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How John Quinn Built The World’s Largest Litigation Specialist



Legal firms tend to follow an established pattern as they pursue growth: they engage in M&A to increase the size of their businesses, and expand the areas of law in which they practice to further expand. However, neither strategy has ever much appealed to Quinn Emanuel. And that hasn’t stopped the business growing from just four founding partners in 1986 to more than 900 lawyers in 25 offices around the world today.

“We’re proud of the fact that we’ve never done a merger; instead, we’ve chosen to hire the best and the brightest graduates from law school, and to recruit lawyers with a proven track record of excelling,” says John B. Quinn, one of those four founders. “We have also very deliberately chosen to specialise in litigation work – that is all we do, but we do it very well.”

It is an approach that has proved highly successful. After 35 years in business, the firm has worked on more than 2,500 trials and arbitrations, securing more than $70bn for the plaintiffs it has represented; it claims an 86% success rate in such disputes.

“The key is to be opportunistic,” says Quinn. “When you see an opportunity to get the best person, you have to go for it.”

Indeed, Quinn Emanuel’s development has often been tactical rather than strategic. For example, having started out in California, the firm decided, on opening its New York office, that it would never represent the big Wall Street banks. “All of our competition had those kind of clients, so anyone taking on the banks found it difficult to secure top-flight counsel,” Quinn recalls.

The move almost instantly turned the firm into the go-to lawyer for anyone in dispute with a Wall Street firm, but it also caught the attention of potential clients in other financial centres. The firm’s first international opening, in London, soon followed, with perfect timing, just as the 2008 global financial crisis was getting underway.

Similarly, the London office opening paved the way for a move into Hong Kong, after a partner recruited in the UK urged Quinn to hire a particular talent there. “You just have to keep your eyes open for those opportunities,” Quinn says.

Elsewhere, Quinn Emanuel was one of the first law firms to open an office in California’s Silicon Valley, spotting the importance of the tech sector there at an early stage. That office subsequently secured so much work that it split in two, with one branch specialising in particular in patent disputes. Then Quinn Emanuel saw the opportunity to open an office in Germany, a European centre for patent litigation.

“We’ve never had a grand five-year plan; instead, behind every new office, there is an individual story,” Quinn says. “And when it comes to concentrating on litigation, rather than developing a full-service business, we think that’s very powerful; there is not a firm anywhere near our size that specialises in this way.”

Such focus is a force for cohesion within the firm, says Quinn, because partners and associates have a clear understanding of what their colleagues do. “It helps ensure we can always put the best person on a particular case, rather than worry about who received the phone call or has the business relationship.”

Law firms have to be prepared to adapt, Quinn says, which can sometimes test that cohesion – one reason why firm culture has been a priority since the early days. As the firm grew in size and opened in far-flung locations, partners embraced new methods of engagement and collaboration – from one office presenting to the rest of the business, to a company podcast.

“It all about conversation and communication,” Quinn says. “Otherwise, you’re always wondering about what you’ve left on the table – is there someone in the firm with knowledge and experience that might help someone else in another office with a particular issue, if only they knew about one another?”

This approach stood the firm in good stead as the Covid-19 pandemic descended two years ago – and Quinn believes some of the changes that the crisis has prompted will endure. “I could never have imagined how the firm could pivot to working online so quickly – and how the judicial system could do the same,” he says. “But Covid has changed what we do and in some cases changed it permanently: I don’t think we’ll ever return to doing in-person depositions, for example.”

Quinn Emanuel recently announced that all of its US lawyers will henceforth be entitled to work remotely on a permanent basis, according to their wishes. That will require some adjustments, but it’s a natural evolution, Quinn argues. “People have enjoyed their increased mobility, and we will be able to find new solutions to tackle issues such as training and mentoring, that worry some people about remote working.”

What won’t change, however, is the firm’s focus on litigation, particularly as the successes continue. For example, the company points to landmark cases such as last year’s $90m settlement with Victoria’s Secret parent L Brands, where its lawyers won settlements for shareholders concerned about “a toxic work environment and a culture of harassment and intimidation condoned from the very top,” as Manisha M. Sheth, co-chair of Quinn Emanuel’s sexual harassment & employment discrimination practice group, put it at the time.

Looking back, Quinn is particularly proud of the $22bn settlement that his firm won on behalf of the federal government from Wall Street firms in the wake of the financial crisis, and the work it has done defending users of the Android mobile operating system against threats from Apple. There will be plenty more such cases to come.


