Some have wondered: Where was star litigator Dan Webb at Governor Rod Blagojevich’s bond hearing?
High-powered Winston & Strawn litigators Dan Webb and Bradley Lerman were not at Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s side when he appeared at a bond hearing on Tuesday. Blagojevich instead tapped Sheldon Sorosky, a lawyer from two-partner Chicago litigation shop Kaplan & Sorosky. Whither Winston & Strawn?
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich owes more than $500,000 in unpaid bills to the law firm Winston & Strawn, his primary counsel since federal investigators began looking into various allegations of corruption five years ago. It is unclear whether the legal bills are for personal or campaign work, or for both. Campaign filings show Winston & Strawn had charged the governor’s campaign fund, Friends of Blagojevich, nearly $2 million in legal fees through the end of 2007.
“Friends of Blagojevich”: probably in short supply right now.
* Renomination of Steven Bradbury to head OLC seen as diss to Dems. [New York Times]
* Barry Bonds seeks dismissal of perjury charges. Depends on what the meaning of “is” is? [San Francisco Chronicle via How Appealing]
* Senate debates whether to grant phone companies immunity from suits arising out of their helping out on warrantless wiretapping. [Washington Post]
* Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan seeks Supreme Court review of his conviction. [Chicago Tribune via How Appealing]
* Also turning to the SCOTUS: cheeky pro se litigant who forestalled foreclosure for 11 years. [WSJ Law Blog]
* You’ve got mail? Maybe not, at least at the White House, which is having some email archiving problems. [Washington Post]
Since the tireless Howard Bashman is in transit, we’ll temporarily assume his role as super-timely provider of appellate litigation news.
This just in: A divided Seventh Circuit panel has affirmed the criminal convictions of former Illinois Governor George H. Ryan and his associate, Lawrence Warner. The majority opinion is by Judge Diane Wood (who is a judicial hottie); the dissent is by Judge Michael Kanne (who is reportedly not fat).
This is especially bad news for Winston & Strawn. As some of you may recall, the firm reportedly blew $20 million on defending Governor Ryan, on a pro bono basis. United States v. Ryan [U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit]
* President Bush said yesterday that 14 “high-value” terror suspects, who were previously held in secret by the CIA, had been transferred to Guantánamo Bay, for possible trials before military tribunals. Gitmo’s not exactly the Four Seasons Nevis; but we suppose it’s an improvement. [New York Times; Washington Post]
* Former Illinois Governor George Ryan was sentenced to 6½ years in prison on federal corruption charges. Interesting factoid: “Ryan was the third former governor in Illinois history to be convicted of wrongdoing, all since the 1970s.” [Chicago Tribune]
* The court-appointed guardian of New York grande dame Brooke Astor’s assets in looking into whether her son improperly obtained some $14 million from his mother while “managing” her finances. [New York Times]
* James Frey, disgraced author of “A Million Little Pieces,” and Random House, his publisher, have reached a settlement with readers who filed lawsuits claiming they were defrauded. The terms of the settlement are a bit silly — but then again, the lawsuit was too. [New York Times]
Former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson just resigned as chairman of Chicago legal powerhouse Winston & Strawn, after 13 years at the helm. Here’s what he had to say about his departure:
Thompson, 70, described the move as a natural transfer of power to younger lawyers. He noted that the firm had amended its rules twice so he could remain chairman beyond the mandatory retirement age of 65.
“I was supposed to step down as chairman five years ago,” Thompson said. “It’s time for the next generation — which is exactly what I said when I stepped down as governor.”
But perhaps there’s more to this than meets the eye. Thompson was brought in as a rainmaker — and rewarded with a salary in excess of $1 million. But then things went south:
In recent years Thompson’s patina as a rainmaker lost a bit of shine. As a board member of Hollinger International, Conrad Black’s former publishing empire, Thompson faced lawsuits and a Wells Notice from the SEC. He left the board earlier this year, but an unnamed source reportedly said to the Sun-Times: “He became an issue.”
He also came under some criticism — from both inside and outside his firm — for Winston & Strawn’s pro-bono defense of former Illinois governor George Ryan, who was indicted on corruption charges. The firm reportedly spent an estimated $20 million on Ryan’s defense.
The case didn’t end well: Ryan was convicted, and The American Lawyer refused to count the thousands of hours spent on the case as “pro bono” work. Wow — that’s one expensive lapse of judgment.
If you have any inside dirt you’d like to share about L’Affaire Thompson, email us. Thompson resigns as law firm chief [Chicago Sun-Times via WSJ Law Blog]
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
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