Archive for July 2007

Decker To Hold Press Conference

July 31, 2007

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Chairman Tad Decker has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday at 11 a.m.With all of the appeals of slot parlor licenses decided in the board’s favor, it could be a good time for Decker to make the long-rumored announcement that he would return to his old firm, Cozen O’Connor, as its next chief executive officer.As first reported in The Legal in late June, Decker is apparently set to take over for firm founder, Patrick J. O’Connor who has already stepped down as president to take a role as vice president of the firm.

Founder Stephen A. Cozen will continue to serve as chairman, but both he and O’Connor have relinquished much of their leadership roles to a newly created board of directors and a management committee.

Decker had been managing partner of Cozen O’Connor from 2000 until his departure for the board in 2004.

In the past few months, neither Decker nor Cozen O’Connor would confirm whether Decker was set to leave the board for the firm.

Sources in both Philadelphia and Harrisburg have said that water-cooler talk has long placed Decker as the incoming CEO.

“That is very much the plan,” one source said when asked in June if Decker was going back to Cozen O’Connor to run the firm.

The firm had said the announcement could have come as early as July 15, but as that deadline has come and gone, sources said Decker was having a difficult time getting out of Harrisburg.

Cozen O’Connor had announced a year ago that it was in the process of succession planning, making changes to several department and practice leadership roles within the firm. The succession planning would conclude, the firm had said, with O’Connor stepping down as CEO, probably by the end of 2006.

“My guess was always that they were waiting for Tad to be available,” another source had said.

In the fall of 2004, Rendell had appointed Decker, a personal friend, to the $150,000-a-year position.

–Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

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Ken Frazier Promoted at Merck for Nonlegal Post

July 27, 2007

New Jersey-based Merck took Kenneth C. Frazier out of the company’s general counsel spot and put him into the role of executive vice president and president of the global human health department, effective Aug. 1.

He will oversee more than 30,000 employees and have direct responsibility for Merck’s marketing and sales organizations worldwide including the global pharmaceutical and vaccine franchises.

Frazier, 52, had served as general counsel since 1999 and had been with the company since 1992. Prior to that, he was a partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath.

Bruce N. Kuhlik, who is being promoted to senior vice president, will succeed Frazier as general counsel with responsibility for Merck’s legal and public affairs functions.

Kuhlik, 50, joined Merck in 2005 as vice president and associate general counsel with primary responsibility for the company’s Vioxx litigation defense. Frazier will continue to assist Kuhlik on the Vioxx litigation.

Prior to joining Merck, Kuhlik was the general counsel for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and was an attorney with Washington, D.C.-based Covington & Burling.

Number of Securities Class Action Filings Stay Below Average in 2007

July 16, 2007

For the fourth consecutive six-month period, securities class action filings are “well below” historical averages, according to a mid-year report issued this week by the Stanford Law School Securities Class Action Clearinghouse and Cornerstone Research.

There were 59 filings between January and June 22, 2007, a 42 percent drop from the average semi-annual filing rate of 101. Those statistics come from examining filings from 1996 through 2005.

“We’ve now had two years worth of extremely low filing activity,” Stanford Law School professor Joseph Grundfest said. “This is starting to look like a permanent shift, not a transitory phenomenon.”

The second half of 2006 reported 53 filings and the latter half of 2005 showed 61 filings, according to the report.

Grundfest said increased enforcement activity by the SEC and DOJ has resulted in a decrease in fraud. Another explanation for the decrease in filings over the past two years is the strong stock market over that same time period, according to the report.

~Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

Bob Denney’s “What’s Hot and What’s Not” Mid-Year Report

July 16, 2007

Each year management and marketing consultant Robert Denney comes out with a list of “What’s Hot and What’s Not” in the legal profession and he issued a mid-year update this month.

Maritime law topped his list of hot practice areas, fueled by a booming Chinese economy. Denney cited Blank Rome as one of the mainly large firms who handle this practice.

Immigration, anti-trust, white collar crime and election law were other hot practice areas. Environmental law, particularly a focus on climate change and global warming, is an area that is becoming more popular, according to Denney’s report.

Spain is the up-and-coming geographic market for U.S. law firms, he said. Jones Day, DLA Piper and Latham & Watkins are a few of the firms who have opened up shop there.

Consumer-safety issues, particularly dealing with Chinese imports, are increasing. Philadelphia firm Woloshin & Killino recently filed a class action suit regarding Chinese-made tires that have been recalled by the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration.

