Grapevine

Juicy BlackBerry harvest reaps $200m in fees


Juicy BlackBerry harvest reaps $200m in fees

Visitors to Wiley Rein & Fielding’s office in Washington DC would be forgiven for thinking they had stepped into a sweet shop in Walt Disney World. “Life’s just one big party here,” says IP partner James Wallace. “There are a lot of smiling faces.”

No wonder Wallace and his colleagues are chipper. The firm won an enormous $200m (£115m) payout for handling NTP’s trial work during the four-year patent dispute against Research In Motion. Every single employee of the firm, from the managing partner through to each secretary and messenger, got a slice of the BlackBerry pie.

The payout amounts to one third of the entire $612.5m (£352.1m) settlement and, in eager anticipation, the firm had already worked out how to distribute the money.

By Wallace’s own admission, his personal celebrations were modest. After signing the settlement, he enjoyed a glass of wine at LaGuardia Airport with NTP founder Don Stout. “Charged to the client, of course,” he adds.

Latham sows seeds in private equity

After a barnstorming few years in London, Latham & Watkins has gone pretty quiet – especially in private equity, which is one of its strong suits back home. Sure, it’s Carlyle’s gatekeeper, and it snared the mandate for Charterhouse on the original Coral Eurobet acquisition in August 2002 (and the subsequent £2bn sale to Gala last year), but Latham is hardly going to dislodge Dickson Minto or even Allen & Overy‘s new partner Derek Baird.

As any US firm will tell you, it takes a lot of effort to find private equity partners. Weil Gotshal & Manges had been scouring the City for two years before landing Marco Compagnoni. Kirkland & Ellis had a tortuous journey before it finally got Graham White to sign on the dotted line.

Latham’s new hire Graeme Sloan, from Maclay Murray & Spens, does not work in the same league, but his mid-market clientele has real potential, with UK private equity house Candover the jewel in the crown. Both Sloan and Paris star Thomas Forschbach are regarded highly by Candover and a fruitful relationship would plant Latham firmly into the domestic private equity landscape.

McGrigors’ Ledingham scoop prompts Falklands landing

In the general hullabaloo over McGrigors’ recent takeover of Scottish energy boutique Ledingham Chalmers (as first reported by The Lawyer, 23 January), a little-known nugget of information was overlooked.

McGrigors not only gained extra weight in Edinburgh and London thanks to the deal, it also added an office in Baku (that’s Azerbaijan, if you didn’t know), and – wait for it – the Falklands.

Yes, like journalist Max Hastings, Ledingham was first into Port Stanley – at least among lawyers. It set up its office in August 1988, becoming the first-ever private practice of solicitors in the islands.

Now McGrigors has staked its claim in one of the world’s premiere legal hotspots with a permanent staff of one brave soul. It can only be guessed at whether partners from the firm’s Scottish HQ favoured Hercules bombers to travel down for meetings or had a preference for Harrier jump jets.

Get the latest news and an irreverent commentary delivered to your desktop every Wednesday by subscribing to Lawyer News Weekly. Register at www.thelawyer.com/register