Monday, August 20, 2007

LAW.COM Newswire Highlights

If newsfeeds are shown on the left side of your screen, the News articles listed below can be viewed in full text by first clicking on the Law.Com Newsfeed and then scrolling down to the appropriate article. If newsfeeds are not displayed on the screen try going to and searching for the items of interest.

Who Represents America's Biggest Companies
Corporate Counsel
For this year's Who Represents America's Biggest Companies survey, Corporate Counsel combed through public records to tally which law firms were being used by the Fortune 250. We found one essential truth at big law departments: Reputation and firepower matter most when something's really important. Just as a cardiac patient will seek the best doctor, companies in litigation or seeking protection of their IP assets will hire the best, and they won't sweat the hourly rate.
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Issue of 'Strategic Recusals' Arises in Key Supreme Court Case
Legal Times
Now that Solicitor General Paul Clement has weighed in on what could be the biggest securities case before the Supreme Court in decades, the next big mystery is how many justices will participate. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and Justice Stephen Breyer initially recused in the case, but rumors are circulating that one or both might rejoin. The notion of justices "unrecusing" causes discomfort among some ethics experts. But a new -- and little-noticed -- federal law may be encouraging the practice.
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SEC Charges Brocade's Former CFO in Backdating Case
The Recorder
Internal strife at the SEC tanked a proposed settlement with Michael Byrd, the former CFO of Brocade Communications. Upset that a million-dollar deal proposed by the SEC's enforcement division wouldn't have barred Byrd from being an accountant at other public companies, the SEC's accounting division scuttled the agreement, said lawyers briefed on the case. Byrd was a key figure in the criminal trial that ended with a conviction of former Brocade CEO Gregory Reyes for backdating stock options.

Firm Kills Billable Hour for First-Year Associates
The National Law Journal
The billable hour: demanding, disparaged and now dead -- at least at one Atlanta-based law firm. Ford & Harrison, a 190-attorney labor and employment firm, has tossed out billable hour requirements for first-year associates. The program aims to close the practical-skills gap of law school education and increase value to clients. "Everyone sits around and complains about the problems," said C. Lash Harrison, managing partner of the firm. "I figured, what the heck, maybe we can try something."

Fired Firm Alleges Client, Co-Counsel Sabotaged Fee
Texas Lawyer
When a legal malpractice suit against Dallas securities attorney Phillip W. Offill Jr. and his former firm settled, the parties seemed happy, but that satisfaction was short-lived. Now a firm that represented plaintiff Consolidated Sports Media Group in that case has filed its own suit against CSMG, its co-counsel and others, alleging it was cut out of the deal. But the new suit raises a separate issue: whether it discloses too much information surrounding the confidential settlement in the prior case.

Federal Circuit Denies Appeal by Attorney 'Wronged' in Court
The National Law Journal
A court's criticism of an attorney -- absent some formal judicial action, such as an explicit reprimand -- is "simply commentary" in the course of an action and not appealable, at least not in the Federal Circuit, according to a recent ruling. Judge William Bryson wrote for the panel that a court order intended to be "'a formal judicial action' in a disciplinary proceeding is an appealable decision, but that other kinds of judicial criticisms of lawyers' actions are not reviewable."

11th Circuit Applies Supreme Court High-Speed Chase Ruling
Fulton County Daily Report
Atlanta lawyer Craig T. Jones said that when the U.S. Supreme Court in April ruled against his case against a police officer over injuries suffered during a high-speed chase, he feared the decision "kind of sealed the fate" of a similar matter pending at the 11th Circuit. He may be right, as a panel last week concluded that they had "no doubt" the high court decision meant that a former officer didn't violate the rights of a man who the officer had been chasing and who died after the two cars collided.

Texas Court Denies Request to Disqualify BP Defense Lawyer
Texas Lawyer
The steering committee of lawyers representing plaintiffs suing BP over a deadly explosion at the company's refinery wants Houston lawyer Ronald Krist off the defense team. But a Texas appeals court has denied a writ of mandamus seeking to overturn a lower court's denial of a motion to disqualify Krist as counsel on the ground that his firm formerly represented four plaintiffs who sought damages from BP after the 2005 explosion. Meanwhile, the first trial in the BP litigation may begin this month.

Pa. Supreme Court Suspends Indicted Judge
The Legal Intelligencer
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has issued an order suspending from duty Superior Court Judge Michael T. Joyce, who was indicted last week on mail fraud and money-laundering charges. Joyce will not suffer a reduction or suspension of his salary or benefits, and can appeal the suspension. He was charged in connection with $440,000 in insurance settlements he received after his state-leased Mercedes Benz was rear-ended, after which he complained of constant pain and other effects, according to the indictment.

Cadwalader Lures Patent Litigator to Launch IP Practice
New York Law Journal
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft has launched an intellectual property practice with a partner from IP boutique Morgan & Finnegan. IP is a new practice area for Cadwalader, best known for its capital markets area. In recent months, the firm has also recruited high-profile lateral partners to boost its antitrust and bankruptcy practices.

You Call That a Notice of Appeal?
Special to
Despite the relative simplicity of drafting and filing a notice of appeal, sometimes licensed attorneys as well as pro se litigants manage to foul up the process, writes Howard J. Bashman. The appellate litigator looks in particular at two recent federal appellate court cases that demonstrate the hazards for even an experienced practitioner.

Web 2.0 Won't Eat Your Mouse
New Jersey Law Journal
Successful law firms see the need for expedient knowledge management and author Susan Ward says Web 2.0 can fill the bill. Web 2.0 isn't just about software, it’s also about delivering services through dynamic applications in a free information market. The key to Web 2.0 is interactivity, social networking and collaboration where blogs, podcasts and wikis openly roam. Law firms should not fear Web 2.0 -- they should learn to utilize its technologies or lose market share, valuable time and efficiency.
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Sonnenschein Nath's Expansion Plan Proceeds Slowly
The National Law Journal
Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal is adding new partners at its fastest clip ever and has added three new offices this year, yet attorney head count is expanding only slowly toward a 2009 target of more than 1,000 lawyers. Despite signing up 20 lateral partners so far this year, the total number of attorneys at the firm has grown by five -- to 650 -- because some attorneys are exiting as the firm sharpens its strategic focus, says firm Chairman Elliott Portnoy.
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Saving Good Judgment From the BlackBerry Culture
Special to
In our current BlackBerry culture, 24/7 availability is assumed, and many view turning the BlackBerry off as professional sacrilege. But Jenner & Block managing partner Gregory Gallopoulos worries that an extreme emphasis on responsiveness jeopardizes a far more important attribute of professional excellence: judgment. He says lawyers and law firms need to resist the BlackBerry culture to the extent necessary to ensure that they don't permit their judgment to become impaired as they strive to be responsive.
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