Philly v. Jersey: You might say that Douglas Eakeley, a commercial litigation partner at Roseland, N.J.’s 150-lawyer Lowenstein Sandler, has made a career out of unpopular causes. As chairman of the board of the Legal Services Corp. for the past seven years, he has had to dodge bullets from politicians looking to kill the state’s venerable poverty law program. Now Eakeley is taking on his mates in the New Jersey bar who contend that the Philadelphia Bar Association, which wants to open a New Jersey outpost for its members’ use, is trying to skirt a state rule that says a lawyer practicing in New Jersey must have a bona fide presence there. The Philadelphia bar has proposed opening one office for all its lawyers — a plan that has drawn opposition from the New Jersey bar. A showdown is set for May 2 before the New Jersey Supreme Court, with the New Jersey State Bar Association intervening in opposition. Its claim is that the proposal would create the appearance of conflict by different lawyers’ being served by the same office manager, says its president, Ann Bartlett, who will argue. But south New Jersey lawyers say that they fear losing business to Philly competition. Eakeley sees it as a valid public-interest issue because it’s a means to provide clients with lower-cost access to lawyers. “This will allow minority lawyers or sole practitioners who otherwise couldn’t afford an office an opportunity to practice,” he says.
Retreats and Defections: Los Angeles’ Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher is closing its San Diego office. The 24-year-old outpost had focused principally on litigation. According to sources, the firm’s premium rates and lack of a competitive corporate department meant it just couldn’t cut it. Meanwhile, in Chicago, 12 partners at Lord, Bissell & Brook are leaving to form a litigation boutique that will compete with their former colleagues. The new firm, to be known as Anderson, Bennett & Partners, consists of attorneys who mostly hail from the medical-malpractice defense group.
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