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MEYERS, NAVE PARTNER TO HEAD STATE FPPC Liane Randolph, a partner at Meyers, Nave, Riback, Silver & Wilson, is leaving the firm to chair California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. Randolph, 37, has been appointed to the post by Gov. Gray Davis and will receive a salary of $117,818. Since 2001, Randolph has not only worked at Meyers, Nave, but has also served as city attorney of San Leandro. And her move to the commission is something of a return to her roots — she was formerly a staff counsel for the FPPC. Randolph earned her J.D. from UCLA School of Law in 1993. “I am really looking forward to the job. Since I’ve been representing local officials as city attorney of San Leandro, I have special interest in conflict-of-interest issues,” she said. “The toughest part of leaving is leaving San Leandro,” said Randolph, who will now split her time between Oakland and Sacramento. “But I am really honored and really excited to serve.” — Jason Dearen CRAVATH WILL CLOSE HONG KONG OFFICE NEW YORK — For a custom-made suit at less than the cost in New York or London, Hong Kong has long been the place to go. Much to their dismay, some lawyers say that distinction appears to apply in the market for legal services as well. “In Hong Kong, there is a tremendous emphasis on low-cost work,” said Robert Joffe, the presiding partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Cravath does not do low-cost work, said Joffe, and that is why the firm announced Monday it plans to close its Hong Kong office over the next two months. In so doing, Cravath follows Dewey Ballantine, which announced plans in January to end its Hong Kong presence by the end of this month. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe have both announced plans to close offices in Singapore. But the closing of Hong Kong offices by two major New York law firms is particularly significant because the former British colony has long been the primary base of operations in Asia for law firms, banks and multinational corporations. For Cravath, Hong Kong was just one of three offices, the others being New York and London. Hong Kong was also Dewey’s only Asian office. The decision to close the 9-year-old Hong Kong office was not based on the current slow economic climate, said Joffe. “If we thought this was just a business-cycle issue, we’d be more inclined to stick it out,” he said. “The work in Asia just doesn’t command the kind of premiums we can get for our work elsewhere.” Dewey Chairman Everett Jassy said his firm also had faced low returns from its seven-lawyer Hong Kong office, which opened in 1995 to go after project finance work in mainland China. That goal failed to pan out, he said, and more recently the office had been refocused on capital markets work. — The New York Law Journal SUIT SAYS SEAT BELTS FAULTY IN ACCIDENT NEW YORK — Claims that DaimlerChrysler’s Gen-3 seat belt sometimes opens when it is most needed have gained momentum in Texas, where a new suit alleges that six of seven belts were inadvertently opened during a fatal rollover accident. The suit in the Harris County district court alleges that the seat belt — designed with a controversial, protruding release button — failed to restrain six occupants of a 1996 Chrysler minivan. The vehicle overturned on Dec. 29. Two people were killed and a child was left paralyzed. Mendoza v. DaimlerChrysler, 2003-13274. The plaintiffs are represented by William “Billie” Edwards III. In July 2000, Edwards won a $6.7 million judgment in a similar suit alleging that the belt unlatched during a minivan rollover. Moran v. Chrysler, 97-60542. (Nueces Co., Texas, Dist. Ct.). The case is on appeal to the Texas Thirteenth Court of Appeals. Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy organization, has gathered reports attributing 14 deaths and 19 serious injuries to alleged Gen-3 unlatchings. The group claims to have documented 138 reported unlatchings from consumers. DaimlerChrysler, in a written statement, denied any defect in the belt, asserting it has “an excellent safety record spanning the past decade.” The company declined to comment specifically on Mendoza, but said that in similar suits it “has found substantial evidence that the seat belt simply was not being worn.” — The National Law Journal

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