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JAMS reverses its class action policy After nearly four months of loud complaints from general counsel and defense attorneys, the arbitration service JAMS has reversed its policy of refusing to enforce contract clauses that prohibit consumer and employee class actions. The arbitration firm still thinks that the clauses may be unfair to workers and consumers, said JAMS GC John “Jay” Welsh. Nevertheless, the service changed its policy to counter the perception of outside lawyers that JAMS was favoring the plaintiffs’ bar. JAMS had been the only ADR provider to refuse to enforce exclusion clauses. Judge shot and killed in Atlanta courthouse A judge and court reporter were killed and two deputies were wounded in a shooting at the Fulton County Courthouse in downtown Atlanta on March 11. Authorities were hunting for the gunman at press time. Superior Court Judge Roland Barnes was shot on the eighth floor of the courthouse, while one of the deputies was shot on a street corner just outside the building, according to the Atlanta Police Department. Fulton County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Clarence Huber identified the suspect as 34-year-old Brian Nichols, who was being held on rape charges stemming from an incident in August. All the judges in the building were locked in their chambers. Thompson joins Akin, will advise Deloitte Former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson has joined Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as a partner. Thompson will work part time at Akin Gump while also serving as an adviser to tax and consulting firm Deloitte & Touche USA. Akin Gump Chairman R. Bruce McLean said Thompson will help the firm “develop a multidisciplinary health and life science practice.” At Deloitte, Thompson will chair the firm’s Center for Health Care Management and Transformation. Thompson resigned from President George W. Bush’s cabinet in December. While at HHS, he oversaw the administration’s expansion of Medicare through the passage of a $1 trillion prescription-drug benefit but took criticism for what some saw as the administration’s tepid response to the global AIDS epidemic. SEC chairman scolds hedge fund lawyers Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman William Donaldson scolded hedge fund lawyers recently for their role in recent market-timing scandals and late-trading abuses that have rocked the industry. “Think how much anguish we could have avoided if a few more lawyers had pointed out to their hedge fund clients that late trading of mutual fund shares is illegal, as are duplicitous market-timing arrangements,” Donaldson told securities lawyers at the Practising Law Institute’s annual SEC Speaks conference. The SEC sued some of the largest U.S. mutual funds during the past two years, accusing them of market timing-allowing hedge funds to trade rapidly in their funds, in violation of their internal bylaws. A historic first for Cravath: a lateral hire Cravath, Swaine & Moore has elected a lateral partner, its first in more than six decades. Andrew W. Needham, a tax partner at Willkie Farr & Gallagher, has been accepted into the partnership at Cravath. He is expected to join the New York firm in April. In a recent memo announcing the move internally, Robert D. Joffe, the presiding partner at Cravath, called the hiring a “nearly unique event” and said it would remain so. “It represents a rare exception to, and not a change in, our normal practice of selecting partners only from among our associates,” he continued in the memo. 11th Circuit deals FTC defeat in generics case The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week overruled a Federal Trade Commission decision that aimed to prevent drug patent holders from paying generic makers to keep cheaper drug versions off the market. In a big victory for pharmaceutical giant Schering-Plough Corp., Judge Peter T. Fay, writing for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, ruled that the December 2003 FTC decision would weaken the ability of drug companies to defend their patents. The court’s decision also suggests that the FTC’s position would give patent holders less certainty in settling cases out of court. “Patent owners should not be in a worse position, by virtue of the patent rights, to negotiate and settle surrounding lawsuits,” Fay wrote. “It is uncontested that parties settle cases based on their perceived risk of prevailing in and losing the litigation.”

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