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A changing of the guard at Pa.’s Duane Morris After 10 years at the helm of Duane Morris, Sheldon Bonovitz has stepped down as chairman and handed over the reins to vice chairman and litigation department head John J. Soroko. The switch was effective on Jan. 3 and will start a new chapter in a firm that has tripled in size since Bonovitz, 70, took over as chairman in the beginning of 1998. Duane Morris went from a little more than 200 lawyers then to more than 650. Soroko, 56, said the firm now has offices across the country and in London, Singapore and Vietnam. Revenues have increased in the last 10 years from $70 million to $375 million for 2007. Soroko said there are no immediate plans to name a new vice chair � a firm position that has only sometimes been filled. Law firm leverage drops to a 10-year low Law firm leverage declined to its lowest level in 10 years last year, according to NALP, formerly the National Association for Law Placement. Leverage measured in terms of all lawyers to partners at major law firms fell to 2.21, the lowest level since 1997, when leverage equaled 2.18. In terms of the associate to partner ratio, leverage was 0.99, the same level as in 2006. The ratio of lawyers to partners for firms of 701 attorneys or more equaled 2.61, while the ratio of lawyers to partners at firms of fewer than 50 attorneys was 1.88. New York had the highest composite leverage at 3.15. NALP’s figures were based on law firms in its directory of legal employers, which includes law firms of more than 100 attorneys and about 135,000 lawyers total. Enrollment declines for minority law students Columbia Law School has launched a Web site documenting the declining trend of minority students’ enrollment in law schools. The site notes that while African-American and Mexican-American students have applied to law schools in relatively constant numbers during the last 15 years, their representation has fallen by 8.6%, from 3,937 in 1992 to 3,595 in 2006. This is occurring at a time when minority students’ leading admissibility indicators have improved and the number of law schools has increased to provide room for nearly 4,000 more students. Subprime crisis fuels surge in securities suits Fueled by the subprime mortgage meltdown, the number of securities class actions filed in 2007 increased by 43% after two years of decline, according to a study released last week. Nationwide, the joint study by the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse and Cornerstone Research found that 166 actions were filed in federal courts, up from 116 in 2006. Filings in the 2d U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals increased by 87%, to 58 from 31. That outpaced the 2d Circuit’s annual average of 40 recorded between 1997 and 2006. As it did last year, the circuit led the nation in securities cases filed. The 2006 national figure was an all-time low, and total filings for 2007 were still 14% below the 10-year average of 194 actions. Survey finds private law schools more challenging Private law schools are more academically challenging than public law schools, according to the results of the Law School Survey of Student Engagement, a survey co-sponsored by the Association of American Law Schools and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The study, released last week, found that students at private law schools reported working harder than they thought they could to meet faculty expectations and that exams more often required them to do their best work. In addition, the study found that students at law schools with enrollments of fewer than 500 people were more likely than those at larger law schools to participate in class discussions, but students at larger schools were more likely to participate in volunteer or pro bono activities. United States AG names four new policy advisers U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey has named four new members to his 2008 Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of United States Attorneys. The Advisory Committee, in partnership with state, local and federal authorities, advances the Justice Department’s mission in areas such as terrorism, violent crime, public corruption and civil rights. The new members, who will serve two-year terms, are U.S. attorneys Patrick J. Fitzgerald, Northern District of Illinois; Reginald I. Lloyd, District of South Carolina; and Rodger A. Heaton, Central District of Illinois; and Gretchen Witt, civil chief, District of New Hampshire.

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