Wake Up Call: Trump Counsel McGahn Hires Quinn Emanuel Partner

Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

• In an exclusive story on Big Law Business, Ballard Spahr has revealed plans to acquire the 25-lawyer New York First Amendment boutique Levine Sullivan Koch & Schultz, which represented the New York Times in Sarah Palin’s defamation lawsuit against the media company for allegedly publishing an editorial that linked the former Alaskan governor to gun violence. The boutique has also represented clients such as CNN, NBC, ABC and Yahoo. The addition is the latest move by Ballard Spahr to expand its media law practice, as it aims to establish itself as the premiere first amendment practice in the country. (BLB)

• Several probes targeting the administration of President Donald Trump has created a wave of work for white-collar defense lawyers, and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partner William Burck looks to be the latest to benefit. Trump’s White House Counsel Don McGahn and former Chief of Staff Reince Priebus are said to have hired him as they prepare to face special counsel Robert Mueller. (Above the Law, Law 360)

• As Mueller expanded his probe earlier this summer into whether the Trump campaign connived with Russians in the 2016 election, a small group of White House lawyers argued that Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner should leave his White House role, according to a report. (Washington Post)

• Of the 42 U.S. attorneys that Trump has named so far, only one has been a woman, compared with 12 women among the first 42 of President Barack Obama’s attorney nominees, says a report. (BuzzFeed)

• Amicus curiae briefs are supposed to give judges outside perspectives on cases, but sometimes these “friends of the court” are puppets of financial interests, and judges can’t always see who’s pulling the strings. Bloomberg News is publishing a series of stories revealing how these briefs can become a tool to tip the scales of justice. (Bloomberg via BLB)

• Looking for help with a pile of antitrust litigation, the San Diego chipmaker Qualcomm Inc. has hired outspoken legal scholar Koren Wong-Ervin, who is departing as director of the Global Antitrust Institute at Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. (BLB)

• Mega-deal activity in the U.S. has slowed as doubt continues about the Trump administration’s direction, M&A and antitrust attorneys say. (Bloomberg BNA via BLB)



• Florida’s 12 law schools were closed Monday because of Hurricane Irma and several already announced classes are cancelled for the rest of the week. (Law.com) The state Supreme Court and several country courts were also closed. (Daily Business Review)

• Off by about $150 billion: How forecasters got Irma damage wrong. (Bloomberg)


Law Firm Business

• Should U.S. law firms be allowed to go public? Two non-U.S. firms that were pioneers of legal business IPOs have had divergent outcomes: staggering losses for Australia’s Slater and Gordon, but big revenue and profit gains, so far, for U.K. firm Gateley Plc. (Law.com)



Legal Market

• The Federal Trade Commission’s swift approval of Amazon.com’s $13.7 billion merger with Whole Foods spurred complaints that it should have scrutinized the deal’s possible socio-economic impacts, such as how Whole Foods workers might be affected. But acting FTC chief Maureen Ohlhausen said in a recent speech at George Washington University Law School that many social and economic problems don’t fall under the scope of antitrust law. (Bloomberg BNA via BLB)

• Google filed an appeal Monday to a record European Union antitrust fine in the EU’s General Court, based in Luxembourg, starting a legal challenge that could take years to conclude. (Bloomberg via BLB)

• A government-wide backlog of 700,000 security clearance reviews has caused agencies like the Defense Department to inadvertently issue interim clearances to criminals. (Associated Press via New York Times)

• England’s Premier League could see its standing in the soccer world diminished if EU stars move to other countries after Brexit, potentially cutting the value of future TV rights after the current 8-billion-pound ($10.5 billion) deal expires. (Bloomberg)

• Equifax Inc., the credit reporting agency which last week said it suffered a breach that exposed the personal data of 143 million Americans, holds a contract to check incomes and other data of people who bought health insurance in the Obamacare markets. (Bloomberg) Equifax bungled its public relations response to consumer concerns that their personal had been compromised. (Bloomberg View)

• The so-called monkey selfie’ copyright lawsuit was settled out of court, to the benefit of crested macaques. (IPPro)


Legal Actions

• A Maryland county judge ordered state officials to investigate three lawyers accused of deleting thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails. (Capital Gazette)

• The Brussels-based European Consumer Organisation said it is helping to coordinate “group” legal actions against Volkswagen A.G. over its emissions-cheating scandal, in four European countries that do not allow class action-style law suits. (BEUC)



Regulators and Enforcement

• The Justice Department petioned a federal court in Arizona to drop its case against former county Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whom Trump pardoned in August. A judge found Arpaio guilty in July of misdemeanor contempt for defying a 2011 order that he stop carrying out immigration patrols. (CBS News) The sheriff who has Arpaio’s old job started a review of those patrols, which included untrained volunteers who had badges and sometimes guns, and could use official vehicles and make arrests. (Phoenix New Times)


The Trump Administration

• When Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak meets former golf partner Donald Trump in the White House today, the elephant in the room will be a U.S. criminal probe of an investment fund linked to Najib. (Bloomberg)



Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• A U.S. Supreme Court justice on Monday issued a short-term order restoring Trump’s ban on thousands of refugees seeking entry to the country. (Bloomberg)

• Roman Catholic leaders objected to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s recent line of questioning of federal judicial nominee Amy Coney Barrett, calling it reminiscent of “anti-Catholic” bias. (Chicago Tribune) During the confirmation hearing, Democratic senators asked Coney Barrett, a law professor at Notre Dame, to explain how her religious beliefs would affect her legal decisions on controversial issues like abortion and gay marriage. (Atlantlic)

• California Governor Jerry Brown and the state Senate leader said Monday they’ve agreed to changes in proposed legislation that would further restrict interactions between law-enforcement officers and federal immigration agents. The state is also suing the Trump administration over its decision to end a program that shields young immigrants from deportation. (Bloomberg)


Laterals, Moves, Law Firm Work

• Consumer financial services firm Hudson Cook, which is based in Maryland, said it opened an office in Fort Worth, Texas, hiring partner Hurshell Brown, counsel Curtis Linscott, and associate Andrea Cottrell. (Texas Lawyer)




• Operatives working for Russia used Facebook to organize anti-immigrant rallies in the United States during and after the U.S. presidential-election campaign, according to a report. (Daily Beast)

• Federal accident investigators are poised to find that Tesla Inc.’s auto-driving system should share blame for a fatal 2016 crash in which a Model S sedan drove itself into the side of a truck. (Bloomberg) The family of a man killed last year in a fatal crash involving Tesla’s autopilot system defended the electric-car manufacturer and said autonomous driving technology is saving lives. (Bloomberg)

• Law enforcement officials are using Bitcoin’s ledger, known as a blockchain, to track digital money to find suspected criminals using it. (MIT Technology Review)

• Cyberattacks against Android smartphones and tablets were up 40 percent in 2017’s second quarter compared with the same period last year, according to a report. (TechRepublic)

• Startups hoping to sell health-tracking devices and software to corporate customers are worried European data privacy regulators will torpedo their business model. (Bloomberg)

• An Amazon.com merchant said he lost about $200,000 after Amazon delisted his best-selling toothbrush head replacement, citing an intellectual property complaint it received in an email from a law firm. But that firm turned out to be fake. (CNBC)

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.