Seoul court rejects warrants for former Terraform Labs employees and investors over Luna collapse  • TechCrunch



A Seoul court rejected a request from prosecutors for warrants to detain eight people related to Terraform Labs, including the co-founder of Terraform Labs, Daniel Shin, early investors and former engineers.

It’s difficult to believe they would flee or destroy evidence as Shin and the seven other suspects have been cooperating with the investigation, Yonhap News said, citing the Seoul court. In addition, the suspects also need to be guaranteed their rights to defend themselves against the allegations of capital market rules, which is the core accusation of this case, according to the court, per Yonhap

The Seoul Southern District Prosecutors Office told TechCrunch that it is hard to understand that conclusion as the court knows the seriousness of the allegation and the fact that some of the suspects allegedly made money by selling Luna tokens before the collapse. And yet, the court dismissed the warrants, saying the eight people need to have rights to defend their cases against accusations.

Shin is being charged with taking illegal profits worth about $105 million by selling Luna tokens when it was near its all-time high without disclosing this move to investors. It happened before the collapse of the TerraUSD and Luna earlier this year, contravening the Capital Market Act. Prosecutors also suspect Shin used customer data from his separate fintech startup called Chai to promote Luna, violating the Electric Financial Transaction Act. The other seven people involved in Terraform were also alleged to have similar charges.

Shin has denied the claims of trading Luna at a market high and violating the customers’ data. Terraform was founded in Singapore in 2018 by Do Kwon and Shin. Shin left Terraform in March 2020 to found Chai and stepped down as CEO of Chai earlier this year.

South Korean prosecutors began the investigation after the crash of the UST-Luna token earlier this year, which wiped out $40 billion in market value. In September, South Korea issued an arrest warrant for another co-founder, Kwon, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, and requested Interpol, the international law enforcement agency, to issue a red notice for Kwon.

Terraform Labs could not be reached for comment.

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Amazon may lay off 20,000 employees, including managers: Report



Amazonmay lay off about 20,000 employees across divisions as the company reevaluates its pandemic-induced hiring spree, according to a media report.

A Computerworld report stated that the tech giant could lay off employees across the company, including distribution centre workers, technology staff, and corporate executives. Staff at all levels will likely be affected, it found.

Last month, the New York Times reported that Amazon plans to lay off approximately 10,000 people, and “the cuts will focus on Amazon’s devices organisation, including the voice-assistant Alexa, as well as at its retail division and in human resources”.

However, according to Computerworld, the layoffs could impact nearly double the number of employees– roughly 6% of the company’s corporate employees and about 1.3% of its global workforce of more than 1.5 million composed primarily of hourly workers.

YourStory could not independently verify the report.

Corporate staff have been told that employees will receive a 24-hour notice and severance pay, in accordance with their company contracts, the Computerworld report noted. “There is a sense of fear among employees in the company as the news has come out,” the report added, quoting a source who was informed directly about the layoff effort.

The layoffs would be the largest staff reduction in Amazon’s history.

“There is no specific department or location mentioned for the cuts; it is across the business. We were told this is as a result of over-hiring during the pandemic and the need for cost-cutting as the company’s financials have been on a declining trend,” the source told Computerworld.

After the New York Times report, Amazon Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy shared some information about role eliminations in a note. Jassy confirmed that layoffs were occurring, though he did not specify the planned number of employees to be laid off.

“Our annual planning process extends into the new year, which means there will be more role reductions as leaders continue to make adjustments. Those decisions will be shared with impacted employees and organisations early in 2023,” Jassy wrote in the message, noting that Amazon had already communicated that layoffs would occur in the Devices and Books businesses, and would be extending a voluntary reduction offer for some employees in the People, Experience, and Technology (PXT) organisation. 

“We haven’t concluded yet exactly how many other roles will be impacted (we know that there will be reductions in our Stores and PXT organisations), but each leader will communicate to their respective teams when we have the details nailed down,” Jassy noted.

Meanwhile, the Computerworld report noted that employees on Amazon’s robotics team have been laid off.

Amazon’s muted third-quarter earnings as well as disappointing fourth-quarter projections led the company’s stock to plummet. Its third-quarter earnings were severely impacted by unpredictable consumer shopping habits and inflation. 

Amazon is likely to lay off several employees in India across divisions, according to media reports. Last month, Amazon confirmed that it will shut down its wholesale unit Amazon Distribution. This is the third business unit to be closed after the e-commerce giant announced the wrapping up of Amazon Academy and the food delivery business in India.

