Fifty Firms Considered Best for Women: Business of Law

Working Mother Magazine and Flex-Time Lawyers announced their annual list of the top 50 law firms for women. On the list were behemoths like Baker & McKenzie LLP, DLA Piper LLP and Hogan Lovells LLP, along with names like Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Goodwin Procter LLP and intellectual property firm Finnegan, Henderson Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP.

Among the findings: 40 percent of the 2014 law firms have two or more women among their top 10 “rainmakers,” up from 32 percent last year.

Additionally, this year’s study found that the number of women on the executive, compensation and partner promotion committees has increased. Women now compose 24 percent of the executive committees, 25 percent of compensation committees and 26 percent of equity partner promotion committees, the highest percentages in the past four years.

This year’s survey also “had more questions about women of color. Last year we didn’t report on those numbers,” Flex-Time’s founder and president, Deborah Epstein Henry, said yesterday in a telephone interview.

Diversity decreases significantly with greater seniority, according to the survey. While 12 percent of the associates at these 50 firms are multicultural women, they represent only 2 percent of equity partners.

The survey was started in 2007.


Wachtell, Nixon Peabody, Skadden Arps Work on Gannett Deals

Gannett Co. plans to split into two publicly traded companies by spinning off its publishing business, including USA Today, and said it has agreed to buy full ownership of

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz represented Gannett in the spinoff, and Nixon Peabody LLP advised Gannett, a long-time client, on the deal.

Gannett already owns about 27 percent of In the deal announced yesterday, it said it will buy out the companies that own the rest of the company -- McClatchy Co., Tribune Media Co., AH Belo Corp. and Graham Holdings Co. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP represented those media companies.

Leading the Nixon Peabody team was business transactions partner and securities chairman John Partigan. Also on the team were Dan McAvoy, securities; Christian McBurney, tax; Brian Kopp, labor and employment; and Gordon Lang, antitrust. In addition to Partigan, partner Richard Langan will represent Gannett in the deal’s financing.

The Wachtell team representing Gannett was led by corporate partners Edward Herlihy, Igor Kirman and David Lam and included partners Jeannemarie O’Brien, executive compensation and benefits; Gregory Pessin, restructuring and finance; and Joshua Holmes, tax.

The Skadden team included partners Rodd Schreiber, corporate; Stuart Levi, intellectual property; Sharis Pozen, antitrust; and David Levy, tax.

Gannett may be preparing for the investor lawsuits that are inevitable in any deal. On July 29, its board of directors adopted a new corporate bylaw specifying that Delaware is to be the “exclusive forum to litigate shareholder claims against” the company. The new bylaw was disclosed in a Form 8-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Aug. 1.

For more on the deal, click here.

Lawsuit News

New Class Actions Lawsuits Have Dropped in 2014, Study Finds

Seventy-eight new federal class action securities cases were filed in the first half of 2014, according to Cornerstone Research and the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse. Filings dropped from 91 in the second half of 2013, and are 18 percent below the historical semiannual average of 95 from 1997 to 2013, the report found.

John Gould, the senior vice president of Cornerstone Research, said in a statement that the class actions filed by June 30 “involve some of the lowest aggregate market capitalization losses in recent years.”

“There were no mega filings with maximum dollar losses exceeding $10 billion during the first six months of 2014,” he said. “This is the first time that has happened in a semiannual period since the second half of 1997.”

The cumulative maximum dollar loss was $93 billion, 70 percent below the historical semiannual average. In a telephone interview yesterday, Gould said that one reason for the drop is that “the market has been fairly stable and we tend to see more when there is more market volatility.”

He said it’s too early to say if the drop will be sustained.

“Numbers go up and down, and we probably want to look at more than six months to see if there’s a real trend,” he said.

To see the report, click here or here.

Caesars Debt-Restructuring Fight Triggers Dueling Lawsuits

Caesars Entertainment Corp.’s negotiations with noteholders challenging efforts to restructure $12.7 billion in debt spilled into court, as the casino company claimed hedge funds want to force a default while a bond trustee alleged Caesars is squandering assets.

Caesars sued more than 30 bondholders, including funds overseen by Appaloosa Management LP, Oaktree Capital Group Holdings LP and Elliott Management Corp. Caesars accused them in a statement of attempting to impede the restructuring with “disruptive appearances before gaming regulators” and “a baseless default notice.”

Wilmington Savings Fund Society, a trustee for holders of some of Las Vegas-based Caesars’s 10 percent notes payable in 2018, simultaneously sued the company in Delaware Chancery Court in Wilmington, accusing it of fraudulently transferring assets as part of the restructuring and wasting assets.

Caesars was purchased in a $30.7 billion leveraged buyout led by Apollo Global Management LLC and TPG Capital in 2008. Last month, Caesars won approval for a $1.75 billion refinancing from Illinois casino regulators over the objections of bondholders.

Caesars’s effort to reshuffle debt has drawn the ire of noteholders after the company, the largest owner of casinos in the U.S., took steps to remove guarantees on much of its $23 billion in debt to prepare for a wider reorganization.

The New York case is Caesars Entertainment Operating Company Inc. v. Appaloosa Investment Limited Partnership, 652392/2014, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan). The Delaware suit is Wilmington Savings Fund Society FSB v. Caesars Entertainment Corp., CA NO. 10004, Delaware Chancery Court (Wilmington).

For more, click here.

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