Bloomberg News

Akin Gump, Minter Ellison, WilmerHale: Business of Law

August 06, 2012

Recipients of the American Bar Association’s pro bono publico awards, which will be presented today in Chicago, include the law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Neal Minahan, a partner with McDermott Will & Emery LLP and Amy Lorenz-Moser, a partner with Armstrong Teasdale LLP.

Akin Gump is being recognized for devoting more than 67,000 hours to pro bono work last year, an average of 84 hours per U.S. lawyer in 2011. The firm increased its pro bono hours by 50 percent since 2006, according to an ABA statement.

The increase coincides with the arrival in 2006, of Steven H. Schulman, Akin Gump’s first full-time pro bono partner, who previously led Latham Walkins LLP to an ABA award in 2003, while he was counsel there and overseeing the firm’s pro bono program while juggling his antitrust practice.

Schulman credits Akin Gump’s chairman, R. Bruce McLean with strengthening the firm’s commitment to pro bono. Schulman says the firm has focused on increasing participation across offices and practice areas, often through immigration work such as asylum claims or violence-against-women petitions for immigrants facing domestic abuse.

The firm has also increased its transactional pro bono opportunities by working with the Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP), a network of charter schools.

“We have helped with bond financing, mergers when they needed to merge schools together to have more operational efficiencies, some litigation and compliance reviews or legal audits, to make sure everything’s in order,” Schulman said in an interview.

In addition, when client Wal-Mart asked the firm to help them design the company’s pro bono program, the firm ended up creating a legal-medical partnership at an Arkansas children’s hospital to help meet sick children’s medical and legal needs, which are often intertwined, Schulman said. The firm has expanded to create such partnerships in Dallas and New York.

“We’ve tried from the earliest stages to really inculcate pro bono as a daily part of lawyers’ lives,” he said.

That’s also how McDermott’s Minahan, who has spent more than 2,500 hours of pro bono work over eight years, views the approach to juggling his paying and free work.

“I see it as part of my job, so it was part of my practice,” Minahan said in an interview.

He started his pro bono work with the federal courts, helping on prisoners’ rights cases, shortly after joining McDermott in Boston as an associate in 2004. The experience gave him valuable experience and professional development as well as the opportunity to help others.

“The firm fully supported me throughout,” Minahan said. He made partner this January.

Lorenz-Moser, based in St. Louis, was selected for her work with domestic-violence victims at the Clemency Project, which focuses on the injustices that occur in domestic violence- influenced murder convictions, the ABA said.

Also receiving awards today are Howard Goffen of Highland Park, Illinois, who devotes 30 hours a week to pro bono matters and the state Supreme Court in Rochester, New York, which established a Policy Statement on Pro Bono Legal and Volunteer Services, the first of its kind in New York.

“Pro bono work is a key component of our legal system, and these good deeds help to fill the void left by devastating budget cuts,” ABA president William (Bill) T. Robinson III said in a statement. The awardees, he added, “are outstanding examples of lawyer volunteers who make our communities stronger by ensuring meaningful access to justice for thousands of Americans.”

Moves

Nelson Mullins Hires Two Corporate Partners in Boston

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP hired Juan Marcelino, from Greenberg Traurig LLP, and James P. O’Hare, from K&L Gates LLP, as partners in the Boston office, the firm said in a statement.

Marcelino focuses on securities enforcement matters and conducts internal investigations as well as crisis management advice. He worked from 1993-2003 as the district administrator of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Boston office, the firm said.

O’Hare represents technology-based companies, their boards of directors, and investors in the areas of general corporate matters, mergers and acquisitions, dispute resolution, and public and private financings. O’Hare also represents private equity funds, including funds of funds, in their formation, capital raising and portfolio investment activities.

Nelson Mullins has more than 430 attorneys and government relations professionals with offices in Atlanta; Boston; Nashville, Tennessee; Tallahassee, Florida; West Virginia; Washington; North Carolina and South Carolina.

Baker Hostetler’s Adds Litigator to New York Office

Baker Hostetler LLP announced that Adam J. Schlatner, formerly of Winston & Strawn LLP, joined the firm’s litigation group as partner in its New York office.

