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FIRMS OPEN POCKETBOOKS FOR TSUNAMI RELIEF With colleagues, friends, family and foreign offices affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami, Bay Area lawyers and their firms have responded to the disaster in force. Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, for one, is looking to put its legal skills and its checkbook to work. In addition to giving $100,000 to the American Red Cross International Response Fund and earmarking another $50,000 to match employees’ individual donations, Raj Judge, who heads the firm’s India practice, has begun contacting government ministries to see if his firm can also offer pro bono legal help. The corporate securities lawyer says he will offer similar assistance to other groups when he’s in India this week on business. “There’s a lot of focus for us on the India subcontinent,” Judge said. “So it was almost a natural connection for me, when the tsunami hit that part of the world, to look for different avenues of support.” Howrey Simon Arnold & White, whose foreign outposts are limited to Europe, has pledged to donate $1 million, split among four charities: Save the Children, Operation USA, Catholic Relief Services and the American Jewish Joint Distributions Committee Inc. “We just wanted to make a major contribution because we think it’s such a big issue,” said Washington, D.C.-based Managing Partner Robert Ruyak. The Consumer Attorneys of California and Association of Trial Lawyers of America have begun their effort, and had raised $25,000 by the end of last week. CAOC President Sharon Arkin said the fund-raising drive isn’t so different from the lawyers’ quotidian work. “We do disaster relief every day,” she said. “That’s what we do, whether it’s someone who’s been in a car accident or had a disaster from a defective drug.” The lawyers at Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold have also committed to raising cash for victims of the tidal wave. Sedgwick partner Paul Riehle got involved through his decades-long surfing habit. A regular in the frigid and shark-infested waves off San Francisco’s Ocean Beach since the ’80s, Riehle has traveled in recent years to places where surfing doesn’t require head-to-toe wetsuits. One of these destinations is the Mentawais, a group of barrier islands off Sumatra’s west coast. In 2002, Riehle became a director of SurfAid International, a nonprofit that does malaria relief work there. “It combines something you love with doing something good in the world,” he said. Since SurfAid had a cadre of boats and medical professionals available in the Mentawais — which were spared from the devastation suffered by most of the surrounding islands — Riehle is raising funds for the organization to provide disaster relief. He’s getting help from his partner, Gary Sheppard, who happened to be in Thailand with his family when the waves struck — luckily stuck inland because coastal hotels were booked. After five days of waiting for a flight out, Sheppard said, he had to drive through Phuket to get a plane. “Phuket was very much like being in New York two weeks after Sept. 11, with bulletin boards that had thousands of people’s names on them,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can to help Paul out.” Among the torrent of law firm donations: � Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher has donated $100,000 to the American Red Cross and is seeking opportunities for pro bono legal work for victims. � Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is giving $75,000 to UNICEF as well as matching employee contributions, which had surpassed $50,000 by Thursday. � Pillsbury Winthrop employees raised about $85,000 for nearly 20 relief agencies, and the firm sent a matching $50,000 to CARE, an international anti-poverty organization. � Harvey Siskind Jacobs donated an undisclosed amount to the Sri Lanka Medical Association of North America, as did most of its lawyers and staff. � Reed Smith, in addition to matching employee contributions, is donating $50,000 that will be divided among whichever five organizations receive the highest number of contributions from firm personnel. � Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom is donating $100,000 to a variety of relief agencies, as well as matching employees’ contributions. � Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps has joined forces with a startup water purification technology company and a nonprofit humanitarian aid organization to bring safe drinking water to southern India. Employees donated more than $5,000, which was matched by $5,000 from the law firm to underwrite the expenses of setting up a portable water purification system. � Bingham McCutchen’s partners, associates and staff have raised $2,000 for the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California’s charitable foundation and more than $30,000 for other groups. � Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder and its employees have given $3,500 to the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California’s charitable foundation. � Employees in the Santa Clara County public defender’s office have contributed $2,350 to the South Asian Bar Association of Northern California’s charitable foundation. � Cooley Godward is matching up to $25,000 of its employees’ donations to tsunami relief groups with a donation to the American Red Cross International Response Fund. � Morrison & Foerster is also matching employee contributions, and predicts the firm’s portion will reach at least $100,000. � Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe is giving $50,000 to CARE, which has set up a Web site for Heller Ehrman employees to donate through. — Pam Smith and Justin Scheck SPRECHEN SIE SOMETHING? It takes more than a sterling resume to get a job in Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton’s entertainment and media practice. Associates have to be bilingual to get in the door. Robert Darwell, who heads the transactional side of the practice, initiated the requirement last summer. He got the idea as he was negotiating financing for “Lord of War” — an upcoming Nicholas Cage movie — with a German lawyer and French producer. Fluent in French, Darwell said he wished he had had a German-speaking colleague in the room. “As we add new associates, I thought, let’s look for those with an additional language,” Darwell said. “Then over the next couple of years the entire group would have a range of languages.” While much of the business world communicates in English, Darwell said clients appreciate it when you can speak their language, and in negotiations people sometimes revert to their original language to discuss a point. Having a bilingual attorney can also eliminate translation costs and make negotiations more efficient. “U.S. entertainment seems to be the cultural language at the moment,” Darwell said. But “getting movies made requires financing from sources all around the world.” Germany, which gives investors a tax break, has become a major source of funding, Darwell said. He noted that last year six films he worked on got German financing. In addition to negotiating financing and distribution, his group also reviews chain of title to foreign films for clients seeking to acquire rights to remake them. The transactional team also assesses movie advertising campaigns to make sure they comply with laws in other countries. Half of Sheppard, Mullin’s 32-lawyer entertainment and media group is bilingual. It still doesn’t have a German-speaking member, though — the mix of languages so far consists of Spanish, French, Thai and Hebrew. Darwell said the bilingual focus has been a hit with clients and the firm. And would-be employees are also eager to adapt to the language requirement. “We get a lot of people saying, ‘I’ll learn one’ or ‘I have rusty German,’” Darwell said. — Brenda Sandburg CHOPPY SEAS Think Oracle’s battle to acquire PeopleSoft was long and drawn out? The sale of an America’s Cup team to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was almost as stormy. Douglas Smith, a partner with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, should know. He represented PeopleSoft during its 18-month hold-out battle. But prior to that, Smith acted as legal counsel in the sale of the AmericaOne sailing team to Ellison, and then went on to do legal work for the team now named BMW Oracle Racing. As it turned out, another party almost made a hostile takeover of the nonprofit AmericaOne before Ellison bought it. Smith says an attorney for cellular tycoon John McCaw attempted to stop the sale, claiming the team’s assets had not been first offered to McCaw. Because the team was a charity, California law required the assets be sold at the highest price and offered to anybody with a natural interest. After an internal investigation, Smith and his team’s board determined they had offered the team’s assets to McCaw’s lawyer. That lawyer, New Zealander Sean Reeves, who formerly worked for Team New Zealand, denied in a sworn affidavit that the offer had been made to him. But this big-fish tale didn’t end there. A year later, Smith says Reeves called a member of Oracle Racing, offering to sell designs of boats used by McCaw’s team, OneWorld, but the team member refused. Later, Reeves was sued by OneWorld in federal court in Washington state in connection with his attempt to sell the intellectual property. Smith said he stopped doing work for the Oracle team after some of his friends were fired by Ellison. — Marie-Anne Hogarth

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