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WEIL, GOTSHAL GETS NEW MP — AND PARTY PLANNER Although Matthew Powers spends about six months of the year on the road, he’s managed to fit in time to build his firm’s presence in Silicon Valley, bolster staff morale and even plan the annual Christmas party. But after 12 years managing Weil, Gotshal & Manges’ Redwood Shores office, the prominent patent litigator has decided to hand the reins over to someone else. On Saturday, corporate partner Craig Adas will become managing partner of the office. “I’m spending a ton of time on the management committee and running the firm’s patent practice around the world and trying cases,” Powers said. “It’s time to give this piece to someone else.” Powers said he wanted a younger partner to take a leadership role and picked Adas because he has good people skills and potential as a future leader. “He’ll create an atmosphere of trust and confidence,” Powers said. “People will believe he’ll be honest with them and straightforward.” Adas joined Weil, Gotshal’s Dallas office in 1994 and moved to the Silicon Valley outpost in 1999 when it formally established a corporate practice. Adas said one of his goals is to build the firm’s corporate reputation in Silicon Valley. “Patent litigation has such a high profile,” he said, “sometimes people lose track of the corporate group.” Powers joined New York-based Weil, Gotshal in 1993 when there were a handful of lawyers in the outpost; now there are about 65. As managing partner, Powers said his job has been part camp counselor — setting the tone of the office, deciding personnel issues and sometimes helping people who don’t get along with each other to work together. “I was deeply hands-on in designing the office,” Powers said, adding that he was even in charge of choosing the place to hold the holiday party. (This year it was at the Asian Art Museum.) Adas is upbeat about his new job, though he’s aware of the potential headaches. “One of the managing partners of another office called me to offer congratulations and condolences,” he said. — Brenda Sandburg IN THE CARDS The past two decades have brought a sea change to Las Vegas. But one thing had always remained the same: The Aladdin Resort & Casino was the only non-union hotel on the strip — and the big prize for labor and its lawyers. That changed on Dec. 3, and Richard McCracken is still celebrating. It was a different era when the partner at Davis, Cowell & Bowe in San Francisco began representing the Culinary Workers and Bartenders Unions’ efforts to reorganize the Aladdin in the ’80s. Wayne Newton was still hot, and bankruptcy courts were still allowed to void union contracts. That’s exactly what happened in 1985 when a judge, who was overseeing the Aladdin’s first of several forays into Chapter 11, booted the unions. Now, after 19 years, three ownership changes and a Vegas-sized union campaign that reached its apogee with an image attack on Justin Timberlake, McCracken is proud that he helped the unions get back in. He says he’s proud that Davis, Cowell & Bowe has represented the Culinary Workers and Bartenders Unions since the 1960s. “I’m the third-generation lawyer in our firm for that union,” he said. But participants in the protracted fight — which included government legal action against previous ownership groups — hope most of the details stay in Vegas. The unions were “slamming employers as much as organizing union members, and that slamming took all sorts of forms,” McCracken said. The rancor grew with each successive bankruptcy and ownership change by the Aladdin, one of Vegas’ original 1950s kitsch goliaths. The casino went into a second bankruptcy after unions were forced out, was then bought, demolished and rebuilt by owners hostile to unions, went bankrupt again, and was finally purchased in September by a management group led by Planet Hollywood (which, incidentally, has two bankruptcies in its own portfolio). The unions went after the prior ownership group’s investors on the grounds that the new casino was ill-planned, McCracken said, and they saw a fresh opportunity when the bankruptcy brought in the celebrity-backed Planet Hollywood. Under McCracken’s supervision, the union posted the Web site www.injusticetimberlake.org, which criticized the pop star for supporting Planet Hollywood. A linked site, “Planet Follywood Reporter,” trumpeted any negative information — from food reviews to bankruptcies and health-code violations — that the unions could dig up. “They didn’t like that too much,” McCracken said. But Peter Pantaleo, the Washington, D.C.-based Piper Rudnick partner who represented Planet Hollywood, said his clients weren’t fazed by the sites. “It was actually kind of funny,” he said. “It had more of a morale effect on the employees than on the ownership.” In the end, it didn’t take long for Pantaleo’s clients to come to terms with the unions. The group bought the hotel in September, and the unions were officially recognized this month. And for such a bilious dispute, Pantaleo had little negative to say about his opposing counsel. “He’s just a brilliant, ethical, tough lawyer � and one of those guys who, to be honest, makes you proud to be a labor lawyer,” Pantaleo said. McCracken said he won’t stop the aggressive Vegas campaigns, as long as some employers remain opposed to the unions. “If they allow the workers to have their choice without going through years of litigation, we’ll stop banging away at them,” he said. — Justin Scheck

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