Web week 021006

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.

O Coudert Brothers, where art thou?

The week kicked off with an ending as news filtered through from the US that Coudert Brothers, which announced its dissolution last year, was nearing its official end after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Court.

www.thelawyer.com reported: “In a petition, the firm stated that it did not have sufficient funds to post appeal bonds to challenge two court judgments against it, including a $2.5m [£1.33m] award in a legal malpractice suit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

“Coudert claimed that it also faced a number of suits, believed to number more than 20, from landlords, vendors and several partners seeking the return of capital contributions.

“As exclusively reported in The Lawyer (18 September), Coudert, which announced its break-up last August, has liabilities estimated to total almost $25m [£13.31m], not including its secured debt and potential future litigation results.

“Friday’s petition also confirmed that the firm had already satisfied major creditors including Citibank and JPMorgan Chase. The firm’s original bank debt was estimated to total $22.7m [£12.09m].

“The firm now expects to recover about $1.5m [£799,000] from overseas accounts that former partners were now improperly controlling and $10m [£5.32m] in contingent fees in matters that remain pending.”

Suffering Simmons

If Coudert went with a whimper, Simmons was hit with a bang on Wednesday (27 September). www.thelawyer. com reported that Fried Frank had taken five partners from its China offices. Lawyer News Daily got nostalgic: “There was a time when Simmons was in the headlines on an almost weekly basis, succumbing to a raid here or undergoing a mass exodus there.”

Sonsini doesn’t do DIY

In the US, the Hewlett-Packard (HP) scandal has dominated the week on The Wall Street Journal’s blog, which strolled up to Capitol Hill on Thursday (28 September) to see HP general council Anne Baskins and key outside counsel Larry Sonsini of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati give evidence in front of a House Committee.

blogs.wsj.com/law/reported: “Sonsini says that at that time of his communication with Perkins, he ‘did not understand pretexting’. So he turned to HP lawyers Baskins and Hunsaker to find out what happened. Sonsini says after he got detailed responses from them, he went back to Perkins, the departed board member, and reported to him that he had been told by HP lawyers that what was done was within legal limits.

“Outside observation: He could have suspected that it didn’t pass the smell test. He could have taken the extra step of figuring it out for himself. But he didn’t. That’s his story and he seems to be sticking to it. Seems like a classic case of deciding whether you dig deeper yourself or trust others.”

The really sensational news hit later that day when HP sent a press release across the wires stating that Baskins had resigned and would be taking the fifth amendment.

Bored games

And rounding things off on a lighter note, Yehuda Berlinger is an Israeli blogger who normally writes about board games.

For some unexplained – and unexplainable – reason he has also chosen to rewrite all 26,233 chapters of the US patent, trademark and copyright codes in verse.

Check out: jergames.blogspot. com/ 2006/09/us-trademark-code-in-verse. html.

Here’s a snippet:

“The director may give –
He’s got nothing to hide –
Copies of patents and
Pics, certified

He also may publish
This stuff in a journal
So it can be read by
All people, external

He can also give copies
To foreigners; although
Only if they’re from NAFTA
Or the WTO.”