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Law firm managing partners who enjoy schmoozing at power confabs will face a choice worthy of Solomon this week, as two of the year’s most-anticipated law firm management conferences are both set to take place on Thursday and Friday, both at Ritz-Carlton hotels no less, but at opposite ends of the country. In New York, the Law Firm Leadership Institute, co-chaired by H. Rodgin Cohen and Mel M. Immergut, the respective chairmen of Sullivan & Cromwell and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, kicks off Thursday at the brand-new Ritz-Carlton Hotel in lower Manhattan with a discussion entitled Law Firm Management 2003. That evening, participants will be treated to cocktails and dinner on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, where Stock Exchange Chairman Richard A. Grasso will give a keynote address. Meanwhile, at the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton, Ralph H. Baxter Jr., chairman of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, will chair the Law Firm Leaders Forum, where the keynote address will be given over lunch by Joseph S. Nye, the dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and whose theories on the deployment of “hard power” and “soft power” by the United States and other world powers have received enormous media attention recently. But the conflicting events should not be seen as evidence of bicoastal bad blood, said Immergut. “It was a total accident, a 100 percent accident,” he said, explaining that the organizers of the New York event only became aware of the San Francisco event after substantial arrangements had already been made. “We would have rescheduled if that were possible,” said Immergut. Baxter was on vacation and could not be reached for comment. But even if law firms are not engaged in an East Coast-West Coast feud, the question for the legal world’s movers and shakers or those who like to be seen as such remains: Which conference to attend? Immergut said he expects the attendees to break down by regional lines. Confirmed panelists in New York will include hometown notables like David W. Heleniak, senior partner of Shearman & Sterling, and Robert D. Joffe, presiding partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Other participants will include Clifford Chance’s Peter Cornell, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer’s Anthony Salz, Walter W. Driver of Atlanta’s King & Spalding and Regina M. Pisa of Boston’s Goodwin Procter. Esta Stecher and William B. Lytton, the general counsels of Goldman Sachs and Tyco International respectively, will also be there. But plenty of East Coasters will be in San Francisco, too. Robert O. Link Jr., the chairman of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, is heading west, as will be Francis I. Milone of Philadelphia’s Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, William H. Lee of Boston’s Hale & Dorr and Bart Winokur of Philadelphia’s Dechert. Participants most likely have not made their choices based on the conferences’ agendas. Both will offer a comprehensive diet of panels on the globalization and consolidation issues law firms now face. The San Francisco forum does promise two panels devoted to what law firms can learn from the collapse of a certain prominent professional services firm. That firm is Arthur Andersen though, not Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. Many participants have wound up splitting the baby. Danilo DiPietro, the head of the law firm group at the Citigroup Private Bank, will make a presentation on both coasts. London’s Allen & Overy is sending managing partner John Rink to San Francisco and senior partner Guy C. Beringer to New York. American Lawyer Media Inc., the parent company of The American Lawyer magazine, the New York Law Journal and law.com, will also have a foot on both coasts. The company is co-sponsoring the New York event, while American Lawyer magazine editor-in-chief Aric Press will be speaking in San Francisco. Press, who also spoke at the California conference last year, said the co-sponsorship does not involve any of the editorial departments.

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