Firms to Soon Have More Web-Name Options: Business of Law

Law firms will soon have a new range of options for choosing domain names.

Minds & Machines, a Santa Monica, California-based website name registry, won the auction for the top-level designation “.law” as well as “.abogado,” the Spanish word for lawyer.

Website names are delegated by Icann, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the not-for-profit company that manages the domain-name system.

Chief Executive Officer Antony Van Couvering said cybersquatting shouldn’t be an issue as it was when law firms began using websites.

Both new “law” domains will be limited to licensed attorneys and law firms, and Minds & Machines will verify through bar associations worldwide that the lawyers are in good standing. Paralegals and other nonlawyers won’t be eligible, Van Couvering said.

“Savvy firms will no doubt defensively register in the .law generic top level domain,” or gTLD, Brian Winterfeldt, a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP who specializes in Internet law, said in an e-mail. “The extent to which firms and Web users as a whole will adopt new gTLDs as primary website destinations is so far unknown, but we look forward to seeing a great deal of experimentation in the coming months.”

Winterfeldt said, “.law is not the only legal-related new gTLD. There are applications for .esq, .legal and .lawyer. We do not expect all of these gTLDs to narrowly target law firms or lawyers.” Google, he said, has the rights to .esq and a firm called DONUTS is contracting with Icann for .legal.

Van Couvering said he expects to begin accepting applications early next year. The domain names will be offered through other website registrars as well, but all must be cleared through Minds & Machines.

The amount his company paid for .law can’t be disclosed because it was sold in a private auction that required confidentiality, Van Couvering said.

Top-level domain names can command top dollar. Five companies bid for “.vip,” which sold for just over $3 million on Sept. 14 to Minds + Machines, formerly known as Top Level Domain Holdings.

The top-level domain “.tech” sold for $6.7 million, Icann announced last month.

Minds & Machines, which is traded on London’s Alternative Investment Market, also owns “.London” and “.wedding” as well as other top-level domain names.

Van Couvering hasn’t set a price for using “.law,” because “it will depend on what our costs are, but it will be much more expensive than a .com.”

“If we’re correct and the value is what we think it will be, we think it will be very attractive to lawyers.”

Firm News

Thomas Gallagher Replaces Louis Freeh as Pepper Hamilton Chair

Thomas Gallagher, the head of the white-collar litigation and investigations practice group at Pepper Hamilton LLP, has been elected chairman of the firm.

Gallagher succeeds Louis Freeh, a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and federal judge, who had held the post for two years.

Gallagher said in an Oct. 3 phone interview that he intends to follow the strategic plan the firm initiated three years ago.

“We will continue to focus on our core practice areas and certain geographic locations,” he said. The largest of those areas is “health effects litigation,” which focuses on product-liability litigation involving drugs and medical devices.

He also said he expects the firm’s offices in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley to grow. He emphasized that the firm plans to continue its growth in intellectual property, a function largely based in Boston and Silicon Valley.

Gallagher said he expects to maintain his practice while serving as chairman.

Barnes & Thornburg Adds Partners in Los Angeles and Minneapolis

Barnes & Thornburg LLP announced that David Vander Haar has joined the firm’s corporate department as a partner in Minneapolis, and Rebekah Prince has joined the same department as a partner in Los Angeles.

Previously, Vander Haar was a partner at Faegre Baker Daniels LLP. He represents public and private companies in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances, and restructurings and reorganizations. He also provides general corporate and limited liability counseling, corporate governance and antitrust advice.

Prince was previously a partner at Eisner Jaffe Gorry Chapman & Ross, where she was chairwoman of the corporate department. She focuses on a range of corporate matters, with an emphasis on M&A and franchise and distribution law. She has represented buyers, sellers and investment advisers in connection with financings and transactions involving both private and public companies.

Brown Rudnick LLP Hires Two for IP Litigation Practice

Peter Lambrianakos is joining Brown Rudnick LLP as a partner in the firm’s intellectual-property litigation group in New York, along with senior associate Bryan DeMatteo. Both previously practiced at Winston & Strawn LLP.

Lambrianakos’s work includes patent-infringement, trademark-infringement and counterfeiting matters. DeMatteo also focuses on litigating patents as well as other intellectual-property disputes.

Lambrianakos and DeMatteo, who are both registered patent attorneys with technical degrees, will join Alfred Fabricant and Lawrence Drucker, who last month joined the firm from Winston & Strawn.

“I have worked extensively with Peter and Bryan at our prior firm and am thrilled that they have joined us at Brown Rudnick,” Fabricant, the head of Brown Rudnick’s IP litigation practice in the U.S., said in a statement.

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