New York Goes National and Alters Its Bar Exam: Business of Law

New York State, beginning next year, is relinquishing the state component of the bar exam.

Rather than taking an exam divided between the national multistate test and one limited to New York law, the state will eliminate the New York portion and replace it with the Uniform Bar Exam, a test already adopted by 15 states.

The new exam will allow lawyers to become licensed more easily in several states.

The move comes from recognition among the judiciary, academics and those practicing at firms and in nonprofits that change was needed to keep pace with the evolution of the legal industry.

Jonathan Lippman, chief judge of the New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, announced the change on Tuesday. The national test, Lippman said, “is not only desirable but necessary for the mobile, interconnected society in which we live.”

“We live in a world where it is common for lawyers to switch jobs multiple times throughout their careers and relocate to different states,” he said in a speech. “Lawyers with families, particularly those with military spouses or partners, can find themselves needing to relocate unexpectedly. The UBE makes it easier to become licensed and employed in a new jurisdiction.”

The changes in the exam -- which even in its new incarnation will still be given over two days -- will be introduced in July 2016.

Lawyers also will still need to take what the Advisory Committee on the Uniform Bar Examination recommended: two state-specific online licensing components including a 50-question multiple-choice exam and a separate “New York Law Course.”

The adoption of the UBE by New York might be groundbreaking, Lippman said.

“Most recently, in 2014, the Board of Law Examiners administered the New York bar exam to more than 15,200 people from across the state, the nation, and the globe -– more than any other state in the nation,” he said.

Sysco Urges Judge to Save US Foods Deal in Antitrust Duel

Sysco Corp.’s takeover of US Foods Inc. would create an industry “behemoth” in food distribution, eliminating intense head-to-head competition between the companies, a U.S. lawyer said at the start of a courtroom battle over the deal.

The Federal Trade Commission is asking a federal judge to block the $3.5 billion combination, arguing the merger would give Sysco an oversized share in an industry where it’s the biggest player and lead to higher prices for restaurants, hotels, school cafeterias and other customers.

Sysco and US Foods dwarf their rivals and their tie-up “will harm competition in many markets,” Stephen Weissman, an attorney for the FTC, said Tuesday in the Washington court.

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta is hearing arguments in the FTC’s request to halt the merger pending an administrative proceeding before the agency’s in-house court. Sysco and US Foods say delaying the deal now would kill it. The hearing is scheduled to last as long as seven days.

The industry is highly competitive and includes a wider array of options for customers than the FTC claims, the companies argue.

Richard Parker, a lawyer for Sysco and a partner at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, disputed the FTC’s claim that the combined companies would have a 75 percent market share, saying food distribution is a “sprawling industry” where more than 16,000 other businesses have about 60 percent of the market.

Joseph Tringali, a partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, and counsel Peter Herrick represent US Foods. In addition, O’Melveny partners Ian Simmons, Ted Hassi and Katrina Robson are also involved in the case.

The case is FTC v. Sysco Corp. 15-00256, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

For more, click here.

Kelly, Christie’s Ex-Deputy, Sets Up Crowdfunded Defense Fund

Bridget Anne Kelly, Chris Christie’s ex-deputy chief of staff who pleaded not guilty Monday to charges that she helped plot traffic jams to punish a local mayor, wants some help.

Kelly has set up a website to raise money for her legal defense. Front and center on the site is a photo of Kelly with her four children.

She includes a statement: “I am determined to clear my name and restore a sense of normalcy for my 4 children. This Fund will aid in ensuring truth and justice prevails.”

The site takes donations -- there’s a $25 minimum -- but no equivocators. No refunds are allowed.

She’s not the only one using crowdfunding to raise money for legal defense. Baltimore’s police union turned to GoFundMe to help support the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Their effort raised $890 in 41 minutes before being taken down by GoFundMe, which said it can’t be used to help those charged with “serious violations of the law.” By yesterday the union instead showed a link on its website for a PayPal account for its “Officer Distress Fund.”

To read more about those using crowdfunding for litigation, click here.

Law Firm News

Ryan, DOJ’s Director of Litigation, Is Rejoining Mayer Brown

Mark W. Ryan, the director of litigation at the U.S. Department of Justice, is rejoining Mayer Brown LLP as a partner in Washington. Ryan, the firmwide litigation practice leader and partner-in-charge of the Washington office before heading to DOJ in 2012, will lead the firm’s global antitrust and competition practice after returning in June.

In an interview Tuesday, Ryan said he expects the government’s criminal antitrust focus on cartels -- both globally and domestically -- to continue. On the civil side, he said, efforts will “depend on the deals that are presented.”

William Baer, the assistant attorney general for the Antitrust Division, he said, “wants to maintain competition. Not all deals present problems and sometimes only parts of deals present problems. ”

He said that when there’s a “perceived problem with a transaction, there’s a high degree of willingness to work with the parties to ID the problem and determine what an appropriate fix might be.” Most companies, he said, don’t realize that “you can engage with the Antitrust Division” to figure out what that fix -- such as a divestiture -- might be.

Ryan said that one of his goals at Mayer Brown will be to unite the competition practices across the firm’s worldwide offices. “I think it will be a lot of fun and a great challenge,” he said.

Cozen O’Connor Adds 10, Creates an Attorneys General Practice

Cozen O’Connor has hired 10 attorneys and government professionals from Dickstein Shapiro LLP.

With the new hires, seven of whom are partners, the firm has formed a state attorneys general practice.

The new additions include partners Bernie Nash, Lori Kalani, JB Kelly, Milton Marquis, Maria Colsey Heard, Ann-Marie Luciano and Chris Allen. They focus on legal and policy matters and investigations brought by state attorneys general across the country. Nash and Kalani will co-chair the new practice.

In addition to the Dickstein lawyers, Blake Rutherford, the former chief of staff to the Arkansas and Pennsylvania attorneys general, recently joined as well.

“State attorneys general across the country are examining emerging issues, increasingly filing qui tam cases and investigating business practices relating to antitrust, consumer protection, data privacy and the environment,” Michael Heller, the president and chief executive officer of Cozen O’Connor, said in a statement.

“Our practice represents clients in AG investigations and litigation, and counsels clients on the multitude of AG-related legal and policy matters based upon decades of experience working with AGs across the country,” he said.

Cozen added 60 lawyers in Chicago in April.