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NO PEACE FOR CLIFFOR CHANCE AND BROBEK The hostility between the defunct Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison and Clifford Chance continues. In a strongly worded July 23 filing in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Francisco, the liquidation committee representing the failed Brobeck asks the court to reject a $3.75 million settlement agreement with Clifford Chance proposed earlier in the month by Brobeck’s bankruptcy trustee, Ronald Greenspan. The committee, headed by former partner Stephen Snyder, wants the court to wait for a hearing on the issue — or to put the claim against Clifford Chance out for bid to see if others would finance its prosecution. “The trustee’s conduct with respect to the lawsuit against Clifford Chance and [former Brobeck Chairman] Tower Snow Jr. has bordered on the irresponsible,” the committee says in its filing. “By any reasonable assessment, Clifford Chance and Tower Snow precipitated the destruction of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. “In the trustee’s warped view, however, they had nothing to do with the firm’s demise, need not be called to account for their actions, and instead are invited to join with the trustee in an unholy alliance to inflict further damage on the partners who had the courage (or poor judgment) to stay with the firm to the end,” the committee continues. Brobeck announced that it would dissolve in January 2003. In September, its creditors successfully petitioned to put the firm in involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Shortly before the bankruptcy filing, Brobeck’s liquidation committee formed a liquidation trust, which sued Clifford Chance and Snow, alleging that they contributed to the collapse of the firm and seeking a minimum of $100 million in damages. Earlier this month, trustee Greenspan proposed that Clifford Chance pay $3.75 million to settle claims related to Brobeck’s demise. He concluded Brobeck was likely already insolvent when Snow and 16 other partners defected to Clifford Chance in 2002, and thus Clifford Chance and Snow could probably not be held accountable for Brobeck’s collapse. Greenspan also filed a complaint against the liquidation committee for assigning rights to the Clifford Chance litigation to a liquidation trust. In its July 23 filing, the liquidation committee notes that remaining creditor claims against the Brobeck estate could exceed $100 million. It says there are only two possible sources to pay these claims: either Clifford Chance and Snow, or former Brobeck partners, based upon claims that distributions they received were preferences or fraudulent conveyances. The committee expresses doubt about collecting from the partners. Snyder didn’t return a call for comment. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali will hold a hearing on the proposed settlement Aug. 6. — Brenda Sandburg, The Recorder GOING AHEAD The Pentagon is moving forward on two separate processes to screen and adjudicate prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay. On July 30, the Defense Department began proceedings to formally screen the roughly 600 detainees held at the Guantanamo prison to determine their status under the law of war. Also, last week the Pentagon confirmed that initial hearings for four prisoners charged with war crimes have been set for the week of Aug. 23. The detainees — nationals of Australia, Yemen, and Sudan — face trial before military commissions. At the hearings, which Pentagon officials say will resemble arraignments, each defendant will appear before presiding officer Army Col. Peter Brownback III to hear the charges against him. Brownback may also use the hearings to rule on preliminary motions. Military defense lawyers for the four say they haven’t received adequate resources to defend their clients. “My co-counsel and I are very concerned about our ability to represent our client’s interest in the process that is now supposed to move forward,” says defense counsel Navy Lt. Cmdr. Philip Sundel. Sundel says his team does not currently have a translator and has not met with their client for more than three months. — Vanessa Blum HEADED HOME Guy Lewis, the former head of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys at the Justice Department before departing that post earlier this year, is returning to Miami. A longtime South Florida federal prosecutor, Lewis was the acting U.S. attorney in Miami until April 2002, when the White House declined to nominate him for the permanent position. Lewis also sought and was passed over for a federal judgeship in 2002, before ending up at the DOJ. He’s joining 500-lawyer Shook, Hardy & Bacon as a partner. He says he’s ready to get back to his litigation roots. “DOJ was administrative and policy work,” Lewis said last week. “I missed litigating and the courtroom.” — Steve Ellman, Miami Daily Business Review STEAK TO THE HEART The Burger King Corp. can continue to make its newly introduced Angus Steak Burgers. The hamburger franchise was almost stopped in its tracks when the Steak n Shake Co., a Midwestern restaurant chain, sued Burger King for trademark infringement over the use of the term steakburger. But on July 7, a Missouri federal judge saw it Burger King’s way. The judge denied Steak n Shake’s motion for a preliminary injunction that would have prevented the hamburger chain from using the term. Steak n Shake counsel Ethan Horwitz, a Goodwin Procter partner in New York, says his client has used steakburger since the 1930s. He says the public in areas where the 400-restaurant Steak n Shake is located associate steakburger with Steak n Shake. But Burger King convinced the judge that steakburger is