4 September 2006
The Lawyer's Web Week is a weekly commentary on legal activity on the web. This includes an overview of the best of the week's blogs. If you want to direct us to useful links, email webweek@ thelawyer. com.
Freshfields' retention hit by pension
news of the first partners to depart Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in the wake of its pensions reform hit www. thelawyer.com on 30 August.
LeBoeuf Lamb Greene & MacRae was quick to grab a three-partner real estate and environment team.
Partners John Bowman, Graham Prentice and Paul Watchman will be joined at LeBoeuf by former colleague and current head of environment at Blake Lapthorn Linell Nicholas Rock.
Watchman and Prentice are among the 30 Freshfields partners to take advantage of the favourable terms offered before the firm changes its pension scheme. Watchman said: "We're not moving because of pensions, but it was a reason to answer the phone when the headhunter rang."
Lebeouf is building a team of 12 environment lawyers, which should get phones ringing around London.
Big in the city
Summer's over and Latham & Watkins is counting the cost of its extravagant 12-week internship programme. The ever-watchful Robert Ambrogi (www.legaline.com/lawsites.html) quotes research from www.ny lawyer.com: "The 276 summer associates class at Latham & Watkins outnumbered the total staff of 195 lawyers at Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz. At Latham, summer associates made more than $2,650 [£1,392] a week on average, costing the firm about $8.5m [£4.46m] in salaries alone."
But Latham isn't the only firm hiring bright young things by the cubic kilometre. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom and Jones Day brought on 240 and 227 summer associates respectively. That's an awfully expensive coffee service.
The jury's all heart
The Wall Street Journal law blog (http://blogs.wsj.com/law/) catalogued the latest bizarre twist in Vioxx's ongoing legal battles, this time with a drug liability trial in Texas.
The town of Rio Grande, Texas (population 12,000) hosted the trial. With 0.1 per cent of the town's population on the jury, pharmaceutical giant Merck was found liable for Leonel Garza's heart attack and ordered to pay his widow $32m (£16.8m) in damages.
Jose Rios was one of the 12 angry jurors, but has put the decision in doubt after admitting he had borrowed more than $5,000 (£2,600) from the widow Garza.
Merck obtained Rios's admission in a deposition and has asked the court for permission to investigate further.
It's not just the court system in the US that comes in for stick - bloggers keep the US Patent and Trademark Office on a short leash too. 'Patently Silly - the Humour of Invention' (www.patentlysilly.com) catalogues the bizarre and useless devices issued with US patents.
This month the site features a subliminal recording device that can be hidden in a fluffy toy. The teddy bear can be "unnoticeably placed near a child's bed", where it can then impart prerecorded "affirmations, self-hypnotic suggestions, or subliminal instructions", while the child is in "the subconscious state of sleep". Just the thing for that jet-setting cult leader who is too busy to brainwash the kids themself.
Other showcased inventions include a cube-shaped tennis ball, a cordless skipping rope and a "Water Skipping Article Incorporating Elliptical Outline and Hollowed Interior Core". Yep, it's a rock. With US Patent No 6905430.
Lawyer's pink bits
back in the UK the web went mad with the shock news that there are homophobic lawyers at the City's leading firms. After the Law Society issued its report claiming that a rugby and strip club culture had "undertones of homophobia", it was the rare occurrence of a story that ran on both www. thelawyer.com and www.pinknews. co.uk. You can read more on the subject if you flick to page 3 of this issue of The Lawyer.