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Dewey, Eyed Sandwiched between an attorney general’s resignation and an Idaho senator’s restroom woes, a law firm merger has quietly bubbled up in the sticky New York summer. Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene, & MacRae announced plans to merge last week. The two New York-based firms hope to combine into a more-than-1,300-lawyer shop called Dewey & LeBoeuf. And though the name is not euphonic, Dewey & LeBoeuf would be in the top 20 of U.S. firms in terms of head count and revenue, with offices in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. “It helps advance our strategic growth plan,” says Morton Pierce, Dewey’s co-chairman. According to Pierce, Dewey has been focused on bulking up its core practice areas — tax, mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and litigation — and the firm has also been looking to grow geographically, making LeBoeuf’s offer just too good to pass up. “When you look at all the metrics by which you measure the success of law firms, these firms are almost mirror images,” says Ralph Ferrara, head of LeBoeuf’s Washington office. But, he says, “The only thing you can’t measure by metric is personality.” Barring any titanic personality clashes (always possible in law firm mergers), the post-merger D.C. office of the combined firms will have 150 attorneys, with a “remarkable congruity” between the practice areas, says Ferrara. “We want to build a truly first-tier international firm, and that requires greater resources,” says Alan Wolff, the managing partner of Dewey’s D.C. office. “The combination of the two firms enables us to do just that.” And, like many healthy beginnings, this one started off with the most important meal of the day. The merger quickly evolved over several breakfast meetings between Steven Davis, chairman of LeBoeuf, and Pierce. “We’re both partial to blueberry muffins,” says Pierce. Some recruiters think that, though the merger gives both firms the practice areas and global reach they want, the combination of LeBoeuf’s go-go style and Dewey’s less forceful approach could result in a culture clash. Hopefully, though, the mutual muffin love portends a better outcome than Dewey’s last merger attempt, with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, which collapsed eight months ago. “I think that’s been a good learning experience,” says Wolff of the failed merger. “It’s prepared us to ask the right questions, to do things in the right way.” The merger still needs partnership approval, but is expected pass. “I have not met anyone who is against it,” says Wolff.
Super Sutures Patent infringement? We think not. That was the jury verdict for Dickstein Shapiro’s client Arthrex Inc. After a four-year-long patent infringement dispute, a federal jury in Boston came down in favor of Arthrex, deciding that the medical supply company did not, in fact, snag its competitor’s intellectual property. In 2003, DePuy Mitek, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, alleged that Arthrex had stepped on some patent toes when the company developed a new, superstrong type of surgical suture. Charles Saber, a partner in Dickstein’s D.C. office, led the case, and the favorable verdict saved Arthrex a potential payout in the hundreds of millions of dollars. “It was gratifying to work for a client who was willing to stand up for what they thought was right,” says Saber.
One Down, a Million to Go The end is nigh for one decades-long asbestos insurance saga. ACandS, a company that installed asbestos-filled insulation, and Travelers Cos. reached a settlement agreement in which Travelers will pay $449 million in insurance money to the now-bankrupt ACandS. The settlement, approved last week by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Judith Fitzgerald, helps ACandS emerge from a bankruptcy that has been pending for years. Attorneys from the D.C. firm Gilbert Randolph handled the insurance dispute for ACandS, and managing partner Scott Gilbert thinks his client’s bankruptcy should be resolved by early next year. “This is a case where we have been fighting with Travelers for many, many years on behalf of this client, and it’s nice to see the case resolved,” says Gilbert.
Deal Flow In deal news, Vinson & Elkins attorneys negotiated a joint venture for their client Allegheny Energy. The project, due to be completed by the summer of 2012, will be a 290-mile transmission line running from West Virginia into Maryland. To complete the project, Allegheny paired with Ohio-based American Electric Power, and the total cost of the line will be approximately $1.8 billion. Heading the deal for V&E is Mark Laufman, a business and international partner in the District. “Both Allegheny and AEP see a good investment opportunity,” says Laufman.
Keeping Score is Legal Times ‘ weekly column devoted to the legal business scene. Got a tip? Contact Senior Editor Douglas McCollam.

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