Wake Up Call: Manatt Ordered to Pay Recruiter in Fee Dispute

• Big Law firms with Houston offices are still in recovery mode following Hurricane Harvey, while many firms with downtown offices were spared the worst of the damage of the storm, which dropped more than 50 inches of rain over the metropolitan region last weekend. (BLB)

• Volkswagen AG’s top U.S. lawyer and the leader of its emissions-testing lab in California are among employees whose mobile devices were either lost or erased as the company’s diesel cheating scandal emerged, according to court records. (Bloomberg)

• L.A.-based Manatt, Phelps & Phillips was ordered by a California jury to pay $335,000 to legal recruiter Gregg Ziskind & Associates Inc. in a dispute over fees linked to two lateral hires Manatt made in 2013. Ziskind accused the firm of breaking an oral agreement linked to moves by financial services partners Donna Wilson and John McGuinness, who had left Buckley Sandler, and paying a rival recruiter instead. (Am Law Daily)

• Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer said Tim Frazer, a U.K. solicitor focusing on antitrust law, is stepping down as head of its London office after 10 years effective today and will retire at year’s end. Taking his place will be Ian Dodds-Smith, co-head of the firm’s food, drug and medical device practice. (BLB)

• Denver-based Gates Corporation, which makes power transmission and fluid conveyance solutions, said it appointed Jamey Seely as executive vice president and general counsel effective Sept. 5. Seely comes from energy technology company Ion Geophysical, where she was GC. (Business Insider)

• Wells Fargo & Co. raised by 1.4 million its estimate for how many bogus accounts employees may have created, a sign the bank is still struggling to move past a scandal that sparked record fines and congressional investigations. (Bloomberg via BLB)

 

 

 

Hurricane Harvey

• With businesses closed and tens of thousands of people potentially out of work, stuck in shelters or dealing with flooded homes because of Harvey, employers’ pay and leave policies will be tested. Lawyers from Foley & Lardner and Littler Mendelson commented. (National Law Journal)

• The Securities and Exchange Commission said it is evaluating the possibility of granting relief from filing deadlines and other regulatory requirements for companies impacted by the storm. (Bloomberg BNA via BLB) A 2016 Texas Supreme Court ruling and lessons from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina point to a difficult road ahead for Houston-area residents seeking to hold county and other governmental bodies liable for flood damage from Hurricane Harvey. (Bloomberg BNA via BLB)

 

 

Legal Market

• Attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups representing people affected by the Trump travel bans said they reached a settlement over the government’s first ban restricting travel from predominantly Muslim countries. The U.S. Supreme Court is set to begin hearing oral arguments over the revised ban this fall. (New York Law Journal)

• Amazon.com is targeted by a proposed federal class-action filed by a couple who accuse the online retailer of selling them defective solar eclipse glasses that caused them to get eye damage from the Aug. 21 eclipse. (Reuters via Scientific American)

• Black lawyers need to be the “conscience of the nation and speak out” about grave crises facing the country today, says the new president of the National Bar Association, the biggest and oldest network of black lawyers and judges in the United States. An interview. (Chicago Tribune)

• Law firms are “terrible” at customer service, so firms that make an effort to improve can see significant benefits. (Customer Think)

• Two law firms are expanding their office space in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. (Jacksonville Daily Record)

 

Legal Actions

• A Pennsylvania federal judge rejected as “outrageously excessive” a law firm’s request for almost $1 million in attorneys fees in an insurance case for which the client won $125,000. (Times-Tribune)

• The U.K.’s negotiations with the European Union over the terms of Brexit are deadlocked. (Bloomberg) Among other things, Brexit has opened up a legal and political minefield regarding the status of British citizens in Northern Ireland. (Bloomberg)

 

 

Regulators and Enforcement

• The prospect of higher rates and an easier regulatory process has brought something the U.S. financial industry hasn’t seen in a while: new banks. (Bloomberg)

 

 

Mueller Investigation

• A grand jury used by Special Counsel Robert Mueller has heard secret testimony from a Russian-American lobbyist who attended a June 2016 meeting with President Donald Trump’s eldest son. (Associated Press via Bloomberg) Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort took notes on his cellphone during that meeting, which “may” be an important revelation. (Washington Post)

• Since Trump’s pardoning power doesn’t extend to state crimes, Mueller’s cooperation with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is a shrewd strategic move, and a “game changer.” (Esquire) (Politico)

• Trump’s attorneys met several times with Mueller and submitted memos to make their argument that the president didn’t obstruct justice by firing former FBI chief James Comey. (Wall Street Journal)

• As Mueller tightens his focus on Manafort, his strategy is getter clearer. (Vanity Fair)

 

 

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• The nation’s patent appeals court reopened a dispute about whether patent filers who contest rejections in district court must pay the Patent and Trademark Office’s lawyer fees. (Bloomberg BNA via BLB)

• A Philadelphia judge threw out a defense lawyer’s lawsuit seeking damages from plaintiffs’ attorneys whose ethics complaint about her handling of an expert witness in a medical malpractice trial led to a nearly $1 million sanction against her. That fine was later overturned. (Philly.com)

• A federal judge fined an anti-abortion activist and two of his California lawyers almost $200,000 for violating his order not to post videos from the case. (The Recorder)

 

 

Laterals, Moves, Law Firm Work

• Manhattan College said it has a new general counsel, Tamara J. Britt, a former attorney at Cleary Gottlieb Steen and Hamilton who most recently was associate general counsel at Rutgers University and counsel to the Rutgers University Foundation. (Manhattan College News)

 

 

 

Technology

• St. Louis-based Bryan Cave has a strategy for adapting to technologically driven change in the legal progression: consulting the firm’s own associates. (American Lawyer)

• Apple Inc. finally came out in favor of net neutrality, on the last day to comment on the Federal Communications Commission’s current net neutrality proceedings. (Wired)

• A database published online yesterday suggests the Instagram hack, initially thought to have just hit celebrity accounts, is much larger than initially feared. (Ars Technica)

• Wal-Mart’s former head of eDiscovery, Aaron Crews, talked recently about his work at the giant retailer and about his move to legal-tech startup Text IQ to become GC and vice president of strategy. (Legaltech News)

 

 

Miscellaneous

• The Florida Bars said the Florida Supreme Court disciplined six attorneys across the state. (Tampa Bay Business Journal)

• As New York Yankee Aaron Judge batted in a recent MLB game, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer, a Bronx native and Yankee fan, cheered from the stands. (MLB via Twitter)

Texas-based S. Roosticus Fischer was recently nominated by the company “Lawyers of Distinction” for ranking in its “Top 10 percent of all American attorneys.” Thing is, Roosticus Fischer is a dog. (TribTalk)

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.