Wake Up Call: Novartis GC Latest Lawyer Out Over Cohen Payments

An illuminated logo sits outside Novartis AG's headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, on Tuesday, July, 16, 2013. Novartis AG raised its profit and sales forecasts as generic competition for the Diovan blood-pressure medicine failed to materialize in the U.S. Photographer: Gianluca Colla

• Novartis AG general counsel Felix Ehrat is the latest lawyer pushed out after revelations that major companies made payments to a consulting firm led by President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, in hopes of getting insights into Trump’s policies. The Swiss pharmaceutical giant, which said it paid $1.2 million to the firm, said Ehrat will retire next month and be replaced by Shannon Thyme Klinger, currently the company’s chief ethics, risk, and compliance officer. Earlier this week, AT&T Inc. said its Washington-based chief of lobbying, attorney Bob Quinn, is leaving, citing the $600,000 it paid to Cohen’s firm. (Bloomberg)

• Pillsbury doubled the headcount of its state and local tax practice by grabbing a 13-lawyer team from Eversheds Sutherland, including 11 counsel and associates from both New York and California. The group is led by Sacramento-based partner Carley Roberts and New York-based partner Marc Simonetti. (New York Law Journal)

• The head of Constangy’s San Francisco office, employment litigator L. Julius Turman, was found dead in his home Sunday, at age 52. Police have yet to release details. Gay and African-American, Turman was a former head of the San Francisco police commission, ex-partner at Morgan Lewis and Reed Smith, and a prominent LGBT rights advocate. (The Recorder)

• Apple Inc. is seeking about $1 billion from Samsung Electronics Co. in another go-round in their long-running smartphone patent-infringement dispute. Samsung has Quinn Emanuel name partner John Quinn in its corner, while Apple has WilmerHale partner Bill Lee. (Bloomberg via BLB)

• Former New York federal prosecutor Preet Bharara is said to mulling an independent run for New York attorney general. (Bloomberg)

• The American Bar Association faces suits in two separate but related cases implicating its law school accreditation standards. (Bloomberg Law via BLB)  

 • If the U.S. doesn’t agree by June 2019 to exchange the bank account details of non-U.S. citizens with governments around the world, it will be placed on the European Union’s tax haven blacklist. Sanctions for blacklisted countries could include withholding taxes on multinational corporate group dividends. (Bloomberg Tax)


 Lawyers and Law Firms

• Akin Gump said an associate’s suicide in 2013 contributed to the firm’s decision to recently begin providing a mental health counselor for lawyers at its Washington headquarters. The counselor is booked solid through June, and the firm plans to expand the service to all its offices by year’s end. Other firms, including Hogan Lovells, Norton Rose Fulbright, and Winston & Strawn, already offer services for mental health. (Law.com)

• Bloomberg Environment talked to energy attorney Jonathan A. Hunter about his 30-year career representing oil and gas companies, including his recent move to Jones Walker LLP’s New Orleans office as a partner, from Liskow & Lewis. (Bloomberg Law via BLB)


Laterals, Moves, Law Firm Work

Michael Best said veteran healthcare attorney Lisa Gingerich joined the firm’s transactional practice group as a partner in its Milwaukee office. She was previously a shareholder at a Wisconsin-based von Briesen & Roper, according to LinkedIn. (MichaelBest.com)

• Akin Gump said it has a new Washington-based partner in its public law and policy practice, Zachary M. Rudisill, who as former tax counsel to Ohio Senator Rob Portman worked on the Trump tax overhaul law. (AkinGump.com)


Legal Actions

• A United Airlines Inc. pilot can proceed to trial with his claim that the airline denied him a promotion because he was involved in a decade-old scandal over alleged “sham divorces” to secure pension benefit payments. Paul Hastings represents United. (Bloomberg Law)

• A California judge refused to let Uber Technologies Inc. off the hook over a high school student’s claims that her driver made lewd comments to her — marking another rejection of the company’s argument that it isn’t responsible for drivers’ actions. (Bloomberg)


 Regulators and Enforcement

• Kraken, the digital-currency exchange that recently refused to respond to inquiries from New York’s top lawyer, now says it will probably register with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. (Bloomberg)


• Three Tesla electric car fires under investigation illustrate new risks posed for firefighters by electric vehicles’ highly flammable lithium-ion battery cells. (Bloomberg Environment)

 Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Tom Taylor.