Web week 10/07/06

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.

Pepsi can’t stomach the deal thing

Widely reported in the news this week was the attempt by three Coca-Cola employees to

sell trade secrets to arch-rival PepsiCo. According to the claims, administration worker

Joya Williams went through files and stuffed documents as well as a new Coca-Cola product

into her bag and then contacted Pepsi. Also accused of stealing trade secrets are Ibrahim

Dimson and Edmund Duhaney.

In an unlikely twist, Pepsi tipped off the FBI and Coca-Cola about the approach from the

thieves, who were looking for $1.5m (£820,000) for the information.

Coca-Cola’s recipe has been a trade secret for 120 years. Wikipedia.org reports that the

identity of the famed secret ingredient, known as Merchandise 7X, is locked away

in a security vault in a bank in Atlanta, Georgia.

But IP blog IPKat at http://ip kitten.blogspot.com/ makes a good point about the case,

saying: “The real treasure is the Coca-Cola brand itself. Anyone with access to a reasonable laboratory can analyse and replicate Coke’s products, but the brand is literally

irreplaceable.”

Looks like Coca-Cola’s most valuable trade secret is in its marketing department.

Prosecutors’ defence

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog http://blogs.wsj.com/law/ had a story about the US

Attorney’s Office in Manhattan asking the federal judge overseeing the KPMG tax fraud case

to withdraw statements from his recent decision that criticised his prosecutors.

The blog said: “[US Attorney] Michael Garcia isn’t challenging the

substance of Judge Kaplan’s opinion, but objecting to the judge’s criticism of the

prosecutors’ conduct.”

In his letter, Garcia requested that the court withdraw from its opinion the statements

regarding his office and the court’s “references by name throughout the opinion to the

prosecutors involved”.

In his opinion, Judge Kaplan accused the US Attorney’s Office of being “economical with

the truth”. The three prosecutors involved in the case are Shirah Neiman, chief counsel to

Garcia, and Stanley Okula and Justin Weddle, assistant US attorneys.

Diversity challenge

US site www.minoritylawjournal.com released its annual Diversity Scorecard this week,

which ranks law firms based on the ethnic diversity of their lawyers.

Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison tops this year’s list. Minorities

make up 23 per cent of its US attorneys and 9.9 per cent of its US partners. Second was

Morrison & Foerster, where 22.8 percent of attorneys and 10.2 percent of partners are

minorities.

Monica Bay at law blog The Common Scold (http://commonscold.typepad.com/), said: “One not surprising finding: the growing diversity among law firm attorneys seems to correlate

positively with the increasing demands from corporate clients that their outside counsel include minority attorneys.”

That may be so in the US, but the little island across the pond is still trailing. Only

3 per cent of partners in the UK’s top 100 law firms come from ethnic minorities. A third

have no partners from ethnic minorities at all.

Talking the talk, walking the walk

Finally, law blog Great Firms Great Practices run by Gerry Riskin (http://www.gerryriskin.com) features ‘The Seven Immutable Laws of Change Management’ for law firms.

Law 7 – Turn a spotlight on your initiative and leave it on – has some useful advice to

partners that might be all too familiar to spirit-crushed associates.

For example, Riskin advocates MBWA, or ‘Managing by Walking Around’. He describes this

as “frequently dropping in, unannounced, to ask the right questions and to offer help – how

is that list coming… I see you are struggling to get this done in light of your

particularly heavy case load at the moment… let’s explore some options…”.

Can’t see that one catching on in the City somehow.