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Legal recruiter Linda Sloan-Young is fending off a fee fight filed by two Baltimore placement agencies. In October, Trident Search Group and Williamson Legal Search, an outfit that provides support services to Trident and shares fees with the company, filed a complaint against Atlanta-based Hughes & Sloan in Baltimore County Circuit Court. The suit says that Sloan-Young, president of Hughes & Sloan, breached a contract with the Baltimore companies and owes more than $100,000 for placing two King & Spalding partners at Philadelphia-based Duane Morris. That amount is two-thirds of the $156,250 fee Hughes & Sloan allegedly received for the placements. Trident Search Group v. Hughes & Sloan, 03-C-02-011169 (Baltimore Co. Cir. Ct. filed Oct. 4, 2002). The partners are John C. Herman and Louis Norwood “Woody” Jameson, who left K&S on June 5 to join Duane Morris as equity partners. Sloan-Young said the claims in the complaint are false. “The allegations are completely untrue, and that will bear out when we come to the end of this,” she said. Her local attorney, Peter R. Weisz of Weisz & Associates, agrees. “It’s early on, but based on the claims that have been made … we deny them and think that they’re meritless,” he said. Thomas C. Morrow and Anthony J. Breschi of Shaw & Morrow in Towson, Md., filed Sloan-Young’s answer in Baltimore on Nov. 27. The answer denies liability and says the complaint fails to state a valid claim. The answer also says Trident’s claims are barred by the statute of frauds. No written agreements were attached to the complaint. DUANE MORRIS CONTACTED TRIDENT The suit arises from an alleged agreement the three firms entered after Duane Morris asked Trident to search for partners and practice groups for the Atlanta office. Duane Morris’ local managing partner, Charles W. Whitney, contacted Trident about the search last February, according to the complaint. Duane Morris promised Trident it would not work with any other recruiting firms to find partners and practice groups, and the firm told another recruiting agency that it should stop all efforts on Duane Morris’ behalf, according to the complaint. C. Thomas Williamson III, the owner of Trident, then contacted Sloan-Young to work with his firm and Williamson Legal, the complaint states. The three companies agreed that they would share any placement fees equally and that all candidates would be submitted to Duane Morris through Trident, according to the complaint. In April, Duane Morris partner Joseph D. Wargo told Williamson that the firm wanted Trident to identify potential partners and practice groups in all areas, the complaint says. Williamson then asked Sloan-Young if she had any leads for Duane Morris. In June, Wargo told Williamson that Duane Morris was talking to two King & Spalding IP partners who had been referred to Duane Morris by Hughes & Sloan, according to the complaint. Wargo and Williamson agreed that Trident would not make any new candidate contacts until the discussions with the K&S partners ended. Then Williamson allegedly called Sloan-Young to discuss the referral of these candidates, and Sloan-Young told him one of her recruiters knew the partners personally. TWO-WAY SPLIT? The complaint says Sloan-Young agreed that Hughes & Sloan would split the fees equally with Trident so that she could pay her recruiter’s commission. Williamson agreed, the complaint says. On Aug. 12, Sloan-Young called Williamson and said she would send the payment to his company and to Trident. But she also said she had decided to reduce their part of the fee to $50,000, according to the complaint. Trident got the $50,000 check, but the complaint alleges that it was returned unpaid because Sloan-Young issued a stop-payment order on it. Weisz, Sloan-Young’s attorney, said the $50,000 check was an attempt to settle the dispute, but that his client stopped payment because the Baltimore legal recruiters declined to accept her offer. So Trident and Williamson Legal sued, alleging damages “in the total amount of $104,166.66.” That’s about 67 percent of the $156,000 fee Duane Morris paid Hughes & Sloan for the placements. FIRST AGREEMENT REKINDLED Jeffrey M. Kotz of Kandel, Klitenic, Kotz & Betten in Towson, Md., represents the plaintiffs. Kotz explained that when Sloan-Young refused to split the fee equally with Trident, that revalidated the original agreement to divide the fee between the three recruiters. Sloan-Young declined to discuss the case in an interview but said she had worked with Karen W. Williamson, the owner of Williamson Legal, for about 15 years. Karen Williamson is the ex-wife of Trident’s owner, Thomas Williamson. He would not comment on litigation but said, “I’m hoping it’s something we can settle amicably.” Kotz said the complaint speaks for itself. King & Spalding is a Hughes & Sloan client. Jameson, one of the partners placed at Duane Morris, and Sloan-Young said the two King & Spalding attorneys approached Hughes & Sloan about making the move. “We do not call our clients,” Sloan-Young added. Jameson said he had never heard of Trident or Williamson Legal until the Daily Report called him for comment. Duane Morris’ Wargo said, “We just want to make clear that we’ve done nothing wrong. Our headhunting fee was paid, and we are otherwise not involved.”

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