Schlatner concentrates his practice on complex commercial litigation, handling a variety of matters, including contract, securities, labor and employment, shareholder, intellectual property, product liability, antitrust and consumer fraud cases, as well as corporate internal investigations

Baker Hostetler has more than 800 attorneys in the U.S.

Planning lawyer joins Lewis Silkin’s Real Estate Team

London law firm Lewis Silkin LLP announced that planning specialist Judith Damerell has joined the firm as a partner to head the planning team in the firm’s real estate and development group. Damerell was previously at Eversheds LLP, where she was a partner and head of planning for the London and Cambridge offices, the firm said.

Damerell, who has been both in government and private practice, has worked on high-profile London projects such as London 2012, the Elephant and Castle Early Housing Sites and University College London Hospital, the firm said.

Minter Ellison Hires CMS Cameron McKenna Partner in Hong Kong

Minter Ellison announced that construction specialist Henry Sherman has joined the firm in Hong Kong as a senior consultant. Sherman was a partner of CMS Cameron McKenna LLP (and legacy firm, McKenna & Co) in London and Hong Kong for more than 25 years, the firm said.

“Henry has 35 years working in Europe, Asia and internationally. He further enhances our specialist construction capabilities in Greater China, particularly in the key areas of dispute resolution, arbitration and ADR,” the head of Minter Ellison’s Asian construction, engineering and infrastructure practice, Steven Yip, said in a statement.

Bank of America Assistant General Counsel Joins Reed Smith

Former Bank of America data security and technology attorney Timothy J. Nagle joins Reed Smith LLP as counsel in the global data security, privacy and management practice in the firm’s Washington office.

Nagle was assistant general counsel at Bank of America, where he advised the chief information security officer and business units such as online banking, credit card issuing, and corporate banking on matters related to network security, procurement, background screening, privacy and business continuity.

“Tim has spent his career addressing the legal issues surrounding technology in various contexts,” said Mark S. Melodia, co-leader of Reed Smith’s global data security, privacy and management practice. “He brings Reed Smith important and unique expertise in the pulse issue of data security, where commercial security concerns increasingly intersect with issues of national security.

His experience will be ‘‘an important resource for our clients in finance, health care, energy, defense and other key industry sectors,’’ Melodia said.

Reed Smith has nearly 1,700 lawyers in 23 offices throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Polsinelli Shughart Adds Trio of IP Litigators in New York

Polsinelli Shughart PC hired Tedd Van Buskirk, formerly of K&L Gates LLP, Pamela Fekete, in-house at Cambridge Biolabs LLC, and Dillon Kim, formerly of Hogan Lovells LLP, as shareholders in New York.

The three focus predominantly on patent litigation arising under the Hatch-Waxman Act and related regulatory, antitrust, and ANDA counseling work. Their clients include pharmaceutical, medical device, biotech, and other life sciences companies.

Polsinelli Shughart has more than 600 attorneys, with 11 offices.

Litigation

TD Bank, Greenberg Traurig Sanctioned Over Document Handling

Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD) was sanctioned by a federal judge in Miami for ‘‘willfully’’ concealing evidence relevant to a trial over whether it aided a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme by disbarred attorney Scott Rothstein.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke also sanctioned Greenberg Traurig LLP, a law firm for the bank, for ‘‘negligently’’ failing to turn over documents to Coquina Investments, which won a $67 million verdict against the bank on Jan. 18. Coquina claimed after that verdict that TD Bank, Canada’s second-largest lender, and Greenberg Traurig withheld documents they were required to disclose.

Cooke said the bank and the law firm abused the exchange of evidence known as discovery, which was unfair to Corpus Christi, Texas-based Coquina. She ordered TD Bank and Greenberg Traurig to pay Coquina’s attorney’s fees on its sanctions motion, and made other factual findings against the bank.

‘‘The discovery violations in this case resulted in Coquina’s diminished ability to prove that TD Bank’s actions were unreasonable and it had knowledge of fraud,” Cooke said Aug. 3 in a 30-page ruling. “This sanction serves to compensate Coquina for the added expense caused by Greenberg Traurig’s and TD Bank’s discovery violations and abusive conduct.”

