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Editor's picks

CONSTRUCTION

Egorov Puginsky recruits from DLA Piper

Olga Mischenko, formerly of DLA Piper, is to join the St Petersburg office of Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners as head of construction and PPP.

TURNAROUND

Law school restructures debt as admissions fall

The Thomas Jefferson School of Law has announced that bond-holders will become the owners of its law school building and that they will let the school use the premises on a lease.

REGULATORY

British banks posts £1.2b legal charges and fines

Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland have joined the stream of banks in Europe and the US increasing their legal provisions as a result of negotiatons with regulators.

SALARY LEVELS

Demand for paralegals outstrips lawyers in energy hub

The legal specialists most in demand in the Texan city of Houston are not lawyers but corporate paralegals, according to Robert Half Legal.

FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Three Saudi lawyers jailed over Twitter comments

Three lawyers have been sentenced to between five and eight years in jail after criticising the Saudi justice system on Twitter.

LAW FIRM EXPANSION

Amarchand eyes Singapore for ninth office

India's largest law firm, Amarchand Mangaldas, is starting to plan the location of its ninth office - and has put Hong Kong, London, Dubai, New York and Singapore on the shortlist.

TECHNOLOGY

IT legal products proliferate

The launch rate of e-products in the legal sector is increasing so fast that a range of them have been unveiled this week alone.

What's new today:

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

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  • GLOBAL LAW FIRMS

    US-UK merger talks on two fronts

    Four leading international UK and US firms are in courtship dances that could lead to marriages, reports from both sides of the Atlantic claim.

    Norton Rose has confirmed that it has held informal talks with Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski, while Chicago-headquartered firm Mayer Brown has reportedly been approached by London's SJ Berwin.

    According to UK newspaper Legal Week, Norton Rose chief executive Peter Martyr meets with Fulbright's leadership on a regular basis. Fulbright began a review of its international strategy last year, and a tie-up with a London firm is understood to be one of the key pillars of assessment. Mr Martyr said: 'We are good friends with Fulbright - best friends. I know they had that strategy meeting last year but I am not privy to what they decided.'

    According to the report, a Norton Rose-Fulbright merger would form a global firm with 3,500 lawyers and revenues close to $2 billion.

    Meanwhile, the Am Law Daily reports that SJ Berwin has approached Mayer Brown for merger talks - coinciding with a leadership change at the Chi-Town firm (see What's new, 18 May).

    SJ Berwin has already had talks with American suitors - such as Boston-based Proskauer Rose last year - but has so far been unsuccessful.

    Neither prospective merger would be expected significantly to impact on the US firms' domestic strength, but the resources and strategy that British firms have built in terms of exploring emerging markets - not least in Asia -- could provide a key incentive.

    Legal Week coverage >>

  • FRAUD

    Prison sentences dished out to fraudulent ex-lawyers

    Two former lawyers have been sentenced to a combined 18 years in federal prison for their roles in separate investment scams that swindled victims out of close to $35 million.

    Mark Anderson was sentenced to more than 11 years in gaol after accruing over $9.5m from his scheme while Jeanne Rowzee was handed a seven-year term for her involvement in a securities fraud scheme that netted $25m, according to a report in the National Law Journal.

    Mr Anderson - who was disbarred in Nevada following an earlier conviction - was given his sentence for running a scheme that promised lucrative gains from investment in oil ventures in California and Oklahoma. According to US Attorney Andre Birotte of the Central District of California, Mr Anderson 'used his knowledge of the oil business to bilk investors and clients and to create a smoke-screen around his criminal activities.'

    In a separate case, Ms Rowzee - a California-based sole principal who voluntarily resigned from the state bar in 2010 - was punished for her role in a conspiracy and securities fraud, including convincing victims she had worked for the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Mr Birotte said: 'Ms Rowzee played a key role in this scheme by promising huge returns on investments and pretending to be an experienced securities attorney.'

    The National Law Journal coverage >>

  • CONTRACTS

    Worry that 'cloud' contracts not enforceable

    On-line companies may be forced to offer more flexible contract terms as a result of changing legal and market factors, according to research from Queen Mary, University in London.

    Although many companies providing IT services through the internet -known as cloud computing - use standard negotiation terms, the research found that these terms are often heavily weighted in favour of the provider, are unenforceable in some countries and often do not meet legal obligations.

    The research, carried out by the Cloud Legal Project (CLP), found the most negotiated terms to be: provider liability, service level agreements, data protection and security, termination rights, unilateral amendments to service features and intellectual property rights.

    'These are the key contractual issues of concern to users in the cloud market at this relatively immature stage of cloud adoption,' explained Professor Christopher Millard, lead academic on the CLP.

    'To remain competitive, providers may have to be more aware of user concerns, more flexible in negotiations, and more willing to demonstrate the security and robustness of their services.'

    Professor Ian Walden, from CLP, added: 'Forcing providers to accept more liability and incur the expense of upgrading their infrastructure, while keeping prices low, may undermine market development.'

  • MEDIA

    Facebook settles 'Sponsored Stories' complaint

    Social networking web site Facebook has settled one of the only privacy-related multi-party actions facing the company that hasn't already been dismissed.

    California publication The Recorder reports that the complaint surrounds Facebook's 'Sponsored Stories' feature, which allows advertisers to use the image and name of users who have 'liked' them to advertise products - without paying those users or letting them opt out.

    Five users brought the complaint in April 2011, alleging the feature violates their right to publicity under California law. Lawyers note that the suit is one of the few to survive a motion to dismiss, as in this case the claimants were able to show their rights had been violated and they could be entitled to damages.

    Terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but details should become public by the end of this month as the case must go through the class certification process.

    Elsewhere in the Facebook world, the company could face a US investigation over its recent multi-billion initial public offering, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper in the UK.

    Shares in the social networking site fell by nearly 9 per cent after it emerged that two of the banks that assisted in the IPO slashed their sales forecasts. According to the report, the reductions from Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs may not have reached all investors before the £66bn float.

    Rick Ketchum, the head of the Financial Industry Regulator Authority, said: 'The allegations, if true, are a matter of regulatory concern.'

    The Recorder coverage >>

  • FRAUD

    UK fraud busters admit raid mistakes

    The UK's Serious Fraud Office has been accused of 'institutional failure' after conceding that it must review its investigation into the Iranian-born British entrepreneur Vincent Tchenguiz.

    Mr Tchenguiz's lawyer, Lord Goldsmith QC, told the High Court that actions taken by the SFO during the case raised the question of its 'fitness for purpose', according to The Times newspaper.

    The outburst of criticism came after the SFO acknowledged that it is liable to pay damages for the disruption of Mr Tchenguiz's business as a result of the March 2011 dawn raids.

    Lord Goldsmith - the former UK Attorney General and currently the head of European litigation at the London office of US law firm Debevoise & Plimpton -- also argued that the way in which the SFO used its powers to retain material seized in the raids was 'flawed and unlawful'.

    Yesterday's concessions by the SFO - which announced the case will be reviewed 'as a matter of urgency' - came on the eve of a judicial review challenge by Mr Tchenguiz and his brother Robert.

    The Times coverage >>

 

Also read...

Liquidators seek to overturn immunities of Halliwells partners

Liquidators of the failed UK firm Halliwells will continue to pursue its former partners despite a High Court ruling which gives protection to nine of the 150 people who had been in the partnership.