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AFTER TALKS, NO MERGER FOR AKIN AND SHAW PITTMAN A union between two Washington powerhouses is off the table � at least for now. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Shaw Pittman say they have decided against continuing to explore the possibility of a merger. “Having done the analysis and looked at the very preliminary issues � mainly, how practice groups matched up � we saw how enormously complicated it would have been,” says Akin Gump chairman R. Bruce McLean. Talks between the two firms became public last month. Both McLean and Shaw Pittman managing partner Stephen Huttler say they aren’t in merger discussions with anyone else. And while both agree that a union of two large D.C. firms could be viable, they say it would present even more challenges than a marriage of firms in different cities. “It’s possible for big firms to merge, but the number of issues you have to deal with is daunting, to say the least,” says McLean. “It’s a very big long shot.” A combination of Shaw Pittman and Akin Gump would have caused a tidal wave in the D.C. legal market and marked one of the largest law firm mergers in the United States, say industry consultants. The two firms say it wasn’t conflicts that prompted them to call off the talks, but a handful of problems that they had already identified. Shaw Pittman and Akin Gump are the eighth- and ninth-ranked firms in revenue in the District, with local 2002 revenue of $166 million and $163 million, respectively. Shaw Pittman has 328 lawyers in D.C. and Northern Virginia and just over 350 firmwide, while Akin Gump has 279 lawyers locally and 945 firmwide. McLean says Akin Gump “talks to firms all of the time on a preliminary basis as a part of the law firm community. We’re not talking to anyone else, nor are we in the market to merge.” But Shaw Pittman isn’t closing the door on the possibility of a merger, most likely with an out-of-town firm. But for now, says Huttler, the firm is concentrating “on making Shaw Pittman an even better place to work with a relentless focus on our people.” The firm is rolling out a program that will address professional development, employee physical and mental health, and pro bono work and diversity. “We believe it’s smart business because in the end, happy motivated people will provide the very best client service,” Huttler says. He says the firm was flattered by Akin Gump’s interest in having merger discussions and that Shaw Pittman’s new initiative will make it even more attractive in the event of merger talks with other firms. � Lily Henning LAW FIRM COLOR DIVIDE While the nation’s law firms have made progress in hiring more minorities and women, white men are still the ones most likely to make partner, according to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission report on law firm diversity released last week. The report, released at an American Bar Association diversity conference in the District, analyzed EEOC filings from 1975 to 2002 required of firms with more than 100 lawyers. It concluded that the most pressing issue for firms is no longer hiring more minority and women lawyers, but rather improving “conditions of employment, especially promotion to partnership,” for them. The report found that 60 percent of partners were white men, but that women have made significant gains. Women now make up more than 29.2 percent of firm lawyers, up from 14.4 percent in 1975. But, the report noted, the number of African- American lawyers hasn’t grown as fast as the number of Asians and Hispanics. In 2002, Asians made up 5.3 percent of big firm lawyers, up from .5 percent in 1975. In fact, at large law firms, Asians now outnumber African-Americans, who make up 4.6 percent of lawyers. Yet African-Americans received 7.2 percent of the law degrees conferred in 2002, while Asians were awarded 6.5 percent of J.D.s. Although still a small contingent, Hispanics have seen their ranks grow, up from less than 1 percent of lawyers in 1975 to 3.1 percent in 2002. EEOC Chair Cari Dominguez says, “While we should certainly be proud of the progress women and people of color have made in joining the ranks of legal professionals, we must also be mindful of how far we have to go.” John Yang, president-elect of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association and a Wiley Rein & Fielding partner, says he was happy to see the growth in Asian lawyers, but stresses that the report shows women and minorities still have a “harder route to become a partner.” � Marie Beaudette READY OR NOT On Nov. 2, the sweeping trademark agreement known as the Madrid Protocol goes into effect in the United States, but some intellectual property lawyers question whether the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is ready. Lawyers acknowledge that the PTO has prepared all the rules and regulations to execute the new treaty, which allows trademark owners to seek protection in up to 60 countries with one registration. But they also cast doubt on whether the agency’s electronic filing system, the examiner guidelines, and the fee payment procedure are primed for implementation. “They’re gearing up, but they’re not as totally ready as it appears,” says P. Jay Hines, a partner at intellectual property firm Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt. Recently, the agency