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Former lawyers and employees of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison say millions of documents left behind in the firm’s implosion should be treated as a treasure trove. In one sense, their adversary � Brobeck bankruptcy trustee Ronald Greenspan � agrees: He says they should be buried. And they will be, but only after both sides get one last chance to sift through them. “A landfill” is the likely destination for many of the files that the former employees want preserved, Greenspan’s lawyer, Bennett Murphy, said Thursday in a hearing before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali. Murphy said his client wants to get rid of one large group of documents through settlements with two storage companies that had been engaged in a fee dispute with Brobeck. Greenspan also wants to destroy another batch of materials that is costing the firm’s estate about $8,000 a month to store. That prospect rankles former Brobeck partners and employees, who say they may want the documents as discovery material in their pending litigation. Greenspan, they say, shouldn’t have license to destroy papers that may later prove useful. “He’s decided he knows enough and doesn’t need to keep them anymore,” said Jayne Loughry, a former Brobeck senior counsel suing the firm for back wages. Montali said Thursday that he could understand both the desire to preserve the material and the resistance of Greenspan, whose disembodied voice � via speaker phone � interjected several times at the hearing, to save the documents for even another six months. “There’s nothing wrong with a trustee saying ‘let’s save $50,000,’” Montali said. “There is something wrong with a trustee inadvertently � and I’m going to stick with inadvertently � abandoning relevant documents.” By the end of the hearing, Montali seemed to have brokered a tentative detente among Greenspan, attorneys for Brobeck partners and two former employees. Since the documents to be disposed via court settlement with the storage companies are indexed, Montali gave Murphy and Loughry until Tuesday to work out a plan by which former employees could view the index of materials and decide whether they want to request any of it. Cecily Dumas, who represents a group of former partners in litigation with the firm, was pleased to be offered a similar agreement. Murphy said the former employees and partners would have about 30 days to make requests before the material is destroyed. The nonindexed documents proved touchier. Greenspan agreed to hold off destroying them for six months, and Montali ordered that all materials relevant to litigation be preserved, an instruction he was not wholly comfortable with. “How’s the trustee going to identify what he’s abandoning if he’s going to have some big strong guy come and take it away?” Montali said.

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