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A Sky-High Merger Lawyers from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson’s D.C. office are serving as antitrust counsel for US Airways in its $8 billion merger bid for bankrupt Delta Air Lines. The Fried, Frank team includes partners Charles Rule and Deborah Garza and associate Ngoc Pham Hulbig. Airline mergers tend to be rife with antitrust concerns, and the companies operate rival shuttles in the D.C.-New York-Boston corridor. If the deal goes through, the combined airline would be one of the world’s largest and the leading carrier at 155 airports. But Doug Parker, US Airways’ chief executive, says the company has analyzed the antitrust implications of the deal and believes any antitrust issues “can be resolved.” Fried, Frank has represented US Airways in antitrust matters for the past 15 years, Rule says, including the company’s Sept. 2005 merger with America West Airlines. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom’s New York and Chicago offices are acting as US Airways’ primary counsel on the deal.
And Then There’s Essex Meanwhile, Fried, Frank’s Garza has been busy on other big deals. She worked with New York-based partner David Shine, who led defense giant Northrop Grumman’s legal team in its acquisition of Columbia, Md.-based Essex Corp. last week. Fried, Frank has long been legal counsel to California-based Northrop, handling securities, transaction, and general litigation. The deal, which has Northrop paying out $580 million in cash for the intelligence services company with close ties to the National Security Agency, is expected to close in early 2007, pending shareholder and antitrust approval. The move gives Northrop entry into several classified government programs. Hogan & Hartson Baltimore partners Michael Silver and A. Lynne Puckett, as well as Michele Harrington in Hogan’s Northern Virginia office, led Essex’s legal team. “Obviously, it’s a friendly transaction,” says Silver of the deal.
Social Drinker Another week, another law firm wedding announcement. This time, Philadelphia-based Drinker Biddle & Reath and Chicago-based Gardner Carton & Douglas said they had tied the knot after both firms’ partnerships approved the deal. The combined firm, which will keep the Drinker Biddle name, will have more than 650 lawyers in 12 offices with approximately $350 million in revenues, according to the latest American Lawyer AmLaw 100 and AmLaw 200 surveys. Both firms have similar profits per partner (in the high $500,000 range), but some observers have questioned the financial health of Gardner Carton, which slipped from 151 to 163 in the latest AmLaw 200 survey. In Washington, D.C., the merger will give the firm 90 lawyers, making it one of the top 50 largest law offices in the city. Drinker’s chairman, Alfred Putnam Jr., who will be chairman of the combined firm, says that although he heard concerns about the deal from partners in other offices, “D.C. was the easy part.” Gardner’s D.C. office has shed about 22 percent of its lawyers, according to Legal Times‘ recent head-count survey of the metro area’s 150 largest law offices, but Putnam describes the decline as just part of the normal “ebb and flow” of a law firm. Gardner’s lawyers should be moving over to Drinker’s headquarters at 1500 K St. N.W. in early 2007, says Michael McManus, the regional partner-in-charge of Drinker’s D.C. office, who will also be the partner-in-charge of the combined office.
Crossing the New Frontier Law firms often talk big about how geography doesn’t matter, but the allure of opening offices in Asia continues, with recent announcements of firms opening branch offices there. After Bingham McCutchen’s Jay Zimmerman projected that his firm hoped to expand its overseas operation in London and beyond after Bingham’s merger with struggling D.C.-based Swidler Berlin, most knew it was just a matter of time before Asia appeared on the radar. After all, Zimmerman has morphed the Boston-based firm into a national powerhouse after completing six mergers. Now, Bingham’s Hong Kong office will open its doors in January with a focus on advising existing financial-institution clients in Asia. Bingham’s move comes after Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman recently secured a license to practice law in Shanghai. The firm decided to open offices there to help its Silicon Valley clients who already have a China strategy in place.
Magnus to Miller International trade lawyer John Magnus is headed back to law firm life. Magnus, who set up his own trade law and policy consulting shop in February 2005, has been scooped up by Miller & Chevalier. Before setting off on his own, Magnus spent 15 years with Dewey Ballantine’s international trade law group. Magnus, who joined Miller on Nov. 6 and will be a member of its government affairs and international practice groups, says he’ll continue to do mostly policy advisory work. With Democrats in charge of both sides of the Capitol in the next session of Congress, there are likely to be fewer new free trade agreement negotiations. But, Magnus says trade-liberalizing initiatives are just “one of the drivers in the business” and expects to be busy consulting on World Trade Organization dispute-settlement cases and on pushing legislation to extend expiring trade-preference programs.
Keeping Score is Legal Times ‘ weekly column devoted to the legal business scene. Got a tip for Alexia or Anna? Contact them at [email protected] or [email protected].

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