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BYO Court Reporter Alto Watson made an unusual move while preparing to argue a motion for new trial on Aug. 9 before 96th District Judge Jeff Walker in Fort Worth: He brought his own court reporter to the hearing. The reason Watson, an associate with Beaumont’s Law Offices of Gilbert T. Adams, says he did that was to capture for purposes of an appeal any off-the-record comments Walker might make during the hearing that explained the reasoning behind his decision. But Walker did not allow Watson’s court reporter to record the hearing with her stenography machine. “I tell him, “Judge, this is a public hearing, I have a right to have someone take notes,’ ” Watson says. “ He says, “There is only one official record in this court,’ ” Watson recalls the judge saying. Walker ended up denying Watson’s motion for a new trial in Avery Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Al Sankary v. Haynes and Boone, et al., a legal malpractice suit in which Watson represents the plaintiffs. And Walker made no comments that would have helped explain his reasoning behind denying the motion for new trial, Watson says. Walker declines to comment. Marshall Searcy, a partner in the Fort Worth office of Kelly Hart & Hallman who is defending Haynes and Boone in the suit, says he was surprised by Watson’s attempt to bring his own court reporter to the hearing. “ I know of no judge that would allow that,” Searcy says. “Other than to antagonize the court or insult the court, I don’t know of any other reason. I mean, he’s the finest judge in Tarrant County.” Walker also serves as presiding judge of the 8th Administrative Judicial Region. Good News First-year associates at Dallas-based firms Gardere Wynne Sewell and Jackson Walker learned last week they will soon get raises to the new $160,000 Texas market rate. At Gardere, the new, higher first-year salary is effective on Sept. 1. At Jackson Walker, the raise is effective on Jan. 1, 2008, with the pay package containing $140,000 in base salary and $20,000 in bonus, with the first $15,000 of that bonus to be paid to new associates when they arrive at the firm. Both firms are looking at compensation schedules for more senior associates. Stephen Good, managing partner of 282-lawyer Gardere, says the firm expects to have details of a new pay plan in place by the end of September. In an e-mail sent to associates on Aug.14, Good wrote, “Compensation in subsequent years will be adjusted based on each associate’s individual performance and professional development, which will be measured against specific standards that have been developed and will be finalized over the next few weeks.” There is no bonus associated with the $160,000 first-year salary, Good says. The firm has 113 associates. In a memo that 315-lawyer Jackson Walker sent to its 99 associates on Aug. 14, the firm’s compensation committee told associates, “We intend to remain competitive but will be careful to do so in a way that does not compromise our culture or the best interests of our clients.” The moves at Jackson Walker and Gardere follow those at many other Texas-based firms since mid-July, when Houston-based Vinson & Elkins announced a new associate salary schedule. Most of the firms matched V&E’s $160,000 first-year rate, and in some cases the $170,000 second-year salary, but a number of firms, like Jackson Walker and Gardere, are still studying how they will compensate upper-level associates.

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