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WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
GOOD TIMES - Law firms last year had the highest net income and profits per equity partner since 2007, and a strong close to 2018 has the industry positioned for a hot start to 2019. That’s the takeaway from Citi Private Bank’s latest report based on a survey of 191 law firms. Am Law 50 firms and niche firms outperformed the rest of the industry on average, and the Am Law Second 50 were not far behind, the report found. Top-line growth is anticipated in the 6 to 7 percent range this year.
POT MONEY - Marijuana companies have long complained about banking and finance hurdles, and now newly empowered U.S. House Democrats in Washington will hear them out. Cheryl Miller reports that a U.S. House Financial Services subcommittee will convene a hearing Wednesday spotlighting access to banking for cannabis businesses. Banks have been skittish about riding the green wave. You’ll recall that under the Obama administration, the DOJ’s so-called Cole memo said federal prosecutors would not go after certain marijuana offenses in states that had legalized the drug. Former AG Jeff Sessions rescinded the memo last year, but some Trump administration officials have indicated they would support protections for banks serving state-sanctioned marijuana businesses.
TELL US MORE - There’s a lot of interest—and speculation—about what the yet-named health care initiative led by Amazon, JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway is up to, and a judge in Boston is now being asked to unseal court papers that might provide some clues. Or raise more questions. The Boston firm Prince Lobel Tye, representing media companies, is questioning the closure of a Boston courtroom during a recent hearing in a bitter suit that pits the health company Optum Inc. against a former top executive who jumped to the new upstart company, which is referred to as “ABC” in the proceedings. More will revealed.
LONGHORN LATERALS – We’re still combing through the lateral moves data from last year, and another thing that stands out is just how hot the Texas market was. Three cities in the Lone Star State—Houston, Dallas, and Austin—ranked in the top 20 U.S. cities in terms of Am Law 200 lateral partner hires. Houston even bested big markets like San Francisco and Boston. Where else is there a lot of lateral activity? Click to explore the map.
WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
SINGAPORE START-UP - We’ve been reporting on Singapore’s push to become a legal innovation hub through its Future Law Innovation Programme, a two-year pilot program started at the beginning of last year by the Singapore Academy of Law. Now, as John Kang reports, Singapore is set to launch in April a startup accelerator focused on legal technology. The accelerator, first of its kind in Asia, will be open to legal tech startups around the world that are interested in supporting the Singapore legal market and use the city-state as the main office for future expansion abroad. The program was delayed a year for a redesign.
WHAT YOU SAID
“A lot of people don’t go into certain [practice] areas because they don’t see anyone like themselves.”
— BERNADETTE BEEKMAN, MANAGING DIRECTOR AT HIRE COUNSEL, ON ONE OF THE REASONS WHY DIVERSE LAWYERS WORK IN SOME PRACTICE AREAS, LIKE LABOR AND EMPLOYMENT, AND NOT OTHERS.
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