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Vinson & Elkins to pay Enron $30M settlement Enron Corp.’s former outside law firm, Houston’s Vinson & Elkins, has agreed to pay the energy company $30 million to settle claims of contributing to Enron’s 2001 collapse by signing off on fraudulent or shaky deals. Vinson & Elkins, which once earned up to $40 million annually from Enron before the disgraced company cratered, admitted no liability in the settlement. “V&E met its professional obligations in its representation of Enron, and we could have demonstrated that at trial,” said Harry Reasoner, a Vinson & Elkins partner. The settlement is subject to approval by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Arthur Gonzalez in New York. Criminal defense division splits from Cochran firm The Cochran firm is splitting in two. Starting last week, its 15-attorney criminal defense division officially became Imhoff & Associates. The announcement comes just a few months after the plaintiffs’ firm, which has 18 offices across the country, launched an advertising campaign in an effort to move away from police brutality cases and put more focus on its personal injury and products liability work. “We are trying to streamline the firm, and we think this is the best way to do it,” said firm spokesman Jake Baloian. Discussions of splitting the firm began shortly after founding partner Johnnie Cochran Jr. died last year, Baloian said. Duane Morris makes bid to hit 1,000 attorneys Duane Morris is going forward with its plan to become a 1,000-attorney firm through the acquisition of new space in New York City. The firm is moving its New York office to a 82,000-square-foot expanded space in Times Square. Duane Morris will officially move into the space during either March or April of next year, according to Chairman Sheldon Bonovitz. He said that he would like to add at least 20 new attorneys for the office before that time. The firm is currently talking to several groups, and Bonovitz said that the majority of the 20 attorneys would come from groups, while some would be through lateral hires. Four partners have joined Duane Morris’ New York office in a variety of practice areas since the beginning of 2006. Holland & Knight hikes Florida first-year salaries In a change of plan, Holland & Knight announced last week that it is bumping up salaries for first-year associates in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Fla., from $105,000 to $120,000. That will include a $5,000 signing bonus. Holland’s move raises the ante for other major corporate law firms in south Florida, which are paying at most $115,000 for entry-level associates. Only White & Case’s Miami office is known to be paying first-years $120,000. Holland’s move was unexpected, because major salary increases typically are announced near the start of a law firm’s fiscal year. N.Y. comptroller seeks to jettison Milberg Weiss New York State Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi, the trustee of the $140 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, has announced he will ask U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley to replace indicted class action firm Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman as lead counsel in a shareholder suit against German pharmaceutical giant Bayer A.G. The move is a blow to the firm, which, along with partners David Bershad and Steven Schulman, was indicted on May 22 by Los Angeles federal prosecutors, who allege the firm paid more than $11 million in kickbacks to individuals who served as lead plaintiffs in class actions. Hevesi will select replacement counsel from a list of 15 firms the fund uses. Among those firms are Barrack, Rodos & Bacine; Berger & Montague; and Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann.

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