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Sallie Mae’s top lawyer resigns � very quietly Sallie Mae General Counsel Robert Lavet quietly stepped down on Jan. 31 after 16 years at the student loan consolidator formally known as SLM Corp. Lavet’s resignation came three days after Sallie Mae settled a suit against a buyout group that abandoned a $25.3 billion bid for it. Sallie Mae went to court to force the consortium to go through with the deal or at least pay a $900 million breakup fee. But in the end the company accepted the deal’s demise in exchange for a new credit line from its lenders. Despite the timing, both Lavet and a Sallie Mae spokesman say the GC’s resignation had nothing to do with the settlement. Deputy General Counsel Michael Sheehan will head Sallie Mae’s 29-attorney law department on an interim basis. As dollar sinks, U.S. firms protect European partners A growing number of leading U.S. law firms are moving to shield European partners and associates from the prolonged slump in the dollar. Firms including Latham & Watkins and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe are reviewing provisions for partners in overseas offices, while several elite Wall Street firms have already moved to guarantee packages for U.K.-based associates. Both Latham and Orrick already have hedging provisions in place to offset currency risk but are now reviewing their models in a bid to remain competitive in Europe. Many firms claim the poor exchange rate has made lateral partner recruitment in London much more difficult. Lerach pushes for a 15-month prison term Securities plaintiffs’ lawyer William S. Lerach, who pleaded guilty last year as part of the federal government’s criminal case against Milberg Weiss, filed court papers last week in support of a pre-sentencing report that recommended he serve a 15-month prison term. Lerach, a former partner at Milberg Weiss, pleaded guilty as part of an investigation alleging that the firm generated more than $250 million in attorney fees via illegal payments to name plaintiffs in more than 150 class action and shareholder lawsuits. As part of his plea deal, Lerach agreed to serve one to two years in prison, plus forfeit $7.75 million and pay a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 11. Diverse practices, lean hiring fuel Wilmer profits Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr said a range of strong practice areas pushed revenue per lawyer up by 9.1% in 2007 and profits per equity partner up by 8.6% to $1,064,688. Keeping lawyer hiring in check also helped WilmerHale boost its revenue per-lawyer gain above its overall 5.2% revenue increase, said co-managing partner and Boston-based intellectual property litigator Bill Lee. “We didn’t overhire, so we generated more revenue with relatively fewer people,” Lee said. Two lawyers disbarred in plot to dupe law clerk The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ordered that two attorneys be disbarred for a plot to trick a judge’s former law clerk while investigating the possible bias of a former state judge in a civil case. The state’s Board of Bar Overseers recommended disbarment for Kevin Curry and Gary Crossen, who helped set up fake job interviews to pump the former clerk for information. In the Matter of Kevin P. Curry, No. SJC-09904 (Mass.), In the Matter of Gary C. Crossen, No. SJC-09905 (Mass.) Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall wrote that Curry “engaged in egregious, multiple, and prolonged violations of the disciplinary rules” and convinced discontented litigants that the judge had “fixed” a shareholder derivative case.

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