PRO POACHING - If you run a law firm and have been under the impression that the legal industry talent war is just about attorneys, you might want to check on your other staff members before the resignation letters start rolling in. As Law.com’s Andrew Maloney reports, everyone from secretaries and litigation support professionals to financial analysts and strategic C-suite leaders are being courted by competitors. In fact, a recent survey of law firm business professionals pegged “staff poaching” as the second-highest threat to firm profitability, amid talent-related risks such as lawyer recruiting and associate salary increases. Staff-related concerns are partly due to dynamics during the COVID-19 pandemic that have given employees everywhere new leverage over employers. But, particularly in Big Law, it also relates to a wave of new roles focused on pricing and profitability, combined with the fact that firm leaders are often reluctant to bring in unproven talent. “[Firms] aren’t necessarily interested in holding open tryouts,” said Bill Josten, manager of enterprise content for Thomson Reuters, which published its 2021 Law Firm Business Leaders Report last week. “They want to acquire proven talent. If you watch those types of roles, and individuals in those roles, there’s a high degree of mobility—you see a lot of mobility in those types of roles that are in those expanding demand areas for law firms.”
SUGAR AND SPICE - The DOJ’s push to block a merger of sugar behemoths in Delaware federal court is a must-watch antitrust case, if you’re into that sort of thing. Carl Hittinger, a partner who heads the antitrust practice group at Baker & Hostetler in Philadelphia, told Law.com’s Michael A. Mora that the government’s lawsuit to stop the United States Sugar Corp. from acquiring its rival, Imperial Sugar Co., is going to turn on the issue of market definition. “This case may be one of the major cases going forward on how you define relevant market even further,” said Hittinger, who does not represent either party in the litigation. “I don’t see a judge looking at this and saying, ‘I know that they’re sugar substitutes, so I don’t think this complaint is valid.’” The DOJ alleged that the merger of U.S. Sugar and Imperial Sugar announced in March, would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act, thereby leaving most refined sugar sales in the Southeastern part of the country in the surviving entity from the merger, according to the lawsuit. As a result, the DOJ has predicted the merger would lead to higher prices for American businesses and consumers to buy refined sugar for use in foods and beverages. The government has also pushed back against the argument that customers, including manufacturers, could easily switch to other types of sweeteners if refined sugar prices rose too high.