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Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner has asked a judge to throw out an arbitration award granted to a former partner who the firm claims failed to drum up enough business for its intellectual property practice. The law firm asserts in its petition to vacate, filed on June 22 in a New York state trial court, that attorney Lee Goldberg is not entitled to the $453,463 award that he received on June 5 for his breach of contract claims and for attorney fees. Specifically, attorneys for Thelen Reid allege that the decision by an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association was based on an irrational construction of the agreement and that the award of attorney fees to Goldberg exceeded the arbitrator’s power. The law firm filed the petition before New York County Supreme Court Justice Bernard Fried in response to a petition to confirm the arbitration award submitted by Goldberg’s attorney, Jeffrey Jannuzzo, a New York solo practitioner. Goldberg, in his motion to confirm the award, asserts that the law firm has failed to comply with the June 5 award and that he is entitled to money for breach of contract, attorney fees and interest. In July 2005, Goldberg joined Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner, which later merged with Thelen Reid & Priest. The firm brought him aboard as a contract partner from New York’s Darby & Darby after Goldberg demonstrated that he had billed about $2.2 million in 2005, according to the firm’s petition. But it ended the agreement in September 2006, after Goldberg logged billable hours equaling “about 10 hours a week,” according to the law firm’s petition. During the arbitration proceedings, the arbitrator rejected the law firm’s claim of fraudulent inducement against Goldberg regarding the amount of business that he could bring to the firm. That determination led to a dispute over attorney fees, which are part of the dispute now in court. In its petition, the firm argues that the arbitrator’s interpretation of the contract was something to which it did not agree. “This is not an agreement to pay an hourly wage to a store clerk who may be required to stand idle when business is slow,” the petition reads. Jannuzzo claims that the firm overstated the amount of work it could provide to his client. “The evidence showed that the firm misled Mr. Goldberg that they had plenty of patent litigation work,” he said. The attorney representing Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner, John Ohman, declined to comment beyond what was filed in court papers. Leigh Jones is a reporter with The National Law Journal , a Recorder affiliate based in New York City.

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