Wednesday, May 21, 2008



Liveblogging INTA

The International Trademark Association wraps up its annual meeting in Berlin today. J. Brian Beckham, a lawyer with the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, has been liveblogging the meeting at Internet Cases, providing live coverage of sessions along with daily recaps. Other legal bloggers in attendance in Berlin include John L. Welch of The TTABlog, Marty Schwimmer of The Trademark Blog, Jeremy Phillips from Afro-IP, and at least part of the team from The IPKat. Many of them gathered Monday night for a "meet the bloggers" event.

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 21, 2008 at 09:20 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Cream of the Crop in Lit Support

Hat tip to Monica Bay at The Common Scold for pointing out Litigation Support Today magazine's presentation of its first-ever awards for excellence in litigation support. The four winners were:

  • Corporate Legal Department category: Beth Kellermann, litigation e-discovery manager for Apple, who worked her way up from law firm paralegal to head of Apple's e-discovery.
  • Private Law Firm category: Florinda Baldridge, director of practice support for Fulbright & Jaworski, honored for building a national department with a focus on cutting-edge technology.
  • Government category: Carl Kikuchi, branch chief for the Office of Litigation Support, U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Division, called a trailblazer in litigation support.
  • Industry Wide Category: Tom O'Connor, industry consultant, of the Legal Electronic Document Institute, recognized for his commitment and passion to helping the New Orleans legal community rebuild from hurricane Katrina.

The awards were named in honor of Betsy Ann Reynolds, formerly of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, who died in October. They were handed out May 15 at the first International Litigation Support Leaders Conference held in Washington, D.C. (Watch a video of the ceremony.)

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 21, 2008 at 09:17 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

ACLU Launches 'Blog of Rights'

It is only fitting that an organization dedicated to upholding the Bill of Rights should launch the Blog of Rights, because, as the blog's tag line says, "freedom can't blog itself." The American Civil Liberties Union envisions its new blog "as a marketplace of ideas and discourse on pressing civil liberties issues, from surveillance and extraordinary rendition to religious freedom and the rights of protesters," says Executive Director Anthony D. Romero in this introductory post.

To kick off the new blog (actually a renaming and redesign of an older blog), the ACLU has assembled a team of guest contributors to engage in a symposium on torture. Yesterday's offerings featured:

On tap for today are posts from Christy Hardin Smith of Firedoglake, Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars, Digby of Hullabaloo, author Paul Verhaeghen, and ACLU Senior Legislative Counsel Chris Anders.

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 21, 2008 at 09:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

In-House Lawyers to the Rescue

Cc200806_0001An underdog came out on top in Corporate Counsel magazine's selection of best legal department of 2008. The in-house team at Qwest Communications won for "a classic job of making lemonade when they were dealt lemons," writes editor Anthony Paonita. The lemons came in the form of a multibillion-dollar accounting scandal that left angry investors suing to recoup more than $40 billion. As reporter Amy Miller writes, GC Richard Baer and his team took primary responsibility for handling the difficult negotiations with investors.

His recipe for making lemonade: humanize the company. "It was very important that plaintiffs lawyers understood that the company is made up of people, good people," Baer told reporter Miller.

The strategy worked. Qwest settled the suit a year later for $400 million, a mere 1 percent of the original claim. Then Qwest's lawyers took a deep breath. Investors who had opted out of the settlement filed additional lawsuits alleging nearly $2 billion in damages. So Baer and his most experienced litigator, Stefan Stein, crisscrossed the country last summer to negotiate. Last fall, all the remaining suits were settled for about $410 million.

Qwest's current CEO, Edward Mueller, describes it as some of the best legal work he has ever seen. And that is why the magazine chose Baer and his team for this honor. In fact, says editor Paonita, the Qwest lawyers made the choice easy. "[A]fter we met to evaluate and discuss their choices, a strange thing happened," he writes. "After disagreeing on almost everything else, we came to a rare accord on the winner."

See also: Next Best Legal Department: The Finalists.

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 21, 2008 at 09:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Somma: On the Bench or Off?

JudgesommaWhen last we left U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Somma of Massachusetts, he was reconsidering his resignation from the bench. As you will recall, after news broke in February of Somma's OUI arrest while crossdressing, the judge, anticipating a "media frenzy," quickly submitted his resignation, effective April 1. But when area lawyers rallied to urge him to stay, citing his skill on the bench, he had second thoughts. In an April 1 letter to Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly, the judge wrote that the show of support led him to conclude, "contrary to my initial belief, that the media frenzy occasioned by this episode would not be an impediment to my continued service as a judge." He had "been communicating with the Court of Appeals" about his status, he told Lawyers Weekly, and was extending the effective date of his resignation to May 15.

That date has come and gone with no word of Somma's status. Yesterday, reporter Jonathan Saltzman at The Boston Globe went looking for answers, only to hit a solid wall of "no comments." Susan Goldberg, deputy circuit executive for the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, told Saltzman she could not discuss Somma's status. Karen Redmond, spokesperson for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts in Washington, D.C., promised to get back to Saltzman, then never did. Somma's lawyer said he could not comment. At the Web site of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Boston, Somma is still listed as a judge. The 1st Circuit's site still has the Feb. 15 press release announcing Somma's resignation, but nothing more recent.

Somma's status is the subject of considerable speculation among bankruptcy lawyers in the region, Saltzman writes. Many of them gathered last week for a CLE conference in Boston, on the day Somma's resignation was to take effect. "All I heard was people asking whether anyone had heard anything," said Paul D. Moore, a lawyer who helped circulate the letter of support. "It's a small community, but I'm not aware of any news being shared with anyone."

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Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on May 21, 2008 at 09:04 AM | Permalink |


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