On this day in legal history, August 7, 1789, Congress passed an act known as the 9th Act of the First Congress, which established the Lighthouse Service. This marked a crucial commitment to maritime navigation safety in the United States and was a key piece of legislation designed for the establishment and support of lighthouses, beacons, buoys, and public piers. Remarkably, this was the first non-revenue responsibility assigned to Collectors of Customs. They were tasked with the design, construction, staffing, and management of lighthouses within their Customs districts, broadening their role beyond mere revenue collection.
Two centuries later, the importance of this act was commemorated when Congress designated August 7, 1989, as National Lighthouse Day, celebrating both the history and the continued significance of lighthouses and other navigational aids in American maritime history.
Roger Johnson, a prominent M&A partner at Kirkland & Ellis in London, specializing in private equity deals, was asked to leave the firm after it was discovered he was in talks with a rival company. Johnson, who joined Kirkland from Linklaters in 2015, was instrumental in the U.S. firm's efforts to expand into the private equity M&A sector in London. His departure was confirmed by a spokesperson from Kirkland, who wished him well but declined to comment further on personnel matters. Johnson's recent achievements include representing EQT in a £4.5 billion takeover of Dechra, a veterinary pharmaceuticals company. This personnel change follows the departure of David Holdsworth, a fellow Linklaters alumnus, from Kirkland last year. Separately, on August 2, Kirkland announced the hiring of Alvaro Membrillera, Paul Weiss's London head, a highly rated private equity M&A partner. Meanwhile, Kirkland's average equity partner pay reached $7.5 million in 2022, with the firm's revenue rising nearly 8% to $6.5 billion.
Donald Trump's lawyers have dropped a lawsuit in Georgia seeking to force a state judge to rule on Trump's request to discard evidence gathered by a special purpose grand jury and to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from the investigation. This decision came three days after the judge denied the request to remove Willis. Though disagreeing with Judge Robert McBurney's ruling, Trump's lawyers stated that they will explore other channels to seek judicial review. Fulton County DA Willis plans to decide this month whether to ask a new grand jury to charge Trump and his associates. The special purpose grand jury Trump is challenging had only an advisory role and could not indict. This legal maneuvering comes as Trump already faces three other indictments. Additionally, the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office announced they will close streets around the courthouse for two weeks starting August 7th as a security measure.
Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has filed a lawsuit against Google LLC for removing his YouTube videos that questioned the safety of Covid-19 vaccines. Kennedy, a well-known anti-vaccine activist, labeled the company’s medical misinformation policies as “impermissibly vague” and the video removal as “unconstitutional,” asserting it violated his First Amendment right to free speech. The lawsuit also criticized the Biden Administration, claiming officials colluded with tech companies to “censor dissenting views” on the pandemic. Kennedy has faced significant backlash for his misleading claims about vaccines and controversial remarks related to the pandemic. The lawsuit reflects broader critiques against social media platforms implementing policies to combat misinformation. YouTube defended its actions, stating that it enforces its Community Guidelines transparently and consistently, and a Google spokesperson described the claims as meritless. Kennedy, seeking an order to restore all removed videos and demanding a jury trial, likens YouTube to a “digital town square” where censorship of political speech is inappropriate.
On Sunday, Donald Trump targeted the federal judge overseeing the case that charges him with conspiring to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Trump expressed in a social media post that he cannot receive a fair trial from U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan and intends to seek her recusal and a change of venue. No formal request has yet been filed. Trump faces a Monday deadline to respond to a proposed protective order meant to shield witnesses and evidence after Chutkan denied his request for a delay. Trump's lawyer, John Lauro, defended Trump's actions after the 2020 election loss, referring to them as "aspirational asks" rather than directives, and expressed opposition to the protective order. Former Vice President Mike Pence countered Trump's claims, saying he had no right to overturn the election result. Additionally, Trump is facing other legal troubles, including possible charges in Georgia, along with ongoing charges related to classified documents and hush money payments.
According to a new report from the Thomson Reuters Institute, large and midsized law firms experienced a boost in financial performance in Q2 2023, with demand growth for legal work in specific areas like bankruptcy, labor and employment, litigation, and antitrust. The demand increased by 1.5% year-over-year, and the Law Firm Financial Index jumped six points in Q2 to reach its highest level since Q1 2022. The average rate a client agreed to pay for legal services grew by 5.9% in comparison to the same period the previous year. Demand specifically grew for bankruptcy work (5.7%), antitrust and regulatory work (4.6%), and labor and employment work (2.4%), with litigation climbing by 4%. On the other hand, demand for mergers and acquisitions fell by 6%, and real estate demand dropped by 8.4%. The report also highlights differing tactics between midsize and large firms to strengthen profitability, with midsize firms increasing their associate headcount, and top 100 firms trimming theirs. While some large U.S. law firms have made layoffs, the industry is not conducting mass layoffs like in the 2008 financial crisis.
Elon Musk's social media platform, X, formerly known as Twitter, will pay legal bills for users who have been treated unfairly by employers for posting or liking something on the site. Musk announced this commitment in a post on X, stating that there would be no limits to funding the legal bills. He also emphasized that legal action would be "extremely loud," and that the company would target the boards of directors of offending companies. This move comes at a time when the platform is experiencing a new high in monthly users, with over 540 million as of last month. X is currently going through organizational changes and is aiming to boost falling advertising revenue. The platform was rebranded from Twitter to X in July, with Musk stating a new focus on building an "everything app." However, the platform's cash flow remains negative due to a nearly 50% drop in advertising revenue and a substantial debt load, with an expected upturn in advertising revenue failing to materialize in June.