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Thomas W. Burt, deputy general counsel for litigation at Microsoft Corp., calls them specialty players. Like making trades before the playoffs, Microsoft has hired Carter G. Phillips, a Washington, D.C., partner at Chicago’s Sidley & Austin, to assist in the appeal of U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson’s ruling that the company is an illegal monopoly and should be split in two. Phillips heads Sidley’s 15-member appellate practice and specializes in cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, where the Microsoft case heads next. He argued, and won, three cases before the high court last term. Charles “Rick” Rule, of D.C.’s Covington & Burling, who chatted up the press as Microsoft’s “legal consultant” during the trial, also has a new role. The Justice Department’s antitrust chief from 1986 to 1989, he’ll advise on public policy questions raised by the appeal. “In effect, we’ve added a three-point specialist and rebound specialist to round out a great team,” said Burt, who compared himself to Jerry West, general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. “He’s got Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Does he just sit back and do nothing?” Truth is, before Judge Jackson, the record of Microsoft’s defense team from New York’s Sullivan & Cromwell was more comparable to the L.A. Clippers than the crosstown champs. Still, Burt took pains to dispel “the notion that somehow Carter Phillips is going to be directing our appeals efforts.” Phillips will help write a July 26 brief urging the high court not to take direct jurisdiction, but to return the case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where S&C scored a slam-dunk victory for Microsoft in 1998. S&C’s Richard J. Urowsky won that case, but he’s never been to the high court. “There are aspects of Supreme Court practice that are not widely known in the legal profession because most lawyers find themselves before the Supreme Court once or twice,” he said.

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