LawFuel.com – Attorney News Daily
NEW YORK (November 3, 2009) – The American Lawyer/Corporate Counsel Litigation 2009 special report reflects the deep challenges faced by litigators in light of the recession: client cutbacks, reduced fees, the growth of alternative billing arrangements and layoffs for the underemployed. The report also profiles big-firm litigators who struck out on their own, the city of Baltimore’s closely-watched suit against Wells Fargo for alleged predatory lending practices and new thinking about creation of a world financial court to handle Madoff-scale fraud cases or cross-border disputes between the world’s biggest banks. For these and other stories, visit www.americanlawyer.com/2009.
In “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Going On,” editor Alison Frankel reports that the recession has brought a painful degree of uncertainty to a profession that doesn’t like change. When the debris settles—a process that’s already well under way—big-firm litigation practices may look very much like they did before September 2008. Even the largest litigation shops, however, may be forced to acknowledge that clients have learned that there are a growing number of alternatives to paying $1,000 an hour for the counsel of great litigators and $400 an hour to the associates required to support them.
In “The New Price Is Right,” reporter Tamara Loomis examines how the recession, coupled with client resistance to big firm rates, prompted Richard Kendall, a leading entertainment partner at Irell & Manella, to strike out on his own. Today, Kendall Brill & Klieger is a six-month-old, nine-lawyer litigation shop that’s off to a promising start and reflects a small but growing trend of rainmakers with price-sensitive clients leaving large law firms for mid-to-small-size shops and other, more flexibly priced large firms.
“Broken Homes,” by reporter Francesca Heinz, profiles the unusual litigation move taken by Baltimore to recover some of the millions of dollars of losses suffered by the city government as a result of home foreclosures and abandonments. The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Baltimore, alleges that Wells Fargo, one of the largest mortgage lenders in the city, violated the Fair Housing Act by targeting minorities for predatory loans. For cities grappling with the effects of the subprime crisis, Baltimore has become a leader whose litigation may serve as a model for other municipalities seeking redress from home mortgage lenders.
Finally, “A Suitable Venue,” by reporter Michael D. Goldhaber, explores new thinking on global financial dispute resolution, a problem brought to the fore by the current financial crisis. No independent venue currently exists for settlement of legal issues created by an increasingly tangled global financial system. And, while some experts scoff at the notion of a world financial court, other groups have begun to outline what an alternative to national courts might look like.
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