Reed Smith, Fulbright, Sheppard Mullin: Business of Law

Reed Smith LLP opened the firm’s first Texas office in Houston, with 12 partners from seven firms, including Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, Baker Botts LLP and Haynes & Boone LLP, half of whom will bolster the energy and natural resources industry group.

This is just the beginning for the office, which currently totals 17 with associates and counsel, Michael Pollack, the firm’s global head of strategy said in an interview.

“Ultimately we would like the office to be a well-balanced, full service office with 100 plus lawyers,” he said.

Six of the new lawyers joining Reed Smith, will be in the energy natural resources industry group including E. Lee Haag and Chris Watt from Fulbright & Jaworski; Paul B. Turner, from Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP; Craig R. Enochs and Daniel Nossa from Jackson Walker LLP; and Charles “Stan” Perry from Haynes & Boone.

Haynes & Boone lawyers Kenneth E. Broughton and Francisco Rivero, join Reed Smith’s U.S. commercial litigation practice.

Wanda G. Holloway joins the labor and employment practice from Seyfarth Shaw LLP; Carol M. Burke, joins the financial industry group from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP; and Robert R. Riddle joins the firm’s IP practice from Baker Botts. Baker Botts’s Stephen E. Scheve joins the life-sciences health industry group.

Four additional lawyers also joined in several practice groups, including two in energy and natural resources.

Reed Smith real estate and energy and natural resources partner David A. Thompson, who has been the San Francisco managing partner since 2003, will move to Houston to handle the integration of the new lawyers at the firm.

Pollack said the firm looked for a local firm to merge with or acquire but when that didn’t work out it sought to build its own office though lateral hires. More than half of the firm’s largest clients have operations in Houston, particularly in the oil, banking and health care sectors.

“So many clients want to work with fewer and fewer law firms. That’s part of what drove us here,” he said.

Houston is the Reed Smith’s 14th U.S. office and 25th world-wide. The firm has more than 1,700 lawyers in 25 offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.


Fulbright & Jaworski Litigation Trends Survey Finds Rise in 2012

U.K and U.S. corporate law departments had an increase in litigation and regulatory investigations spending last year, according to a survey by Fulbright & Jaworski LLP law firm.

Litigation rose to 2010 levels, with labor and employment and contract suits leading the rebound, according to the survey, which the firm has done for the last nine years. The number of lawsuits initiated by and defended by corporations increased last year. The survey found that 60 percent of the companies surveyed initiated lawsuits compared to 48 percent in 2011.

Regulatory investigations also increased, reaching a five-year high, with U.S. companies hiring outside counsel at a rate of 60 percent compared to 55 percent in 2011. In the U.K., those numbers increased from 27 percent in 2011 to 72 percent last year.

“As litigation rebounded in 2012, more companies, particularly in energy, health care, and manufacturing, experienced an increase in government and regulatory investigations,” Otway B. Denny, the head of Fulbright’s global disputes practice said in a statement. “All three of these industries, along with technology, were involved in investigations that concerned at least six different U.S. regulators.”

The survey gathered input from 392 in-house attorneys, 82 percent of whom are general counsel. Among the respondents, 275 are from the U.S.

The survey found that corporate law offices don’t expect much change in 2013. Ninety two percent, compared to 89 percent last year, expect legal disputes to increase or stay the same.


Mary Ross, Early Leader of Female New York Lawyers, Dies at 102

Mary R. Cowell Ross, a former president of the New York Women’s Bar Association who got her break in law because of the shortage of men in the civilian workforce during World War II, has died. She was 102.

She died on Feb. 2 at her apartment at the Pierre Hotel in New York, according to a death notice published yesterday in the New York Times.

On her way to becoming the 14th president of the New York Women’s Bar Association from 1955 to 1957, Ross led its committee for equal opportunities. In a speech wrapping up her two-year term, she reported that women being turned away from law firms remained a “common occurrence” and that female lawyers were paid less than men and had slim chances of becoming partner, according to the New York Times.

