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Law firms seek to represent dead miners' families
Legal Network | 2010/04/14 16:45

Little more than a week after the disaster, competition among lawyers to represent the families of 29 men killed in the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster has begun.

Massey Energy, the mine's owner, has deep pockets. Lawyers who represent the families could make millions in fees if they can prove company management showed a conscious and deliberate disregard for safety.

Massey has repeatedly denied all such accusations.

At least one well-known local lawyer questioned whether it's proper to seek clients so soon after the tragedy and said he could not bring himself to do it.

Law firms take so-called wrongful death cases for free. Losers earn nothing. Winners typically receive one-third of the amount awarded by the court.

On Tuesday, before all of the miners who died in the blast were buried, Underwood Law Offices, headquartered in Huntington, ran an advertisement in the Charleston newspapers and papers in the coalfields urging families of the miners to call the firm.

Law firm Mayer Brown lays off more lawyers
Legal Network | 2010/04/12 16:31

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.

Mayer Brown also reduced its administrative staff by 47 people.

This is the third job reduction since November 2008 at Mayer Brown. The two previous rounds affected at least 78 lawyers. The firm blamed the previous downsizing on the recession, which cut demand for legal services. It said Thursday that demand has bounced back but not enough. In addition, voluntary attrition has dropped, meaning that the firm was overstaffed compared to anticipated demand for legal services this year.

"Although most of our practices are performing well, overall demand for legal services has not recovered fully, and in today's tight legal job market, voluntary lawyer departures have been significantly lower than our normal levels," Chairman Bert Krueger said in an e-mail to U.S. offices. A Mayer spokesman provided a copy of the e-mail but declined further comment.

The layoffs come as Mayer Brown partners are scheduled to gather in Chicago later this month for the firm's annual meeting.

BofA Merrill, Knight Capital, Franklin Templeton
Legal Network | 2010/04/12 16:28

The following financial services industry appointments were announced on Monday. To inform us of other job changes, send an email to


The independent multi-family investment company said it hired Christopher Smith as a principal. Smith was a director of the corporate client group at RBC Capital Markets.


Chicago-based investment manager Legal & General Investment Management America said it hired Aaron Meder in a new role as head of U.S. pension solutions. Meder was a managing director and head of asset-liability investment solutions at UBS Global Asset Management.


The law firm said it hired Dallas Parker from Thompson & Knight as a partner in its corporate and securities practice in Houston.


The investment company named Adam Gorlyn vice president of its sovereign funds and supranationals group. Gorlyn worked as a portfolio specialist with the Franklin Templeton Fixed Income group.


The firm named Didier Bankole vice president of sales for its electronic trading group (ETG) in Europe. Bankole joins Knight from NYSE Euronext (NYX.N) where he was in charge of global account management.


LaSalle Investment Management appointed Andy Watson to the newly created role of head of core funds and separate accounts, continental Europe. Watson previously worked as international director in the company's Paris office.


The investment management firm named Michael Joehr as a client service executive focused on southern Europe and Switzerland. Most recently Joehr was senior relationship manager with Allianz Global Investors Europe GmbH.

Law firm 'in contempt' over MP legal threat
Legal Network | 2010/02/25 17:11

A leading law firm has been found "in contempt" of the Commons after threatening an MP with legal proceedings if he made allegations about one of its clients in the House.

The Standards and Privileges Committee criticised Withers LLP for failing to realise that John Hemming, a Liberal Democrat backbencher, was protected by Parliamentary privilege.

The firm of solicitors had urged the MP to withdraw what they called "defamatory" claims about property developer Jeremy Knight Adams.

They later sought an assurance that he would not repeat the allegations in the Commons, saying that without it they would issue proceedings.

Mr Hemming refused to give the undertaking and advised that the firm's actions might be regarded as contempt of Parliament. Withers dismissed his warning as "inappropriate".

Only after consulting counsel, following a further warning from Clerk of the House Malcolm Jack, did Withers accept it had been "mistaken" and apologised to the Commons and Mr Hemming.

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