer Denning Rodriguez as counsel in its New York office. Rodriguez, in his own boutique firm for the last seven years, represents major clients in the luxury goods and entertainment markets, including creative directors and executives at Luis Vuiton and Vera Wang, among others. He previously worked at Pearce LLP in New York, and Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. and King & Spalding LLP in Atlanta. (Hklaw)

• Baker McKenzie hired a former UBS AG top lawyer in Asia as a compliance and investigations partner in its Zurich office. Christoph Kurth was UBS’s general counsel for wealth management in the Asia Pacific and former general counsel for Singapore. (Asian Lawyer)

• Covington & Burling has hired former federal prosecutor Carolyn Kubota, who has been an L.A.-based partner at O’Melveny & Myers since 2000. (The Recorder)

 

Technology

• As investigators try to figure out who was behind the cyberattacks that hit organizations around the world last week, including law firm DLA Piper, some of those organizations are still taking stock of the damage. (New York Times) Cyber crime insurers largely avoided costly claims from the recent attacks that hit business around the globe. The next global virus could cost them billions. (Bloomberg)

• Twitter Inc.’s bid to disclose the number of data requests it gets as part of national security investigations can go forward, after a California federal judge denied the Justice Department’s petition for summary judgement throwing out the social media company’s case. (The Recorder)

• Opinion: The growing numbers of women speaking out about sexism, harassment and worse at startup investors in the Silicon Valley are brave. But they can’t solve the problem on their own. (Bloomberg Gadly)

• Venus Williams obtained an emergency protective order in a Florida wrongful death lawsuit against her stemming from fatal June 9 car crash. The order allows time for a hearing on a petition by the victim’s family to download onboard data from vehicles involved in the crash. (Washington Post)

• Instagram suspended the account of Rob, brother of Kim, Kardashian, after he posted nude photos of his ex-fiancée, Blac Chyna. Chyna’s lawyer is said to be considering legal action in California, where so-called revenge porn is a crime. (The Independent)

 

Miscellaneous

• Singer-songwriter Kesha has sold some 60 million records worldwide but a legal battle with her former producer Dr. Luke put her career on hold. With help from two O’Melveny & Myers lawyers, she’s now been able to put out a single, “Praying,” her first new release in four years. (The Recorder)

• Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s decision to put regulations designed to protect student borrowers on hold triggered a lawsuit from attorneys general in 18 states and the District of Columbia who want it implemented. (Bloomberg)

• Justice has eluded the 298 people killed in shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17. (Bloomberg)

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Gabe Friedman.