Wake Up Call: Baker Botts to Close Last Office in Asia

In today’s column, one of Nigeria’s biggest firms grabbed three Big Law attorneys to open in London; two Biden nominees for U.S. attorney, both Big Law attorneys, disclosed their recent compensation at their firms; and Baker McKenzie stepped into the associate pay war in Germany.

  • Leading off, Baker Botts is closing its Hong Kong office at year’s end, with its last partner in the city, Russell Wilkinson, headed for DLA Piper, according to reports. Houston-based Baker Botts closed its Beijing office last year, not long after another Texas firm, Vinson & Elkins, left the city. (Global Legal Post) (Law.com International)
  • Nigerian law firm Olaniwun Ajayi LP grabbed three Big Law project finance and development lawyers to start an office in London, a report says. The office starts out with former Dentons partner Howard Barrie and White & Case counsel Gabriel A. Onagoruwa, and Chuks Ibechukwu, a former attorney at the International Finance Corporation, and at Latham & Watkins. Ibechukwu was recently at the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association. (ICLG.com)
  • Baker McKenzie joined the associate pay war in Germany, raising salaries for its first-year associates in the country to up to 140,000 euros ($158,151) depending on seniority. That’s more than its Big Law rivals are paying but less than two top local firms offer, a report says. (Law.com International) In other recruiting news, U.K. virtual law firms saw a 38% increase in recruitment from late 2020 to fall 2021, a report says. (PersonnelToday.com) And U.K. lawyers in a recent survey cited ability to work from home among top reasons for staying at their current firms. (RollonFriday)

Lawyers, Law Firms

  • The Biden administration’s nominee for U.S. attorney in Minnesota, Jones Day partner Andrew Luger, reported earning $4.2 million in partnership compensation at the firm. Biden’s nomination for U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Ohio, Squire Patton Boggs principal Marisa Darden, disclosed she earned $357,751 in salary and bonuses at the firm. (National Law Journal)
  • Deal update: Dechert advised investment firm Certares and a Certares-led investor group in American Express Global Business Travel’s $5.3 billion go-public merger with a special purpose acquisition company. Four other Big Law firms advised in that deal. (Dechert)
  • The St. Louis zoo wants a gun rights activist who challenged its ban on firearms to pay part of the $150,000 in legal bills it ran up in suing him. (Associated Press)

Laterals, Moves, In-house

  • Crowell & Moring poached a four-lawyer derivatives team from McGuireWoods, expanding its financial services practice in London. Making the move are partners Jennifer Kafcas and Charles Wakiwaka, and counsel Alvino S. van Schalkwyk and Lauren Blaber; also in London, Latham & Watkins hired back capital markets partner Shawn Anderson from Kirkland & Ellis; in Washington and New York, Latham also added capital markets lawyer Marlon Paz. He’s a former senior special counsel at the Securities and Exchange Commission and was recently head of Mayer Brown’s broker-dealer regulation & compliance practice; McDermott Will & Emery picked up Reed Smith capital markets attorney Ari Edelman in New York as a partner. He represents special purpose acquisition companies and target companies in initial public offerings and other transactions. (MWE.com)
  • Steptoe & Johnson LLP hired two managers for its legal development team; Dechert promoted 31 lawyers, 16 women and 15 men, to partner effective Jan. 1, 2022, across 11 offices in six countries on three continents, in what it called “the largest new partner class in recent firm history”; alternative dispute resolution services provider JAMS said former Orange County, California, Superior Court presiding judge Charles Margines joined its Orange County panel. (JAMSadr.com)
  • Convenience store and pizza restaurant chain Casey’s General Stores Inc. said former Office Depot in-house leader and executive Katrina Lindsey is joining the company in January as chief legal officer and corporate secretary. She’s currently chief diversity officer at Varis, was in-house at Darden Restaurants Inc., Walt Disney World, and was a Carlton Fields associate. (Businesswire)

Legal Education

  • A leadership lab started by the University of Hawaii law school dean, Camille Nelson, trains diverse students for future leadership roles. (Law.com)