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WILSON PARTNER JUMPS TO SHEARMAN Shearman & Sterling has lured partner Carmen Chang away from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati this week. Shearman partners voted Chang into the partnership Tuesday, and she started work in the firm’s Menlo Park office Wednesday. While at Wilson Sonsini, Chang built a practice that specialized in representing U.S.- and Asia-based companies in cross-border transactions. Chang said that as her practice grew, she was feeling a pinch because Wilson lacked overseas offices, particularly in China. “I really wanted to be part of a law firm that had global capabilities,” Chang said, because “so many of my companies do transactions that require an infrastructure in Asia.” John Wilson, the managing partner of Shearman’s Bay Area offices, said Chang was a perfect fit for his efforts to build up the firm’s West Coast presence. “She has strong local ties and also has strong and unique cultural skills,” Wilson said. Chang was born in Nanjing, China, and is fluent in Mandarin and Cantonese. She said she has sat across the deal table from Shearman’s Asia-based lawyers in the past and took a liking to them, which encouraged her to move to Shearman. The New York-based firm has offices in Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore. Chang began her career at Wilson Sonsini in 1994, when she joined as a first-year associate. She had worked as a summer associate at the firm while attending Stanford Law School, where she graduated in 1993. Chang moved up the ranks quickly and became a partner in 2001. – Renee Deger DAVIS NAMES FOUR TO SAN DIEGO BENCH SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gray Davis gave the nod to an eclectic group of attorneys and commissioners to fill in vacancies in San Diego County Superior Court, his office announced Wednesday. The new judges are Robert Dahlquist, a partner at Latham & Watkins’ San Diego office; Commissioner Patricia Garcia, who oversees child support cases; Randa Trapp, an attorney with Sempra Energy; and Commissioner Theodore Weathers, a former assistant district attorney in New York. Dahlquist, 46, was one of the lead attorneys in the Stringfellow environmental case in Riverside. He attended the University of Chicago Law School. Garcia, 42, became a commissioner in 2000. Before that, she was at Seltzer Caplan McMahon Vitek in San Diego. She attended the University of San Diego School of Law. Trapp, 48, has been with Sempra since 1995 and previously was a deputy attorney general handling criminal appeals. She attended Georgetown University Law Center. Weathers, 47, left the New York DA’s office in 1985 and eventually went to work in the San Diego public defender’s office. He graduated from New York Law School. All the judges will receive a salary of $139,476. – Jeff Chorney NEW ORANGE COUNTY MANAGER FOR MOFO Morrison & Foerster has tapped partner Thomas Umberg to manage the firm’s 40-lawyer Orange County office in Irvine. Umberg, a litigator who specializes in federal and state regulatory matters and project development, works out of both the Irvine and Washington, D.C., offices. Representing an Orange County district as a Democrat, Umberg served in the California State Assembly from 1990 to 1994. After an unsuccessful bid for attorney general in 1994, Umberg joined MoFo. Umberg took a three-year hiatus from the firm in 1997 when he was tapped by President Clinton to serve in the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Prior to his stint in the Assembly, Umberg was a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles. – Renee Deger LAWYER CLEARS HURDLE IN ACTION AGAINST ABA PHILADELPHIA — Attorney Richard Sprague has cleared another significant hurdle in his defamation lawsuit against the American Bar Association and its monthly magazine, the ABA Journal, now that a federal judge has ruled that a jury could conclude the magazine acted with actual malice when it described Sprague as a “fixer.” U.S. District Judge William Yohn Jr. found that since the magazine’s employees were aware that the term “fixer” has both positive and negative meanings, a jury could conclude that they “either deliberately cast this description in an ambiguous light in the hope of insinuating a false import to the reader, or that defendants knew or recklessly disregarded the possibility that its words would be interpreted by the average reader as false statements of fact.” But Yohn also emphasized that his ruling was no indication of his own opinion on the merits of Sprague’s case. Instead, he said, the decision merely recognized that the case presents a question that must be decided by a jury. “I in no way intimate what I believe the correct resolution of this question should be. From the court’s restricted procedural posture of considering defendants’ summary judgment motion, I find simply that there is evidence that, if believed and weighed as plaintiff urges, could support a jury finding, by convincing clarity, that defendants’ publication was imbued with actual malice,” Yohn wrote in his 17-page opinion in Sprague v. The ABA. Sprague’s first victory in the case came in November 2001 when Yohn refused to dismiss the suit, ruling that the magazine’s description of Sprague in an October 2000 article as “perhaps the most powerful lawyer-cum-fixer in the state” was capable of defamatory meaning, according to court records. The ABA’s lawyers had argued that the description was clearly intended as a compliment since the term “fixer” is often used to describe “a prominent, highly successful lawyer, widely known and sought after for his effectiveness as a problem-solver and trouble-shooter in connection with politically sensitive issues and cases.” – The Legal Intelligencer

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