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04/11/07

Battle, tired of the ongoing battle!


Some people always make news. Michael A. Battle made news last month when he resigned from his post as Director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys at the Department of Justice. This Monday, when he joined law firm Fulbright & Jaworski as a partner, it is again interesting news.

Battle is in the limelight because of his association with the recent firing of several U.S. attorneys. Dubbed as "Attorneygate", the controversy surrounding the recent dismissals of the U.S. attorneys is refusing to die down. Some of the fired attorneys have reportedly joined private law firms, and now it seems to be the turn of the firing officers to explore options.

In December 2006, Battle notified seven U.S. attorneys that they were being fired.

Last month, when Battle resigned, congressional Democrats described it as an evidence of professional frustration over the controversy. Though it was Battle who, as Director, provided direct oversight and support activities to the 94 U.S. attorneys, the Justice Department officials have denied his role in the decision leading to the dismissals.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales later agreed to make Battle, among others, available for testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It has not happened yet.

"I like trying cases, and I like representing clients. I just needed to find the right place to do that," announced Fulbright & Jaworski citing Battle.

Let us wait to see, if this is the right place for "Battle?"

Hunton hunts 93 attorneys of the fallen firm
Of the remaining 124 lawyers of the defunct law firm Jenkens & Gilchrist, 93 have joined the Hunton & Williams law firm.

Interestingly, the mass transition includes the former firm's managing partner and an 82-year old attorney associated with the firm since 1952.

It's been almost two weeks since one of Texas' most powerful law firms faded into oblivion. Though, the firm's struggle for survival went on for three long years, the end was unfortunate. A short message on the firm's website declared: "Effective midnight March 31, Jenkens & Gilchrist no longer offers legal services."

The 56-year-old firm once had 600 attorneys spread in its offices from New York to California. The firm's problems began in 2003 when the lawyers in its Chicago office were accused of developing and marketing abusive tax shelters and issuing deceitful legal opinion letters.

For three years the firm tried vainly to mend the damage. Finally, the firm had to shell out $76m to the Internal Revenue Service to evade criminal prosecution.

"This should be a lesson to all tax professionals that they must not aid or abet tax evasion by clients or promote potentially abusive or illegal tax shelters," remarked IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson in a news release. According to the IRS estimates, the fraud affected 1,400 people.

U.S. attorney Michael Garcia is reported to have said, "These fraudulent cookie-cutter shelters purported to . . . eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes owed by wealthy clients. They sounded too good to be true and they were too good to be true." Garcia has been leading an investigation into fraudulent tax shelters.

Acknowledging the guilt, Jenkens & Gilchrist admitted in a statement that Chicago lawyers' wrongful act deprived the U.S. Treasury of significant revenue from 1999 to 2003.

Patrick Mitchell, who was managing partner of Jenkens, will be the office managing partner of Hunton's Dallas office.

Hunton & Williams doesn't seem to be having any inhibition in absorbing these attorneys. The transition will bring the total lawyer strength at Hunton to nearly 1,000 in its 19 offices.

BIZARRE NEWS

The eBay makeover
Mid-life crisis… What do you do to get a fresh start? Go on a vacation? Plan a high-school reunion? Here is a Minnesota woman, 45, who is dumping all her belongings to start afresh. Lisa Perry, who has worked as a lawyer in Montana, is auctioning all her belongings on eBay. "This is it!! Everything must go!! I am moving, changing my life, and want to purge all things from the past!!!" All the 300 items are grouped under one massive auction and the highest bidder gets it all, as long as he/she bids more than $2,000. The items include mid-century modern diamond chairs, snowshoes, a queen-size futon with convertible sofa/bed frame, a coffee maker, a Village People album, a milk crate of seashells, and a computer, among others. However, Perry has kept a few things for herself including her dog, her cat, photo albums, and some clothing. What's her plan for the future? She plans to move west and take up creative writing or holistic healing. What better way to get rid of all the junk! Living with less clutter is such an appealing idea.

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