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Arbitration group shuts five offices, lays off 50 Beset by budget woes, the American Arbitration Association is shutting five of its offices and laying off 50 workers nationwide, including some of its regional vice presidents. Two of its 28 offices have already been closed, and three more will be eliminated by year’s end, an AAA spokesman confirmed last week. The organization announced the restructuring internally earlier this month. Alongside the crash diet, AAA appears to be re-evaluating its business model as it expands its offerings to include a broader array of dispute-resolution tools. “It’s a difficult change for the organization, but a necessary one,” AAA spokesman Larry Parker said. Bingham McCutchen expands in Beantown Bingham McCutchen will relocate to 320,000 square feet of office space at 1 Federal St. in Boston, a move the bicoastal firm is calling the largest commercial lease deal in Beantown since 2001. The location will be 80,000 square feet larger than its current location at 150 Federal St. The firm will occupy 13 floors at 1 Federal, where it was located from 1924 to 1971. Terms of the 15-year lease were not disclosed. Bingham has 270 lawyers in Boston, its largest office. First ‘spyware’ action is filed against Sony BMG Sony BMG Music Entertainment’s compact discs have hit a sour note with consumers, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has sued the company for allegedly implanting illegal “spyware” in its CDs. In the first enforcement action in the nation against Sony BMG, Abbott filed suit under the state’s new Consumer Protection Against Computer Spyware Act. According to Abbott’s original petition in State v. Sony BMG Music Entertainment, the company’s CDs utilize XCP technology that is designed to prevent CD pirating. But the company makes no disclosure on its packaging that anything will be installed on the consumer’s computer before the consumer can listen to the music, Abbott alleges in the petition. Sony stated on its Web site recently that it had stopped producing the CDs with the XCP software. But Abbott said investigators had been able to purchase CDs with the software as late as Nov. 20. Ga.’s high court reverses stance on ID theft cases State prosecutors got their wish last week when the Georgia Supreme Court did an about-face on the state’s identity theft statute. Seven weeks ago, the justices ruled unanimously that identity theft must be prosecuted in the county where the perpetrator lives. Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker and the state’s district attorneys argued that the decision would hinder prosecutions for identity theft, especially where a perpetrator lived outside the state. On Nov. 21, four justices reversed course. “A contrary holding,” Justice George H. Carley wrote for the majority, “would have the unfortunate effect of depriving the residents of Georgia of the protection which the General Assembly sought to provide them as against those who seek to steal their identities.” State v. Mayze, No. S05A1225. Small gains for women and minority partners The numbers of partners who are women or a minority increased slightly at law firms this year, although they remain underrepresented when compared with law school enrollment and attorney population, a study by the National Association for Law Placement has found. Attorneys of color accounted for 4.63% of partners at firms in the nation’s largest cities, compared with 4.32% last year. Women accounted for 17.29% of partners in 2005, compared with 17.06% last year. Offices in Los Angeles; Miami; San Francisco; and San Jose, Calif., had the most partners who are attorneys of color. Cities with high percentages of women partners were Austin, Texas; Denver; Detroit; New Orleans; and Seattle. Representation of women among associates is highest in Denver; New Orleans; San Francisco; Seattle; and Stamford/Greenwich, Conn.

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