Ross began her college studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1932. She worked as a department store buyer in Lincoln, then as a legal secretary in Springfield, Missouri, before enrolling in what today is the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. She earned her law degree in 1938.

She worked in Washington for the federal government during World War II, chiefly in the branch of the Justice Department that disposed of enemy-owned property in the U.S.

She moved to New York in 1946 to work for a predecessor of law firm Rogers & Wells, which in 2000 became part of London-based Clifford Chance LLP. Her specialty was wills, trusts and estates. She left Rogers & Wells in 1961 to go into private practice.

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Firm News

White Named Managing Partner of Jackson Lewis’s Houston Office

Jackson Lewis LLP named Ruthie N. White to the role of Houston office managing partner, succeeding Teresa S. Valderrama. Valderrama will continue in her role as partner and litigation manager of the Houston office, the firm said.

White, who has more than two decades of business and legal experience, handles discrimination, harassment and retaliation cases.

Jackson Lewis has 750 attorneys practicing in 52 locations nationwide.


Sheppard Mullin Hires Two Partners in California

David A. Randall has joined the Los Angeles office of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP as a partner in the firm’s intellectual property practice group. He was previously at Dickstein Shapiro LLP.

The firm also hired Robert J. Guite as a partner in the firm’s business trial practice group in San Francisco. Guite joins from Squire Sanders LLP, where he was hiring partner for that firm’s Northern California offices, the firm said.

Randall has represented clients in patent, trademark, and trade secret disputes. Recently, he successfully defended Belkin, Best Buy and RadioShack against Aerielle Technologies in a multi-patent case related to FM transmitters, according to a firm statement.

Guite focuses his litigation practice on commercial, class action, products liability, ERISA and insurance matters.

Sheppard Mullin has 630 attorneys in 16 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.


Wiretapping-Law Challenges Barred by U.S. Supreme Court

Lawyers and civil rights activists can’t challenge a federal law that allows government surveillance of international phone calls and e-mail, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a victory for the Obama administration.

The justices, voting 5-4 along ideological lines, yesterday said groups and people represented by the American Civil Liberties Union hadn’t shown they were being harmed by the surveillance. The ACLU’s clients include Amnesty International, lawyers, international rights activists and journalists.

The activists contended that the 2008 law violates the Constitution by allowing the monitoring, with minimal court supervision, of international communications by Americans who aren’t suspected of criminal or terrorist activities.

“It is speculative whether the government will imminently target communications to which respondents are parties,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the majority.

Yesterday’s ruling didn’t address the lawfulness of the wiretapping law itself, saying only that the ACLU and its allies lack legal “standing” to pursue their suit. The standing requirement stems from the constitutional limit on federal courts’ authority to decide “cases” and “controversies.”

The administration argued that the law is aimed at monitoring communications by non-Americans outside this country, not the people on the U.S. end of a phone call or e-mail.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan dissented. Writing for the group, Breyer said the people and organizations that sued probably would be involved in at least some of the conversations that are intercepted.

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy joined Alito in the majority.

The law was enacted following the public disclosure in 2005 that President George W. Bush, after the 2001 terrorist attacks, ordered the National Security Agency to intercept telephone calls between suspected terrorists overseas and their comrades in the U.S. The surveillance was conducted without court review.

The case is Clapper v. Amnesty International USA, 11-1025, U.S. Supreme Court (Washington).


N.Y. Anti-Terror Law Hurts Pursuit of Terrorism, Lawyer Says

Catherine Amirfar, litigation partner at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, talks about recently obtaining a landmark victory on behalf of her client, Edgar Morales, in the first ever case of a gang member tried as a terrorist. On December 11, 2012, New York’s highest court threw out manslaughter, attempted murder and weapon possession convictions of the alleged Bronx gang member who was the first defendant to be prosecuted under an antiterrorism statute passed several days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Amirfar, speaking with Bloomberg Law’s Spencer Mazyck, also explains why the statute should not be applied to commonplace street violence and how the court’s decision will impact other states with similar anti-terror laws.

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