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Law firm mergers up in 2006, size of firms down Law firm mergers in 2006 were up by 18.4% from 2005, for a total of 58 deals completed, according to MergerWatch, a Hildebrandt International publication. Although the number of mergers rose, the size of the firms declined. The largest merger in 2006, based on the size of the smaller of the two merging firms, was between 370-attorney Thelen Reid & Priest and 250-attorney Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner, which created a 630-attorney firm. The second largest merger was between 850-attorney Bingham McCutchen and 140-attorney Swidler Berlin. Only two U.S. firms completed cross-border mergers: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe combined with Paris’ Ramaud Martin, and Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson acquired Paris’ Lantourne. Personality clashes split high-profile N.J. firm Nagel Rice & Mazie, whose record of winning multimillion-dollar personal injury and class action cases has been matched by few New Jersey firms, is splitting in half because of personality clashes and disagreements about compensation among the name partners. The firm’s most recent star litigator, David Mazie, announced last week that he and seven other lawyers at the Roseland firm had formed Mazie Slater Katz & Freeman. The other two equity partners, Bruce Nagel and Jay Rice, will head 12-lawyer Nagel Rice. Cautious GCs likely to spend more in 2007 More in-house legal staffs across the country say they will be hiring outside firms to do more work this year. A survey released last week by the Association of Corporate Counsel found that 25% of in-house counsel planned on increasing their use of outside counsel, up from 16% last year. However, 53% of the 848 corporate attorneys surveyed said the amount of legal work they plan to send out would not change. “The main reason for it is the increased burden relating to corporate governance and how it might impact both private and public companies,” said Fritz Koehler, general counsel for eSilicon Corp. “For recent changes in things like compensation disclosure rules, companies thinking they might one day go public may need to seek legal advice. Public companies have to do the same thing.” U.S. won’t challenge ABA law school diversity rule The U.S. department of Education has decided not to challenge-at least for now-the American Bar Association’s controversial new standard on diversity in law schools, despite filing a notice to do so last month. The revised standard by the ABA, the accrediting body for 195 U.S. law schools, requires them to take “concrete action” to diversify their students and faculties. At a hearing in December to renew the ABA’s accreditation authority, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity-the body charged with making recommendations to the secretary of the U.S. Department of Education about continuing the ABA’s accreditation authority-decided to drop any action on the diversity standard. The education department’s general counsel then vowed to appeal that move. Last week, however, the department said that it would not appeal. It declined to comment further. Veteran D.C. lawyer new White House counsel A veteran washington lawyer who has been through the legal battles of Watergate and served both presidents Nixon and Reagan is President Bush’s choice to be his White House counsel. Presidential spokesman Tony Snow confirmed last week that Bush has named Fred Fielding to be the top White House lawyer. Fielding will become Bush’s top legal counsel just as Democrats, once again the majority party in Congress, plan to take a more critical look at the administration. Fielding, who is replacing Harriet Miers, is a partner at the firm of Washington’s Wiley Rein & Fielding. Four controversial appeals court candidates dropped In a concession to the Senate’s new Democratic majority, President Bush won’t rename four controversial federal appeals court nominees whose confirmations were blocked last year, Republican officials recently announced. William Haynes, William G. Myers III and Michael Wallace all asked to have their appointments withdrawn, these officials said. Judge Terrence Boyle was informed of the White House’s decision, according to an ally. Haynes is the Pentagon’s top lawyer, and was an architect of the Bush administration’s now-abandoned policy on the treatment of detainees in the war on terror. He had been nominated for the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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