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DEADWOOD ALERT: Pillsbury Madison & Sutro, headquartered in San Francisco, and New York’s Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts are merging, uniting two firms with a century of Tiffany-like prestige but a heap of malaise. “We were in spiritual trouble because we weren’t moving, and everyone was moving quickly around us,” Pillsbury managing partner Marina Park says. The new, 860-lawyer Pillsbury Winthrop is built to go global, but worldwide momentum relies on higher profits. Pillsbury chairwoman Mary Cranston has ejected several partners since taking the helm in 1998. Now, angling to lift profits 20 percent, she will have to confront those Winthrop partners too genteel to take on the world. Park told the San Francisco Examiner that some Winthrop partners could be downgraded, but she avers that all current partners will continue with equity. She will not harsh on anyone’s spiritual high. HONOR THY EMPLOYEES: Marten & Brown, a 14-lawyer Seattle environmental firm, says that it is reserving stock for its 15 employees. When the fee-sharing rules change, then they will be shareholders, too. Meanwhile, New York’s Reboul, MacMurray, Hewitt, Maynard & Kristol offers a simple yet rare courtesy: it lists lawyers’ assistants on the firm Web site. A client poll nudged the firm. “We wanted to be responsive,” says partner Josh Leuchtenburg, who, fittingly, was forwarded Sidebar’s call by his assistant, Patricia Wares. SHOT DOWN: The Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct reprimanded a Houston judge on July 15 for taking apart two 1873 Colt revolvers while preparing for a capital murder trial. Visiting Judge H. Lon Harper “failed to act in a dignified manner,” said the commission. The judge, a former sheriff, explains that his gun was busted; so, with jurors away, he used a second gun to guide his repairs. Harper says that many judges pack heat, true to the Texas Constitution’s view of them as peacekeepers. “I was working 10, 12-hour days. I had no chambers in which to go work on them,” says Harper, who was voted out of office in 1999. He now works as a substitute. He warns judges with other vices, “We’ll see more of this now that we can look at the World Wide Web right at our desks.” DIZZY IN THE REVOLVING DOOR: Everywhere former New York Stock Exchange floor broker John D’Alessio looks in his bold civil suit against the Big Board, from defense table to judge, he sees New York’s Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Is he paranoid? First, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. attorney claimed he had participated in illegal trading. Then, in late 1999, the government dropped all charges against him. Next, he sued NYSE bigs, saying that they knew of his and others’ dicey trading but rolled their eyes for the sake of the bottom line. This March the SEC revived the charges against him, on a complaint in the name of former SEC New York director Carmen Lawrence. Finally, in June, Lawrence thickened the plot by joining Fried Frank, the Big Board’s defense firm. D’Alessio has asked U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff — he left Fried Frank in 1996 — to find out whether Lawrence was seeking a gig with the firm in March, when she, presumably, reinstated the charges. That move clearly aids Fried Frank’s defense work. Neither the SEC nor Fried Frank’s Harvey Pitt would say publicly when the regulator started talking to the firm. Pitt says that there is “zero basis” for D’Alessio’s claim, which does intrude just as the judge is set to decide whether to dismiss the case.

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