Globally, tech companies have announced layoffs as part of their cost-cutting efforts. In November, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the company had decided to reduce the size of its team by about 13%, cutting over 11,000 jobs. In the same month, Elon Musk reduced half of Twitter’s workforce or about 3,700 jobs at the social media firm.

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Unlock The Entrepreneurial Potential Of Your Team With Employee-Ownership



A strong team of many outperforms even the most hardworking of entrepreneurs on their own. But when hiring employees, freelancers and contractors, how do you ensure they have the same entrepreneurial skills and drive that you do as your company’s owner? Is it unrealistic to expect employees to be motivated and committed to an organisation they didn’t found?

Nicki Sprinz thinks she has cracked the code of unlocking the entrepreneurial potential of your team, and the answer lies in employee ownership. Sprinz is managing director of B-Corp certified ustwo London, a company of over 200 employees, and cofounder of Ada’s List, an 8000-strong community designed to support women working in the tech industry. ustwo has recently become employee-owned and has already seen the benefits of breaking down the distinction between owners and employees.

According to the Employee Ownership Association, this way of working can improve productivity, support more resilient regional economies and empower team members, resulting in them being far more engaged. Sprinz explained the main benefit for entrepreneurs of this model along with practical tips for managing directors and company founders to make the transition to becoming employee-owned.

Employee ownership protects the company

“Being employee-owned means existing team members, who are now partners, feel empowered as owners,” said Sprinz. She believes that this encourages everyone to put in the work to uphold a strong company culture and course-correct if they see anything awry.

Whilst this might not happen automatically, a founder can make it more likely that their team upholds the vision. Sprinz has put frameworks in place to ensure everyone has a voice. “We hold open firesides, have elected partner representatives on the board, and ensure there are regular channels of communication for all team members to be part of growing the culture and living the values,” she said.

Keeping the team on board means protecting the company. “There are no surprises about the direction we are taking with the business,” explained Sprinz. “We involve everyone in the decisions we make on our projects and ensure we are accountable, both commercially and ethically.”

Attract and retain top talent

In a competitive market, how does your company attract and retain the best talent in the world for the benefit of your clients? Employee-ownership could be the solution. Not only does it make job listings stand out, but it attracts individuals who are like-minded and think long term. They are committed to a future with whichever company they choose to join and are prepared to push themselves to make it happen.

“High quality potential recruits and employees are interested in values and purpose,” said Sprinz. “Being able to talk about employee ownership helps you stand out in a tough hiring market. We have several interview stages so a candidate can get to know us as well as we’d like to know them.”

Sprinz’ interview stages aim to weed out “cultural and value mismatches that ultimately lead to an unfulfilled team.” They ask candidates multiple questions about their values and examples of them in practice, and they encourage candidates to probe with questions about ustwo. They also “publicise the salary for all open roles and candidates have the opportunity to meet other members of the team,” she added.

Control quality

When scaling a business, ambitious entrepreneurs cannot afford to let quality slip. Growth at all costs is a false economy that ends with the business back at square one and having to work harder to undo reputational damage. “A more entrepreneurial team ensures quality stays high,” explained Sprinz. Not only do your team members care deeply about the work they do, they also know they benefit from company growth, so they are incentivised to keep raising the bar.

“If your team is invested in the long term financial success of the company, they also feel pride that their work contributes to overall success,” said Sprinz. “They respond by raising the bar on their work.” Sprinz also believes that, “Regular transparent sharing of financial results and metrics maintains dialogue on personal and company impact.”

Direct the future

An employee-owned company has options for the future. The owner might one day want to step aside or sell, and the company’s succession plan will already be in place. In the meantime, the company has hit new heights and progressed with new ideas because its foundations are solid.

Like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you cannot reach self-actualisation without warmth and shelter, and a company cannot break through ceilings with constant recruitment issues. When team members are bought into the company, they are bought into its future too, making more certain outcomes for everyone involved.

“The partner representatives on the board surface the priorities of the rest of the team and ensure the conversations of the board are directed accordingly,” explained Sprinz. “The representatives are actively part of the bigger picture and playing a huge part in shaping the company’s future.”

Unlock the entrepreneurial potential of your team by exploring employee ownership, advised Sprinz. The best people will be proud to tell their friends that they are part-owners of the place they work. They will feel valued and listened to and respond with their effort and devotion. Could employee ownership be the right step forward for you?

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