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11th Circuit skeptical of evolution-sticker ruling A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sounded particularly skeptical last week of a lower court’s January ruling that removed stickers calling evolution “a theory, not a fact” from Cobb County, Ga., biology books. Judge Edward E. Carnes led sharp questioning of Jeffrey O. Bramlett, who represented the challengers of the sticker and had to defend the January ruling of U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper. All three judges sounded concerned about both Cooper’s decision and the sticker challengers’ briefs, which listed incorrectly the events leading up to the placement of the stickers. Carnes ended the hearing by upbraiding Bramlett for failing to correct the timeline problems. Selman v. Cobb County School District, 390 F. Supp. 2d 1286 (N.D. Ga.). Baker & McKenzie may be mulling merger Baker & McKenzie, already the world’s largest law firm, is in merger talks, according to a report. The Chicago Sun-Times report last week cited sources that said Baker & McKenzie’s motive for a merger was an interest in bulking up practices in corporate and financial markets. The report did not name any merger candidates and Baker & McKenzie declined to name any potential firms. The 3,309-attorney firm issued a statement declining to comment on merger speculation. Associates at Houston litigation boutique Susman Godfrey will have plenty of cash to enjoy the holidays with year-end bonuses ranging from $86,000 to $150,000. Partner Stephen Susman said the hefty bonuses, which will be paid this week to partnership-track associates who have been at the firm for at least a year, average 75% of each associate’s base pay. Susman said the firm’s financial performance in 2005 is second only to its best-ever results in 2004. In 2004, profits per partner were $2,059,000 on net income of $70 million, according to an annual report on firm finance that appeared earlier this year in Texas Lawyer, a sister publication of The National Law Journal. Susman said the firm’s partners voted on the associate bonus schedule earlier this month. DLA Piper makes a move in Madrid DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary is swallowing the Madrid, Spain, office of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey-the latest in a flurry of international expansions for DLA. The Madrid acquisition will give DLA Piper 25 attorneys to add to the 29 it already has in that city. DLA Piper’s Madrid office was in meetings last week hammering out details of the deal, which has not been officially announced in the United States but was confirmed by a DLA Piper source in Spain. The combined office, which will operate under the DLA Piper name, is expected to be operational in early 2006. The merged office would put DLA Piper’s head count in Spain closer to that of other top international law firms, such as Baker & McKenzie, which has 99 attorneys in Madrid. Most claims thrown out in Winston pay lawsuit On the eve of trial, a New York trial judge has thrown out most of a suit filed against Winston & Strawn by a one-time rainmaking partner who claimed the firm sharply reduced his pay in violation of a special compensation agreement. Anthony F. LoFrisco, a partner in the New York office of Chicago-based Winston & Strawn, had long been one of the highest-paid lawyers at the firm, owing to a 1994 agreement that tied his compensation to work the firm performed for the General Electric Co. The agreement expired in 2001, but LoFrisco claimed the firm agreed that year to continue the earlier arrangement as well as exempt him from “decompression,” the firm policy by which partners’ pay is reduced every year after they turn 65. LoFrisco, 72, said the firm broke the agreement the following year, and decompression reduced his pay from $2.3 million in 2002 to $350,000 in 2004. The suit had been scheduled to go to trial on Jan. 4. But Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Helen Freedman granted summary judgment to Winston on most of LoFrisco’s claims, agreeing with the firm that the plain language of the 2001 agreement gave the executive committee discretion in deciding his pay.

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