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Profits per partner at elite firms hits $2 million Among the nation’s largest law firms, $1 million in profits per partner used to be the benchmark that separated the elite from everybody else. Judging from this year’s “AmLaw 100 Survey,” that mark has now been raised to $2 million. According to the survey, published in the July issue of The American Lawyer, a sister publication of The National Law Journal, 37 of the nation’s 100 highest-grossing law firms had more than $1 million in profits per partner last year; eight had profits per partner above $2 million. That compares with 31 firms above the $1 million mark a year earlier, when only three firms had profits per partner above $2 million. With the Wall Street deal economy thriving again after several fallow years, New York firms did particularly well, comprising 14 of the 15 most profitable firms in the survey. Surprise ruling: Contract attorneys must join bar A recent opinion by a District of Columbia high court committee has thrown lawyers, law firms and legal placement agencies for a loop. According to the opinion from the D.C. Court of Appeals Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law, contract lawyers doing business in the district must have a District of Columbia Bar law license. DLA Piper is latest firm to set up shop in Russia DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary made a big play for Eastern Europe last week, grabbing 77 lawyers from Ernst & Young’s Russian practice-and opening what firm leaders tout as the biggest law office in Moscow. The move, which significantly expands DLA Piper’s Moscow and St. Petersburg offices and adds new outposts in Tbilisi, Georgia, and Kiev, Ukraine, may indeed be the largest lateral transaction in the history of the region. But it isn’t the only one. “The market is so large that if you are determined to be a serious global player, [Russia is] a place you need to be,” said J. Terence O’Malley, co-managing partner of DLA Piper. U.S.-based firms are rushing to the region, fueled by work in the energy and tech sectors. Jones Day opened there a year ago. Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is opening an office staffed by three dual-degreed, multilingual Moscow partners from Coudert Brothers of New York. Post-acquittal, Scrushy faces SEC civil charges After his stunning acquittal on all criminal counts last week, Richard Scrushy still faces civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which some experts say are more likely to be successful for the government. The SEC’s case was deferred in mid-2003 when it was deemed to be in conflict with the Department of Justice’s criminal prosecution of HealthSouth Corp., the medical services company founded and led by Scrushy. A federal judge halted the SEC’s case until DOJ completed its criminal investigation of Scrushy. While the SEC is seeking an unspecified fine and restitution, civil charges involve less severe penalties and the burden of proof is significantly lower than in criminal cases. Wilmer Cutler plants flag in Northern Calif. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr is planting its flag in Northern California with a Palo Alto office and a high-profile poach from New York’s Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Weil partner Curtis Mo, who once headed Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison’s Silicon Valley corporate practice and the firm’s national capital markets group, joined Wilmer as a partner, effective this past weekend. He’ll lead Wilmer’s first West Coast office, which will be staffed with imports from other Wilmer offices along with local lateral hires. AGs seek answer over massive data breach The attorneys general of 44 states demanded last week that the credit card processor responsible for a breach that exposed 40 million cardholders to possible fraud inform affected consumers about the risk. In a terse letter sent to CardSystems Solutions Inc., the law enforcement officials said the company needs to tell exactly what happened when a computer hacker may have gained access to millions of credit card numbers. Officials have called it one of the largest security breaches involving consumer data. Atlanta-based CardSystems Solutions processes credit card and other payments for banks and merchants. All brands of credit cards could be affected, and records pertaining to at least 200,000 are known to have been stolen, primarily MasterCard and Visa cards. The attorneys general gave the company until July 25 to respond. Company officials in Atlanta and Tucson, Ariz., did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

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