Wednesday, September 29, 2010

LAW.COM Newswire Highlights September 29, 2010

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Akin Gump, Orrick Explore Merger Possibility
New York Law Journal

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld confirmed Tuesday that they are engaged in "preliminary discussions" about the possibility of combining, potentially reshaping the legal landscape by creating a more than 1,800-lawyer firm with revenues of more than $1.5 billion. News of the potential deal comes amid renewed interest in mergers among the United States' law firms, with activity picking up after a drop-off in the recession.

Flat Demand, Price Pressures Behind Ominous Legal Jobs Forecast, Says Hildebrandt
The American Lawyer

An analysis of the legal job market by Hildebrandt Baker Robbins shows that nearly 27 percent of the 65,000 non-partner positions at Am Law 200 firms could be cut or recategorized as lower-paying positions over the next five to seven years. According to Hildebrandt managing director Lisa Smith, roughly 17,500 jobs could disappear within that time frame. As Smith sees it, what's happening in the legal industry is a microcosm of the overall economic picture.

Scores of Lawyers Apply for Lead Counsel in BP Litigation
The National Law Journal

More than 100 lawyers who are suing BP over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have applied for coveted places on the committee that will lead the multidistrict litigation, citing either the extensive work they've already done or the unique role they would fill as the representative of a specific group of alleged victims. The plaintiffs' steering committee will conduct discovery, decide which motions to file and pocket the largest attorney fees in what stands to become one of the largest mass torts in history.

Supreme Court Grants 14 New Cases, With Kagan Recused in 4
The National Law Journal

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted review in 14 new cases to be argued in its new term. The order list is the product of the Court's so-called "long conference" Monday at which, in private, it considered the thousands of petitions that have piled up during the summer recess. The list also indicated that Justice Elena Kagan has decided to recuse in four of the new cases, which makes for a total of 25 cases out of the 54 the Court has granted review so far in which Kagan will not participate.

Texas Law Professor Encounters Campus Gunman
Texas Lawyer

Tuesday was not a typical morning for Randall B. Wilhite, an adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law. As the Fullenweider Wilhite shareholder drove to the school, he heard "a loud burst of noise" and saw a man, wearing a ski mask and carrying what appeared to be an assault rifle, run in front of his car and fire several shots to the left of his vehicle. Authorities later confirmed that the gunman fatally shot himself.

Supreme Court Will Release Argument Audio on Delayed Basis
The National Law Journal

The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that, starting next week, it will post the audio of all its oral arguments on the Friday after they occur. Since the Court only hears arguments on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, that means the release will be several days after the fact, making it of little use for contemporary reports by the news media. The justices have been under pressure from Congress in recent years to allow video and audio access to the Court's proceedings.

W.Va. Justice Reverses Self, Recuses in Malpractice Case
The National Law Journal

West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Judge Menis Ketchum has reversed course and decided to recuse himself in a pending case on damage caps in malpractice cases, an issue on which he had taken a stand during his election campaign. A plaintiffs lawyer filed a motion for recusal last week after reading media reports that, during the 2008 election, Ketchum had said of the Medical Professional Liability Act, "I will not vote to overturn it. I will not vote to change it. I will not vote to modify it."

Court Ponders Whether 'Thumbs Up' Is an Overt Act for Conspiracy Purposes
New Jersey Law Journal

The New Jersey Supreme Court on Monday set out to determine whether a "thumbs up" and an encouraging word between co-defendants can amount to an overt act in furtherance of a continuing criminal conspiracy, and whether those out-of-court communications can be admitted into evidence. The appeals panel had cited the court decision that found Army Specialist Sabrina Harman's thumbs-up gestures in photographs with Abu Ghraib detainees signaled approval and encouragement to her co-conspirators.

Federal Judge Blocks Calif. Execution
The Associated Press

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked what would have been California's first execution in nearly five years. Judge Jeremy Fogel canceled the execution of rapist-murderer Albert Greenwood Brown after the 9th Circuit ordered him to reconsider his decision using different legal standards. Fogel said he halted the execution because he didn't have enough time to decide the weighty constitutional issues Brown raised before his scheduled execution at 9 p.m. Thursday.

Juvenile Detention Facility's Insurer Has No Duty to Defend 'Kids-for-Cash' Suits, Says Judge
The Legal Intelligencer

Gregory Zappala, owner of the juvenile detention facility at the heart of Pennsylvania's "kids-for-cash" scandal, suffered a setback this week when a federal judge ruled his insurer has no duty to defend him in a spate of civil suits. Prosecutors have never charged Zappala with any wrongdoing, but the civil suits allege he was part of a RICO conspiracy and was aware kickbacks were being paid by his former partner to judges in order to guarantee youths would be sent to a facility owned by Zappala's company.

Brazilian Bar Concludes Foreign Law Firm Alliances Break Rules
The American Lawyer

The legal market in Brazil has been particularly active in recent months, with firms like Milbank and Gibson Dunn announcing they were opening Brazilian offices. But a recent ethical and disciplinary panel opinion of the Sao Paulo Bar illustrates the mounting tension over the influx of foreign firms into one of the world's fastest-growing economies. Although only advisory, the opinion indicates where a more formal ruling might fall if a case were brought against major U.S. firms operating in Brazil in alliance with local firms.
Visit International News

The Role of Social Media in Sentencing Advocacy
New York Law Journal

Embarrassing Facebook photos and regrettable MySpace statements are starting to become commonplace in pre-sentencing reports and disposition hearings. But attorney Ken Strutin also sees potential in these sites to generate mitigating evidence for the defense to present at sentencing.
Visit Legal Technology

Commentary: What Makes Satisfied Lawyers Tick?
The American Lawyer

What makes satisfied attorneys tick and what can be done to increase their ranks? That's the question presented by Steven Harper, adjunct professor at Northwestern University and a recently retired partner from Kirkland & Ellis. Does it help for large firms to resist an MBA mentality?
Visit News & Views

The Careerist: Law School News About Pushy Mom, Spammed Prof, Spurned Students
The Careerist

Check out some of the latest posts on the blog, The Careerist. Law School News: Pushy Mom; Spammed Prof, Spurned Students; Lit Prize Also So That's What Men Do! Also My Date With Speed Mentors
Visit The Careerist

10 Items for Your Law Firm Marketing 'To-Do' List
The Legal Intelligencer

Like clockwork every fall -- once the summer ends and kids go back to school -- consultant Stacy West Clark's phone starts ringing with calls from law firms that see a long fall and winter ahead and are re-energized to rev up their business development activities. So, Clark has created a fall marketing "to-do" list of things to get firms going. Among the items Clark suggests: Audit the experience of being a client, put together a public record of your accomplishments and mandate that associates get involved.® 120 Broadway, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10271-1101, Customer Service Phone: (877) 256-CIRC

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