Musical Chairs: Dale Cendali from O’Melveny to Kirkland

musical chairs.gifWhen it comes to lateral movement of lawyers from one firm to another, things seem pretty dead. If you’re an attorney with a job, you’re probably just holding on for dear life. Latham, holla.

But it’s important to distinguish between lateral partner moves and associate moves. The latter are becoming increasingly rare, but the former continue to happen with regularity. As various firms founder and flounder, partners with business think: “I have a portable book in the eight figures. Why would I want to go down with these clowns?”

Dale Cendali from OMM to KE.jpgOf course, not every lateral partner move arises out of a rainmaker seeking greener pastures. Economic instability has resulted in some partners being prematurely put out to pasture, perhaps because they don’t generate enough business in these tough times, or perhaps because their firms went under. The American Lawyer refers to such lawyers as “accidental laterals”: they never intended to be on the lateral market, but they wound up there anyway.

We suspect that this latest lateral move, however, is not accidental. Superstar IP litigator Dale Cendali — who has been quite busy in the past year, representing the likes of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling — is leaving O’Melveny & Myers for Kirkland & Ellis. Joining her at K&E are current OMM partners Claudia Ray, also based in New York, and Diana Torres, in Los Angeles. The exact timing is unclear, but look for a move sometime next month.

O’Melveny confirmed the news to ATL and issued this statement, through a firm spokesperson:

While we regret losing a talented group of lawyers, we are fortunate to have an exceptional team and deep bench of IP litigators specializing in patents, trademarks, copyrights, IP antitrust, computer hardware and software, media & entertainment, and life sciences. Our IP lawyers have national practices and have appeared in courts across the country.

More details, after the jump.

In case you’re not familiar with her, Dale Cendali is a big deal. From her O’Melveny bio:

Among her many accolades, Dale was named by The National Law Journal as one of “America’s Top 50 Women Litigators” and as one of the “50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America.” Chambers USA has repeatedly placed Dale in the “top tier” of America’s Leading Business Lawyers, describing her as “[o]ne of the best lawyers in the country. . .” and a “superb litigator” who “thinks quickly on her feet and vigorously defends her clients.” An honor reserved for a very select few, Dale has garnered this recognition in not one, but two categories: Media and Entertainment, and Trademark and Copyright litigation. Dale was also named, in 2007, among “The Top 100 New York Super Lawyers” and “The Top 50 Female New York Super Lawyers.”

In sum, Dale Cendali is a Bad-Ass Litigatrix. Her latest high-profile litigation was described earlier this month in the WSJ Law Blog:

Hope Barack Obama image Shepard Fairey AP lawsuit.jpgArtist Shepard Fairey acknowledges using a 2006 Associated Press photo of then-senator Barack Obama as the basis for his iconic red and blue “Hope” poster, reproduced on buttons and banners through the campaign. When the AP pressed Fairey for credit and compensation, Fairey sued the AP in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. His lawyers said the artist transformed the image that “conveys a radically different message” and thus, falls into fair-use territory.

As AmLaw Daily noted: The case will again match Fairey’s counsel — former Bingham McCutchen partner Anthony Falzone, now executive director of Stanford Law School’s Fair Use Project — and AP lawyer Dale Cendali of O’Melveny & Myers. Last spring the two faced off during the trial over a fan’s attempt to publish a Harry Potter lexicon. (Cendali, representing Potter author J.K. Rowling, successfully stopped the book’s publication, though a revised lexicon has since been published and is selling.)

No offense to Cendali, but we HOPE that she loses. We have previously expressed our support for a very broad interpretation of fair use. To paraphrase a certain law firm theme song (mp3), everyone’s a winner when information gets to be free.

Dale Cendali bio [O’Melveny & Myers]

The Accidental Laterals [American Lawyer]

A ‘Hope’ful Lawsuit: Sizing up Fairey v. AP [WSJ Law Blog]

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