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Winston & Strawn is fighting an attempt to compel the testimony of managing partner James Neis in the upcoming trial of a suit filed against the firm by one of its New York partners. Anthony F. LoFrisco is suing the Chicago-based firm for millions of dollars, claiming management breached an agreement with him that would have allowed him to avoid “decompression,” the process by which most partners’ compensation was reduced every year after reaching age 65. LoFrisco, 72, had been one of the Chicago-based firm’s highest-paid partners under the agreement, which gave him a percentage of all the work Winston & Strawn performed for the General Electric Corp., but decompression reduced his pay from $2.3 million in 2002 to $350,000 in 2004. The firm, which says its agreement with LoFrisco ended in 2001, asked Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Helen Freedman to quash LoFrisco’s subpoena of Neis for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing the managing partner is an Illinois resident and, though he has an office and phone number at the firm’s Manhattan office, is an infrequent visitor to New York. It also said it was unnecessary for LoFrisco to call Neis because the plaintiff already had 20 hours of videotaped deposition testimony to show at trial and the managing partner would in any case appear as a defense witness subject to cross-examination. But LoFrisco’s lawyer, Michael Carlinsky of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, said Neis, as the lead partner who negotiated with LoFrisco, was so crucial to the plaintiff’s case that he did not want to count on either videotape or the defense to put Neis before a jury. The trial, at which former GE Chairman John “Jack” Welch is expected to testify on LoFrisco’s behalf, is scheduled to begin Jan. 4, but Winston & Strawn’s lawyer, Philip Forlenza of Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler, on Wednesday wrote to Justice Freedman requesting she consider adjourning the case. Forlenza expressed concern that the judge, who is leaving on vacation in two weeks, would not have enough time to rule on extant summary judgment motions before the trial. Forlenza declined comment Wednesday.

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