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06/26/06

In-house attorneys face new challenges


According to the Ninth Annual InsideCounsel/DataCert Report of Corporate Law Departments, in-house corporate legal departments are today assuming more responsibilities than ever before.

The report, which surveyed in-house counsels from Fortune 500 corporations, revealed that there has been an increase of only 9% this year in the average law department budget and that companies are increasingly shying away from the use of outside counsel. This means more work for in-house attorneys.

Some challenges faced by in-house attorneys indicated by the survey include a larger compliance-related workload based on current governmental regulations, a low rate of new support staff hired, and the failure of many companies to adopt methods such as competitive bidding for the selection of outside counsel.

The data comes from a survey of 180 in-house counsel personnel conducted by DataCert in January 2006. DataCert, Inc. supplies electronic invoicing and corporate legal spend management solutions to 6,300 customers, more than 50 of which are Fortune 500 companies. InsideCounsel is a monthly magazine for general counsels and boasts a monthly circulation of 40,000.

Female attorney development project
A firm-wide program has been launched by Baker Donelson Bearmen Caldwell & Berkowitz to augment the role of women attorneys. The program, which was initiated in April, involves continuing legal education study programs, in-house counseling at companies, advisory sessions with corporate shareholders, and the implementation of seminars aimed at finding the right mix between work and their personal lives.

The program aims to cultivate female attorney's careers and to promote the economic value of the firm by taking advantage of the skill sets of female attorneys.

One of the 100 largest law firms in the country, Baker Donelson comprises 440 lawyers located in Washington, DC; Tennessee; Mississippi; Louisiana; Georgia; and Alabama. It also has a representative office in China at Beijing.

Shake-ups at Patton Boggs
Patton Boggs LLP's recent annual firm meeting saw various leadership changes along with a complete renovation of its management structure.

Undergoing a challenging phase with many attorneys relocating to rivals, the firm has introduced a new management position of Deputy Management Partner. Washington, DC, partner Edward Newberry and Dallas partner Charles Miller have been designated Deputy Managing Partners to assist Managing Partner Stuart Pape with practice group administration and business development strategies.

Democrat Nicholas Allard and Republican Benjamin Ginsberg will head the firm's Public Policy, Administrative, and Regulatory Department. This bipartisanship is expected to augment the firm's profile in all policy areas at the federal and state levels. Robert Luskin and Mitchell Berger will co-chair the firm's Litigation Department. Scott Chambers will chair its Intellectual Property Department with assistance from Deputy Chair Gerald Welch.

Novel attorney takeover scheme
San Francisco-based Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein is reportedly involved in advanced talks with New York-based Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman for an amicable takeover of some Milberg partners by Lieff.

Legal experts familiar with the situation feel that this kind of transaction would provide Lieff Cabraser a strong book of business and thus facilitate its growth in the securities market. Lieff is confident that its reputation will not be damaged by the merger despite the fact that Milberg has been indicted and lost many high-profile clients.

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP is a sixty-plus attorney law firm with offices in San Francisco; New York; Washington, DC; Beverly Hills; and Nashville.

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC

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