Legal Industry Updates: Law Firm Recognition, Attorney Hires and Exceptional Law Firm Pro Bono Work
Let’s dive into the latest coverage by the National Law Review on legal news, law firm updates, and noteworthy pro-bono and civic engagement by attorneys.
Law Firm Recognition & Honors
The National Law Journal recognized Robinson+Cole Managing Partner Rhonda J. Tobin on its list of 2021 Insurance Law Trailblazers. She was recognized for her 30 years of experience representing insurance companies in arbitration, litigation and mediation involving reinsurance and insurance coverage. Tobin has represented insurers in cases involving the September 11 attacks, the coronavirus pandemic and the #MeToo movement.
Tobin was the first woman to lead Robinson+Cole as a managing partner, and served on the firm’s Managing Committee for the last 12 years, and has been a chair of the firm’s Litigation Section for 13 years.
Kirkland & Ellis received eight awards at the 2020 Private Equity International (PEI) Awards. The annual PEI awards “showcase the firms that have, in the eyes of their peers, set the benchmark during the year.” The awards are chosen by readers of Private Equity International and subscribers of PrivateEquityOnline.com. The awards Kirkland & Ellis won include: Law Firm of the Year in Asia (Transactions), Law Firm of the Year in North America (Fund Formation), Law Firm of the Year in North America (Transactions), Law Firm of the Year in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) (Fund Formation), Law Firm of the Year in EMEA (Transactions), Secondaries Law Firm of the Year in Europe, Secondaries Law Firm of the Year in Americas and Secondaries Law Firm of the Year in Asia.
Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP is one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers 2021, receiving this exceptional recognition for the 11th time, which is more than any law firm in Canada. Blakes’ diversity initiatives include Diversi-Tea, a program that pairs diverse junior associates with mentors at the senior associate and partner levels, and workplace initiatives such as Black@Blakes, Women@Blakes and Pride@Blakes.
Blakes is also a part of the 30% Club, which strives to increase the number of women on boards of directors to 30 percent by 2022. In a statement, Blakes said, “We proudly stand with other Canadian business leaders as members of the BlackNorth Initiative (BNI) and their Law Firm Pledge, Law Firm Antiracism Alliance network, and Black Future Lawyers, among others, to support work focused on addressing systemic racism and improve the recruitment and retention of diverse legal professionals.”
Lawyer Career Changes
Capital markets lawyer Johnny Skumpija has joined Sidley Austin’s New York office as a partner in its Capital Markets practice.
“Johnny is a tremendously talented and versatile lawyer who has advised and worked with some of the biggest names on Wall Street and across corporate America,” said Ed Petrosky, global chair of Sidley’s Capital Markets practice and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee. “His well-rounded experience and skill set are impressive and will enhance our Capital Markets practice’s ability to serve clients and navigate complex transactions.”
Skumpija’s practice focuses on capital markets matters, financial institutions, public offerings and other equity financings. He also advises companies on disclosure, governance and general corporate matters.
Lindsay Clark recently joined Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP as Counsel in the firm’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications group (TMT) in British Columbia, Canada. In her practice, Clark advises companies on operational and corporate governance matters, commercial, licensing and IT agreements, and corporate structuring and planning. Additionally, she assists clients prepare for and complete significant transactions, including venture financing and exit transactions.
“We welcome Lindsay to Fasken and to our TMT group, said William Westeringh, QC, Managing Partner, BC Region. “Lindsay’s broad experience advising companies and their founders and investors will help serve our clients in the ever-changing technology sector.”
Sarah Dunn Davis and Aileen Kim recently joined Ropes & Gray’s mergers & acquisitions practice as counsel in Boston and New York, respectively.
Davis previously worked as a vice president and senior counsel for a publicly traded global asset management company, focusing on cross-border investments and other strategic transactions. She also worked at Ropes & Grey as an associate from 2014 to 2015.
Kim’s practice focuses on representing private companies in divestitures, joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions and advising on corporate governance, disclosure issues and compliance matters. She represented Eli Lilly in its approximately $8 billion acquisition of Loxo Oncology, Inc. and its $1.1 billion acquisition of Dermira, Inc.
“Both Sarah and Aileen are a great fit for the type of complex work Ropes & Gray is known for handling,” said Chris Comeau, co-chair of the firm’s M&A practice. “Aileen’s experience guiding biopharmaceutical transactions strengthens our life sciences team, and Sarah’s return to the firm is welcome because she brings the combination of law firm and in-house perspectives to deals in a broad range of industries, including asset management, technology and life sciences.”
Law Firm Pro-Bono Efforts
A team of attorneys from Proskauer Rose including associates Tony Martinez, Robert Spiro, and Jordan Glassberg along with pro bono counsel Erin Meyer and paralegals Nina Leeds and Anna Brodskaya worked with a pro bono client of the firm, helping him apply for asylum through the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). Proskauer’s client is a gay man, who had suffered horrible violence that was not investigated or prosecuted in his home country, and who had fled to the United States as a result.
The asylum process in the United States is a difficult and time-consuming process, and the Proskauer team helped by drafting an affidavit describing their client’s past persecution, collected evidence in support of his assertions, and assisting him in asylum interview preparation. The client was granted asylum by USCIS in February of 2021, and can now live safely in the United States.
Glassberg, one of Proskauer’s attorneys who worked on the case, said, “Being able to advocate for someone who was gravely mistreated through no fault of his own, and knowing that he can now live here in safety, is an experience that I am humbled and grateful to have been a part of.”
Lauren Connell, pro bono counsel with Akin Gump, received the Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyer’s Project (VLP)’s Pro Bono Leadership award at a virtual ceremony on March 4. The award is in recognition of her work launching VLP’s Frontline worker initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative focused on honoring the work and sacrifice of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East members by offering assistance in the preparation of important life planning documents, such as wills, health care proxies, powers of attorney and other important legal documents.
Connell says she was excited to partner with VLP on the project. Per Connell: “We are happy to support a group that has been such a key part of the pandemic response and hope that our work will provide some measure of comfort and security in these uncertain times.”
Connell has worked on a variety of pro-bono matters for Akin Gump; including work representing refugees seeking asylum detained in facilities in Texas, working with separated families, and securing asylum for individuals in a variety of circumstances including refugees who had worked with U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
The Brooklyn VLP project works to involve attorneys and law firms in pro bono projects, with the overarching goal of making legal services available to low-income residents of Brooklyn.
Over 1,000 attorneys associated with Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG), a network of lawyers committed to human rights and equal justice sent a letter to the U.S. Senate in support of the confirmation of Vanita Gupta for Associate Attorney General, and Kristen Clarke for Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. The attorneys who signed the letter support Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke’s record on Civil Rights, stated:, “Trump and his administration did damage to our institutions, and to repair that damage, we need people who have devoted their lives to fighting against injustice.”
Gupta has faced criticism from Senate Republicans for the language and rhetoric in her tweets, and for her positions surrounding law enforcement and drug decriminalization. The Judicial Crisis Network has launched a million dollar offensive to fight Gupta’s nomination, but if she is confirmed, she will be the first woman of color to be the associate attorney general.
Clarke is nominated for the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, and is currently the president and executive director of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which promotes fair housing and community development, economic justice, voting rights and more.
We’ll be back in two weeks with more legal news and updates. Watch this space.