Rothstein, co-founder of the now-defunct Fort Lauderdale- based firm Rothstein, Rosenfeldt & Adler, is serving a 50-year sentence for conspiracy to commit fraud. Investigators say his $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme is the largest in Florida history. Rothstein sold investors stakes in sex- and employment- discrimination cases that turned out to be non-existent.

Cooke said she found a “pattern of discovery abuses before, during, and after trial.” She declined to sanction individual lawyers at Greenberg Traurig whose “handling of this case left much to be desired.” Their errors in producing documents were “simply incredible,” yet they didn’t act willfully or in bad faith and don’t deserve sanctions, Cooke ruled.

“TD Bank respectfully disagrees with the court’s order and will appeal it and the underlying jury verdict at the appropriate time,” Maria Leung, a spokeswoman for Toronto-based TD Bank, said in an e-mail. “We do not believe that the record before the court supports the findings that were made regarding willfulness or the sanctions that were imposed.”

Leung said the bank would continue to defend itself.

“We will comply with Judge Cooke’s ruling,” Lourdes Brezo Martinez, a Greenberg Traurig spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “We regret the deficiencies that gave rise to this order.”

Cooke, who held several days of hearings on Coquina’s motion, said Greenberg Traurig had more than 200 attorneys involved in the case, with separate teams handling banking issues, document production and pretrial and trial practice. TD Bank hired another firm as well, “but the firms did not have any mutual coordination,” the judge said.

The case is Coquina Investments v. Rothstein, 10-cv-60786, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).

For more, click here.

Samsung Defeats Apple Bid for Sanction in iPhone Patent Case

Samsung (005930) Electronics Co. defeated a bid for judicial sanctions against it by Apple (AAPL:US) Inc. related to evidence in the iPhone patent dispute now on trial in San Jose federal court in California.

The Korean manufacturer won dismissal of Apple’s request for a judge to punish its lawyer’s public disclosure of evidence excluded from trial. The judge said she would poll the jurors individually on the matter. While at least one of the jurors said they had seen headlines on the Internet about the disclosure, the judge said the jury can continue in place.

Apple, in an Aug. 1 filing with U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh, said a July 31 statement authorized by Samsung’s lawyer was designed to convey to jurors, through the media, arguments contesting Apple’s central allegations that Samsung copied the iPhone and iPad. The move was “bad faith litigation misconduct” meant to prejudice the jury, Apple said.

“Apple requests that the court issue sanctions granting judgment that Apple’s asserted phone-design patent claims are valid and infringed by Samsung,” according to the filing signed by lawyer William Lee, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP.

Apple had said that if Koh doesn’t decide the case in its favor outright, she should tell the jury that Samsung engaged in “serious misconduct.” Apple proposed that Koh tell jurors Samsung copied the designs and features from Apple products, and preclude Samsung from any further mention of evidence regarding a pre-existing design.

Samsung, in an Aug. 2 filing, said Apple’s request should be rejected because it’s “frivolous at every level,” and because Samsung’s statement was protected free speech.

The evidence fight between the companies was being conducted outside the view of the jury, which on July 31 heard opening arguments in the case.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, seeks $2.5 billion for its claims that Samsung infringed patents covering designs and technology for mobile devices. Samsung countersued and will present claims that Apple is infringing two patents covering mobile-technology standards and three utility patents.

John Quinn, of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, the Samsung attorney who approved the release of the information, said in his own statement to the court that it was done in response to a request from members of the media and that the information was already in public court filings made by Samsung or Apple and wasn’t intended to prejudice the jury.

Koh on July 31 barred Samsung from presenting images of a smartphone that Samsung claimed it was developing in 2006, the year before Apple introduced the iPhone. Koh rejected Samsung’s request to reconsider her ruling for what she said was at least the third time, standing by her earlier decision that the evidence wasn’t “timely disclosed” in Samsung’s arguments pertaining to patent infringement.

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., 11- cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Amon in Brooklyn, New York, at eamon2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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