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THE RIGHT TO COUNSEL: San Francisco’s Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison famously takes stock as payment from its clients, to demonstrate, in the words of firm chairman Tower Snow Jr., “its commitment to shared success with clients.” Brobeck’s leaders should be comforted, then, that 80 percent of the lawyers that leave the Silicon Valley firm join clients’ staff. But to Brobeck partners, respect is no longer enough. Last month, the firm decided it wanted to recoup some of the millions of dollars in training and salary outlays lost in the roughly 10 percent annual turnover among its associates. The firm will now bill all new clients who hire a Brobeck attorney for 25 percent of the defector’s new salary and 25 percent of his or her new stock options. The policy, says Snow, is the same one that Brobeck’s high-tech clients insist on writing into their contracts with their own suppliers. Larry Lyles, the general counsel of wireless phone maker Ericsson Inc., responds that he is not committed enough to pay up should he get a bill: “I find the policy surprising, and shortsighted. Where we have hired lawyers from firms that we already use, we have found it strengthens the relationship, and that the law firm ends up getting more work.” PARTNER PROMOTED TO ASSOCIATE: With new tech associates out-drawing Alan Greenspan, it was perhaps inevitable that a second-tier firm partner would take a mega-cut in seniority in return for a raise. Enter Norman J. Hamill, Loyola of Los Angeles class of ’91. Hamill has traded in his position as a nonequity partner at Gordon & Rees, a midsize San Francisco firm known for insurance defense, for a position at tech firm Cooley Godward, in Palo Alto, Calif., as a junior associate. The partner track, it seems, is no longer one-way. Says LessinSF, the cyberhandle of a senior Bay Area Greedy Associate, “It’s indicative of the growing dichotomy between firms that can premium bill and firms that have to function on insurance rates.” Bay Area tech associates are valuable, but they’re also replaceable. Hamill declined to discuss his move. Art Of The Deal: Kenneth A. Walton, 33, wanted to open a law office to serve Sacramento, Calif., entrepreneurs and needed a little something to weather the slow times. So the author of a law review article titled “Is a Website Like a Flea Market Stall?” began auctioning garage-sale paintings on eBay. He offered one for just 25 cents, but by May 9, a Dutch collector had bid $135,085, betting that the work — supposedly hated by Walton’s wife, and with a hole his kid had made with his Big Wheel handlebars — was a stray masterpiece by painter Richard Diebenkorn. The auction hasn’t helped Walton’s image. eBay suspended him for a month for bidding $4,500 himself on the painting under a different handle (innocently, for a friend without e-mail, he claims). He also invented the wife (it was his girlfriend who hated it) and borrowed the Big Wheel from a Brady Bunch episode (his knee did the damage). Walton says that the buyer is still willing to pay should an appraiser find the art genuine. “That’s a good down payment on a house,” he says. Or enough to work on the occasional art law case. Latham’s Coup: At Cooley Godward, Norman Hamill may be in, but major-domo Alan Mendelson is out. He has told his partners at the deal-crazy firm that he is moving to Latham & Watkins, according to a May 11 memo obtained by Sidebar. Latham is strong overseas, but its gray flannel so far has been a limited draw for Silicon Valley hotties. Mendelson, at Cooley since 1973, must like a challenge.

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