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CITING CONFLICT, JUDGE REMOVES LAWYER, FIRM NEW YORK — An attorney representing a client suing a company over insurance coverage must be disqualified because he represented the insurer in scores of similar actions, a Southern District of New York judge has ruled. Judge Harold Baer Jr. found that Peter Heck of Binder & Binder can no longer represent a woman suing Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. over the denial of coverage for long-term disability benefits by First Unum Life Insurance Co. of America. Heck joined Binder & Binder this year after working at Del Mauro, DiGiaimo, Knepper & Heck, a litigation boutique that specialized in defending life and disability insurance companies in actions brought by policyholders seeking benefits. After joining Binder & Binder, Heck was retained by Mary Lott for the case of Lott v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 03 Civ. 9235 — an action in which Lott alleged bad faith in the denial of long-term disability benefits, just one example of what she claimed was a broad pattern of First Unum showing bad faith in denying claims. First Unum’s attorneys, Begos & Hogan, moved to disqualify Heck under New York Code of Professional Responsibility Disciplinary Rule 5-108(a)(1), which forbids attorneys from representing “another person in the same or a substantially related matter in which that person’s interests are materially adverse to the interests of the former client.” Judge Baer noted that between 1998 and 2004, Heck was an associate and then a partner at Del Mauro, where he represented the insurance company in more than 350 actions and billed more than 9,600 hours. In one lawsuit alone he billed more than 500 hours as lead counsel. — New York Law Journal PHILLY FIRM ACQUIRES NEW YORK BOUTIQUE PHILADELPHIA — It looks like a large firm, it pays associates like a large firm and turns a profit like a large firm. But because most of the lawyers at Stevens & Lee are located in small Pennsylvania cities like Reading, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Allentown, Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, not many people have taken notice of the firm on a national level. But now the firm has decided to head to the big city, announcing the opening of a New York office next month by acquiring seven-attorney bankruptcy boutique Salomon Green & Ostrow. All seven former Salomon Green lawyers will join Reading-based Stevens & Lee along with two paralegals and related staff. The group will remain in Salomon Green’s offices at 485 Madison Ave. Robert Lapowsky, a bankruptcy partner in the Stevens & Lee Philadelphia office, said he first met lawyers from Salomon Green 10 years ago when he opposed them in an 18-monthlong case involving the bankruptcy of Cellular Information Systems. Lapowsky kept in touch with his former adversaries through referral work and professional organizations. Stevens & Lee has been looking to establish a New York presence for its litigation, corporate and bankruptcy practices. Earlier this year Lapowsky called on his longtime friends, who just happened to be looking to join a large firm after nearly a quarter century of resisting it. — The Legal Intelligencer NEW PARTNERS HOWREY ELEVATES 10 TO PARTNERSHIP Howrey Simon Arnold & White has promoted 10 attorneys to its partnership ranks, including three based in the Bay Area. Associates Matthew Hocker and Viola Kung were named partners in Howrey Simon’s Menlo Park office. Hocker, a 1996 graduate of the Indiana University School of Law, focuses on patent litigation and client counseling. Kung, who is an inventor of 21 U.S. patents, began her career as a research scientist. She worked at what was then Liposome Technology Inc., Molecular Devices Corp. and Metra Biosystems Inc., which was subsequently acquired by Quidel Corp. She obtained her J.D. from Santa Clara University School of Law in 2000 and a Ph.D. from UC-Berkeley in 1978. Patent litigator Sean Hodge was elevated to partner in Howrey Simon’s San Francisco office. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 1996. The elevations are effective Saturday. Last year, the 550-attorney firm named 15 new partners. — Brenda Sandburg

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