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Conrad Black, U.S. clash over ‘07 conviction

After the U.S. Supreme Court eviscerated one of the fraud laws used to convict former media baron Conrad Black, federal prosecutors have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the trial error was harmless.

Lawyers for Black say the burden is impossible to meet and that a federal appeals court should toss out his conviction. Black was recently freed from prison after the Supreme Court in June ordered a review of his case because of flawed jury instructions.

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Brinks Hofer lays off 18 more staffers

Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione laid off 18 people Tuesday, including seven lawyers, its second round of cutbacks in eight months.

Fifteen of the 18 were based in the home office in Chicago, said Gary Ropski, president of the firm that specializes in intellectual property law. The layoffs affected 4.5 percent of the firm’s workforce of about 400. Get the full story »

McDermott Will first to lease in London tower

From Bloomberg News | The London offices of Chicago-based law firm McDermott Will & Emery LLP reportedly will lease two floors to become the first tenants in the Heron Tower, which will be the tallest building in the City of London area when it’s completed next year.

Mayer Brown calls off courtship in London

Mayer Brown, in response to recent published reports that it was discussing a possible merger in London, acknowledged Tuesday that it has had preliminary talks with English firm Simmons & Simmons. But the Chicago law firm said the discussions have ended without any agreement.

In a joint statement, the two firms said, “Mergers are complex and present a number of issues which need to be resolved before discussions can proceed.  We have concluded that a combination between our firms is not the right option.” Get the full story »

Attorney John Ohle convicted in tax shelter scheme

By Ameet Sachdev |
A Chicago attorney was found guilty Wednesday of conspiracy related to
the sale of tax shelters sold by his former employer.

John Ohle, 42, of Wilmette, also was found guilty of two counts of tax
evasion for failure to report millions of dollars he embezzled from a
trust and fraudulent tax shelter deductions. The conviction came after a
three-week trial in New York.

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Brazilian named chairman at Baker & McKenzie

By Ameet Sachdev | A
Brazilian will become the new chairman of Baker & McKenzie, the
Chicago-based law firm that is one of the largest in the world. The
firm said Thursday that Eduardo Leite was elected head of the firm’s
executive committee, which is its primary management team. He will
succeed John Conroy on Oct. 30.

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Neal Gerber partners leave to start own law firm

By Ameet Sachdev | Five partners have left Neal Gerber & Eisenberg to start their own
law firm counseling trade associations, charitable groups and other

The group is led by Jed Mandel, who chaired Neal Gerber’s practice group
focused on associations and non-profit organizations. In a statement, Mandel suggested that the group left partly due to client concerns
about rates.

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Sonnenschein to merge with British law firm

By Ameet Sachdev
Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, one of Chicago’s oldest law firms, has agreed to merge with Denton Wilde Sapte of Britain, creating a giant 1,400-lawyer firm.

The two firms said Wednesday that the combination will be known as SNR Denton. Sonnenschein Chairman Elliott Portnoy will share leadership of the firm with Denton’s chief executive Howard Morris as co-CEOs.

The deal is subject to a partnership vote on June 9.

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McDermott Will faces age discrimination suit

By Ameet Sachdev | A
Bolingbrook woman who was laid off from McDermott Will & Emery last
year says the Chicago law firm fired her because of her age.

Barbara Badakhshanian alleges in a lawsuit filed Monday in federal
court that the reason the firm gave for terminating her in February
2009 was “false.” She was 50 years old at the time and said in the suit
the firm told her she was being let go as part of a larger reduction in

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Divorce lawyer charged with writing bad checks

By Ameet Sachdev |
A Chicago area lawyer who handles primarily divorce cases has been
charged with writing $50,000 in bad checks, Cook County authorities said

Michael Skoubis, 48, of Des Plaines, turned himself in Saturday to the
Cook County Sheriff’s office, which had received a complaint last month
from a business associate of Skoubis. The lawyer allegedly wrote three
checks to this associate in 2009 that were returned because the bank
account that had been closed the year before.

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HSBC sues debt-collection law firm

By Ameet Sachdev | A Chicago debt-collection law firm has been sued by HSBC Finance Corp.
for more than $400,000 in missing funds that were supposed to be held in
trust for the bank.

HSBC fired Friedman & Wexler LLC in January, after it discovered the
firm had insufficient funds in its bank account to cover more than
$231,000 in remittances to the bank, according to the suit filed in
Cook County Circuit Court on Wednesday.

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Former Kellogg dean will be DLA Piper consultant

By Ameet Sachdev | Dipak Jain, the former dean of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School
of Management, will become a consultant to a major law firm.

DLA Piper said Thursday that it has hired Jain to serve as a resource to
the firm’s clients as well as help with business development and

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Law firm Mayer Brown lays off more lawyers

By Ameet Sachdev | Mayer Brown continues to hemorrhage lawyers, despite what the Chicago law firm says are “encouraging signs” for 2010.

The international firm said Thursday that laid off 28 lawyers in its U.S. offices, which represents 3 percent of the approximately 925 U.S. lawyers. The layoffs did not affect partners, only associates and lawyers known as “counsel” who are not on partnership track.

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Lovells law firm to shut down its Chicago office

By Ameet Sachdev | The Lovells law firm plans to close its Chicago office by the end of
October, sending 22 lawyers and 25 other employees scrambling to find

The London firm is set to merge with Washington-based Hogan &
Hartson on May 1, creating one of the world’s largest law firms with
$1.8 billion in revenue and 2,500 lawyers in 40 offices. But the new
firm, to be called Hogan Lovells, will not have a presence in Chicago.

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Old Chicago Post Office buyer hires Daley law firm

post-office2.jpgThe old Chicago Main Post Office on Congress Parkway. (Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune)

From the Chicago Sun-Times | British investor Bill Davies, who
bought Chicago’s Old Main Post Office at auction last year, has hired
the Chicago law firm of Daley & Jones to assist it with zoning and
redevelopment issues. Davies has not provided any information about his
plans for the massive building that spans I-290, other than a vague
statement that he would make it a “focal point.”

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