Friday, October 01, 2010

LAW.COM Newswire Highlights October 1, 2010

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Survey Shows Law Firms' Minority Hiring Is Stagnating
The National Law Journal

New data from the Minority Corporate Counsel Association and provide a grim picture of law firm diversity efforts in a difficult economy. For the first time in seven years, the percentage of minority equity partners remained virtually flat, nudging up from 6.05 percent in 2008 to 6.06 percent in 2009 at the 263 law firms surveyed, according to a report released this week. That finding helped to corroborate fears that diversity efforts have taken a backseat to economic concerns.

Novartis Agrees to Pay More Than $422 Million to Settle Disputes Over Off-Label Marketing
The Legal Intelligencer

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis has agreed to pay more than $422 million in criminal fines and a global settlement of whistleblower suits to resolve allegations it engaged in illegal marketing practices, including alleged kickbacks to health care providers to induce them to prescribe Novartis drugs. U.S. Attorney Zane Memeger said Novartis Pharmaceuticals has agreed to pay a criminal fine and forfeiture of $185 million, and also agreed to pay $237.5 million to resolve civil liabilities for its off-label marketing of six drugs.

U.K. Law Firm Investment Countdown Enters Final Year
The American Lawyer

The long wait for the onset of Alternative Business Structures is almost over. Just 12 months remain until the third and final stage of the Legal Services Act comes into force, permitting U.K. law firms to accept outside equity investment for the first time. Firms are already preparing themselves for a change that many experts believe will fundamentally reshape the profession.

Condo Buyers Win Round in 2nd Circuit in Bid to Exploit Law Firm Typo
New York Law Journal

Condominium buyers who seized on what has been described as a typo in offering documents by a Stroock & Stroock & Lavan lawyer Thursday won a round in the fight to recoup their deposits. But the litigation is not over, despite the decision by the 2nd Circuit, which upheld a lower court's refusal to grant an injunction that would have blocked the release of some $16 million in buyer deposits from an escrow account maintained by the project developer and Stroock client CRP/Extell Parcel I.

BP Pays Record $15 Million Penalty for Clean Air Act Violations
The National Law Journal

In the biggest-ever civil penalty against a single facility for violating the Clean Air Act, BP Products North America has agreed to pay $15 million to resolve federal Clean Air Act violations at its Texas City, Texas, petroleum refinery. The settlement, announced Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department, addresses violations stemming from fires in March 2004 and July 2005 and a leak that occurred in August 2005. The incidents released thousands of pounds of flammable and toxic air pollutants.

2nd Circuit Rejects $35M Pact's 'End Run' Around Liability for Former Executives
New York Law Journal

A district court should not have approved a $35.2 million settlement that would have insulated two former top executives of a body armor company from liability under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. The 2nd Circuit ruled that only the SEC has the authority to exempt the executives from §304 of the act, which requires CEOs and CFOs to reimburse their companies for bonuses and profits from stock sales in the 12 months following the filing of a false financial report.

Lead Attorney Intends to Leave Blagojevich Defense
The Associated Press

Sam Adam Jr., former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's lead attorney, is asking a judge to release him from the defense team ahead of Blagojevich's retrial on corruption charges, according to a Thursday court filing. A nearly $3 million fund Blagojevich drew on at his first trial to pay a team of more than a dozen attorneys has run dry. Now that taxpayers must foot the bill for Blagojevich's defense, federal Judge James Zagel has said he'll allow the impeached governor to have only two attorneys.

Punitives Can Only Exceed Compensatories by 9-1 Ratio, Court Says
The Legal Intelligencer

Slashing a jury's punitive award of $500,000, a federal judge has ruled that the constitutional maximum for punitive awards is ordinarily no more than nine times the compensatory award -- even in cases where the defendant is a repeat violator. U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Savage was harshly critical of TransUnion credit reporting agency, noting that it has repeatedly violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act. But since the jury's compensatory award was just $30,000, he said, the maximum punitive award would be $270,000.

SNR Denton Goes Live
The National Law Journal

After just four months of planning and work, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal and U.K.-based Denton Wilde Sapte have merged to officially become SNR Denton. The new firm, which went live Thursday, has roughly 1,250 lawyers in 48 offices worldwide and estimated annual revenues of $750 million. For compensation, Elliott Portnoy, who is now co-CEO of SNR Denton, said that the firm opted for a more U.S.-style merit-based model as opposed to the lockstep model that is common among U.K.-based firms.

Grand Jury Re-Indicts Former Judge in Pa. 'Kids for Cash' Scandal
The Legal Intelligencer

A federal grand jury has handed down a superseding indictment against former Luzerne County, Pa., Common Pleas Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of the federal honest services fraud statute, according to federal prosecutors. The number of criminal charges against Ciavarella has been reduced from 48 to 39, with three counts of honest services fraud among those dropped. It's the latest twist in a case that has seen several since mid-2009.

Attorney Pleads Guilty in Sex-With-Minor Sting
The National Law Journal

A Los Angeles attorney has pleaded guilty to charges that he traveled to a hotel to meet a 16-year-old girl from Georgia who turned out to be an undercover police detective. Eduardo Brito Leaton pleaded guilty to one count of meeting a minor for lewd purposes and three counts of using a minor for sex acts, according to the Los Angeles County DA's office. Leaton is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 18 to six years in state prison and will have to register as a sex offender for life.

Tips Toward Mastering E-Mail Evidence
Law Technology News

E-mail holds the res gestae statements of the wired world: It's the evidence litigants crave and fear. Yet it still confounds us in electronic data discovery. Craig Ball wraps up his four-part series on e-mail with a look at collection, message IDs, threading, deduplication, and forms of production.
Visit Legal Technology

Fall Into Autumn Fashion for the Office
The Legal Intelligencer

As the sun sets earlier each day and you pack up the beach blankets and boogie boards, it's time to think about transitioning your office wardrobe from summer to fall. Consultant Dana Persia talks about some of the latest trends for fall 2010 and provides tips for both men and women.
Visit News & Views

The Careerist: Women Lawyers, Don't Let Your Wall Street Sisters Quit
The Careerist

Check out some of the latest posts on the blog, The Careerist. Women Lawyers, Don't Let Your Wall Street Sisters Quit And When the Stay-Home Parent Wants to Go Back to Work: A how-to guide Also Law School News: Pushy Mom; Spammed Prof, Spurned Students; Lit Prize
Visit The Careerist

All-Woman Firm Grows From Networking Opportunities
The Connecticut Law Tribune

It all started at a trial lawyers' conference in 2008. Attorney Leslie G. McPadden, who always made a habit of sitting at tables with people she didn't know, introduced herself to attorney Rosa C. Rebimbas. A year later, McPadden and Rebimbas joined forces to form an all-woman firm. Launching a small firm has been a learning experience for the two attorneys. "If you have preconceived notions about the other person or a sense of entitlement, you're set up for failure," Rebimbas said.

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