DLA Piper works with FBI as it grapples with malware attack, says client data appears unaffected

Law Firms

DLA Piper Logo



DLA Piper is working with forensic experts and law enforcement agencies following a widespread malware attack on Tuesday that forced the law firm to shut down its computer systems as a precautionary measure.

There is no evidence to suggest any client data has been affected, DLA Piper said in a statement released Wednesday.

The law firm ordered the shutdown of its computer systems after its advanced warning system detected suspicious activity on the network, the statement said.

“Our experts are working to bring our systems back online as quickly and safely as possible,” the statement said, “and we are aiming for our email system to be up and running by (Wednesday) evening European time.”

Landline phones were also down Wednesday, though lawyers could be contacted on their cellphones. “People are managing surprisingly well and using personal emails,” an unidentified London partner told Legal Week (sub. req.). “It’s annoying. We’re running around trying to keep clients happy. Clients are—so far—being understanding.”

The malware appeared to be a variant of Petya, the statement said. The firm is working with “the relevant authorities,” including the FBI and the UK National Crime Agency.

Several multinational companies were also hit in Tuesday’s attack, report Law360 (sub. req.) and Bloomberg BNA. It followed a hacking attack last month that shut down British health care systems.

Computers hit in the latest attack displayed a message stating that files have been encrypted, and users would need to pay $300 to access them, the New York Times reports. The story indicates the virus had spread to DLA Piper’s Australian branches.

Experts told Law360 that companies and law firms can prevent the spread of malware with a standard incident response, segmented networks, and policies that limit network access to vital personnel.

DLA Piper appeared to have benefited by segmenting networks, according to Law360. Although its phone and email systems across the United States and Europe appear to have been compromised, people at its offices in Toronto and Vancouver, Canada, and in San Juan, Puerto Rico, said their systems weren’t affected, the story reports.

Experts also said it’s important to stress the basics: Make sure system patches that prevent vulnerabilities are in place and teach employees not to click on suspicious emails. Some experts indicated, however, that the latest virus was able to take hold even though companies had installed the latest patches.

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What hacks have you learned from years of business travel?

Question of the Week

business travel


Traveling can be a fun adventure or a hellish affair. In our July cover story, we talk to lawyers about their own strategies for efficient and even enjoyable business travel. We also showcase 13 different tech tools that help take the hassle out of business trips.

This week, we’d like to hear from you. What hacks have you learned from years of business travel?

Answer in the comments.

Read the answers to last week’s question: Do you use social media to market your professional efforts?

Featured answer:

Posted by Public Interest: “Yes, we use it as much as possible to reach out to the bar and clients about our work. My issue is the amount of time it takes to service all of the platforms. The interface and presentation a firm or lawyer has on social media communicates volumes about their practice. So yes to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and two websites—a statewide and law firm site.”

Do you have an idea for a question of the week? If so, contact us.

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ABC settles suit claiming ‘pink slime’ stories defamed beef company

Verdicts & Settlements

ground beef

At the time the ABC News story ran in 2012, about 70 percent of ground beef on the market contained “lean, finely textured beef,” a product dubbed “pink slime” by its critics.


ABC News on Wednesday settled a $1.9 billion defamation lawsuit claiming its stories about a ground beef product labeled “pink slime” by the network had damaged the business that produces it.

The suit settled for an undisclosed amount during a trial of the claims in South Dakota, report the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.), the Sioux City Journal and Reuters.

ABC News could potentially have been held liable for nearly $6 billion under a state law that triples damages for knowingly lying about a food product’s safety, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The plaintiff, Beef Products Inc., had claimed the network falsely portrayed the meat product as unhealthy and “not beef,” though it is safe to eat and nutritious. The product, which is added to ground beef, is made from beef chunks and defatted trimmings that are chemically treated to kill contaminants.

The report by ABC correspondent Jim Avila had said the product was made “with beef trimmings…once used only in dog food.” The report said the trimmings were “sprayed with ammonia to make them safe to eat and then added to most ground beef as a cheaper filler.”

Dan Webb, a lawyer for the company, said in a statement outside the South Dakota courthouse that “we are extraordinarily pleased with this settlement,” according to coverage by the Sioux City Journal. “I believe we have totally vindicated the product,” he said.

ABC correspondent Jim Avila said he realized the settlement was a business decision by the network and he wished jurors had been able to hear his side of the story. A statement by ABC said the company concluded that continued litigation was not in its interests, and it has maintained its reports accurately portrayed the facts.

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Sarah Palin sues New York Times for alleged defamation in editorial

First Amendment

Sarah Palin/Andrew F. Kazmierski (Shutterstock.com)


Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin claims in a suit filed on Tuesday that the New York Times defamed her in an editorial that linked her to a 2011 mass shooting that claimed the life of a federal judge and five others.

