Wake Up Call: IBM Lawsuit Says Diversity Data Are Trade Secrets

• International Business Machines Corp. is suing to force its former chief diversity officer to wait a year before moving to Microsoft, claiming the information that she has–including confidential data about diversity, strategies and initiatives–can cause “real and immediate competitive harm” if she’s allowed to join the company immediately. (Bloomberg)

• Fashion models’ status as independent contractors tends to leave them legally unprotected from discrimination, and from the eyes of backstage staff, visitors and photographers when the models are changing outfits backstage at fashion shows. The models might soon get some privacy and protection, as a New York fashion show plans to offer private dressing spaces, and a New York legislator has proposed anti-harassment legislation targeting them. (Bloomberg Law)

• A bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from all 50 states and every U.S. territory sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives urging them to pass federal legislation ending secret, forced arbitration in cases of workplace sexual harassment. (Law.com)

• An Austrian hedge fund that helped direct investments into Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme agreed to pay $76.5 million to victims of the fraud in a settlement with Baker & Hostetler partner Irving Picard, the trustee unwinding the con man’s firm. The settlement brings the total recovered by Picard to $12.8 billion. (Bloomberg)

• Privacy law attorneys can soon advertise themselves as privacy specialists after the American Bar Association approved an accreditation plan. (Bloomberg Law)

 

Law Firms/Legal Market

• Jones Day had the strongest U.S. law firm brand for the second-year running in 2017 after supplanting Skadden last year, according to the seventh annual U.S. law firm brand ranking by legal research firm Acritas.  Skadden had led the ranking for the five previous years,. (Acritas)

• President Donald Trump picked Skadden partner Michael Scudder, a veteran commercial litigator and white-collar defender, for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. (National Law Journal)

• Meanwhile, former Chevron senior counsel and DLA Piper lobbyist  Kevin O’Scannlain is joining the White House  as special assistant and associate counsel to the president. O’Scannlain’s sister Kate is the Labor Department’s top lawyer and his father is a federal judge. (Corporate Counsel)

• Baker McKenzie is under investigation in the U.K. and a London partner is leaving the firm amidst revelations that the firm several years ago paid a junior lawyer to stay quiet about her allegations that the partner sexually assaulted her. (Crain’s Chicago Business)

• Locke Lord named a new managing partner for Chicago, one of its biggest offices. It said Michael Renetzky, co-chairman of its corporate and transactional department and chairman of its finance committee, now has the job of managing more than 125 lawyers. He takes over from Jennifer Kenedy, recently elected vice chair of the firm’s executive committee. (Lockelord)

 

 

Laterals, Moves, Law Firm Work

• Greenspoon Marder expanded the firm’s land use & zoning practice group with two former GrayRobinson lawyers in Miami, hiring partner William Riley and senior counsel Pedro Villa. (Gmlaw)

• American International Group Inc. said Gibson Dunn partner Caroline Krass will join the company as senior vice president and general counsel in March. She previously served as GC for the Central Intelligence Agency.  And more recent corporate counsel appointments. (Bloomberg Law via BLB) (Business Wire)

• Atlanta-based King & Spalding expanded its transactional practice in New York, getting two-decade veteran tax partner Kevin Glenn from KPMG, where he had served as partner-in-charge of its U.S. tax team. (New York Law Journal)

 

 

 

Legal Actions

• Billionaire Steven Cohen’s Point72 Asset Management is being sued by an employee who alleges the fund discriminates against women and promotes a culture of workplace sexism. (Bloomberg)

• Russia may block access to YouTube and Instagram as early as Wednesday after billionaire Oleg Deripaska won a court injunction against videos and photographs that showed him and Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Prikhodko relaxing on a yacht with a woman described as an escort. (Bloomberg)

• Some critics have accused New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of “grandstanding” with his lawsuit against Weinstein Co. for allegedly violating state sex-discrimination laws. But the suit is worthwhile if it forces the company and its investors to improve the compensation fund for victims of alleged serial sex harasser Harvey Weinstein, writes constitutional scholar Noah Feldman. (Bloomberg View)

• Silicon Valley HR software startup BetterWorks has struggled to recover from a sexual harassment scandal. (Bloomberg)

 

 

Regulators and Enforcement

• Deutsche Bank AG agreed to pay about $4.5 million to settle a U.S. regulator’s allegations that it misled clients about how much bonds backed by commercial mortgages were worth. (Bloomberg)

• Republicans could take a big step toward regaining control of the National Labor Relations Board on Wednesday, when Trump nominee John Ring, a Morgan Lewis management-side partner, goes for his Senate confirmation hearing. And more labor regulator news. (Bloomberg Law)

•  Barclays Plc’s operating unit faces a new U.K. criminal charge stemming from the lender’s controversial 12 billion-pound ($16.6 billion) fundraising at the height of the financial crisis a decade ago. (Bloomberg)

 

 

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Columbia University Law School’s first tenured woman professor, spoke to Columbia’s recent “She Opened the Door” conference. After some long introductions, she comes on at about 12’30”. (Livestream.com) Ginsburg, who’s on a tour of law schools, universities, and synagogues, said she loves her job and likes most of her colleagues. (Above The Law)

 

Technology

• The U.K. government has ratcheted up its effort to pressure Facebook, Twitter and other tech giants to do more to fight extremist content on their platforms, releasing a machine learning tool it says is 94 percent effective at filtering such content. Critics say such filtering amounts to censorship. (TechCrunch)

• A cyberattack paralyzed internet networks at the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in what appeared to be a bid to embarrass the organizers. The incident underscores the threat of hacking at ad hoc events like the Olympics, a cyber-security professor said. (Bloomberg)

•A whistle-blower told U.S. regulators that a scheme to manipulate the VIX, the volatility gauge thrust into the spotlight last week during a wild trading session, costs investors hundreds of millions of dollars a month. (Bloomberg)

• Facebook said it settled a dispute with Apple that had kept the social network from releasing a subscription tool for publishers on iOS devices. (Recode)

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.