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Law firms topped the list of donors to John Kerry’s campaign through Jan. 30. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom gave the most — a combined $106,000 — to the Democratic candidate. But members of the N.Y.-based firm also backed Bush with $65,000. Half of Kerry’s top contributors were law firms, while two-thirds of Bush’s big donors were financial corporations, according to data collected by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. Kerry’s biggest backer throughout his political career — donating a total of $232,736 — has been Boston’s Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, in which brother Cameron F. Kerry is a partner … Milberg Weiss Bershad Hynes & Lerach will be investigated for securities fraud, if the U.S. Chamber of Commerce gets its way. The Chamber has asked the SEC to determine whether the firm committed fraud by filing a suit in which the lead plaintiff stood to gain by drops in the targeted company’s share price. Last month, federal Judge Marilyn Hall Patel ordered Milberg Weiss to disclose the extent of its relationship with Cardinal Investments, noting her concern “whether counsel for plaintiffs actively participated in or provided advice to plaintiffs regarding their scheme to cause a fall in Terayon’s stock price” … Having an IQ of 63 helped convicted killer Robert Smith on Friday, as Texas Gov. Rick Perry commuted his death sentence. Smith’s was the first Texas death sentence put aside since the U.S. Supreme Court banned executing mentally retarded persons. Defense counsel Danny Easterling said Smith would be eligible for parole, likely after more than a decade … He never actually practiced law, so the Ohio Supreme Court merely reprimanded a political aide who had presented himself as a lawyer. Steven Cuckler worked as “deputy chief legal counsel” for more than a year before he took — and passed — the bar. – Lori Patel

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