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Thelen Reid lays off associates and staffers Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner laid off 26 associates and 85 staff last week, the most dramatic step in a package of moves reacting to tough economic times. The firm is also trimming its summer associate program from 11 to eight weeks and is pushing the start date for first-years from September to January. Co-Chairman Stephen O’Neal characterized the decisions as a smart response to an unforgiving economy. “It’s no secret that businesses generally, and law firms in particular, around the country are feeling recessionary pressures and dealing with them, and we have been giving consideration to how best we should [do so],” he said last week. “We’re being proactive,” he said. Suit centers on possible conflict in Google deal A Washington public interest organization has filed a federal lawsuit asking the Federal Trade Commission to disclose records related to a possible conflict of interest in Jones Day’s role in the Google-DoubleClick merger. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a Freedom of Information action asking the Federal Trade Commission to turn over records as part of an effort to determine whether FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras should have recused herself in the merger, which was completed last year. EPIC asserts that a possible conflict arose when Jones Day, the firm at which Majoras’ husband practices, allegedly represented DoubleClick in obtaining FTC approval for the deal. John M. Majoras is Jones Day’s global coordinator of competition law litigation. Calls to Jones Day and the FTC were not returned. Zuckerman Spaeder to close down Miami office Washington-based Zuckerman Spaeder said last week that it is closing its Miami office after 20 years in that market. The firm made the announcement on the heels of the resignation of five of its top Miami partners, who are going to the Miami office of Tampa, Fla.-based Carlton Fields. Only one partner and one of counsel remained at the firm. It is unclear what will happen to the remaining lawyers and support staff, but some five associates are also talking to Carlton Fields, according to sources. Zach Scruggs pleads guilty in bribery case Richard Scruggs’ son, Zachary, became the final defendant to plead guilty in a judicial bribery scandal in Mississippi. Zach Scruggs, a lawyer in practice with his father, pleaded guilty to having knowledge of the bribery attempt, but concealing rather than reporting it. Four men � including Richard Scruggs, one of the most prominent plaintiffs’ lawyers in the country � already pleaded guilty in federal court to attempting to bribe a state court judge in exchange for a favorable ruling in a fee dispute case. Zach Scruggs faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison, but prosecutors will seek three years’ probation. Melvyn Weiss pleads guilty to conspiracy Melvyn Weiss, the co-founding partner of Milberg Weiss, has agreed to plead guilty to a federal racketeering conspiracy charge and pay nearly $10 million to avoid going to trial this August in the federal government’s kickback case. Under a binding plea deal, Weiss could serve 18 to 33 months in prison, with the option of home or community confinement for no more than half the sentence. Federal prosecutors allege that Milberg Weiss and seven of its lawyers, including Weiss, generated more than $250 million in attorney fees by paying $11 million in illegal kickbacks to lead plaintiffs. Earlier last month, former Milberg Weiss partner William S. Lerach was sentenced to 24 months in prison, the maximum allowable under a plea agreement reached last year with prosecutors. Two other former Milberg Weiss partners, David Bershad and Steven Schulman, have pleaded guilty in the case.

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