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17 August 2012 at 11:45 BST

Covington bites back in alleged side-switching law suit

A legal action alleging that global law firm Covington & Burling switched client sides should be thrown out as the case is based on 'false premises', the Washington-DC-based practice claimed in court this week.

Note to 3M: no more instructions for Covington

Note to 3M: no more instructions for Covington?

Multi-national conglomerate 3M – manufacturers of the ubiquitous Post-It note -- filed the suit, accusing Covington of breach of fiduciary duty and contract. The corporation claims the law firm communicated with Minnesota state authorities over the possibility of initiating legal action against 3M, while still representing the company. The state has since launched an environmental lawsuit against 3M over alleged pollution offences.

False premises

In a statement yesterday Covington management committee chairman Timothy Hester said the action ‘mischaracterises the firm's relationship with 3M, and is based on several false premises’. According to Minnesota publication the Pioneer Press, 3M called Covington’s work for the state a ‘betrayal’, and cited the fees the firm would receive as a motivation for it to change sides. But the state has since pointed out that it has instructed the firm for 17 years.
Mr Hester also added that the last time Covington worked for 3M – a 2010 issue concerning benefits – the company had specifically agreed that it was not conflicted from acting against the business in the future on unrelated matters.
Covington is also arguing that because several of its partners live overseas and aren’t residents of any state, the firm cannot be sued in federal court – a point not considered by 3M.


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