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CHALLENGERS TO ABORTION LAW RALLY AROUND THE PRECEDENT In temporarily blocking the first federal statute banning so-called partial-birth abortion, three national advocacy groups found themselves on familiar ground last week. The American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and the Center for Reproductive Rights have been litigating against similar state laws since 1996 � and, according to Eve Gartner, Planned Parenthood senior staff counsel, none of them has ever lost such a case. Last week, their record remained intact. A federal judge in New York issued a preliminary injunction against the federal law in the ACLU suit, as did a judge in San Francisco in the Planned Parenthood case and a judge in Nebraska in the suit brought by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Lawyers in the cases say each group knew in advance about the parallel efforts of the others. “We each have our own clients, but we were in touch with each other,” says Gartner, who argued the San Francisco case along with pro bono counsel Beth Parker of Bingham McCutchen. Coordinating three groups’ arguments against the law was no problem, Gartner says, because there is a key precedent: In 2000, the Supreme Court found a Nebraska partial-birth abortion ban unconstitutional. “The arguments were clear,” says Gartner.” It’s well-settled law.” Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, the ACLU’s client, says, “Justice [Sandra Day] O’Connor wrote a blueprint for an acceptable bill, but Congress did not follow it. So we have a Supreme Court case on point.” The Justice Department, which has vowed to defend the law “using every resource necessary,” wrote in its brief that the new law bans only one method of abortion and that reliance on the 2000 case is “meritless.” All three cases will proceed quickly to permanent-injunction hearings and then to federal appeals courts. The cases have drawn considerable pro bono support. Partner A. Stephen Hut Jr. and counsel Kimberly Parker of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering are working with the ACLU in the New York case. Partners Kurt Calia and Evan Cox and associate Roni Reed of the San Francisco office of Covington & Burling are representing the California Medical Association as an amicus in the Planned Parenthood case. � Jonathan Groner LAWLESS Once upon a time, law firms feared that the accounting giants would push onto their turf. That was before the current corporate governance revival and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which curbs accounting firms from doing legal work for audit clients. Last week, KPMG said it was axing its legal services offerings. While KPMG had not been providing direct legal services in the United States, the firm was doing so in 60 other countries. Also last week, former D.C. Ernst & Young corporate tax attorney Annette Ahlers moved to the Washington office of Chicago-based Gardner Carton & Douglas. She says lawyers at accounting firms are bracing themselves for having to move into other jobs. “Everyone is thinking and talking about it,” Ahlers says. “Their [the accounting firms'] standard line is that ‘we’re going to keep all of this together,’ but it will be very difficult to continue.” And Jonathan Bellis, the partner in charge of the PricewaterhouseCoopers group that provides consulting services to law firms and law departments, just joined consulting firm Hildebrandt International as a director. � Lily Henning ROLLING STONE Bruce Stoner, former chief judge of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, has joined old friends from the PTO at Greenblum and Bernstein, a 31-lawyer intellectual property boutique in Reston, Va. Stoner, who will be counsel, says his work as patent examiner, primary examiner, and then administrative judge in his 33 years at the PTO have prepared him for the private sector. “I’m looking forward to all the challenges and opportunities the practice of law presents,” he says. Under Stoner’s watch, the appeals and interferences board drastically reduced its backlog of cases and revamped the appeals process, says Bruce Bernstein, a senior partner at Greenblum, where partners William Lyddane, William Pieprz, and Leslie Paperner all worked alongside Stoner as PTO examiners. � Christine Hines AS SEEN ON TV Two Washington lawyers made their small-screen debut Nov. 2, on the HBO series “K Street.” Williams & Connolly partner Howard Gutman played counsel to James Carville, the real-life Democratic spin doctor who plays himself as a lobbyist at a fictional D.C. lobby shop. Carville’s TV firm, Bergstrom Lowell, is under FBI scrutiny, and Gutman was shown guiding Carville through questioning from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft partner Michael Horowitz. Gutman says acting in front of producer George Clooney and director Steven Soderbergh was “strange,” but playing Carville’s defense lawyer was easy. “It was simply me having to be me,” he says. Horowitz, who was chief of staff to former Justice Department Criminal Division head Michael Chertoff, says, “It’s not every day that you get a chance to step out of the real world of lawyering.” Gutman, who on the previous week’s show was heard on speakerphone advising the Bergstrom Lowell staff, got the gig after