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Taking On Tokyo Watch out, Baker & McKenzie. Bingham McCutchen is now the second-largest foreign firm in Japan (though Baker still holds the top spot with more than 100 attorneys). Bingham acquired a second Japanese law firm last week, bringing the total number of lawyers, or bengoshi, to 53. Earlier this year, Bingham merged with the restructuring firm Sakai & Mimura, adding 20 Japanese lawyers. Its latest deal is with New Tokyo, a 22-lawyer shop. The new additions strengthen the firm’s cross-border financial restructuring, IP, litigation, and corporate practices and add to the firm’s expansion into the Asian financial markets. Hideyuki Sakai is the managing partner of the new office, and Mitsue Aizawa will co-manage as well. “We have the benefit of the fact that these are two well-established firms that have joined us,” says Jay Zimmerman, Bingham’s chairman. However, the firm, which has drawn attention recently for shaking up the staid world of law firm advertising, has yet to decide on whether to take its colorful animal ads to Japan. The meaning, after all, might be lost in translation.
Bye, B-Town; Hello, La La Land WilmerHale is saying so long to Baltimore. The firm is closing the doors on its Light Street office effective at the beginning of next year. The 15-lawyer outpost focused mainly on real estate and corporate work. John Watkins, who helped run the Maryland shop, will be moving across the country to help open the firm’s new Los Angeles office, and partners Thomas Millspaugh and Mark Dewire will be moving down to the District. So why no love for our mid-Atlantic neighbor, WilmerHale? “Having all the metropolitan-area attorneys in one office makes more sense for us,” says William Perlstein, the firm’s co-managing partner. In the name of consolidating all of its D.C.-area lawyers, the firm also closed its Northern Virginia office earlier this year.
It’s So Easy Being Green Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has added some greenery to its new office space, and, no, it’s not a few forlorn ficus in the waiting area. The firm, which moved into its new headquarters on 15th Street this week, designed its office with the environment in mind. Though not exactly built out of palm fronds and recycled cardboard, the space is designed to maximize natural light, and the light fixtures are energy efficient, cutting down on wattage. The carpet, ceiling tiles, and wall coverings are made out of recycled materials. In addition, the new furniture is made out of sustainable-stock sycamore trees, so clients, please don’t carp about the lack of mahogany. The firm also promotes recycling and electronic communication to reduce paper use. “Community responsibility is very important to us, and being environmentally responsible is certainly a big part of that,” says Adam Goldberg, a litigation and crisis management partner at the firm. “Forwarding that value and goal influenced everything we did about the project.” Orrick isn’t the only firm in town to have developed a soft spot for the environment. Arnold & Porter and DLA Piper both have green office initiatives.
Covington Earns Roe-Bucks A team of D.C. attorneys from Covington & Burling won big for client Sears, Roebuck & Co. Two weeks ago, the California Court of Appeals awarded Sears $26 million in a long-standing dispute between the retailing giant and its insurer, American International Group. Since 2001, Sears and the insurance company have been wrangling over a $20 million policy that Sears had taken out to protect against third-party theft. Sears put in a claim after it was defrauded by Tom Rubin and Focus Media, Rubin’s ad placement agency, in 2000. Rubin absconded with tens of millions of dollars that Sears had paid to place ads on cable TV. Rubin was sentenced to five years in prison late last year, and two executives got lesser sentences. The court of appeals upheld the lower court’s judgement that Sears could recover the policy amount. The D.C. partners from Covington who worked on the case include William Greaney, Patricia Barald, and Allan Moore.
On the Move The intellectual property attorneys from Smith, Strong & Schlesinger decided to give up small-shop life and accept a big-firm embrace. Greenberg Traurig picked up the IP lawyers, adding them to its global IP practice. Name partner Eric Smith joined as a partner, while Maria Strong and Michael Schlesinger both came in as of counsel. Smith co-founded the International Intellectual Property Alliance, a group that advises trade associations representing a slew of media companies from the movie, music, and publishing industries. The group works with foreign countries in an attempt to enforce intellectual property rights and stem the tide of pirated goods. “We feel that we’ve been pretty specialized and this will give us a chance to branch out a bit,” Smith says. In other move news, Geoffrey Oliver will join Jones Day at the beginning of November as a partner in the antitrust practice. Oliver was formerly head of the Anticompetitive Practices Division at the Federal Trade Commission.
Carlyle Cashes In Last week, a deal closed on the Mubadala Group’s purchase of a 7.5 percent stake in D.C.’s best-known private equity fund, the Carlyle Group. And attorneys from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld were there to help usher the deal through for client Mubadala, a company that is wholly owned by the government of Abu Dhabi. The group agreed to buy a nonvoting, nonmanagement interest in Carlyle last month for $1.4 billion. “We think Carlyle is one of the great alternative asset managers in the world,” says Steven Pesner, a partner in Akin Gump’s New York office. The D.C. contingent that worked on the deal was led by Russell Parks Jr., a corporate partner, and Erica McGrady Johnson, counsel in the firm’s corporate practice.
Keeping Score is a weekly column devoted to legal business. Got a tip? Contact Senior Editor Douglas McCollam.

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