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SPECIAL HEARING SET THURSDAY FOR 17200 SACRAMENTO — The Assembly Judiciary Committee has scheduled a special hearing Thursday to evaluate several bills that would reform the state unfair competition law. Although legislators usually travel back to their districts on Thursdays, the new hearing date means committee members will have to change their plans or risk being shut out of the public debate over whether to reform the unfair competition statute, Business & Professions Code � 17200. The hearing is a response to a hard line taken by Republican Assembly leaders. Last week, Republicans and Democrats negotiated a deal to waive some bill deadlines. The group of 17200 bills should have been heard by May 2, but, in the deal, Republicans agreed to give the committee until Friday. The committee chair, East Bay Democrat Ellen Corbett, said last week she wanted even more time and was going to try to hold the hearing May 13. She said she needed the extra days to finish working out her own proposal to reform 17200, and she wanted to give stakeholders an opportunity to prepare for the hearing. Tort reformers have been trying to reform 17200 for several years. This year they gained momentum when several plaintiffs firms came under scrutiny by the State Bar, the attorney general’s office and federal authorities for using 17200 to try to leverage settlements out of thousands of small businesses in Southern California. — Jeff Chorney MORGAN, LEWIS HIRES EX-BROBECK PARTNER Veteran Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison partner Thomas Kellerman became managing partner of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius’ Palo Alto office Monday. Kellerman most recently was managing partner of Brobeck Hale and Dorr, a European joint venture between Brobeck and Boston’s Hale and Dorr. When Brobeck announced in January that it was disbanding, Hale and Dorr immediately assumed responsibility for the joint venture, which has operations in London, Munich and Oxford. Kellerman, who joined Brobeck in 1980 after obtaining his law degree from UCLA School of Law, served as managing partner of the firm’s Palo Alto office from 1996 to 1998. His practice focuses on emerging growth companies and securities matters, including public and private financings, mergers and acquisitions and corporate governance. “Our success in bringing Tom on board and his returning to his roots in Palo Alto demonstrate our firm’s commitment to the technology sector, Northern California and our clients,” Morgan, Lewis Chairman Francis Milone said in a statement. “We expect to continue to expand our presence throughout California in the coming months.” Morgan, Lewis currently has 17 lawyers in its Palo Alto office. — Brenda Sandburg REED SMITH LANDS BUCHALTER ATTORNEY Reed Smith Crosby Heafey lured away the chair of Buchalter Nemer Fields & Younger’s San Francisco mortgage banking practice group this week. David Sturgeon-Garcia, 38, is a trial attorney who specializes in defending lenders and other businesses in class actions. He recently argued two such cases on behalf of Ameriquest Mortgage Co. and New Century Mortgage Corp. before the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, he said. Sturgeon Garcia was also chair of Buchalter’s San Francisco litigation group. Reed’s financial services group “is very strong firmwide, and we want to build that here,” said Thomas Allen, a Pittsburgh-based Reed Smith banking litigator who has moved to Los Angeles to help build the firm’s West Coast banking talent. Allen has worked with Sturgeon-Garcia on several class action cases over the years. Reed Smith merged with Crosby Heafey Roach & May on Jan. 1. The union gave Reed Smith offices on the West Coast and Crosby’s litigation talent, but the firm has been trying to build its California banking expertise — Reed’s traditional strength. Another Buchalter attorney, Joseph Lynyak, left for Reed Smith about two months ago. Lynyak specializes in regulatory compliance in the banking industry. There are roughly 25 Reed Smith attorneys who work on banking and finance issues who are based in California, Allen said. — Jahna Berry

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