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Firm Entry-Level Hiring Little Changed: Business of Law

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Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Entry-level hiring at U.S. law firms was little changed in 2013, according to the annual survey of the National Association for Law Placement.

The organization said that on-campus recruiting efforts were consistent with the fall of 2012, although those law students who got callback interviews had a higher rate of success than in 2012. Third-year law students had a harder time, however, because recruiting volume fell for those in the final year of law school after rising for the past three years.

In contrast, law firms saw what’s known as the “yield” on those offers falling, because there were more outstanding offers from competing firms.

“Anecdotally, many law firm recruiting professionals reported feeling as if they were competing fiercely with other firms for the same small group of job candidates, even though in the aggregate it remains a buyer’s market for law firms,” NALP said.

The survey, which was released Feb. 19, also found that “offer rates coming out of summer programs nearly equaled pre-recession highs, but since summer classes were smaller, the overall number of offers remained proportionately smaller as well.” The offer rate, the survey found, was 92 percent, two points higher than the 2012 rate and close to the offer rates of 93 percent in 2006 and 2007. In 2009, only 69 percent of summer associates received offers.

To read highlights of the report, click here.

News

Christie’s Bridge Probe Lawyer Drops Port Authority Case

The lawyer representing New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s office in probes over deliberate traffic jams at the George Washington Bridge withdrew from unrelated litigation involving the span’s operator, a move that may have avoided a potential conflict of interest.

Randy Mastro, a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, leads a legal team coordinating Christie’s response to probes by state lawmakers and U.S. prosecutors into the closing of access lanes to the bridge from Sept. 9 to 12 in Fort Lee, New Jersey. The borough’s Democratic mayor has said allies of Christie, a Republican, created the gridlock to punish him for not endorsing the governor’s re-election last fall.

Mastro, 57, will no longer defend the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge, against separate claims that it illegally raised tolls for the span and other facilities in 2011, according to a Feb. 20 filing in Manhattan federal court. The filing gave no reason for his withdrawal.

Gibson Dunn will continue to represent the Port Authority in the tolls case. Two of Mastro’s colleagues, Debra Yang and Alexander Southwell, also withdrew.

Yang was the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles and Southwell worked as a federal prosecutor in New York. They are working with Mastro on the Christie case. Emily Carhart, a spokeswoman for the law firm, didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.

For more, click here.

Law Firm News

Moves to McKenna Long, Holland & Knight, Latham, Squire Sanders

Robin S. Conrad, the executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, the public policy law firm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, joined McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP as a partner in the firm’s litigation group based in Washington.

Holland & Knight LLP hired Norberto E. Quintana as a partner in its financial services practice area in New York. Quintana was previously counsel at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. He focuses on financings as well as cross-border transactions throughout Latin America.

Latham & Watkins LLP hired Kem Ihenacho as a partner in its corporate department based in London. Previously, he was a partner in the private equity practice of Clifford Chance.

Alberto R. Cardenas will join Squire Sanders LLP as a senior partner on March 1, resident in its Miami and Washington offices. Cardenas, who was a founding partner of Tew Cardenas LLP in Miami, will focus on regulatory, government affairs and administrative law. Additionally, the firm added Rachel Orton as a partner in its real estate practice in London. She previously was an associate in the London office DLA Piper LLP.

Deal News

Financial Industry Deals Stalled by Regulatory Review

Firstbank Corp. and Mercantile Bank Corp. extended their merger deadline by three months, adding to the tally of financial industry takeovers stalled by extra scrutiny from regulators.

Firstbank, the Alma, Michigan-based company with $1.5 billion in assets, pushed back the date for its acquisition by Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Mercantile to June 30 from March 31, according to a regulatory filing Feb. 21. The firms agreed to the $151.5 million deal in August.

Regulatory reviews are holding up U.S. regional bank deals of all sizes and discouraging new ones, according to bankers and analysts. The average time it takes to close a bank deal has been increasing since the financial crisis, according to Jeff Davis, managing director for the financial-institutions group at the Mercer Capital advisory firm in Nashville, Tennessee. It took an average of 5.5 months to close a deal announced in 2006 and eight months for deals made public in 2011, his figures show.

For more, click here.

Lawsuit News

NCAA Must Face Trial on Ex-Player Claims Over Licensing Revenue

The National Collegiate Athletic Association must go to trial over claims by football and basketball players who are seeking a share of $800 million a year in licensing fees for televised games, a judge said.

The case is part of a movement by current and former college athletes to secure compensation, greater medical benefits, control over their images and labor protections in a system that considers them amateurs. The athletes aren’t paid despite generating sponsorship, ticket and merchandise revenue in addition to that from TV contracts.

The case is In Re NCAA Student-Athlete Name and Likeness Licensing Litigation, 09-01967, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

For more, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Rosen in New York at erosen14@bloomberg.net

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

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