postponed a rule that required electronic filings of all applications under the protocol, a move that the PTO contends was offered for the benefit of trademark owners. Albert Tramposch, trademark counsel for Burns, Doane, Swecker & Mathis, was also concerned that the agency had not released certain practice guidelines for the new rules. The agency assured that the examination guidelines will be ready in a “few weeks.” Treaty benefits include reduced filing requirements and costs � good news for businesses � but it could also mean less work for trademark lawyers. “I don’t think any of us are looking at it in terms of negative,” says Jody Drake, a Sugrue Mion partner. “Some clients will get a savings from this.” � Christine Hines LAMB CHOPS When C-SPAN’s chairman and CEO Brian Lamb spoke after accepting the prestigious Freedom of Speech Award from the Media Institute on Oct. 22, he promptly launched an award program of his own: the Lenscap award, given to those individuals and organizations who most persistently keep cameras away from their proceedings. Lamb’s first Lenscap Award went to the camera-allergic Supreme Court, with a “special mention” for Justice Antonin Scalia � an old friend of Lamb’s � who routinely bars cameras from recording his speeches. Other winners of Lamb’s dubious award include the Senate Appropriations Committee, which bars cameras from markups, and the Democratic and Republican Senate Campaign Committees, for being camera-shy at their fund-raising events. Perhaps most surprisingly, Lamb also said members of the news media deserve the award: the Asian American Journalists Association and the Gridiron Club have barred the door to broadcast coverage, he said, as have countless book authors and their agents and hosts. “You wouldn’t believe how many journalists” are averse to being taped and broadcast, said Lamb. � Tony Mauro MCDERMOTT MALPRACTICE CLAIM A Manhattan judge ruled last week that a legal malpractice claim against McDermott, Will & Emery can go to trial. Suing the firm is an investment partnership headed by former lawyer Ilan Reich, best known as the former Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz partner jailed for participating in the 1980s insider-trading ring led by former Drexel Burnham Lambert banker Dennis Levine. The suit is based on an opinion letter the firm provided to Reich regarding an investment in one of McDermott’s clients, SpectruMedix, a State College, Pa.-based manufacturer of equipment for genetic analysis. The Reich partnership is represented by David Meisels of Herrick, Feinstein. McDermott Will is represented by Frank Wohl of Lankler, Siffert & Wohl. � Anthony Lin, New York Law Journal FILLING UP FAMILY COURT Four nominees for D.C. Superior Court judgeships � Brian Holeman, Craig Iscoe, J. Michael Ryan, and Jerry Byrd � were confirmed by the Senate late last week. The nominations of Ryan and Byrd, who were picked by President George W. Bush in January to work exclusively in D.C.’s Family Court for the first five years of their 15-year terms, had been delayed, in part, because of a conflict in the law that created the Family Court. The D.C. Family Court Act called for three new judgeships, but neglected to raise the total cap on local trial judges from 59 to 62 � unless the nominee was slated for Family Court. Last week, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee moved to fix the problem, approving legislation that would raise the cap to 62. The addition of the four to the court’s roster means the court currently has 61 judges. Until the law is changed, it is unclear whether the nomination of Gregory Jackson, a D.C. Corrections Department lawyer picked by Bush to replace Judge Mildred Edwards in a non-Family Court position, can proceed. � Tom Schoenberg LEAN AND FRIENDLY Howrey Simon Arnold & White lawyers are lightening up. Thanks to the low-carbohydrate, high-protein Atkins diet, about 30 Howrey attorneys lost approximately 750 pounds altogether, says the firm’s antitrust group co-chairman John Briggs. “Everybody’s looking kind of lean and friendly,” says Briggs, who has been credited with starting the Atkins craze within the antitrust group, which then spread officewide. Briggs himself has shed 50 pounds, but one of his partners, who preferred to remain unidentified, topped him and everyone else by dropping a whopping 100 pounds. The antitrust group’s monthly breakfast, which once consisted of fruit, rolls, and orange juice, is now made up of all high-protein foods: bacon, eggs, and cheese. Briggs says the office may begin an interpractice group or firmwide diet competition to keep up the momentum. � Christine Hines SATISFIED Arent Fox Kintner Plotkin & Kahn was the top-ranked Washington firm in a national survey of midlevel associate workplace satisfaction conducted by The American Lawyer. “This is a fair reflection of the work environment here,” says chairman Marc Fleischaker. “It’s already had a positive impact on recruiting.” The firm came in 28th overall. Miller & Chevalier took first place honors in a city-by-city survey. The survey measures relationships with partners, training and guidance, emphasis on billables, management openness about firm strategies and partnership chances, attitude toward pro bono work, and compensation and benefits. � Lily Henning

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