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PILLSBURY DOWNSIZES IN VIRGINIA OFFICE Pillsbury Winthrop’s Northern Virginia office has lost the key players in its corporate practice. Two partners and two associates in the office’s corporate department will be leaving Pillsbury, according to William Atkins, managing partner of the firm’s Northern Virginia office. While the office has other attorneys who do corporate work, the four departing attorneys are the only ones focused on corporate work full time. “Due to the economic downturn, the firm’s management and two partners in our corporate practice reviewed our strategic objectives and decided that current activity was not at a level to support their practice,” said Atkins. Atkins would not disclose the names of the departing partners or provide specific reasons for the moves. He noted that the departures were completely amicable. “These are wonderful, fine attorneys,” said Atkins. The corporate group has always been a small part of Pillsbury’s 60-lawyer Northern Virginia office, which focuses for the most part on intellectual property and labor. Still, Atkins said the firm was committed to having a corporate practice in Northern Virginia and would rebuild. — Alexei Oreskovic LAYOFFS AND HIRINGS AT PAUL HASTINGS The San Francisco office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker has laid off four associates even as it continues to grow its overall ranks. “We have let go of four corporate associates in two niche practices. But we’re also hiring seven or eight more people,” said Kirby Wilcox, the chair of the San Francisco office. Three of the terminated associates worked in the firm’s financial services practice, and the fourth was in the health care group. The decision was made last week, said Wilcox, after many hours of analysis. “If we thought that there was a turnaround coming within the next few months we would have hung on,” said Wilcox, “but we don’t see evidence that the sectors of the economy on which those practices are dependent turning around in the near term.” The associates will receive “months” of severance and health care benefits, though the exact details are confidential. Meanwhile, Wilcox stressed that the San Francisco office is hiring a couple of lateral associates and will welcome its fall class in a few weeks. The bulk of the new hires will go to the firm’s employment practice, with some others going to the litigation and investment management groups. — Alexei Oreskovic NO NEW BALLOTS ON REORGANIZATION PLAN Creditors voting on the dueling reorganization plans for bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will not be asked to re-cast their ballots. At a hearing Monday afternoon, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali squelched what could have become a complex and contentious front in the PG&E Chapter 11 case when he denied an injunction request by the California Public Utilities Commission. According to a complaint filed by the commission last week, letters sent to creditors by PG&E misrepresent the CPUC’s alternative plan of reorganization. Roughly 74,000 creditors must vote for either PG&E’s reorganization plan, the CPUC’s rival plan, or both by August 12. Speaking for the CPUC, attorney Alan Kornberg said PG&E’s vote solicitation letters and telephone scripts contained “probably a half a dozen statements that we think are blatantly wrong.” Chief among these are statements deriding the value of the stock and bond offerings called for in the commission’s reorganization plan. Kornberg asked the court to extend the voting deadline by a month, and to mail creditors a new ballot along with a letter clearing up the statements and giving creditors the chance to vote again. PG&E lawyers warned that it too would ask for corrective measures if the court ruled in favor of the CPUC. But after taking a brief respite to consider the issue, Judge Montali ruled that any damage to the commission’s plan was still speculative. “I’m going to deny the request because the likelihood of harm to the commission has not been demonstrated,” said Montali. — Alexei Oreskovic PEOPLE CAN LOOK FOR DAILY WORK ON STREETS A Los Altos city ordinance banning day workers from soliciting work on public sidewalks violates First Amendment speech rights, a federal judge in San Jose ruled. U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel issued a preliminary injunction barring the city from enforcing a section of an ordinance that makes it unlawful for workers standing, sitting or walking on a sidewalk to solicit work from motorists in posted no-solicitation zones. “Because solicitation is so broadly defined, and because the ordinance purports to regulate not only the roadway but also the entire sidewalk area, the ordinance on its face restricts protected as well as unprotected speech,” wrote Fogel. “Taken literally, the ordinance also would appear to prohibit a business owner from posting a sign on or even adjacent to the sidewalk encouraging passing motorists to patronize his or her business.” The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Santa Clara County — which ran a day laborer center in Los Altos — backed by the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund, sued the city in February, challenging the constitutionality of the law. Los Altos argued the ordinance helped to prevent traffic jams and sidewalk obstacles. The groups also approached neighboring Mountain View about its similar ordinance. Mountain View agreed to lift the ban. Fogel refused to stop enforcement of a part of the ordinance prohibiting drivers from soliciting pedestrians. Morrison & Foerster partner Anna Erickson White, who is representing St. Vincent pro bono, said she was delighted with the ruling and hopes it will spark interest again in negotiations. Joan Gallo of San Jose’s Realty Law, who is representing Los Altos, said it’s too early to say if her client will return to the table. — Shannon Lafferty

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