Ernst & Young (EY) has cancelled the planned split of its consulting and audit practices after its US affiliate opted out of the plan, disrupting almost a year of negotiations to break up the Big Four accounting firm. The firm had intended to spin off its consulting business and tax practice into a standalone public company, but partners disagreed on compensation and resources needed to staff the remaining audit practice. The US affiliate was a key sticking point. EY leaders said they would continue laying the groundwork for the split, but would need more time and investment. The plan’s failure followed repeated delays and disagreements over key aspects of the deal. The logistics of separating the $45bn operation across 75 jurisdictions had also proved challenging. The split, known as Project Everest, was intended to create two profitable and successful organizations.
Cooley LLP has postponed the start date for its incoming class of first-year associates from November to January 2024. The law firm, founded in Silicon Valley, had laid off 150 lawyers and staff from its offices across the US in late 2022. Cooley was one of the biggest recruiters of new talent during the pandemic, but shifting economic conditions have led to a slowdown in demand for business transactions work, resulting in some trimming of headcounts. Cooley has declined to comment on the delay. Junior associates have had a tough time in recent years and recruiters predict that other firms will follow Cooley’s lead in delaying start dates, especially those who over hired in 2021 and are expecting large first-year classes this fall. During the height of the pandemic, some law firms delayed the start dates for their incoming first-year classes and made pay cuts, furloughs or other moves to trim costs. But by 2021, booming transactions markets created a frenzied demand for associate talent that forced firms to hike salaries and roll out a bevy of bonuses. However, with the recent market disruptions and overall decrease in transaction volume, some firms found themselves with more associates than work to go around as demand later cooled.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the US Department of Commerce, has launched a request for comment to help ensure that artificial intelligence (AI) systems work as intended and do not cause harm. The Biden Administration is working to create a cohesive approach to AI-related risks and opportunities. While AI systems are being recognized for their benefits, there are concerns about the potential risks to individuals and society that could result from increasingly powerful systems. The NTIA is seeking feedback on policies that can support the development of AI audits, assessments, certifications, and other mechanisms to create earned trust in AI systems. The RFC seeks input on what policies should shape the AI accountability ecosystem, including topics such as trust and safety testing, data access, incentives for accountability, and approaches for different industry sectors. The Biden Administration aims to support responsible innovation and ensure appropriate guardrails to protect Americans’ rights and safety with regard to AI. Comments on the RFC are due 60 days from publication in the Federal Register, which would be June 10, 2023.
A judge in Delaware has expressed concern about the trustworthiness of attorneys defending Fox News in a defamation case after they revealed that Rupert Murdoch is not only the chairman at Fox Corp., but also a corporate officer at its subsidiary, Fox News. Delaware Superior Court Judge Eric M. Davis said Fox lawyers had previously said that Murdoch was not an officer for the subsidiary cable network. Counsel for Fox News called Murdoch's position with the network "honorific," and said the role had been disclosed during a previous deposition. The judge replied that an officer of a company cannot "escape responsibility" by saying they didn't have any tasks. The case relates to the $1.6bn defamation lawsuit filed by voting machine software company Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News and its parent Fox Corp. over baseless claims about voter fraud during the wake of the 2020 US presidential election. Fox has previously argued that Murdoch had little to do with editorial decisions at the cable network. The judge claims such information could have led him to make different rulings earlier in the case.