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Blowin’ in the Wind More large utility companies are sweeping into the wind power market, according to attorneys at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. In late June the firm represented Duke Energy Generation Services, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, in a $50 million acquisition of Tierra Energy’s wind business. “I think this is part of their effort to get into renewable generation, and they’ll probably be looking for other possible acquisitions in the future,” says Glen Berger, who is a partner in the firm’s energy project finance and development practice and was the lead lawyer on the deal. “This is sort of a trend that we are seeing in the industry.” This isn’t the only company the firm has seen opting for renewable energy sources. In early July, a team of Skadden attorneys helped the national electricity company of Portugal snag Horizon Wind Energy in a $2.9 billion deal. Horizon Wind Energy, a U.S.-based company previously owned by Goldman Sachs, has wind farms that are operational as well as others that are in development. Frank Shaw, a D.C.-based counsel at Skadden specializing in energy and finance law, thinks the drive toward renewable energy is propelled by a variety of factors — and not just turbines. “More states are requiring utilities to have renewable generation in their portfolios, and people are concerned about future regulation of carbon dioxide emissions,” he says.
Diaper Duty Nobody likes changing diapers, but summer associates at Crowell & Moring sure don’t mind collecting them. In addition to happy hours and swanky dinners, this year’s crop of summers conducted a diaper drive last week to help a Head Start program in the District pamper some baby bottoms. The Mazique Parent Child Center, which operates in the northwest and northeast parts of the city, has been hit hard by a new federal government mandate stipulating that the program has to pay for all the diapers children go through every month. The wee kiddos at the center use about 5,000 diapers a month, costing the establishment between $3,600 and $4,000. Crowell summer associates who went on a tour of the center as a part of their summer program decided they would do something about it. “We kind of thought, �Well, maybe there is something we can do to help,’ ” says Melissa Brach, a summer associate who is a second-year law student at American University, Washington College of Law. Their goal was to gather up a month’s worth of diapers for the center in one week, and by last Wednesday evening, the summer associates had collected 3,300 diapers from attorneys at Crowell. They also enlisted the firm’s New York office in the endeavor, and the marketing department pitched in to spread the word. The center, for which the firm has done pro bono and volunteer work, is “ecstatic” over the extra help from the summer associates. “Although seeming very simple to a lot of other folks, it was an area that they could assist in making a difference to the families in the District of Columbia,” says Deborah Byrd, the center’s operations manager. And the award for best diaper pun goes to the firm’s founder, Eldon “Took” Crowell. According to Susan Hoffman, the firm’s public service partner, Crowell sent over a note with $20 pinned to it. The note read, “How many bottoms will this cover?” That would be about 40 bottoms in today’s market.
Closing Time So that’s how Milberg Weiss “always be closin.’ “ Last week David Bershad, a former partner at the firm once known as Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with kickbacks his firm paid to plaintiffs in class actions and shareholder lawsuits for more than two decades. As part of the deal, Bershad agreed to forfeit $7.8 million, pay a $250,000 fine, and cooperate in the government’s ongoing investigation and prosecution of other figures in the conspiracy. Bershad faces a maximum sentence of five years, but it is unclear whether he will serve any time. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for next June. Bershad is represented by white-collar defense attorney Robert Luskin, a D.C.-based partner at Patton Boggs who also represents White House senior adviser Karl Rove. Milberg Weiss, which before the indictments had a Washington presence and no longer does, is counseled by Washington lawyer William Taylor of Zuckerman Spaeder. Since Bershad and former name partner Steven Schulman were indicted last year, both the legal industry and the larger business community have been fixated on the case. Milberg Weiss helped pioneer shareholder class actions in which lawyers sued companies after stock prices dropped. The suits often claimed that investors were misled about the company’s financial health. Schulman resigned from the firm in December and has maintained his innocence. Bershad could be the key to any future criminal proceedings against other partners at the firm. He has had close dealings with Melvyn Weiss, the head of Milberg Weiss, and Bill Lerach, a former partner who left in 2004 to form his own firm, San Diego-based Lerach Coughlin. Weiss and Lerach have been investigated, but neither has been charged. One juicy tidbit revealed in the plea agreement is that Bershad, along with two unnamed partners and others, pooled personal cash into a fund that Bershad maintained in his office. The fund was used to supply money for secret payments to the plaintiffs. A Los Angeles federal grand jury handed up an indictment last year against Bershad, Schulman, and the firm. Prosecutors allege that the defendants secretly paid more than $11 million in kickbacks to get clients to take part in more than 150 class actions and shareholder lawsuits. Federal prosecutors say these payments secured the firm’s position as lead plaintiff’s counsel, a rainmaking spot in shareholder litigation cases. Last week also brought news that Lerach would be leaving his firm in the next few months. But that hasn’t kept Lerach from taking the lead on securities class actions: Lerach Coughlin filed a stockholder suit last week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of Arthur Middleton against former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines and other executives for negligent work. Los Angeles-based Benny Goodman is the lead attorney on the case.
Keeping Score is Legal Times ‘ weekly column devoted to the legal business scene. Got a tip? Contact Senior Editor Douglas McCollam at [email protected].

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