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Seward & Kissel sued on advice to hedge fund Seward & Kissel, a New York law firm, is facing legal malpractice claims over its role as advisor to failed hedge fund Wood River Partners. A group of institutional investors led by the Edison Fund Ltd. charged that the law firm, the fund’s auditors and financial professionals share responsibility for alleged fraud at the fund and investor losses estimated at $200 million. Last October, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Wood River, alleging that its managers had made misrepresentations regarding their investments to cover up the fact that 60% of the fund’s holdings were in one small company named End Wave. Seward & Kissel managing partner John E. Tavvs did not return a call seeking comment. High court advocate Goldstein joins Akin Washington attorney Thomas Goldstein, who has rocked the rarified world of Supreme Court advocacy by his aggressive pursuit of cases, will join the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as a partner on May 1. Goldstein, 35, has argued 16 cases before the high court. He currently runs his three-member firm Goldstein & Howe from his house with wife Amy Howe. Goldstein declined to put a price tag on the deal, but said he was approached by several firms in the last few years before agreeing to join Akin Gump. Bingham/Swidler merger completed a month early Bingham McCutchen last week completed an agreement to acquire Washington’s Swidler Berlin-a month earlier than expected. “Everyone was really enthusiastic and wanted to start working together as soon as possible,” said Jay Zimmerman, chairman of Bingham, which has its largest office in Boston. The merger almost triples Bingham’s D.C. head count, adding 115 Swidler lawyers to the firm’s 60-lawyer Washington shop. It also expands Bingham’s D.C. practice areas, from primarily Securities and Exchange Commission-related issues to telecommunications and lobbying. Barry Direnfeld, managing partner of Swidler, and Neal Sullivan, managing partner of Bingham’s Washington office, will act as co-managing partners of the D.C. office. The Swidler Berlin name will not be part of the Washington operation. Duty to client extend beyond firm’s closing A New York federal judge has ordered the former equity partners of a now-defunct law firm to step in as counsel for a client they last directly represented before their firm’s dissolution in 2003. Though he noted that neither the code of professional responsibility nor New York partnership law directly addressed the issue, U.S. District Judge Charles S. Haight said that the partners retained “the professional and ethical responsibility” for the representation despite firm’s closing. RLS Associates LLC v. United Bank of Kuwait PLC, No. 01 Civ. 1290. The client, consulting firm RLS Associates, said it retained the law firm Spitzer & Feldman on a contingent-fee basis to bring a 2001 suit against the United Bank of Kuwait over payments allegedly owed. As one firm pulls out of S.F., another moves in White & Case announced recently that the firm is closing its five-year-old San Francisco office and focusing instead on building its technology practices in Palo Alto, Calif. “The future investment required in order to develop San Francisco into a full-service office would be more productively used intensifying our focus on developing tech, IP and patent litigation practices,” said Roger Cohen, a firm spokesman. The status of the office’s nine partners, 11 associates and two counsel was being discussed, Cohen said. After spending nearly a century tucked away on the East Coast, Boston’s Goodwin Procter has plans to open an office in San Francisco as early as this summer as part of its ongoing effort to shift its status from a regional firm to a national firm. It is also considering opening offices in Silicon Valley and the Los Angeles area.

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