Archive for October, 2006

Dorsey-Flehr: A Merger That Didn’t Take

October 31, 2006

With merger mania gripping the legal community this week, it’s worth remembering that sometimes these ventures don’t work out so well.

Take the news this week that Dorsey & Whitney may shutter its San Francisco office. That office is itself the result of a 2002 merger between what was then 750-lawyer Dorsey & Whitney and 27-lawyer IP boutique Flehr Hohbach Test Albritton & Herbert of San Francisco.



Maverick Comes Around on GooTube Deal

October 31, 2006

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and noted tech blogger, has been in the news recently for crying “What were they thinking” about Google’s $1.65 billion acquisition of the Web video site YouTube. When the deal became public on Oct. 9, Cuban contended it would open Google up to a massive amount of legal vulnerability:

“Google Lawyers will be a busy, busy bunch. I don’t think you can sue Google into oblivion, but as others have mentioned, if Google gets nailed one single time for copyright violation, there are going to be more shareholder lawsuits than Doans has pills to go with the pile on copyright suits that follow.”

But by Monday, Cuban’s view of “GooTube’s” strategy seemed to have evolved.


What’s in a Name: Labeling the Thelen Merger

October 30, 2006

It’s another merger — San Francisco-based Thelen Reid & Priest is combining forces with New York-based Brown Raysman Millstein Felder & Steiner — and of course you’re wondering why one name was chosen to go before the other.

According to Thelen Reid & Priest head Stephen O’Neal, it was never a topic of discussion.

“We’re certainly larger, so I don’t think it was a surprise,” O’Neal said, who will serve as co-chairman with Brown co-managing partner Julian Millstein at the new firm.

Though they don’t get to be first on the stationery, Brown did get to retain three of its names — one more than Thelen. O’Neal said that it was due to the fact that Brown is a first-generation firm whose founders are still working with the firm.

Although the new name is shorter than the eight total names between the two firms, it could get shorter still.

Millstein said the name is not set in stone and could be shortened for marketing purposes as time goes on.

Zusha Elinson

Is Dunn’s New Gig MICRA Management?

October 27, 2006

Is it an olive branch to attorneys or an astute political move? The California Medical Association this afternoon named high-profile trial attorney and legislator Joe Dunn its new CEO.

The capitol has been abuzz with the rumor of Dunn’s appointment for a few days. It has also raised a few eyebrows among those familiar with the trial lawyers’ historical battles with doctors’ groups over passing the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, and other issues.

In a cheery statement, Frank Pitre, president of the Consumer Attorneys of California, said Dunn will be “an asset” to the CMA and that his organization looked forward to “a stronger working relationship and renewed productive dialogue.” Could that be code for “he’s going to help us convince the doctors that we need practical MICRA reform”?

CMA spokesman Peter Warren said MICRA reform isn’t even on his group’s radar screen. But with Dunn as its leader, the CMA has hired a respected, soon-to-be-termed-out lawmaker who has inroads in the Legislature and a reputation as a rabble-rouser. It could be a mutually beneficial hire for both groups.

Cheryl Miller

Kevin Ryan’s Office Gets Emptier

October 27, 2006

Between the big trials, big investigations and big probes of his own managerial capability, U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan’s had a lot on his mind lately. Look at this past week: While a task force investigated stock option backdating and two prosecutors from Ryan’s securities fraud unit wrapped up the trial of two former McKesson Corp. executives — the biggest white-collar trial the district has seen in years — other current and former assistant U.S. attorneys were being interviewed by DOJ staffers looking into whether there are problems with the office’s esprit de corps.

Of course, the bete noire in the long-running esprit de corps debate is attrition: While Ryan has insisted it’s no cause for concern, dozens of attorneys have departed the office since he took over in 2002, opening up the question of whether the office has suffered from the exodus of experienced prosecutors. That question just gets bigger:


Chasing the Dewey Orrick Name Mystery

October 27, 2006

Thomas E. Dewey famously said, “When you’re leading, don’t talk.”

As the promising merger between the law firm that bears his name, Dewey Ballentine, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe draws closer to completion, the parties are apparently taking his advice to heart when discussing the name of the new firm: “Dewey Orrick.”

Ralph Baxter Jr. and Morton Pierce, the co-chairmen-to-be, could not be induced to comment on the rumor, snatched off the Wall Street Journal’s law blog, that “the Thomas Dewey estate allows them to use the Dewey name only if it comes first.”

There was, however, one leader who was willing to say something.


State Supremes Tune Out Shock Jock’s Petition

October 27, 2006

Former radio shock jock Jason Antebi will have to be satisfied with suing Occidental College and its general counsel for defamation.

On Wednesday, the California Supreme Court refused to review his broader claims that the private college in Los Angeles violated a state law protecting students’ speech rights.

In August, L.A.’s Second District Court of Appeal threw out (.pdf) invasion of privacy and emotional distress claims Antebi had filed against Occidental College, which he attended from the fall of 2000 until the spring of 2004.

Antebi had been a shock jock on the school’s student-run radio station, and routinely mocked people of all persuasions. After three students filed complaints accusing him of making racist and sexist comments, Antebi fired back on-air.

College administrators eventually removed Antebi from the show and officially censured him. General Counsel Sandra Cooper, however, allegedly made the mistake of confronting Antebi in a public hallway in March 2004 and supposedly calling him a racist, sexist, misogynist, anti-Semite homophobe who was “unethical” and “immoral trash.”


The Donald Goes to Voice Mail

October 26, 2006

Sometimes in this business even the city dogcatcher won’t return your phone calls. So imagine my surprise — heck, call it glee — this afternoon when I checked a new phone message and heard the familiar New England accent of Donald Trump.

That’s right. The Donald himself (or an amazing impersonator) had called. He was responding to an e-mail I sent his assistant on Tuesday asking why the business tycoon/TV star/fellow blogger gave $1,000 to Democratic attorney general candidate Jerry Brown this month. His response:


GooTube’s Strange Bedfellows

October 26, 2006

Making the rounds of the Internet so you don’t have to, Legal Pad stumbled over Columbia Law School professor Tim Wu’s Slate article about whether YouTube is, in fact, a litigation mine field for its new owner, search behemoth Google.

Conventional wisdom (the blathering of blog and main-media expertologists) has it that YouTube, being riddled with obviously copyright-violating content, is gonna lose hard when the ever-litigious Powers That Beat in the entertainment industry (and their L.A. law firms) come gunning for it.


Secret Behind the ‘Dewey Orrick’ Name?

October 25, 2006

Ralph Baxter Jr. and Morton Pierce were eager to share the highlights of the upcoming merger between their firms, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Dewey Ballantine.

Well, most of them.