Shearman & Sterling, Cleary, Merrill: Business of Law

Former brokers of Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch & Co. unit asked a federal judge to approve a $40 million settlement in a lawsuit over deferred compensation.

Charles McCallum, a lawyer for the brokers, told U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan on Aug. 24 in Manhattan federal court that the proposed settlement would cover more than 1,400 people. The judge said she will rule later on preliminary approval.

The lawsuit, filed by Scott Chambers and John Burnette, relates to Bank of America’s 2009 purchase of the investment firm. The brokers alleged in their complaint that they were entitled to cash distributions stemming from a change in control of Merrill Lynch.

“We’re hopeful, given the nature of the settlement and the amount involved, the settlement will be well-received,” McCallum, lawyer at McCallum Hoaglund Cook & Irby LLP in Vestavia Hills, Alabama, told the judge.

William Halldin, a spokesman for Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America, said in a phone interview that the firm “agreed to a resolution to avoid the cost and distraction of what would likely be continued, lengthy litigation.”

The case is Chambers v. Merrill Lynch & Co., 10-cv-07109, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Stem-Cell Funding Challenge Rejected by U.S. Appeals Court

A lawsuit challenging U.S. funding for human embryonic stem-cell research was rejected by a federal appeals court in Washington, which upheld a lower court’s ruling dismissing the case.

A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington on Aug. 24 said that U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth “committed no error” when he threw out the lawsuit filed by James Sherley, a researcher at Boston Biomedical Research Institute, and Theresa Deisher, founder of AVM Biotechnology in Seattle. Lamberth, in his July 2011 dismissal ruling, cited an earlier appeals court finding that the government-backed research is probably lawful.

The two doctors sought to block the U.S. Health and Human Services Department and the National Institutes of Health from spending federal funds on research involving human embryonic stem cells, arguing it violates a law known as the Dickey-Wicker Amendment.

The 1996 statute bars government spending on research that damages or destroys a human embryo. In a 2-1 decision in April 2011, the appeals court let the funding continue while Lamberth considered a final ruling. The appellate panel said the language of the statute wouldn’t support a funding cutoff.

The case is Sherley v. Sebelius, 11-5241, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Washington).


Codelco, Anglo Settle Dispute Over Fifth-Biggest Copper Mine

Codelco, the biggest copper producer, reached an agreement with Anglo American Plc to end a 10-month dispute over the world’s fifth-largest copper mine.

Partners George Casey and Michael McGuinness and counsel Heiko Schiwek of Shearman & Sterling LLP represented Anglo American. Partners Jeffrey Lewis and Duane McLaughlin, and counsel Grant Binder of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP represent Codelco.

According to terms of the deal released last week, Anglo American will reduce its stake in its Sur unit, which owns the Los Bronces mine in central Chile, to 50.1 percent from 75.5 percent. A joint venture between Codelco and Mitsui & Co. will buy 29.5 percent of Sur in a cash deal valued at about $2.8 billion.

The arrangement ends a feud that began Oct. 12 when Codelco announced it secured financing from Mitsui to take up an option to acquire 49 percent of Sur for about $6 billion. Anglo reacted by selling a 24.5 percent stake to Mitsubishi Corp. in November in a deal that valued Sur at twice that of the Codelco option. Anglo American and Codelco halted legal proceedings in June to seek an out-of-court settlement.

“The combination of Anglo American, Codelco, Mitsubishi and Mitsui forms a compelling proposition for future investment in the Los Bronces district,” Anglo Chief Executive Officer Cynthia Carroll said in the statement.

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP represented Mitsui. On the Debevoise team are partners Maurizio Levi-Minzi, Craig A. Bowman, Gary M. Friedman and Christopher Smeall and counsel Kyra K. Bromley.

For more on the deal, click here.

Law Schools

Stanford Law Makes Course, Career Guide Available to Public

In a move akin to open source software, Stanford Law School has created an online career and curriculum guide that enables law students to learn about legal careers and shape their course choices for those careers.

The content of the guide is based on interviews with faculty, alumni, practicing attorneys and other legal professionals. It is geared around offerings throughout Stanford University and incorporates more than 1,500 courses that may be useful to the school’s law students as they consider different specialties.

Called the SLSNavigator, the guide is the brainchild of Larry Kramer, the outgoing dean of the law school.

“Most law schools teach students how to spot problems, but not how to solve problems,” Kramer said in a telephone interview. There is “no generic problem-solving class,” he said. “An environmental lawyer faces different problems than a corporate lawyer.”

By spelling out “what lawyers do and what skills they have,” Kramer said the guide can show students “the foundational requirements” for particular careers.

The guide was created as part of broader curriculum changes at the law school undertaken during Kramer’s tenure. He is leaving to head the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

The school decided to release it to the public because it could be “of use to students anywhere,” Kramer said.


Milbank Tweed Adds New Partner in London Office

Clive Ransome, formerly a partner in the London office of Linklaters LLP, left to join the London office of Milbank Tweed Hadley & McCloy LLP.

Ransome, an energy and infrastructure lawyer, will join the firm’s global project finance group. Ransome’s experience includes power, refinery, liquid natural gas and petrochemical projects in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

“We have long known and worked with Clive in both London and Asia, and we are confident that he has the experience and relationships to help reinforce and expand our energy and natural resources practice,” Phillip Fletcher, practice group leader of Milbank’s Global Project Finance group, said in a statement.

Ransome is the fourth new partner to join Milbank’s London office in the past three months. In May, the firm announced the arrival of corporate lawyer Mark Stamp from Linklaters.

In June, Nicholas Spearing joined from Freshfields as the office’s first competition/antitrust partner. This month, Neil Caddy joined from Mayer Brown to expand the firm’s leveraged finance practice.

Milbank has 575 lawyers worldwide.

Intellectual Property Attorney Joins McCarter & English

Thomas O. Hoover, an intellectual-property lawyer, joined the Boston office of McCarter & English LLP as a partner.

He focuses his practice on patent, trademark and copyright law. He previously was with Weingarten, Schurgin, Gagnebin & Lebovici LLP in Boston.

“His technical background and legal experience are a great benefit to our clients and we’re delighted to have him on board,” said Elizabeth A. Hanley, leader of the firm’s IP group.

Hoover’s practice includes the prosecution of patents before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, patent appeals and opposition proceedings in foreign jurisdictions, the firm said in a statement. He also has been involved in trade-secret and infringement litigation. Hoover has experience in industries including medical devices and imaging technologies, semiconductors and optics.

McCarter’s IP group has more than 90 lawyers and patent agents. The firm has 400 attorneys nationwide.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE