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MALIBU — Debra Pole had apparently had enough. The star litigator is at the center of a civil trial over her exit from the small Santa Monica firm of Dickson, Carlson & Campillo to Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in 1995. As she testified in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday, she growled at Brian Lysaght, the lawyer representing Dickson in its suit against Pole and Brobeck, for repeatedly calling her “ma’am.” “You promised not to call me ‘ma’am’ if I didn’t call you ‘sir,’” Pole said sharply. “I thought you were kidding,” Lysaght said, sounding surprised. “Who knew?” The tension in the courtroom shouldn’t be surprising. At stake in Dickson’s suit is as much as $30 million that the firm’s partners are seeking from Pole and Brobeck. Dickson claims that Pole and William Fitzgerald — a fellow partner who also jumped to Brobeck — shared proprietary information that enabled the firm to snag Dickson’s top client, Baxter Healthcare Corp. Pole was the national coordinating counsel and trial counsel for Baxter’s silicone breast implant litigation. The Baxter work represented about 60 percent of Dickson’s business and soon after Pole’s exit, Dickson went under. Lysaght, a partner at Santa Monica’s O’Neill, Lysaght & Sun, spent much of Thursday trying to chase the paper trail between Brobeck and the two partners. Pole was questioned about billing information she shared with Brobeck before she left her old firm. Lysaght displayed a document that former Brobeck partner George Link put together that described the work that Brobeck would get after the firm hired Pole. The so-called “pro forma” report was written after Pole attended a dinner at Link’s house in 1995. Lysaght compared the document to a Dickson report on the average billable hours its employees had generated in a given month and asked Pole if she had given the document to Link. “I gave him the front page” of the report, Pole said. “It had my hours . . . I didn’t give any hours report to anybody.” Lysaght then said that the hours listed in the Dickson report for two of the firm’semployees were identical to the numbers attributed to them in Link’s report on Baxter Healthcare. In further questioning by Brobeck attorney Jean Bertrand, a partner at San Francisco’s Morgenstein & Jubelirer, Pole said Link had suggested that the two of them go to Baxter and get a commitment from the company that it would follow her to Brobeck. “I told him I could not do that,” Pole said. “I said I think I need an attorney with expertiseon how to quit the job right.” Bertrand asked why she felt she needed an attorney, and Pole replied: “He was asking me to do things I was worried about doing. I have a good sense of right and wrong, and this didn’t seem right to me.” Later Thursday, Pole’s partner, Fitzgerald — who settled out of the suit last week acknowledged that he passed along financial information about Dickson to Brobeck before he jumped ship. Lysaght asked Fitzgerald if he knew Brobeck would use these documents to develop a pricing proposal to obtain Baxter’s business. “If I knew the document would be misused — I’m not saying it was — I wouldn’t have given it,” Fitzgerald said. “I would have come up with another way to give them the information.” Fitzgerald said he intended the information he passed along to be used to assess his compensation and to assure Baxter’s needs could be met ifthe clientfollowed Pole and Fitzgerald to Brobeck. Lysaght displayed a series of documents that Fitzgerald said he shared with Brobeck, including a Dickson year-end financial statement; the firm’s statement of revenues and expenses for June 1995; two amendments to the firm’s building lease; an analysis of the firm’s future minimum lease commitment; a chart of Dickson’s breast implant litigation team; and the firm’s hours report for August 1995. Lysaght also pressed Fitzgerald on whether Pole solicited him to join Brobeck prior to her departure. Fitzgerald replied he understood that she was inviting him to join Brobeck when she told him about her negotiations with the San Francisco firm.

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