working with the show’s writers as a consultant. He recommended his friend Horowitz as the prosecutor to play opposite him, an encore of past, real-life, performances. � Marie Beaudette TEAM SCRUSHY Chadbourne & Parke said last week that two of its D.C. partners, Thomas Sjoblom and Abbe Lowell, will serve as the trial team for former HealthSouth chief executive Richard Scrushy, who last week was indicted on 85 counts ranging from money laundering to mail and securities fraud. “In Abbe Lowell and Tom Sjoblom as my lead trial attorneys, and with Donald Watkins as a key adviser, I could not have a better team,” says Scrushy. Lowell, who in June joined Chadbourne from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, where he was head of the firm’s D.C. office, was Democratic counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against then-President Bill Clinton. The 51-year-old litigator also counts Aliza Waksal, daughter of ImClone Systems chief Sam Waksal, as a client, and has been counsel to various lawmakers involved in criminal investigations. Sjoblom, a former assistant chief litigation counsel with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division, has represented the fallen HealthSouth executive since last April. � Lily Henning BEST OF THE BEST Even with their billable-hour requirements and occasional 16-hour days, six of D.C.’s largest law firms were listed among 50 “great places to work” in the November issue of Washingtonian magazine. Honorees Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky; Arnold & Porter; Hogan & Hartson; Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering; Williams & Connolly; and Patton Boggs were all praised for generous compensation packages. But the magazine also pointed out the firms’ quirkier characteristics: Dickstein was cited for its “contingent of nationally recognized poker players,” while Patton Boggs’ tradition of giving employees a half-day off for shopping during the holiday season was hailed. Hogan & Hartson boasts a fitness center and subsidized Metro rides. Arnold & Porter and Wilmer were praised for their commitment to pro bono, while Williams & Connolly’s top clients and significant matters keep employees happy. Also among the top 50 were the professional services marketing firm Greenfield/Belser and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. � Marie Beaudette CLEANUP CREW They say making legislation is like making sausage, so maybe this was inevitable. The Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Lamie v. U.S. Trustee. The issue: When Congress makes a mistake drafting a bill, can the courts step in and correct the error? In 1994, Congress passed the Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1994, but excluded lawyers from the list of those eligible for compensation from a debtor’s estate in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Lebanon, Va., lawyer John Lamie was refused payment of $1,000 by the U.S. Trustee for work done after the bankruptcy filing of Equipment Services Inc. was switched from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, joining the 5th and 11th Circuits, rejected Lamie’s argument that the omission was a “scrivener’s error,” saying the code’s “plain language” should be followed. Three other circuits have ruled otherwise � saying, in effect, that the courts can clean up after sloppy lawmakers. Lamie’s lawyer, Thomas Goldstein of Goldstein & Howe, says the case has confused bankruptcy lawyers who handle Chapter 7s (commonly filed by debt-laden consumers) and has made compensation in some cases impossible. � Marie Beaudette ON THE BLOCK Call it Priceline for corporate lawyers. In a letter sent Sept. 29 to many of the nation’s largest law firms, J. Keith Morgan, general counsel of General Electric Commercial Finance, invited the firms to participate in a competitive bidding process hosted by Procuri.com. Different online “competitive bidding rooms” will be established for each area of expertise, though large firms are invited to compete in multiple bidding rooms. “Our ultimate goal is to create a short list of approved law firms in each Competitive Bidding Room that will handle all of [GE Commercial Finance's] legal work for a two-year period starting in January 2004,” Morgan wrote. Morgan did not return a call seeking comment. One New York law firm partner who was contacted about participating in GE’s online process was less than enthusiastic. “The problem with competitive bidding is it assumes all lawyers are created equal, and they’re not,” he said. “[Auctions] tend to create a lowest common denominator. They don’t value relationships. They don’t value unique skill sets.” � Anthony Lin, New York Law Journal THE WILLKIE WAY Martin Weinstein and Robert Meyer have jumped from Foley & Lardner’s D.C. office to Willkie Farr & Gallagher. The two partners, who will lead a firmwide compliance and enforcement practice from Willkie Farr’s D.C. office, specialize in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the Alien Tort Claims Act. They bring with them client Exxon Mobil Corp. The pair are defending the oil giant in a high-profile ATCA case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia involving human rights abuses in Indonesia. � Lily Henning

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