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TAKING A CHANCE ON NIXON: “I have never been a quitter,” Richard Nixon told the nation when he resigned the presidency in 1974 — and he wasn’t kidding. Before his death in 1994, he sued the government seven times to regain ownership of presidential records Congress had ordered seized. Miller, Cassidy, Larocca & Lewin billed him hourly for the first six and took a 30 percent contingency fee for the seventh, filed in December 1980. It took the courts a decade to conclude that Nixon’s Oval Office recordings and papers were his property and that Congress owed him compensation. It took another decade to collect. In 1996, said Miller Cassidy partner R. Stan Mortenson, Nixon’s executors were looking to end the case, but the Justice Department refused the same swap offered to every other president: The National Archive gets the records and funds the presidential library’s operation. Thus, Mortenson found himself at a trial on Jan. 8, 1999, arguing that Nixon’s 16-page, marked-up resignation speech was worth $200,000, and all 44 million items some $200 million. (Eerily, down the street, the Senate was opening the Clinton impeachment trial.) The case finally paid off on June 12, when DOJ agreed to give Nixon’s foundation $18 million. Some $5.4 million went to the firm, plus nearly $2 million for costs. “It was a crapshoot,” said executor John Taylor, “This was not a case that was going to be governed strictly by legal considerations.” The firm’s check was expected to arrive on June 30. NO LONGER COZY: For 11 years, San Diego attorney Patrick Frega traded cars, jobs and vacations for favors from judges G. Dennis Adams and James Malkus — arm-twisting his foes and steering cases to certain jurists. On June 13, all three were sentenced to two-plus years in the federal clink for polluting the San Diego courts. Prosecutor Charles LaBella handled the case, a success he parlayed into an apparently less satisfying gig exploring Al Gore’s political fund raising. UNNOTICED: With more than 2,500 lawyers in 61 offices around the world, Baker & McKenzie is one of the world’s biggest law firms. Creative workers often don’t get noticed in such large outfits. Such was the case with Dennis Masellis, a nonlawyer who helped oversee the payroll in B&M’s New York office. Over seven years, he quietly set up “negative deductions” from his own paychecks and arranged for former employees to be paid — directly into his account. After a switch in accounting systems, Masellis went to the Manhattan District Attorney’s office on June 5 and confessed to bilking the firm of $7 million. He used the proceeds to purchase antiques, said a person familiar with the investigation. “This was not a sloppy job,” marveled one partner. He and his colleagues sound less impressed with the skills of the firm’s auditors from Arthur Andersen. Partner Joe Linklater said that the two giants have not yet discussed the now-glaring oversight. LAID OFF BY A DOT.COM? Become a New York white-collar criminal defense attorney. Feds in Brooklyn have a case against 55 alleged securities fraudsters, Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau’s locals have charged another 44, and on June 14, Manhattan feds hauled in yet another 120. DONE WITH THAT: Alex Lynch, the rainmaker for Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in Silicon Alley, became an executive at TradeOut.com in March. That was then. Now he’s in the New York office of Menlo Park, Calif.’s Gunderson Dettmer Stough Villeneuve Franklin & Hachigian.

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