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ALAMEDA BAR OKS PLAN TO REPAY DEBT As expected, the Alameda County Bar Association has voted to trim attorney pay to get rid a $100,000 dependency program deficit. Bar leaders voted to repay the money over 18 months. Under the plan, pay for dependency panel lawyers would be reduced when debt payments and attorney billings for a given month exceed $152,000 — the amount the bar gets from the court — according to a memorandum released by the bar late Wednesday. The April 6 vote caps a contentious month for the attorney group. Last year, the court and the bar inked a three-year, $6 million contract that pays the bar’s Civil Court Appointed Attorney’s Program to represent parents in juvenile dependency hearings. However, there was a surge in juvenile court casework during the early months of the contract, which led to red ink. While the bar dipped into its own funds to make up the difference, it also instituted a 15 percent cut in attorney pay, which prompted at least one attorney to leave the 60-lawyer panel. The 15 percent pay cut will end May 1, when the new plan takes effect, the memo says. Critics of the plan, which was previewed by panel attorneys April 2, say bar leaders caused the financial mess by underbidding the contract. Several panel attorneys have argued that the bar should absorb the shortfall and pay panel attorneys in full. Bar Association President Spencer Strellis and Executive Director Ann Wassam were unavailable for comment Thursday. — Jahna Berry WTC INSURANCE TRIAL IS IN ITS FINAL PHASE NEW YORK — World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein’s bid to recover almost $7 billion in insurance money reached a critical phase Wednesday as his lead attorney said insurers were trying to avoid meeting their full obligations under policies still being negotiated when the towers were destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001. Attorney Herbert Wachtell told a jury that key witnesses for the insurance industry were less than credible when they claimed during trial that they always assumed a restrictive definition of the term “occurrence” was in place when the World Trade Center was attacked by terrorists piloting hijacked planes. “The tragic events of 9/11 happened before there was a final policy in place,” Wachtell said in his closing argument in the 10-week trial. “These insurance companies are trying to exploit that.” The insurers claim that Silverstein is owed no more than $3.55 billion because the attacks on the World Trade Center were one “occurrence.” Silverstein alleges that, for the bulk of the companies who made up the multi-layered insurance program that was being negotiated as he made final his 99-year lease for the center, the attacks were two occurrences. If he prevails at this stage, a second trial will be held on whether he can recover almost double the amount, or roughly $6.8 billion. — New York Law Journal

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