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Entry-level associate, lateral hiring down Hiring of entry-level associates fell by nearly 7% in 2001-2, and was projected to decline by another 8% in 2002-3, according to a new edition of a National Association for Law Placement (NALP) publication. The trend was found in law firms of all sizes, but was most pronounced in firms of more than 100 attorneys. The only region that experienced growth, albeit modest, was the Southeast. Lateral hiring was also down dramatically in 2001-2, dropping by 25%. The nation’s largest firms hired 32% fewer laterals; firms with less than 500 lawyers saw declines of about 20%. The information, culled from NALP’s directories of about 600 law firms, was published this month in Patterns & Practices: Measures of Law Firm Hiring, Leverage & Billable Hours. Indiana’s vocal jurors Lawyers and judges in northern Indiana have mixed opinions on new jury rules that went into effect last year, including allowing jurors to ask questions during trials. “I’ve found jurors ask a lot of good questions,” said Mark Lenyo, a South Bend attorney. “It’s helpful to me as a trial lawyer because it provides insight into what jurors are thinking of the case.” Judge Terry Crone, who just left St. Joseph Circuit Court for the Indiana Court of Appeals, said he has found that many of the questions are inadmissible based on rules of evidence. “Eighty to 90% of the questions are inappropriate or are objected to by the lawyers,” he said. Latham’s London office takes on muscle Latham & Watkins has been beefing up its European presence again, adding 25 lawyers over the past two years to its London office. The addition of the new lawyers, who include British and American attorneys from local and U.S. firms, brings the 14-year-old office to 85 attorneys. Boosting the office’s employment, intellectual property and technology transactions practices, the expansion has also put Latham in a position to grab a share of Europe’s growing venture capital market. Over the past year, the office has worked on a half-dozen early-stage venture deals, many involving software companies. While a loosening investment climate in Europe is driving a surge in deals, one of Latham’s new hires has played a key role in the firm’s ability to capture the venture capital work. Charles Fuller, a British partner from London-based Simmons & Simmons, joined the office just over a year ago, where among other things he works in the fledgling practice. Federal judge conflicted? A watchdog group alleges that a federal judge is violating judicial ethics by serving on the board of directors of a foundation that furnishes educational seminars for U.S. judges. Most of the money for the Foundation for Research in Economics and the Environment comes from corporations and corporate-controlled foundations, many of which are involved in environmental cases in the courts, said Douglas Kendall, executive director of the Washington-based Community Rights Counsel. He called on 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Danny Boggs to resign from the foundation’s board. Asked about the petition questioning his impartiality, Boggs said, “I’m sure others could say the same thing about those who are on the board of Harvard or who hold positions at the [American Bar Association].” ‘Shaky’ 9/11 funds Some pro bono lawyers representing New Jersey heirs of Sept. 11, 2001, attack victims say they are concerned that the federal government’s hands-off policy on how compensation is invested could dissipate some minors’ funds. “My concern is that what a lot of these families are doing is placing their funds with brokers,” said Ronald Grayzel, a partner at Edison, N.J.’s Levinson Axelrod who represents the families of seven victims of the World Trade Center attacks. “You give minors’ money to brokers without restrictions and the money is going to be at risk. I think it’s rather shaky.” Key elder abuse ruling In a victory for plaintiffs’ attorneys, a unanimous California Supreme Court last week cleared the way for punitive damages in elder abuse cases, ruling that such actions are not subject to hurdles designed to limit medical malpractice awards. Writing for the court, Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar said she could find nothing “to suggest the Legislature intended to afford health care providers that act as elder custodians, and that egregiously abuse the elders in their custody, the special protections against exemplary damages they enjoy when accused of negligence in providing health care.” Covenant Care Inc. v. Superior Court, No. 04 C.D.O.S. 2526.

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