a generic term. “It’s a burger made from steak,” says Thomas Gilbertsen, Burger King’s lawyer and a Collier Shannon Scott partner in the District. “And that’s exactly what Angus Steak Burger is: a burger made from 100 percent grain-fed beef.” This month, the parties will try to work out their dispute in mediation and then will go to trial if necessary. — Christine Hines ONE HUNDRED MORE Seven D.C. firms appear on the list of the second hundred highest-grossing firms nationwide, according to an annual survey by The American Lawyer magazine. McKee Nelson was among the top five firms for highest profits per partner in the survey, bringing in an average of $1.24 million per partner in 2003. The firm’s $940,000 in revenue per lawyer also earned its 96 attorneys a second-place ranking for revenue per lawyer. Grossing $169 million — 10 percent more than the year before — made Williams & Connolly No. 111, three places higher than last year. Crowell & Moring jumped nearly 10 spots to 134th place among the highest-grossing firms. The 262-lawyer firm boosted its revenue by 16 percent to $136 million. A 3.4 percent drop in revenue to $85 million pushed Dow Lohnes & Albertson down six places to 196. The American Lawyer publishes its list of the 200 highest-grossing firms in two segments. Rankings for firms No. 1 through No. 100 appeared in July. — Lily Henning EASTWARD EXPANSION D.C. lawyers at Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe will soon have a new and bigger place to call home. The San Francisco-based firm, outgrowing its current space, will move to new downtown digs at 1717 Rhode Island Ave., N.W., by Feb. 1, 2005, says office managing partner Brent Rushforth. The D.C. office, which focuses on antitrust and intellectual property litigation, energy, and securities enforcement, among other areas, has added 15 lawyers since January 2003 and will add three more in October. Rushforth says the number of attorneys in the office — now at 54 — is likely to double within the next five years, and the new building has just enough space to allow that. “The goal is to be as strong on the East Coast as we are on the West Coast,” he says. The 700-lawyer firm has seven West Coast offices, including in Los Angeles and Seattle, and two East Coast offices, in New York City and the District. The history of the new address intrigued the firm. The building was once a set of townhouses in the early 20th century that was home to former Supreme Court Chief Justice Edward Douglas White. The firm plans to refurbish White’s law library. — Christine Hines DOLLAR DRIVE Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld lawyer-turned-investment banker Vernon Jordan has teamed up with corporate powerbroker Sanford Weill in a push to raise $50 million for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Jordan, a partner with the investment firm Lazard Freres & Co. and one of the fund’s directors, and Weill, the chairman of Citigroup Inc., will chair the endowment drive. The money raised will be used for the fund’s core litigation services and to support scholarship and legal education programs. It will also help the fund renovate its New York City headquarters and upgrade its technology systems. Another D.C. lawyer, Karen Hastie Williams, a government contracts partner with Crowell & Moring, sits on the endowment campaign committee. — Lily Henning PATENT PUZZLE The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is baffled. Last week, the court issued an order setting aside a panel decision in a patent infringement case, Phillips v. AWH Corp., deciding to hear the matter in front of its entire 12-judge panel. In another unusual move, the court asked the patent bar and federal agencies, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in particular, to submit amicus curiae briefs in the case. Typically, the Justice Department handles the briefing in agency matters. The court’s moves stem from a thorny issue in the case: how to set guidelines for describing a patent and an invention. In Phillips, the parties are fighting over a patent related to the invention of material used for prison buildings, and the case depends on the precise meaning of baffle. The baffles under debate are steel barriers contained within vandalism-resistant wall panels. Defining patent terms is crucial because they can determine whether one party has infringed on another’s patent, says Stephen Becker, a D.C. partner at McDermott, Will & Emery. The court asked the litigants and interested parties to answer seven questions on the issue. The Intellectual Property Owners Association is considering filing an amicus in response. The IPOA’s Herbert Wamsley says, “Right now, we’re having discussions about the answers to the seven questions.” — Christine Hines LICENSE TO CHILL David Balto is going home — in a way. The Minnesota native and former White & Case antitrust partner joined the D.C. office of Minneapolis-based Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi last week. A former policy director in the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition under President Bill Clinton, Balto says Robins, Kaplan’s growth at the intersection of intellectual property and antitrust litigation drew him to the firm, which represents both plaintiffs and defendants in antitrust cases. In 1998, Robins, Kaplan lawyers won a settlement of more than $6 billion on behalf of the state of Minnesota and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota against the tobacco industry. Balto says the firm — headquartered in his frigid home state — is a good fit for other reasons as well: “I’m the only antitrust lawyer in D.C. who is a licensed Zamboni driver.” — Lily Henning

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