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Rash of Calif. firm pay hikes has GCs concerned The latest round of associate salary raises is spreading like a virus through California’s biggest firms � and it has some corporate counsel feeling a little queasy. Last week, several big law firms raised starting pay to $160,000 for California associates, including Latham & Watkins and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. The rash of raises has some big-firm clients worried. Susan Hackett, senior vice president and general counsel of the Association of Corporate Counsel, said the recent round of raises doesn’t take clients into account at all. “The decision is completely divorced from any recognition of the value that’s provided,” Hackett said. “I don’t see how those people who got paid $10,000 less yesterday got any more talented today.” Diversity leaders at two Pittsburgh firms move on The first generation of diversity leaders at two of Pittsburgh’s largest firms has moved on during the last month. Carl Cooper was one of the first chief diversity officers of any large firm when he took the position at what is now Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis in January 2003. He left the firm recently to start his own consultancy. K&L Gates Chairman Peter J. Kalis said the firm is currently searching to fill Cooper’s position. Cathy Bissoon has left Reed Smith’s Pittsburgh office for Cohen & Grigsby. Reed Smith said it has appointed Washington-based partner Tyree P. Jones Jr. as its new director of diversity. Cravath launches a bankruptcy practice Cravath, Swaine & Moore apparently sees what a lot of firms see: growth in restructuring work. The New York firm announced last week that it is starting a bankruptcy practice that will be headed up by Richard Levin, who will join from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, where he was a partner. Evan Chesler, Cravath’s presiding partner, said an “insolvency and restructuring practice will both complement and benefit from the firm’s existing litigation, banking, mergers and acquisitions and securities practices.” Chesler said the firm went through “an exhaustive search” before settling on Levin, whose recent clients have included Refco Inc. and JP Morgan Chase & Co. N.Y. court OKs deferred payment to partners The New York high court has ruled that now-defunct Fish & Neave acted properly when it voted to defer compensation due to partners leaving the firm, including former managing partner W. Edward Bailey. The Fish & Neave case stems from the 2004 departure of two senior partners, Bailey and former management committee member Kevin J. Culligan. In May 2004, Fish & Neave partners approved an amendment to its partnership agreement permitting the firm to defer payment of accrued income to departing partners until those partners reached age 65. The amendment also allowed the firm to spread out the return of partners’ capital contributions over four years. Departing partners were previously paid owed compensation as soon as possible, with their capital returned within one year. Stroock bankruptcy group joins O’Melveny O’Melveny & Myers has recruited a four-partner bankruptcy practice from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan of New York. The practice is led by Michael J. Sage, who will be co-head of O’Melveny’s restructuring group. Sage also had co-chaired the practice at Stroock. The other Stroock bankruptcy partners joining O’Melveny are Gerald C. Bender, Doron Lipshitz and Patricia M. Perez. Though bankruptcy filings have fallen in recent years, many firms are moving to bolster their restructuring practices ahead of an anticipated resurgence.

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