Good morning. The Biden White House just set a record for judicial nominees, after the U.S. Senate voted to confirm picks for California and Massachusetts benches. Plus, Milbank bumped up its pace-setting associate pay, and top appellate lawyers at Gibson Dunn and Latham are jumping into a real estate antitrust case. Coming up today, WeWork’s Kirkland team heads to bankruptcy court, and Ivanka Trump is scheduled to testify at her father’s civil fraud trial. Our colleagues will be there!
Kenly Kato testifies at her U.S. Senate confirmation hearing. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz
The U.S. Senate confirmed two more Biden White House nominees for new judges in California and Massachusetts, giving the administration its 150th federal judicial appointment — a tally that includes a record-breaking 100 women nominees, our colleague Nate Raymond reports.
The Senate voted 51-46 to elevate U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenly Kato to a district court judgeship in Central California and 52-46 for Julia Kobick to join the federal bench in Massachusetts, where she worked under the state attorney general. With those votes, Biden secured approval of more women to the federal bench than any president in his first four-year term, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.
Votes are teed-up on three more court picks, including a vote later today to elevate U.S. Magistrate Judge Ramon Reyes in Brooklyn to the district court. Confirmations, overall, have slowed compared to earlier in Biden’s tenure, imperiling his ability to match Republican former President Donald Trump’s 234 judicial appointments, which included three U.S. Supreme Court justices.
Milbank has once again increased its associate salaries, after it helped spark raises across the legal industry when it boosted its pay scale last year. First-year associates will have a base salary of $225,000 under the firm’s new seniority-based salary scale, which tops out at $425,000 for eighth-year associates.
Wachtell is installing two new co-chairs, shaking up its top leadership after more than 15 years with current chairs Edward Herlihy and Daniel Neff at the helm. The firm appointed corporate partner Andrew Nussbaum and litigation partner William Savitt as co-chairs of its executive committee.
McDermott’s Jon Hawk is bringing some X Corp work with him from White & Case, where he was a commercial litigator representing Elon Musk’s social media platform in more than a dozen lawsuits. Hawk, based in Los Angeles, is notifying courts that McDermott will succeed White & Case as counsel in various cases.
Berkshire-ownedHomeServices hired Gibson Dunn’s Ted Boutrous to lead the company’s appeal of a $1.8 billion antitrust verdict in Kansas City federal court, and National Association of Realtors said it would rely on a Latham team led by Greg Garre, a former U.S. solicitor. The appeals process isn’t expected to kick off until sometime next year.
Law graduates will be able to become licensed in Oregon without taking the bar exam, starting in May 2024. The Oregon Supreme Court has approved an alternative licensing program that bar exam reformers hope will spur further innovation in other states.
Donald Trump’s federal prosecutor, Jack Smith, urged Washington, D.C. federal judge Tanya Chutkan last week to reject petitions from media organizations that want to televise Trump’s election subversion trial, arguing that video access might compromise the proceeding. Blocking the broadcast is certainly the easy choice for Chutkan, writesAlison Frankel. But is it the right one?
Attorneys for WeWork are due in U.S. bankruptcy court in New Jersey for the company’s “first day” hearing, after seeking protection over its large debt pile and soaring losses due to lower demand for office space from cost-conscious customers. WeWork is seeking to advance a restructuring proposal that could cut $3 billion in debt and shrink the company’s real estate footprint, Dietrich Knauth reports. Kirkland is representing WeWork in its bankruptcy proceeding before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John Sherwood.
Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump is set to testify in a civil fraud trial that has exposed the inner workings of the former U.S. president’s business empire and threatens to strip him of prized New York properties, Jack Queen reports. Ivanka Trump’s turn as a witness in Manhattan follows testimony by her two adult brothers and Trump. Unlike her siblings and father, she is not a defendant in the case. Trump has denied wrongdoing.
The New Orleans-based 5th Circuit will hear an appeal from Texas state officials challenging a preliminary order blocking the state from implementing a new law that would ban “sexually explicit” books from public schools. A coalition of booksellers, authors and publishers won an early ruling against the measure. The law is one of several passed in Republican-controlled states seeking to restrict books that conservatives say contain age-inappropriate content on topics such as sex, LGBTQ issues and race. Critics argue the bans are too subjective and amount to politically driven censorship.
Court calendars are subject to last-minute docket changes.
In the courts
Bayer is seeking to overturn a recent $175 million verdict in favor of a man who alleged that the company’s Roundup weedkiller caused his cancer, saying that the trial judge gave the jury a secret instruction that may have swayed their verdict. The company said in a motion that numerous other irregularities warranted a new trial, and it is challenging the punitive damages award as excessive. (Reuters)
The Biden administration urged a 5th Circuit panel to let it enforce federal guidance telling healthcare providers that they must perform abortions for emergency room patients when needed to treat an emergency medical condition, even if it would conflict with Texas’s abortion ban. (Reuters)
The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a setback to oil and gas companies including BP and Shell that are fighting a Louisiana parish’s $7 billion coastal erosion lawsuit. The court denied a bid by the companies to pause a trial in state court set to begin on Nov. 27. The companies said they needed the pause as they seek to transfer the proceedings to what they argue is a neutral venue. (Reuters)
Paramount Pictures asked a California federal court to throw out a lawsuit claiming that the 2022 blockbuster “Top Gun: Maverick” violated a copyright belonging to the heirs of reporter Ehud Yonay, whose article “Top Guns” inspired the original “Top Gun” movie. Paramount is represented by O’Melveny. (Reuters)
Manatt opened a new office in San Diego, led by Randy Grossman, who most recently served as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California. He will be part of the Los Angeles-founded firm’s trial, white-collar and investigations practice. (Reuters)
Alston & Bird hired partner Will Hooker for its litigation and trial group and international arbitration team, based in London. He arrives from Pallas Partners. (Alston & Bird)
Miller & Chevalier added Scott Flesch as a partner in the firm’s government contracts counseling and litigation practice. Flesch most recently served as the U.S. Army’s chief trial attorney. (Miller & Chevalier)
Armstrong Teasdale brought on St. Louis-based partner Keith Grissom, who focuses on tax and estate planning. He arrives from Greensfelder. (Armstrong Teasdale)
Buchalter added IP litigation partner Jose Patiño from Eversheds Sutherland and labor and employment litigation partner Craig Nickerson from Gordon Rees. They are both based in San Diego. (Buchalter)
Ashurst hired disputes partner Loris Bovo in Milan from Linklaters. (Ashurst)
U.S. judges have fought for years over when and how the judiciary should give deference to agencies. The U.S. Supreme Court just announced it will take up whether the court should overrule the so-called Chevron doctrine. James Mcloughlin Jr, Mary Katherine Stukes and Pierce Werner of Moore & Van Allendive into the arguments and what’s at stake.