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Bingham McCutchen to acquire Swidler Berlin Bingham McCutchen plans to acquire ailing Washington law firm Swidler Berlin by the beginning of next year, a Bingham spokesman confirmed last week. The deal awaits approval by both partnerships, and due diligence is not yet complete, but this week the two firms signed a letter of intent to merge. “We are optimistic about bringing this transaction to completion,” Bingham’s chairman, Jay Zimmerman, said in a statement. The match would instantly give the 844-lawyer Bingham a substantial Washington presence, more than tripling the firm’s 53-lawyer D.C. office. The addition of much of the 138-lawyer Swidler would also add two new practice groups, telecommunications and lobbying. Swidler managing partner Barry Direnfeld did not respond to repeated calls for comment. At least two key Swidler groups are said to be out of the Bingham deal: its insurance policy group and its bankruptcy group, according to legal recruiters and former Swidler partners. For Swidler, the move means the end of a slow but troubled downward spiral. Last year, the firm was rocked by failed merger negotiations with Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe. Its entire New York office left for Dechert in January, and key Washington partners in its antitrust and white-collar defense practices jumped ship almost simultaneously. Bingham’s largest office, with 270 lawyers, is in Boston. Its other locations include San Francisco and Los Angeles. Morrison & Foerster chair headed to N.Y. In a sign of the legal profession’s growing convergence on New York, the chairman of Morrison & Foerster has announced plans to relocate there. Keith Wetmore, the chairman of 1,025-lawyer Morrison & Foerster since 2000, said he will make the move early next month. A 23-year veteran of the San Francisco office, the firm’s largest, Wetmore said the move was intended to show the firm’s commitment to expanding its presence in the nation’s financial capital. Morrison & Foerster’s New York office, opened in 1987, has 143 lawyers and is the firm’s second largest. “New York has never been an afterthought for us,” said Wetmore. “But to put a fine point on that, I’m going there.” The firm traces its roots in San Francisco to the 19th century. Big bonuses in N.Y., salary hikes in D.C. Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom is set to announce bonuses for its associates ranging from $15,000 to $60,000. The range is in line with those previously announced by other major New York firms, reflecting the fact that Skadden pays its first-year associates a base salary of $140,000 instead of the $125,000 paid at Sullivan & Cromwell; Cravath, Swaine & Moore and other firms that have recently announced bonuses. Those firms have paid $30,000 bonuses to first-years, matching Skadden’s total first-year compensation at $155,000. Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy and Clifford Chance also announced their year-end bonuses for associates. Meanwhile, in the latest skirmish over salaries in Washington, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner has raised pay for its junior and midlevel associates. Effective on Jan. 1, the Washington-based intellectual property boutique is bumping base salaries for first-year associates from $125,000 to $135,000. 2,500 scofflaw attorneys are suspended in Ohio About 5% of Ohio’s attorneys were suspended because they failed to pay a $300 registration fee, the state Supreme Court said. The court recently barred about 2,500 lawyers from practicing until they have been reinstated, marking the first time the state has issued suspensions under the policy and the first time that such a large number of attorneys have been suspended simultaneously. Among those suspended are James Canepa, a top official in state Attorney General Jim Petro’s office, and former Columbus Mayor Tom Moody, who is retired. “The court feels that any attorney who practices law in Ohio should adhere to our requirements and pay the required fees,” said Richard Dove, the court’s director of attorney services. Ohio’s Supreme Court registers lawyers, requiring a fee every two years. The state raises about $8.7 million through the fees. Most of that supports the court’s discipline system for lawyers who violate ethics policies.

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