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Fish & Neave flirts with Ropes & Gray Fish & Neave has sat on the porch and held hands with Ropes & Gray, but it has not yet decided to go to the altar. That’s what Fish & Neave Chairman Jesse Jenner told lawyers and staff at a firmwide meeting in New York last week. Jenner said the meeting was called to dispel a flurry of rumors that a merger was to take place within 10 days, that a letter of intent had been signed, and that 20 lawyers were set to join 580-lawyer Ropes & Gray, which is based in Boston. “We’ve had preliminary talks with Ropes & Gray, but there’s no deal,” Jenner said. “They are not the only firm we’ve talked to.” $10.5 million in tobacco punitives are reinstated The California Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by Philip Morris USA Inc. to reduce punitive damages awarded to a former smoker with lung cancer who won a landmark verdict against the tobacco giant. The court last week reinstated $10.5 million in damages to Patricia Henley, dismissing Philip Morris’ appeal without comment. The company could seek further review in the U.S. Supreme Court. In April, the court agreed to hear the company’s appeal and decide whether $9 million in punitives went beyond limits set recently by the U.S. Supreme Court. Henley v. Philip Morris, No. 995172 (Calif.). $450 million in PG& E fees approved by judge U.S. bankruptcy judge Dennis Montali has approved nearly all of the final fee requests for law firms and other consultants working on the massive Pacific Gas & Electric Co. bankruptcy. Montali’s approval puts the final tally for more than three years’ worth of work at about $450 million to $475 million, according to an accounting by the Office of the U.S. Trustee. Of the total, about $100 million goes to law firms representing the utility in different capacities. Cooley Godward billed about $14.1 million; Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, $24.8 million; Keker & Van Nest, $1.8 million; Steefel, Levitt & Weiss, $1.9 million; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, $4 million; and Chicago’s Winston & Strawn, $3.8 million. The utility’s main counsel, Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin of San Francisco, billed $37.1 million. Scalia stays on tape The government has conceded that the U.S. Marshals Service violated federal law when a marshal ordered reporters with The Associated Press and the Hattiesburg American of Hattiesburg, Miss., to erase their recordings of a speech by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The Justice Department also said the reporters and their employers are each entitled to $1,000 in damages and reasonable attorney fees, which had been sought by the media organizations. The government’s concessions were contained in court papers filed last week in response to a lawsuit by the news organizations. Morgan Lewis reaches settlement over Brobeck Morgan, Lewis & Bockius has agreed to pay $10.2 million to the estate of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison to avoid litigation with Brobeck’s bankruptcy trustee. A lawyer for bankruptcy trustee Ronald Greenspan announced the agreement at a hearing last week before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali. The issues raised by the trustee “were far from clear,” said Morgan Lewis Chairman Francis Milone. But, he added, “We don’t want to get involved in protracted litigation that would be expensive for us.” Milone said one potential claim by the trustee concerns revenue from unfinished business that Brobeck lawyers took with them to Morgan Lewis. Under a 1984 court decision- Jewel v. Boxer, 156 Cal. App. 3d 171-a firm’s unfinished business is an asset of the dissolved partnership. Out-of-staters welcome in California-for a price The state bar of California is throwing open the door to out-of-state lawyers, but strict conditions and high costs have some worried about tripping over the welcome mat. The state bar board of governors recently approved new rules that let in-house counsel and legal services lawyers practice in California without taking the state’s bar exam. The rules, which go into effect on Nov. 15, establish registration requirements and set fees aimed at covering the expense of running the programs. Other rules adopted by the board revise the application standards for out-of-state lawyers who are already allowed to practice in the state under certain conditions, such as arbitrators and attorneys practicing pro hac vice on particular cases with local counsel. Filing fees for such lawyers went up from $50 to $250. State bar officials estimate that in 2005, about 500 in-house counsel and 50 legal services attorneys will apply.

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