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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
ONLY FOOLS RUSH IN? – As we’ve all learned from ordering Domino’s five nights a week during quarantine: just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. New York and Illinois began allowing law firms to return to their offices last week, but many firm leaders in those cities say they’re still taking it slow. The cautious approach mirrors that of a number of firms in the U.K., Australia and Asia. Meanwhile, in Texas, where several firms opened their doors back in May, a new spike in COVID-19 cases is causing firm leaders to rethink their reopenings. In our inaugural Law.com Trendspotter column, we dig into why, as one Big Law partner in Chicago put it, “law firms aren’t hurrying to become test cases.”
EQUITY PARTNER INEQUITY – Women constitute about 20 to 21% of all equity partners at the nation’s largest law firms, so it could fairly be said that any individual Am Law 100 firm that falls short of that mark is doing a subpar job of promoting and hiring women into its equity ranks. But what about the dozen Am Law 100 firms (that we know of) where female partners account for less than 15% of the equity partners? Well, they would be grouped into a special category Careerist columnist Vivia Chen describes as “the big fat firms where women are doing poorly.”
STILL STANDING – Whistleblowers notched a win last week in the burgeoning battle over whether litigation funders should be allowed to play a role in qui tam litigation. Mike Scarcella reports that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reinstated a $255 million judgment despite arguments by the defendants that the relator forfeited her standing in the case by arranging to give a litigation funder a cut of her potential recovery. It’s unlikely to be the last time this issue arises in a similar context and it’s something the DOJ has been pondering recently. Stephen Cox, then a senior leader at Main Justice and now a U.S. attorney in Texas, said in a speech in January that “aside from what the litigation finance industry says publicly, we have little insight into the extent to which they are backing the qui tam cases we are investigating, litigating, or monitoring.”
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
RESILIENT MOFO – Launching a new practice targeting an incredibly competitive market is no walk in the park. Add in a global pandemic and not only is it no walk in the park, but the park is probably closed to visitors and the entrance is barricaded. When Morrison & Foerster launched a Latin America practice in June of last year, it had no way of knowing what obstacles lay ahead. You’d be forgiven for assuming that, one year later, things are looking pretty grim for that practice as Latin America and the Caribbean have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. But Amy Guthrie reports that, according to the firm, its Latin America group is still plenty busy—and eyeing more work on the horizon.
WHAT YOU SAID
“I realized I was having an experience that was causing me to distance myself and not be fully who I am in the workplace because my colleagues had no idea what’s going on, and I realized I’m too old for this, too old to not be who I am.”
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