In the marketing arena, Yellow Pages has added three new subheads under their attorneys listings, focusing on child custody law, motorcycle accidents and trucking accidents.

Unfunded retirement plans are beginning to create problems as the baby boomers are hovering around retirement age, Denney said.

Full-time management is becoming increasingly popular and necessary, according to the report. Firm leaders are ceasing to practice law, instead focusing solely on management issues.

What areas of the law – business or legal – have you seen picking up or cooling off? Do you agree with Denney’s take? If you have an opinion, email me at gpassarella@alm.com.

~Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

Philly Bar to Remove Member?

July 13, 2007

The Philadelphia Bar Association is pondering the removal of one its members, The Legal has learned.

The topic was the subject of a lengthy closed-doors session at last month’s meeting of the bar’s board of governors.


Details on the attorney and infractions involved are sketchy, but it’s apparently not related to any high-profile recent incidents involving local attorneys (like the one who was caught with his pants down standing next to an underage girl in the Criminal Justice Center.)

Jane Leslie Dalton of Duane Morris, the bar’s current chancellor, and Ken Shear, its longtime executive director, both declined to comment on the subject.

Interviews with a random sample of bar leaders from the last 15 years turned up few memories of similar situations.

One former chancellor, Abe Reich of Fox Rothschild, said that he can recall “less than a handful” of membership revocation scenarios in more than three decades of involvement with the bar.

Reich, who led the association in 1995, said that in his experience, a bar member won’t face a ban for a criminal act — in the past, association members have been convicted of crimes and still retained their membership, he said.

Instead, according to Reich, the membership revocation situations he remembers all involved behavioral problems: “Someone who probably was in dire need of some help and was acting out to members of the bar association staff in a totally inappropriate way.”

The bar’s bylaws do contain provisions concerning loss or suspension of membership privileges, but those only cover situations in which a member attorney has fallen behind in dues or has been officially disciplined by state authorities.

“It’s such a rare event that you are often creating new ground rules, short of whatever’s set forth in the bylaws,” Reich said.

However, the bylaws don’t specifically prohibit membership revocation, either. And as a nonprofit, the association enjoys a fair amount of latitude in regulating its own affairs.

One bar veteran, criminal defense attorney Jeff Lindy, said that if the bar is once again dealing with a member thought to be emotionally unstable, it could present an awkward situation from a legal standpoint.

The bar’s first option would be to approach the member in question and ask that he/she no longer visit association headquarters, according to Lindy. The next step would be to call the cops if the member does show up, and have the executive director explain to police that the person either presents a danger to the staff or intends to disrupt the organization’s business affairs.

Even still, Lindy said, there’s no guarantee the police would take action, and a restraining order might be necessary.

— Asher Hawkins, Staff Reporter

Duane Morris Makes Vietnam Presence Official

July 12, 2007

Duane Morris talked to The Legal in January about opening up two offices in Vietnam by the spring of 2007, and the firm made good on that plan today.

Duane Morris now officially has a presence in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, focusing on corporate finance, project finance, energy, cross-border transactions, restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, real estate and telecommunications.

This expansion follows the firm’s establishment of a Singapore office in January.

Partners Christopher Muessel and Oliver Massmann and counsel Giles Cooper will work out of the two offices and service clients from Cambodia, China and Taiwan, India, Thailand,

Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, the firm said.

Duane Morris Chairman Sheldon Bonovitz said Vietnam is strong in the manufacturing, information technology and high-tech industries and has a heavy investment concentration from Singapore and other countries in Asia, as well as from the United States.

~Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter

Littler Mendelson Picks Up Morgan Lewis Attorney

July 2, 2007

Labor and employment boutique Littler Mendelson has brought on Kimberly J. Gost as a shareholder in its Philadelphia office.

Gost was of counsel at Morgan Lewis & Bockius prior to joining Littler Mendelson. She concentrates her practice on employee benefit and employment law litigation. Gost also counsels clients on preventing harassment in the workplace and litigation avoidance in employee compensation, hiring and promotions. She conducts workplace training on harassment prevention, corporate diversity issues and affirmative action planning.

Littler Mendelson opened a Philadelphia office in March 2001 and now has 18 attorneys, including Gost. The firm brought on Morgan Lewis partner James N. Boudreau to the Philadelphia office in 2004.

The firm now has 600 attorneys in 43 offices across the country.

— Gina Passarella, Staff Reporter