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ESTRADA’S WIFE DIES AT AGE 46 Shock rippled through the legal community last week with news of the sudden death on Nov. 28 of former Justice Department lawyer Laury Gordon Estrada, 46, the wife of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Miguel Estrada. He found her dead in her sleep at their Virginia home. No cause of death has yet been determined. Results of a legally required investigation by the state medical examiner are “pending,” says a spokeswoman. “We may never know the reason,” says one friend, who adds that Laury Estrada had no significant history of illness. A native of Birmingham, Ala., Laury Estrada worked in several jobs at Justice since 1992, and until September 2003 was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia. She left, according to her husband, to care for her ailing mother. “Laury was an extraordinarily kind-hearted person and a bright and dedicated lawyer,” says U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty. The couple met in 1996 at the Justice Department gym — they shared a trainer — and seven months after their first date, they married. Estrada last year withdrew as a nominee to the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Gibson, Dunn partner Mark Perry, a longtime friend of the couple, described her as “a gracious, vivacious, caring young woman who loved her animals, her family, and her friends.” She owned a horse, adopted three Dobermans — Zeus, Ruby, and Jackson — and was an ardent supporter of Doberman Assistance, Rescue and Education Inc., where her family asks that donations be sent. “This has been devastating for Miguel. They had a phenomenal relationship,” says Arnold & Porter partner Robert Litt, another friend. — Legal Times N.J. BAR PRESIDENT VOWS TO FIGHT TAX NEWARK, N.J. — The New Jersey State Bar Association is preparing a constitutional challenge to the $75-a-year “medical malpractice” assessment, and it insists it has better grounds for repeal than 12 years ago when it failed to stop a tax on the profession to ease the car insurance crunch. The announcement of the suit came just as dunning letters from the Division of Taxation, demanding payment in 30 days, were landing on the desks of 55,000 New Jersey lawyers — the few who sue doctors and the many who don’t. The state enacted the fee on June 7 to fund a reserve to help pay school loans for some doctors and premiums for physicians hit hardest by the rise in premiums — obstetricians and gynecologists. Lawyers and doctors will pay $75 for three years. Employers subject to the unemployment compensation system also will contribute. State Bar President Edwin McCreedy says that after the organization announced the suit in e-mails to members, responses poured in “and not one said we were barking up the wrong tree.” Instead of taxing lawyers, he says, the state should address what he calls the real cause of the mess: the licensing of bad doctors, questionable investments and management by insurance companies and the woes of the state’s largest doctors’ carrier, MIIX. The bar wanted the state to form a commission to study the insurance squeeze on doctors but “that suggestion was ignored,” McCreedy says. — New Jersey Law Journal

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