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Gender pay gap widens at nation’s top law firms The income gap between men and women grows as attorneys move up the partnership ranks at the nation’s 200 largest firms, according to the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL). In its second annual survey on the retention and promotion of women in law firms, the NAWL results showed that at each level of promotion women earn less than men. Men in of-counsel positions make about $20,000 more than women, male nonequity partners earn about $27,000 more than women and male equity partners bring home almost $90,000 more than female equity partners. Of the 200 law firms surveyed, 112 responded. Appeals court nominee named in defamation suit Federal appeals court nominee E. Duncan Getchell Jr. has been accused of making defamatory statements about another Virginia lawyer in order to shore up his foundering nomination and shift blame for an $8 million court error. Richmond, Va., attorney Christopher C. Spencer made the allegations in a defamation suit filed last week. The original dispute arose over who had responsibility for missing the deadline to file trial transcripts in an $8 million personal injury appeal, Getchell and his prominent Richmond law firm, McGuireWoods, or Spencer. Spencer v. Getchell, (Richmond city, Va., Cir. Ct.). Getchell did not return a phone call seeking comment, and a McGuireWoods spokesman was not available to respond. [See full story.] Entire district recuses itself from Scruggs case In a major development in the Richard Scruggs criminal contempt case last week, the Northern District of Alabama has recused itself, leaving the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to pick a judge in another district. In his motion, Scruggs’ attorney, John Keker, asked the judges to be disqualified because he said they could not act with impartiality given the “great personal interest” in the case by their colleague on the bench, Judge William M. Acker. Acker appointed three special prosecutors to bring charges against Scruggs for criminal contempt for his refusal to return documents to State Farm Insurance Co., allegedly violating Acker’s protective order. Scruggs is suing State Farm over Hurricane Katrina claims. [NLJ, Nov. 12.] Russoniello in, Schools out and Bonds indicted Scott Schools certainly knows how to make an exit. Hours before the White House announced the nomination of Joseph Russoniello to be permanent U.S. attorney for the Northern District of California, Schools, the interim top prosecutor, delivered a bombshell: the indictment of baseball slugger Barry Bonds on four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. Russoniello’s nomination had to wait until after Michael Mukasey was sworn in as attorney general last week. Freshfields, Allen enter the U.S. bonus war Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Allen & Overy have become the latest firms to announce they will be paying special bonuses to their New York associates. Both London firms have met market rates, with associates at Freshfields to be given from $10,000 to $50,000 depending on seniority, in addition to the firm’s scheduled bonus of between $35,000 and $65,000. The special bonus will be paid at the end of this month; the year-end bonus on Dec. 31. � Legal Week

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