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Conflict of interest allegations have surfaced against an Oregon firm that abruptly switched clients. Portland’s Ater Wynne had represented the city in a bid for Portland General Electric. But the firm dropped the city and took on Texas Pacific Group, after the investment firm announced it had won tentative approval for the purchase. City officials say they refused the firm’s request for a conflict waiver. But Ater Wynne denies asking for a waiver and insists there’s nothing to waive since it claims the city had stopped pursuing the bankrupt Enron utility … Arnold & Porter has restructured as a limited liability partnership. The Washington, D.C.-based firm is following in the footsteps of other Am Law 100 firms — such as Sullivan & Cromwell — that have recently moved to cap individual liability … A waste of time, wrote U.S. District Judge Alfred M. Wolin, arguing against a call for his recusal. Wolin, who is overseeing five enormous asbestos-related bankruptcies, issued a 100-page opinion Monday defending his work and denying a creditor’s claim of bias among his advisers. The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to rule on the question, which was argued Dec. 12 … Sarbanes-Oxley has come to the aid of a man fired for calling attention to financial irregularities at his employer. Administrative Law Judge Stephen Purcell has ruled that David Welch should be reinstated with backpay as CFO of Cardinal Bankshares Corp. Purcell’s ruling is believed to be the first to turn on the act’s whistleblower protections … New York City is experimenting with an online system to settle suits. In a two-year pilot, Cybersettle Inc. will allow persons to use the Web to make small personal injury claims against the city. The city hopes the program will speed processing of about a third of the 24,000 claims made against it each year. – Lori Patel

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