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High court to post online same-day oral arguments Starting in October, lawyers won’t have to be inside the marble chamber of the U.S. Supreme Court to gain a same-day understanding of the thrust and parry of a particular oral argument. The court announced last week that it will be posting on its Web site the transcripts of oral arguments on the same day they occur-far faster than the previous practice of releasing them up to two weeks afterward. And access advocates hope it signals a new climate of openness under new Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. Roberts’ predecessor, the late William H. Rehnquist, experimented with same-day release of the audio of oral arguments to accommodate the public interest in the Florida presidential election cases of 2000. Hunton & Williams joins the L.A. gold rush Hunton & Williams is now the latest firm to try its hand at the Los Angeles legal market, following a string of out-of-towners who set up shop in Southern California this year. The Richmond, Va., firm is launching its downtown office by swallowing the majority of what was formerly trial boutique O’Donnell & Mortimer, a union spurred by shared client Pfizer Inc. A number of firms have established themselves in the Los Angeles area this year, including Goodwin Procter, Venable, McGuireWoods, and Steptoe & Johnson. Saul Ewing to merge with D.C. boutique Philadelphia’s Saul Ewing will expand its Washington presence through a planned merger with 20-attorney boutique Schmeltzer, Aptaker & Shepard in hopes of strengthening its labor and employment group and its biotechnology practice. Saul Ewing currently has six attorneys in its Washington office, but firm managing partner David S. Antzis said the merger would make that office the firm’s third largest behind the Philadelphia and Baltimore offices. The merger will put Saul Ewing close to the 300-lawyer mark. The merger is still subject to shareholder votes from both firms, but the deal is expected to be completed by Oct. 1. Saul Ewing plans to move its attorneys into Schmeltzer Aptaker’s office space in the Watergate office building. The combined firm will use the Saul Ewing name. Stolen laptop contained Howard Rice data As many as 500 current and former employees of San Francisco’s Howard Rice Nemerovski Canady Falk & Rabkin may be at risk of identity theft after a laptop computer containing confidential employee pension plan information was stolen from an auditor. The firm sent a notice to current and former partners, associates and staff in mid-August alerting them of the security breach. The computer was taken from the trunk of the auditor’s car, parked in a public lot. The auditor was an employee of Morris, Davis & Chan of Oakland, Calif. H-P directors, GC are sued by Lerach Plaintiffs’ attorney William Lerach has filed a suit accusing Hewlett-Packard Co. board members and executives of breaching their fiduciary duty, citing a litany of reasons including their use of top Silicon Valley lawyer Larry Sonsini. Lerach’s complaint is the latest result of a mess that began early this year when H-P Chairwoman Patricia Dunn initiated a probe in which an investigator lied to access private phone records of other directors and several journalists. The suit argues that 10 H-P board members and executives-including General Counsel Ann Baskins and Dunn-should be forced to pay damages to the company. Lerach also wrote that “Wilson Sonsini [Goodrich & Rosati] and Sonsini are conflicted and would be key witnesses and possible defendants in any ultimate legal action,” so the board should have sought independent counsel. A Wilson Sonsini spokeswoman did not return a call for comment by press time. [See related story, Page 6.] Dewey Ballantine and Orrick talking merger New York-based Dewey Ballantine and bicoastal Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe are discussing a possible merger, the leaders of both firms confirmed last week. It remains unclear how far the discussions have advanced, but if a merger is completed, a combined firm would have more than 1,200 lawyers and hit nearly $1 billion in revenues, based on the most recent survey of law firm profits by The American Lawyer, an affiliate of The National Law Journal. The two firms posted similar profits per partner last year: Orrick’s were at $1.24 million per equity partner, and Dewey’s were $1.23 million. Revenue per lawyer was $765,000 at Orrick and $780,000 at Dewey. And both have deep ties to financial services clients.

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