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03/27/07

Nixon Peabody's IP team opens shop in Chicago


National law firm Nixon Peabody raided Jenkens & Gilchrist to add 17 attorneys to its Intellectual Property practice group and open an office in Chicago. Of these, 16 attorneys will reside in the firm's Chicago office and one in the Los Angeles office. The group will particularly enhance the firm's national patent litigation team. The new group of attorneys brings their outstanding track record in patent litigation and trademark practice to the firm. They also have expertise in electrical, mechanical, and chemical technologies.

With 16 attorneys in Chicago, the firm will now have 90 attorneys in its technology and intellectual property practice across the country. The team includes more than 50 registered patent attorneys. With this lateral hiring, Nixon Peabody Chairman Harry P. Trueheart expects the firm to be placed in the top nationally ranked TIP legal practices in the country. The expansion into Chicago signifies the firm's strategic plans to "offer full-service, national capabilities in technology and intellectual property law, especially in key markets," says Richard D. Rochford, partner and leader of the Technology and Intellectual Property practice.

The group will have eight partners - Daniel Burnham, Janet Garetto, John Gatz, Russell Genet, Paul Kitch, Edward McCormack, Justin Swindells, and Jodi Rosen Wine; apart from one senior counsel Stephen Rudisill and one counsel Wayne Tang. The group will have six associates, including Elizabeth Baio, Mark Anderson, Sorinel Cimpoes, William Pegg, Peter Prommer, Josh Reed, and also Amy Sierocki who joins Peabody's Los Angeles office. Nixon Peabody's patent, trademark, and intellectual property litigation practice is counted among top-tier practices in the country.

New associates at corporate law firms reap rich
Plump pay checks for new lawyers at large corporate law firms have made the legal profession very attractive of late. It all began in New York, followed by other larger cities like California, Miami, Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta. Troutman & Sanders started a virtual blitzkrieg in January in Atlanta by bumping first-year attorney salaries to $130,000 and since there has been no end to the war with new heavyweight firms joining the brigade here.

In Atlanta, as elsewhere in the country, the hiring scenario in the legal arena slackened pace during 2002 to 2004. Law firms too did not pump up their pay scales, then. They remained fairly sluggish till the end of 2005. However, there was a storm in the pay-packets this year and nearly all of them got filled up by $15,000. The total stands at around $130,000 now. But, Hunton & Williams stirred the troubled waters muddier when it declared $145,000 for the new recruits.

Elsewhere, some of the top-notch corporate law firms are also awarding $200,000 as signing bonuses for those who have clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court. This will be even more for those who have experience as practicing lawyers. That is in addition to starting salaries of $145,000 to $160,000. Thus clerkship bonuses have seen a whopping increase by 3,000 percent in the past two decades.

For lawyers like John Plauche, a fourth-year associate at a top New York City law firm, who got a $20,000 raise last year, received another $20,000 when the firm announced salary hikes across the board in January. He draws $210,000 a year now. He owes it all to the "Wall Street and Wall Street bonuses." Most big law firms' attorneys work for investment banks and hedge funds, he said. Sometimes, as a result of this, the firms fall prey to defection by lawyers to work for the more lucrative in-house counsel at those companies. This pressurizes the firms to raise ceiling. This also has a "knock-on effect at elite firms across the country," he confided, on marketplace.publicradio.org.

Like him, other corporate law firms too acknowledge the soaring attrition rates. According to the most recent NALP figures, while 37 percent of associates leave large firms within the first three years, 77 percent do so within five years. New lawyers are more demanding - less billable hours, more freedom, less time period to partnership levels. The ratio between demand of lawyers and supply from top law schools have widened gap. Therefore, to avert all of this, law firms find money to be the best bait.

Attorneys too put in more gross hours now, which make up their increased productivity. John Plauche, agreeing to it, says that the demands of office can be overpowering. However, he added a huge salary legitimates access to personal time, "because that's what they pay for."

Bill Urquhart a senior partner at Los Angeles-based Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver and Hedges law firm said that law firms "don't have a choice but to pay what the market is demanding." Attrition, he opined is not a big problem if only the road to partner is short.

FUN NEWS

Woman prostitutes daughter to save her relationship
Have you heard the story about the woman who arranged for her daughter to have sex with her 37-year-old boyfriend while she recovered from surgery? Michael J. Fitzgibbon signed a contract with his girlfriend Shawn Dailey and her 15-year-old daughter last June. The agreement allowed the daughter to be his sex partner for two months while the mother recovered. In exchange, Fitzgibbon gave the girl money along with liberties like piercing and hair dyeing. Not only this, the guy also had sex with his 12-year-old daughter. This all apparently went on for several weeks before the 15-year-old finally disclosed this to a relative. Fitzgibbon pleaded no contest and received 15-year sentence for four counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for sex with a person 13 to 15 years old. He also received a sentence of 12-25 years for two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct for having sex with a 12-year-old. Dailey's trial is scheduled for April. She is charged with three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person 13 to 15 years old. To sum it all, the 'perfect couple' is 'perfectly disgusting.'




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