Qualcomm

Adam Bier (sans beard)

At the Legal Technology Leadership Summit opening reception on Tuesday, I struck up a conversation with a friendly young lawyer. He won immediate social coolness points for several reasons: He has a beard. He’s from the East Bay, like me. He runs a solo practice, and he had some good stories about lawyers following unique, non-lawyerly paths (which we might mention in future posts).

Needless to say, I was surprised to walk into Thursday’s keynote discussion, “Qualcomm Revisited: When Lawyers Face Discovery Sanctions,” and discover that this attorney was actually the youngest member of the Qualcomm Six.

Adam Bier was still a self-described “baby lawyer” when he was wrongfully sanctioned in the landmark 2008 Qualcomm e-discovery case. Kashmir Hill interviewed him early last year, when the appealed sanctions were finally vacated, more than two years after they were first imposed. Bier shared his story with conference attendees, joined onstage by U.S. Magistrate Judge David Waxse and Frank Cialone of Shartsis Friese, who defended several of the outside counsel in Qualcomm.

After the jump, learn the details of Bier’s nightmare experience. Can you imagine yourself in his shoes?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Dispatch from Amelia Island: When Clients Attack”

Or a richness of embarrassment. Today we’re going to name not one, but seven Lawyers of the Day.
Our first Lawyer of the Day is Mark Mersel (formerly of Morrison & Foerster, now at Bryan Cave). In case you missed the shout-out in Morning Docket, here’s a bit more, from the WSJ Law Blog:

It’s a litigator’s worst dream — costing your client serious money by missing a filing deadline.

That nightmare was a reality for MoFo, which appears to have cost its client Toshiba America $1 million when it was one-minute late — 1 minute! — in filing a motion for attorneys fees.

For the exciting details — which involve a courier zooming through traffic on a motorcycle, and an unfortunately timed train — read the full post.
The other six Lawyers of the Day are no strangers to these pages. Let’s call them the Qualcomm Six. From the Recorder:

Qualcomm Qualcom Above the Law blog.jpgSix attorneys in the Qualcomm Inc. discovery fiasco were sanctioned Monday for “monumental” discovery violations and referred to the State Bar of California for possible discipline.

Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder attorneys James Batchelder, Adam Bier, Kevin Leung, Christian Mammen and Lee Patch, and Heller Ehrman’s Stanley Young were sanctioned and harshly criticized by U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara Major in a 42-page order. The ruling follows a patent infringement trial Qualcomm had brought against Broadcom Corp.

The attorneys “assisted Qualcomm in committing this incredible discovery violation by intentionally hiding or recklessly ignoring relevant documents, ignoring or rejecting numerous warning signs that Qualcomm’s document search was inadequate, and blindly accepting Qualcomm’s unsupported assurances that its document search was adequate,” Major wrote.

Document production sucks — or, to put it more nicely, it’s a thankless task. It’s time-intensive, mind-numbingly boring, and a general pain in the a**. If you do it right, you’re just doing your job; but if you screw it up, consider yourself screwed. Monumentally.
Six Lawyers in Qualcomm Case Sanctioned for ‘Monumental’ Discovery Violations [The Recorder via Law.com]
Judge rebukes Qualcomm, its attorneys [San Diego Union-Tribune via Blogonaut]
A Litigator’s Nightmare: Late Filing Costs Client $1 Million [WSJ Law Blog]

Tomorrow is a very big day for almost 20 California lawyers. From Blogonaut:

Qualcomm Qualcom Above the Law blog.jpgA federal district court has ordered 14 California lawyers to explain why they should not be sanctioned for their “exceptional misconduct” on behalf of Qualcomm in a lawsuit that the San Diego wireless company lost. All of the lawyers subject to the order were from the Cupertino law firm of Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder or the Heller Ehrman law firm’s offices in Menlo Park and San Diego, the San Diego Tribune is reporting.

Five additional lawyers have been drawn into the proceedings since the order was issued, so the fate of 19 attorneys rests on the outcome of an October 12, 2007, 9:30 a.m. hearing before U.S. Magistrate Barbara Major, the newspaper reports.

We previously wrote about the underlying discovery snafu over here.
Both Heller Ehrman and Day Casebeer have been the subject of gossip recently. Last month, Heller Ehrman was rumored to be carrying out staff layoffs in California (believed to affect up to 90 people). If you know anything about this, please email us.
Update: Oops, sorry, don’t know how we missed this article from The Recorder, reporting on Heller axing 65 administrative staff positions nationwide. No attorneys were laid off.
As for Day Casebeer, rumor had it that they were rescinding offers to incoming associates. But it appears that this was inaccurate, as rumors sometimes are. When we contacted the firm, they had this comment:

We are delighted that eight new associates will join us this Fall and that two have already started work. It’s a record class for us. Far from rescinding any offers, we remain very interested in resumes from others interested in joining our practice.

Especially if you’re experienced in electronic data discovery.
Federal Court Brings Written Charges of “Exceptional Misconduct” Against 14 Lawyers [Blogonaut]
19 lawyers face sanction hearing [San Diego Union-Tribune]
Recovered Emails Bedevil Qualcomm in Court [Wall Street Journal]
Heller Says Slowdown Not Behind Layoffs [The Recorder via Law.com]
Earlier: Benchslap of the Day: The Qualcomm Debacle

Qualcomm Qualcom Above the Law blog.jpgWe briefly mentioned that Carol Lam, one of the controversial U.S. Attorney firing victims, is now the interim general counsel of Qualcomm. If you’d like to know about the scandal that caused her predecessor, Lou Lupin, to resign, check out the WSJ Law Blog:

It’s something no lawyer wants to get — a ruling from a federal magistrate saying, essentially: “come on down to court and explain to us why you don’t think you should be sanctioned for your behavior.” But that’s what lawyers at Day Casebeer Madrid & Batchelder, based in Cupertino, Calif., received earlier this week from San Diego federal magistrate Barbara Major.

The ruling was essentially a follow-up to a separate ruling made last week by San Diego federal judge Rudi Brewster. Judge Brewster held that wireless giant Qualcomm and its trial counsel, which included lawyers from Day Casebeer, committed “gross litigation misconduct” by withholding crucial evidence in a patent dispute brought by Broadcom. He ordered Qualcomm to pay legal fees to Broadcom, which could amount to $10 million.

Maybe the judge was biased against a firm whose name is a little too close for comfort to “case of beer.”
L’Affaire Qualcomm: Day Casebeer Asked to Defend Itself [WSJ Law Blog]