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To associate hearts via stomachs Law firm recruiters greeting summer associates have caught on to what mommies knew all along: Nothing says lovin’ like something from the oven. But the old picnic with the partners is, well, old-which must be why Chicago-based Bell, Boyd & Lloyd is kicking it up a notch with “dinners at hip restaurants” and the Phoenix office of Bryan Cave is promising “a progressive dinner at partners’ homes.” A survey of social doings for this summer shows the familiar museum nights and sports outings overshadowed by increasingly opulent food events. A decade ago it was news when McCutchen Doyle Brown & Enersen offered a cooking class. Now such lessons are de rigueur, with the ante rising. There’s a “cooking class with wine reception in a Tribeca loft” (New York’s Cahill Gordon & Reindel) and “a cooking event at the Institute for Culinary Education” (Washington’s Hogan & Hartson). The latter, while describing the firm culture, notes that there’s a chef in residence at the D.C. office, which should pre-empt concerns about all-nighters with Chinese takeout. Mouthy lawyers A new suit describes a goofy scene at the Ronald Reagan State Building in downtown Los Angeles: California Justice Department lawyers arriving for work there and lording it over the highway patrol officers who are trying to protect everyone’s security by doing their job, manning metal detectors. The lawyers mouth off so badly that it constitutes defamation, according to an attorney representing 11 highway patrol officers in a Feb. 26 suit against the California Justice Department. The attorney, Robert Ball, contended in an interview that the lawyers “act as if they’re a special group” by sneaking “water on the conveyor belts . . . .[and] carrying banned weapons.” No individuals are named. The department hasn’t been served yet and had no comment. But we hear that the highway patrol commissioner has a standing order to “expedite the processing” of Justice Department staff. Passage to India Outsourcing is such a sensitive subject that most law firms that do it don’t go public with their names. And it’s only rumor that the in-house legal departments of two of the Fortune 50 companies do it, too. “I hope this doesn’t bring us any hate mail,” said Steve Lundberg, managing partner of Minneapolis’ Schwegman Lundberg Woessner & Kluth, discussing how he outsources work to New Delhi and Bangalore in India. If a client wants a $50,000 technical analysis of the scope of a rival’s patent, and can pay only $20,000, he said, the solution is to send the assessment to India. The firm has access to six patent engineers and more than a dozen paralegals and proofreaders, but it does not use Indian lawyers as a matter of quality control, Lundberg said. “Patent applications will continue to be drafted here,” he said. Schwegman partners own majority interest in a third-party vendor, Intellevate, set up to provide the Indian staff. Intellevate’s CEO, Leon Steinberg, said it has a dozen law firm clients concentrated among intellectual property firms in Silicon Valley, with one in New Jersey and one in New York as well. So far, all the work has been patent-related, but a couple of proposals are about to change that, said Steinberg. It is a booming field with two big obstacles, said legal consultant Mark Santiago. Intellevate is a pioneering company. Firms must be careful about attorney-client confidentiality, he warned. And he noted that outsourcing has become an election-year issue and “nobody wants to be in the position of having candidate John Kerry or George Bush denouncing you for exporting 150 jobs.”

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