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A partner from the former Flehr Hohbach Test Albritton & Herbert intellectual property boutique is miffed at the payment he received following Flehr’s merger with Minneapolis-based Dorsey & Whitney. Richard Backus, who left the firm several months before the May merger, filed suit against Flehr last month seeking $275,000 in damages for breach of a January 1998 partnership agreement. Specifically, the complaint says Flehr has not paid what is due him from a capital account, accounts receivable and distribution of net contingent collections and residual funds. Backus, who spent more than 20 years at Flehr, declined to comment on the suit, which was filed Dec. 19 in San Francisco Superior Court. Partners of the former Flehr firm are talking to Backus to try to resolve the dispute. “I don’t know the theory of his case,” said Robert Chickering, a former Flehr partner who now heads Dorsey & Whitney’s Northern California offices. “We think we’ve followed the partnership agreement.” Chickering said the firm has had disputes with other partners, but none have been similar to this one. Former Flehr partner Donald MacIntosh filed suit against his colleagues before the merger with Dorsey & Whitney was finalized. He claimed he was being mistreated because he declined to go along with the deal and sought more time to transition out of the firm. Law firm consultant Peter Zeughauser said suits by partners seeking capital contributions after a merger “occur very infrequently.” However, recruiter and consultant Katherine Patterson said patent firms face a particular problem since younger partners aren’t sticking around to invest capital to keep the firms intact. “Law firms are pyramid schemes and this is about a pyramid scheme gone bad — people who don’t get their money out want it.”

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