Baker & McKenzie Adds Services Site: Business of Law

Baker & McKenzie LLP said it has chosen Belfast, Northern Ireland, as the site of its second global services center.

The firm, which opened its first global services center in Manila in 2000, is recruiting staff for Belfast and expects to begin operating the new center next month, according to a statement yesterday.

The second center is “an extension of our commitment to improve quality and increase efficiency,” said Eduardo Leite, chairman of the firm’s executive committee.

The center is expected to include about 120 professionals by the end of its first year, rising to as many as 250 after three years. The center will perform both legal and back-office operations and “facilitate round the clock services across time zones,” according to the statement. Initially, about two-thirds of the professionals will be in business-support roles and one-third will be legal staff, the firm said.

“One of the compelling reasons for choosing Belfast was the availability of a high-quality, well-educated workforce,” said Paul Rawlinson, Baker & McKenzie’s London managing partner.

The firm said it expects lawyers in Belfast to provide “broad legal process support for a range of cross-border transactions and disputes” because Northern Ireland is a common-law jurisdiction and English law is the law of choice in most large cross-border matters, the firm said in the statement.

The firm also plans to build a global center of excellence in Belfast in the areas of due diligence and deal closing, said Tim Gee, head of Baker & McKenzie’s global M&A practice.

Litigation News

WilmerHale’s Seth Waxman To Work on Appeal in NCAA Case

Seth Waxman, chairman of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP’s appellate and Supreme Court practice group, will represent the NCAA on its appeal of a federal judge’s ruling that allows college athletes a share of $800 million in annual broadcast revenue, according to a court filing.

Waxman filed a notice of appearance with the federal appeals court in San Francisco yesterday. His representation of the National Collegiate Athletic Association was confirmed in an e-mail from Brecke Latham, a spokeswoman for WilmerHale, as the firm is known.

Waxman is a former solicitor general of the U.S. who has argued more than 65 times before the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a statement on WilmerHale’s website. Among his recent high profile cases, he has represented former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. board member Rajat Gupta on the appeal of his insider trading conviction.

The NCAA lawsuit, filed in 2009 by ex-college basketball player Ed O’Bannon, challenged the treatment of students as amateurs while college basketball and football evolved into multibillion-dollar businesses, with money flowing to everyone but the players.

U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in Oakland, California, ruled on Aug. 8 in favor of the athletes. Her injunction overturning the current rule will take effect next year on Aug. 1. Until then, the NCAA can continue applying the rule, which is designed to prevent student athletes from being paid like professionals.

The Indianapolis-based association, the governing body for most U.S. college sports, has vowed to appeal the decision. It said in a statement earlier this month on its website that “we do not believe the NCAA has violated any antitrust laws.”

The case is O’Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, 09-cv-03329, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland), and the appeal is 14-16601, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, San Francisco.

Lateral Moves

Dykema Adds Lawyer-Professor to Product-Liability Practice

Dykema Gossett PLLC added Nicholas J. Wittner as counsel to its product-liability practice in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, the firm said in a statement.

Wittner previously was assistant general counsel for Nissan North America Inc., where he was head of the legal department’s product group, according to the statement. He was also executive attorney at General Motors Co.

In addition to his professional practice, Wittner teaches product-liability law and international civil litigation as a professor in residence at Michigan State University College of Law.

“Nick’s a recognized leader in the field of product-liability litigation, and he certainly strengthens Dykema’s well-established credentials,” said Michael Cooney, director of the firm’s litigation department.


Associate Happiness Linked to School Days, American Lawyer Says

The level of professional satisfaction experienced by midlevel associates at law firms correlated to how well they believe their law school prepared them to practice, according to a survey conducted and reported on by the American Lawyer.

Almost 5,200 lawyers working as third-, fourth- and fifth-year associates in the U.S. were asked to rate their law school on how well it prepared them for law-firm life. The survey, which also asked other questions about the law-firm experience, found a correlation between associates who felt prepared and those who felt satisfied professionally, the trade magazine reported.

The five law schools that produced graduates who reported the highest level of satisfaction as midlevel associates were Duke Law School, the University of Michigan Law School, Loyola Law School (Los Angeles), Stanford Law School and the University of Chicago Law School, according to the magazine.

Associates were asked to rate their satisfaction with aspects of law firm life such as compensation, relationships with partners and fellow associates, interest in work, firm policy on billable hours, and opportunities for partnership, the magazine reported.

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