Here's a quick look at today's top legal news. Plus, your weekly Career Tracker.
Additional reporting by Nimitt Dixit, Maya Nandhini and Tanvi Shenoy.
The SEC has sued Covington & Burling for details about nearly 300 of the firm's clients whose information was stolen by hackers in a previously undisclosed cyberattack, court documents show. Hackers associated with the Hafnium cyber-espionage group, which has alleged ties to the Chinese government, gained access to Covington's computer networks around November 2020, accessing private information about the firm's clients, including 298 publicly traded companies, according to the SEC's lawsuit. Read more.
In a letter to SEC investigators filed in the case, Covington's legal team at Gibson Dunn said an internal investigation determined the hack was directed at a "small group of lawyers and advisors" and was focused on "policy issues of specific interest to China in light of the incoming Biden Administration."
Read the SEC's filing.
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Falling demand, declining profits and rising expenses are creating a challenging climate for major law firms in 2023, a new industry report warned. On Monday, layoffs hit Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, just weeks after Cooley and Goodwin Procter, two large firms that bulked up in 2021 to meet demand, both decreased their headcounts.
More layoffs are likely as clients tighten their belts and move work to lower-priced firms. After growing 3.7% in 2021, client demand dropped 1.2% overall through the first nine months of 2022. That contraction was fueled largely by declines in transactional work and general uncertainty about the direction of the economy. But midsize firms have more reasons to be optimistic.
More from the legal industry …
Jenner & Block has a new London managing partner. Troutman Pepper, Bracewell, Weil Gotshal, Lowenstein Sandler and Holland & Hart also shuffled firm leadership. Meanwhile, K&L Gates launched a Dublin office, Gibson Dunn opened its second UAE office, and two southeastern U.S. law firms inked a 550-lawyer merger. Dechert hired Kaplan Hecker. A former Proskauer exec facing a theft lawsuit had planned to join Paul Hastings, but didn't. Plus, Alex Jones' suspended lawyer Norman Pattis asked a court to let him defend his client in the Proud Boys sedition trial.
- In Washington, D.C. …
John Sullivan, former U.S. ambassador to Russia, returned to Mayer Brown. Former FDA regulatory lawyer Xin Tao joined Baker McKenzie. Apple’s former chief privacy officer will co-chair Gibson Dunn’s privacy and cybersecurity practice.
- In New York …
A prosecutor on Special Counsel John Durham’s probe into a 2016 FBI investigation of possible collusion between Donald Trump and Russia joined Kasowitz Benson. Simpson Thacher named a new ESG chief. Latham brought on a former vice chair of a rival firm. O'Melveny & Myers rehired a former U.S. attorney in its labor and employment group. Cadwalader added a new tax partner. A former Orrick partner will chair Becker’s international practice group.
- In Chicago …
Gary Feinerman, who stepped down from the federal bench in Chicago last month, joined Latham. Neal Gerber Eisenberg added three new partners.
In Boston …
Womble Bond hired a new chair for the firm’s lobbying affiliate.
- In Detroit …
FisherBroyles hired the former chair of Butzel Long’s digital asset and blockchain group.
- In San Francisco …
Vinson & Elkins expanded its litigation practice with the addition of two antitrust partners.
- In London…
Ashurst named a new head of its UK risk advisory business.
- In Amsterdam …
Attorney Tom van Duuren joined Hogan Lovells’ global M&A practice as a partner.
More moves to share? Please drop us a note at LegalCareerTracker@thomsonreuters.com.
Two of the hardest-fought disputes at the beginning of every big multidistrict litigation are where the cases will be litigated and which plaintiffs firms will be in charge. A team of prominent plaintiffs firms executed a pre-emptive plan last month to seize control of both the venue and leadership for burgeoning antitrust litigation against property management software company RealPage Inc and a bevy of co-defendants. But developments over the last week suggest that it may not be so easy for the firms – Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, Berger Montague, Hausfeld and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein – to box out competing plaintiffs shops and litigate in their preferred jurisdiction. If complex litigation gamesmanship is your jam, writes Alison Frankel, you’re going to love this story. Read more.
Check out other recent pieces from all our columnists: Alison Frankel, Jenna Greene and Hassan Kanu