Risk Update

Risk News — Alleged Side-switching Conflict Fight Unfolds, New Judicial Stock Ownership Insight Website Slow to Stick

Law firm Paul Weiss fights to remain on Google’s ad tech antitrust defense” —

  • “Law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison has asked a U.S. judge to deny a bid from Yelp (YELP.N) and another former client to bar the law firm from representing Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O) in litigation over its digital advertising business practices.”
  • “Attorneys for Paul Weiss in a filing in Alexandria, Virginia, federal court accused Yelp and News/Media Alliance on Friday of ‘gamesmanship’ in their effort to disqualify the firm from serving as Google’s lead defense counsel.”
  • “The U.S. Justice Department and a group of states sued Google in January. Yelp and the news media coalition are not parties, but they claimed in a filing that Paul Weiss was ‘switching sides’ to represent Google on matters that the firm had once counseled them on.”
  • “Paul Weiss’s lawyers at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr denied that the Justice Department’s case was ‘substantially related’ to any of the work that the firm provided to Yelp and the news alliance.”
  • “In its filing, Paul Weiss said it has provided no legal work to Yelp or the news alliance since late 2020. The two clients left the firm then when their former Paul Weiss attorneys, Jonathan Kanter and Brandon Kressin, departed and opened a boutique law firm.”
  • “The disqualification of Paul Weiss ‘at this late date would cause severe prejudice to Google,’ WilmerHale attorneys told the court. Paul Weiss said it has spent more than 10,000 hours so far on Google’s defense.”
  • “Google tried unsuccessfully in September to force Kanter off the ad tech case, based on his prior work in private practice for critics of Google.”

New Disclosure Site Slow to Post Judicial Stock Trading Reports” —

  • “Delays in posting stock transactions and other financial disclosures by US judges to a new database are limiting the utility of a tool designed to improve public transparency of the court system, watchdogs said.”
  • “The most recent mandatory securities transaction report available was submitted by a judge in April, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan judicial watchdog Fix the Court and a review of postings through Oct. 9 by Bloomberg Law.”
  • “Annual disclosures are due to be published within 90 days of submission, while interim reports must be filed within 45 days of the transaction, under a law that took effect last year.”
  • “The information is coming in, but the judiciary’s administrative arm tasked with operating the searchable database has struggled to process and post the annual and periodic disclosures by an estimated 2,500 judges. Things are moving far more slowly than a similar database maintained by Congress.”
  • “A backlogged database ‘defeats the purpose of transparency’ as financial interest information ‘loses relevance’ the more time has passed, said Kedric Payne, senior director of ethics at the Campaign Legal Center and former deputy chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics.”
  • “The Courthouse Ethics and Transparency Act (P.L. 117-125), signed into law in May 2022, required the judiciary to establish an online database of publicly accessible financial disclosures submitted by life-tenured judges, including Supreme Court justices, as well as bankruptcy and magistrate judges. The law also made those judges subject to a 2012 law requiring federal officials to disclose periodic securities transactions worth more than $1,000 (PL-112-105).”
  • “Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a member of the Judiciary Committee and sponsor of the bill, said after passage that the measure ‘will help bring potential conflicts of interest to light and bolster public trust in our judicial system.'”