The suit (PDF) claimed the Times “falsely stated as a matter of fact” that Palin had incited the January 2011 attack, and then used that false assertion “as an artifice to exploit” the June 14 shooting of Republican lawmakers at a baseball practice. The Washington Post, the Post’s Eric Wemple Blog, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) have stories.

The Times editorial, which was later corrected, said that Palin’s political action committee had circulated a map of targeted electoral districts before the 2011 shooting that placed 20 Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords, under stylized crosshairs. Giffords was wounded in the 2011 attack. “The link to political incitement was clear,” the original version of the editorial stated.

The Times later issued a correction saying the crosshairs were placed over targeted electoral districts, not the politicians, and there was no established link between political rhetoric and the shooting six years ago.

The Times editorial was published on June 14, the same day that a gunman opposed to President Donald Trump opened fire at a congressional baseball practice. The Times said the more recent attack was probably evidence of how vicious American politics has become, and was “indisputably” evidence of how easy it is to access guns.

Palin’s suit claims the Times had previously published articles acknowledging no connection between Palin and the 2011 shooting. The complaint also takes the Times to task for issuing a correction that fails to use Palin’s name. The entire editorial should have been retracted, and Palin should have gotten an apology, the suit says.

A spokesperson for the Times said the newspaper would “defend against any claim vigorously.”

The Eric Wemple Blog says Palin’s legal argument is convincing, though two experts contacted by the blog believed the editorial would be protected.

University of Florida professor Clay Calvert told the blog that any statement of incitement “was used in a loose, figurative and rhetorical sense rather than a literal, legal one.” The fact that the statement appeared in an editorial “adds to the idea that reasonable readers of the New York Times, also knowing its usually liberal political editorial viewpoint, would treat this as protected opinion.”

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Theodore Boutrous predicted the lawsuit “will get publicity for Ms. Palin, but nothing else.”

“The Times opinion piece is plainly opinion,” Boutrous told the blog. “They quickly corrected it in response to reactions once it was published, and the First Amendment provides breathing space and protection for such statements absent clear and convincing evidence of actual malice.”

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Steptoe accused of pay bias in class action by female contract lawyer promoted to associate

Law Firms



Updated: A contract lawyer who was promoted to associate at Steptoe & Johnson claims in a pay-bias lawsuit that she made less money than male associates with similar experience.

The proposed class action by lawyer Ji-In Houck says she is aware of other female attorneys at the firm who were also paid less than men, report the Recorder (sub. req.) and Courthouse News Service.

Houck’s suit (PDF) says she was paid less than male associates who began practicing law in 2011, the year she received her law license. Houck says the pay discrimination occurred while she was working as a contract lawyer doing associate work, and after she was promoted to associate.

“Not only are Steptoe’s male attorneys paid more (in base salary and in bonuses),” the suit says, “they are
routinely given higher profile work assignments, and are recognized for their accomplishments, while female attorneys are not. Additionally, Steptoe advances the careers of its male attorneys more quickly than its female attorneys.”

The law firm says Houck’s allegations are without merit.

Houck says she was paid $85,000 when she began working in Los Angeles at the firm’s Century City office as a contract lawyer in 2013. Before she joined the firm, Houck said she had worked elsewhere as a litigation associate for two years.

Houck claims she did the same work at Steptoe as associates, yet her contract pay was almost half the amount paid to associates admitted to the bar in 2011, the suit says.

After receiving one raise, Houck was promoted in June 2014 to associate and paid $130,000. Male associates with the same number of years of experience were paid $175,000, the suit says. Though her pay was boosted to $160,000 the next year, her male counterparts were making $210,000, the suit says.

The firm gave raised Houck’s pay to $200,000 in March 2016, retroactive to January, but she left Steptoe that same month.

Houck says she received ratings of “exceptional” and “excellence” throughout her career at Steptoe.

Steptoe & Johnson issued this statement: “Steptoe is a strong supporter of women lawyers and professionals. Women serve on the firm’s executive committee and the nominating committee; two of the four departments are headed by women; the firm’s general counsel is a woman; the immediate past chair of the associates committee was a woman; and half of the partners on the compensation committee are women, including the co-chair. In January 2016, the firm promoted a new partner class that was 50 percent female, and in January 2017, the new partner class was 80 percent female.

“The allegations of associate pay discrimination in this lawsuit by a former junior associate who was hired as a contract attorney and stayed with the firm for less than three years are completely without merit, and we will vigorously defend ourselves against such baseless claims.”

Updated at 11:54 a.m. to correct spelling of Houck in seventh graf.

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