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Two large IP firms explore a merger Two law firms that specialize in intellectual property are engaged in serious merger talks. The firms are Minneapolis’ Merchant & Gould, which has 110 lawyers, and Alexandria, Va.’s Burns, Doane, Swecker & Mathis, which has 80. Lawyers at the firms said that while nothing is imminent, they are committed to growth and they like the geographic fit. Merchant has offices in Washington, Atlanta, Denver and Seattle; Burns Doane in Washington, North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, San Diego and Silicon Valley’s Redwood Shores. “We feel very strongly that size matters,” said Merchant managing partner Randall King. Oregon lawyer arrested A lawyer and former Army officer who converted to Islam was arrested as a material witness in the deadly train bombings in Spain, federal authorities said. Brandon Mayfield was taken into custody on May 6 by FBI agents, who also searched his Oregon home. It was the first known arrest in the United States with connections to the March 11 terrorist attacks in Madrid that killed 191 people and injured 2,000 others. Mayfield, 37, was arrested on a material witness warrant and has not been charged with any crime, according to a senior law enforcement official in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity. New foundation leader The Pacific Legal Foundation last week named Michael Grob, a partner at Sacramento, Calif.’s Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard, as the conservative nonprofit’s new president and CEO. Grob has been managing partner with Kronick Moskovitz since 1990, directing major litigation related to construction, environmental regulation, antitrust law and unfair business practices. He succeeds Robert Best, who has served as Pacific’s president and CEO for nine years. The 31-year-old foundation bills itself as the nation’s oldest and largest public interest legal organization dedicated to defending “individual liberties, private property rights and limited government.” Merger in the making? Swidler, Orrick talk Washington-based Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman and bicoastal Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe are in merger talks, according to lawyers close to the discussions. Though they have not advanced beyond the firm’s leaders, the negotiations are serious, say five sources with knowledge of the talks. When a partnership vote might occur, however, is still unclear. Orrick Chairman Ralph Baxter Jr. and Swidler managing partner Barry Direnfeld did not return repeated calls. Swidler is a long-time D.C. player, with roughly 177 lawyers in that region. Orrick has fewer than 50 lawyers in D.C., but has more than 100 in both New York and San Francisco. Orrick partner Lynne Hermle, an executive committee member, could not confirm merger discussions. But, she added, “Swidler is a great firm. We’d be lucky if we could pull that off.” O.T. changes gutted In an election-year snub of the Bush administration, the Republican-controlled Senate voted last week to require that new U.S. Department of Labor regulations guarantee the right to overtime pay for all workers who currently qualify. The vote was 52-47. The new regulations would mark the first thorough overhaul of government overtime rules in more than 50 years. Administration officials say they would guarantee overtime rights for all white-collar workers earning up to $23,660 and protect or expand current eligibility for those earning up to $100,000. [NLJ, April 19.] Multistate practice for foreign lawyers in Pa. Foreign and out-of-state lawyers who aren’t licensed to practice in Pennsylvania will be permitted to provide legal services in the state on a temporary basis without breaking ethics rules, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled. Under new rule amendments the justices adopted last week, such lawyers will generally be under the disciplinary scrutiny of the court if they behave unethically while practicing in the state. Susan Hackett, general counsel for the National Association of Corporate Counsel, said the multijurisdictional practice rules may be the first promulgated by a state high court that cover the practices of foreign attorneys.

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