• Fort Lauderdale-based Greenspoon Marder, which three years ago hired Joel Sanders, the former Dewey & Leboeuf CFO currently on trial in New York, has seen its headcount surge 57.7 percent so far in 2015,the most notable uptick among the biggest 200 law firms in the country, according to data from Am Law Daily. At negative 27 percent, California-based Irell & Manella has had the biggest drop in headcount so far, with Washington-based Dickstein Shapiro coming in second at minus 23.2 percent, according to the data. (The American Lawyer)

• In-house legal departments’ use of outside counsel for mergers and acquisitions work is growing, a recent Association of Corporate Counsel survey suggests. The 2015 ACC Global Census, which polled 5,012 in-house counsel from 73 countries, found that since 2011 outside counsel consultation grew significantly in the areas of M&A and employment/labor, both up 6 percent. However, respondents said they most frequently consult outside attorneys for litigation (67 percent), employment/labor (50 percent) and intellectual property (41 percent), with M&A work trailing at 34 percent. (Bloomberg BNA)

• Richard Rosenbaum, CEO of Greenberg Traurig, said that while many law firm leaders typically follow the pack to avoid criticism, Greenberg Traurig under his command has done the opposite, in particular by not following the trend to “massive growth” overseas. Rosenbaum, who is stepping down in the coming year to take on a new role as executive chair, said law firms that expand abroad to have hundreds, sometimes thousands of lawyers, in China or throughout the world, are not benefiting clients unless they are excellent in all those places: “I can assure you that most of the firms that have these massive footprints are not excellent in all those places.” (Big Law Business)

• Nineteen major law firms have pledged $1.9 million for a project to address an “unmet need” for affordable legal services for people who make modest incomes but too much to qualify for free legal aid. A partnership between the New York City Bar Association, City University of New York School of Law in Long Island City and the firms, the new Court Square Law Project will be located at CUNY and target people in the New York City area. It is the second such “low-bono” effort announced by firms this year, after DLA Piper and Arent Fox announced in April their work with Georgetown University Law Center to create the DC Affordable Law Firm in Washington.  (The American Lawyer)

 

Legal Market

• Last week the American Bar Association and online legal services company Rocket Lawyer launched a joint project, ABA Law Connect,that lets small businesses and individuals ask a legal question for $4.95 each, after which, if they need more help, they can hire a lawyer at a pre-negotiated price. Although on first glance ABA Law Connect would seem a threat to Big Law, the project, which includes Rocket’s network of lawyers, could actually expand the market for lawyers’ services, making it simpler and less intimidating to hire a lawyer, says Ben Barton, a professor at University of Tennessee College of Law. However, he said questions remain about how the program will work. (Big Law Business)

• A federal judge has refused a request to sanction a group of sugar companies for allegedly violating an order disqualifying their law firm, Squire Patton Boggs, from a major case against the high-fructose corn syrup industry that goes to trial next month. Lawyers for two corn refining companies, which successfully got Squire Patton Boggs kicked off the case earlier this year for failing to disclose conflicts that arose following its 2014 merger, alleged in a new sanctions motion filed Aug. 20 that one of the firm’s former attorneys, Daniel Callister, was still working on the case as a “strategic advisor” to the sugar companies. (National Law Journal)

• A former Seyfarth Shaw LLP client Wednesday filed a  $10 million malpractice suit against the firm in Texas state court, alleging that Seyfarth blatantly mis-managed a case involving an oil company worker who claimed he was denied profits when the company was acquired. (Law360)

Allen & Overy has won work advising McCarthy & Stone, a new retirement housebuilder client, on its planned initial public offering on the London Stock Exchange, to the detriment of the company’s former adviser Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Meanwhile, Freshfields has won a role counseling the underwriters for the IPO, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. (The Lawyer)

• Two of Illinois’ biggest law firms focused on foreclosures — Chicago-area based Pierce and Associates and Codilis and Associates — have seen their headcount shrink in the last two years, as work stemming from the financial crisis has run down.(Crain’s Chicago Business)

 

Laterals and Moves

• Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe said Wednesday that it has hired Thomas Schmid, a leading partner in the Munich office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, to head Orrick’s German M&A and private equity group.  Orrick said Schmid’s hire continues its plan to concentrate resources on its practices in Düsseldorf and Munich, which included closing offices in Frankfurt and Berlin earlier this year. At Weil, Schmid’s work on high-profile deals included representing German biotech company MorphoSys in the acquisition of Dutch biopharmaceutical company Lanthio Pharma, and advising EQT Expansion Capital II Fund in its investment in UDG United Digital Group.  (Big Law Business)

•  A corporate partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati has been nominated to serve on Delaware’s Chancery Court.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell Tuesday announced the nomination of Tamika Montgomery-Reeves, whose current practice at Wilson Sonsini in Wilmington, Del., has focused on corporate governance, navigation of corporate fiduciary duties, and representing companies and their officers and directors in class actions and other litigation. (Bloomberg BNA)

• CS Disco, a legal technology company whose focuses include electronic discovery, has hired Trevor Jefferies as senior client counsel. Jefferies, who has worked at Arnold & Porter, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, Hogan Lovells, and Vinson and Elkins, has extensive experience in eDiscovery . According to Transparency Market Research, the worldwide eDiscovery market will grow at 16.2 percent in a compound annual growth rate between 2014 and 2022. (LegalTech news)

Recent moves in Europe: Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton has launched an EU competition and regulatory practice in Brussels; A team of former Baker & McKenzie lawyers have combined to launch a tax boutique in Paris, called Arkwood; McDermott Will & Emery has hired Marco Cerritelli as a partner in its Rome energy advisory practice group;  Squire Patton Boggs has hired Karim Maalioun as a partner in its global corporate practice in Paris; and others. (The Lawyer)

 

Technology

• Investigators from the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are talking to customers of daily fantasy-sports companies  as part of an effort to ascertain whether the business model used by these companies breaks federal law, according to people familiar with the probe. (Wall Street Journal)

• What could law firms do  if Google decided to launch a full-range consumer legal services  business in the UK, perhaps teaming up with IBM to deliver initial legal advice backed by IBM’s artificial intelligence engine, Watson? Google would only need to hire one lawyer for the service, since it could outsource all the legal work it wins to other law firms, suggests Nigel Wallis, a partner at UK firm O Connors LLP. (legalfutures)