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Schroeder leaves unified, streamlined 9th Circuit Chief Judge Mary M. Schroeder, the first woman to lead the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation’s largest federal appeals court, stepped aside last week, passing the gavel to incoming Chief Judge Alex Kozinski. Schroeder, 66, was elevated to chief judge in December 2000. During her seven-year tenure, Schroeder beat back attempts in Congress to split the circuit and streamlined administration of a whopping 600% increase in immigration appeals. From the outset of her tenure, Schroeder focused on developing health and wellness programs for judges around the circuit to deal with issues that might affect the conduct of proceedings, from substance abuse, age-related dementia or other health complications. Women’s rise at firms stalls, pay gap remains The nation’s largest law firms are in a bit of a holding pattern when it comes to the advancement of women within the firms, according to the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL), which released its second annual survey. As in last year’s survey, 16% of equity partners at large law firms are women. But this year, 15% of governance committees are made up of female attorneys, which is down 1% from last year. Of the 112 firms that responded to the survey, 15% have no women on their governance committees. Male of counsel earn about $20,000 more than females, male nonequity partners earn about $27,000 more than females, and male equity partners earn nearly $90,000 more than their female counterparts, according to the study. Howard, Rice lays off about 20 support staff Hoping to enter next year a leaner shop, San Francisco’s Howard, Rice, Nemerovski, Canady, Falk & Rabkin has been handing out the pink slips. About 20 legal secretaries, assistants and administrative staff � or 10% of the nonlawyers � were let go at the beginning of November, the San Francisco firm confirmed last week. It’s not the only firm to do so this year. In October, The Recorder, an affiliate of The National Law Journal, reported that Heller Ehrman had let go 65 administrative staff across the country to eliminate overlapping positions and costs. Bienenstock exits Weil to start group at Dewey The co-head of the bankruptcy practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges of New York has left to launch a new practice group at Dewey & LeBoeuf. Martin J. Bienenstock, one of the nation’s best-known bankruptcy lawyers and the partner who led Weil Gotshal’s representation of Enron Corp. in its 2001 Chapter 11 filing, will head the business solutions and governance group for Dewey & LeBoeuf and also serve on the firm’s executive committee. Bienenstock is the first high-profile partner to be recruited by Dewey & LeBoeuf, the product of a recent merger between New York firms Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae. He will be joined at his new firm by Weil Gotshal bankruptcy partner Judy Z. Liu and associate Timothy Q. Karcher, who is joining Dewey & LeBoeuf as a partner. Yagman gets three years for fraud, tax evasion Civil rights lawyer Stephen Yagman was sentenced last week to three years in federal prison after being convicted earlier this year on bankruptcy fraud and tax evasion. U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ordered Yagman, 63, a partner at Venice Beach, Calif.-based Yagman, Yagman & Reichmann, to begin serving his sentence on Jan. 15. He also sentenced Yagman to two years of supervised release after his prison term and ordered him to pay the government the costs of his prosecution. Wilson said he imposed a “serious sentence” after being “shocked” by Yagman’s testimony, which he called “so transparently untrue in so many areas.” Scruggs indicted in alleged bribery scheme A federal grand jury on last week indicted prominent attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs on criminal charges that he and other lawyers engaged in a scheme to bribe a judge. The indictment accuses Scruggs, his son and law partner Zach Scruggs, and two other lawyers of conspiring to bribe Mississippi Circuit Court Judge Henry Lackey with more than $40,000 in cash. The lawyers allegedly tried to get Lackey to sign an order in a civil lawsuit filed by a law firm that accused Scruggs of withholding fees for work on Hurricane Katrina insurance litigation, according to the indictment. It says Lackey, who sits in Mississippi’s 3d Circuit Court District, reported the “bribery overture” to federal authorities and agreed to assist investigators in an “undercover capacity.”

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