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Google GC strikes a settlement with SEC Google Inc. and its general counsel, David Drummond, reached a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week in connection with the company’s failure to register more than $80 million in employee stock options in the two years prior to its initial public offering. Google and Drummond weren’t fined, but they did agree to cease and desist from future securities laws violations. Under the terms of the settlement, Drummond and Google neither admit nor deny the SEC’s findings. The SEC’s crackdown marks the end of its investigation into Google’s bumpy road to its IPO. Bid to broaden pro bono credit sparks fight in N.Y. A proposal by an ad hoc committee of the New York State Bar Association to expand the definition of pro bono credit beyond legal services to the poor is creating widespread objections. Under the proposed changes, volunteer work by attorneys would qualify as pro bono in several new ways, including participation in “activities for improving the law or the legal system and financial contributions to organizations whose purpose is to address the legal needs of the poor.” The state bar, meeting in New York City later this month, is expected to consider the proposal. $960M settlement made in McKesson class action In one of the largest securities class action settlements ever, McKesson Corp. last week agreed to pay $960 million to end litigation in federal court. Institutional investors filed the federal suits in 1999 after the San Francisco-based McKesson merged with HBO & Co. Following the merger, McKesson revealed accounting irregularities that triggered a $9 billion drop in the value of the health care giant’s stock in a single day. Northern District of California Judge Ronald Whyte still must approve the agreement. Negotiations were overseen by Magistrate Judge Edward Infante. Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann represents the New York State Common Retirement Fund, the lead plaintiff. McKesson is represented by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. The company still faces plaintiff suits in San Francisco Superior Court and other venues outside California. N.J. lawyers sue over tax The New Jersey State Bar Association has gone to court over the $75 tax assessed on all lawyers to help cure the rising cost of medical malpractice insurance. State Bar President Edwin McCreedy filed the complaint along with a brief arguing that the New Jersey Medical Care Access and Responsibility and Patients First Act, enacted last June, is unconstitutional on several fronts and in particular violates lawyers’ equal protection and due process rights. The fund created by the act will help subsidize insurance premium payments of certain doctors, and will reimburse obstetricians/gynecologists for student loan expenses. Pa. approves expanded confidentiality duty Pennsylvania lawyers are now obligated to keep the secrets of prospective clients who come to them for a consultation but never hire them. The state Supreme Court recently detailed the new responsibility when it amended the ethics rules for Pennsylvania attorneys. The court’s Disciplinary Board recommended the change last year. Legal ethicists said the rule formalizes a practice that attorneys should already be familiar with. Previously, no Pennsylvania ethics rule expressly stated the responsibilities owed to prospective clients. Boston’s Testa Hurwitz votes to call it quits Boston firm Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault has voted to disband, citing numerous partner defections as the main reason. The 270-attorney firm, which serves emerging growth companies, recently had numerous merger discussions with other firms that did not materialize, said managing partner George Davitt in a statement released on Jan. 14. Last year, Testa Hurwitz lost more than 60 attorneys. Several of Boston’s bigger law firms have merged recently, most notably Ropes & Gray with New York’s Fish & Neave; and Hale and Dorr with Washington’s Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering.

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