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Boston’s newest law office unites a man who lost it all by refusing to settle and a man who gained the world by settling. The one who settled will be partner; the holdout will be of counsel. Jan Schlichtmann, the passionate plaintiffs’ lawyer immortalized in the book and film “A Civil Action,” is joining the new Massachusetts office of top national class-action firm Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein. Though Lieff’s new two-lawyer branch has yet to find a home, one might say it opened Monday, when partner Thomas Sobol went to work. Sobol �- lead outside counsel for the state of Massachusetts in its $8.33 billion tobacco settlement -� was last year named one of the state’s top 10 litigators by The National Law Journal. He left the downtown corporate firm of Brown, Rudnick, Freed & Gesmer last week after 17 years. Sobol’s public spat with Brown Rudnick over the size of his share of the firm’s $178 million tobacco fee has been resolved “wonderfully and amicably,” Sobol says. Under a new agreement, he says, the firm will donate an amount equivalent to the disputed dollars to charity -� including two Boston legal charities of his choice, Northeastern University School of Law’s Tobacco Products Liability Project, and Health Law Advocates, a subsidiary of Health Care for All. “Of the funds I hoped to receive,” says Sobol, “approximately 20 percent will go to charity.” He did not disclose the presumably hefty sum with which he is leaving the firm. For Schlichtmann, joining Lieff Cabraser marks the end of a long journey back to the law. He moved to Hawaii after the bankrupting, emotionally exhausting case he filed against W. R. Grace and Beatrice, over the chemical contamination of the water supply in East Woburn. “I thought my career was over,” he says, “and pretty much my love for the law. But in Hawaii I quickly became involved with environmental cases. I never really left. It took me time to appreciate all I had learned, and I’m now trying to apply those lessons. It’s a tremendous opportunity to join with Tom, whom I admire greatly, and at a firm practicing at the highest levels of the profession.” Ironically, one of Schlichtmann’s new cases, arising out of asbestos contamination in Libby, Mont., will pit him against his old foe, W.R. Grace. He also brings with him a case file more overtly reminiscent of Woburn, based on a cancer cluster allegedly linked to water contamination in Toms River, N.J. Sobol and Schlichtmann say they were introduced through a mutual friend about six weeks ago, and met at Chianti’s, a small restaurant in Beverly near their homes. “He’s the big public personality and has to be grounded,” says Sobol. “That’s where I come in. I’m a conservative litigator from a big firm. That’s a good team.”

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