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June 20, 2008 9:45 AM

REGIONAL ROUNDUP: June 20, 2008

Posted by Brian Baxter

John Halbleib, a former Mayer Brown partner, alleges the firm engaged in common law fraud by misrepresenting the reasons for his ouster from the firm in late 2006. In a civil suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court in Chicago on June 6, Halbleib claims the firm initially asked him to leave in 2001 because he didn't have enough fee-generating clients, reports The National Law Journal's Lynne Marek. Halbleib hung on for four more years as a non-practicing attorney before leaving the firm permanently. He claims the real reason he was demoted and eventually forced out stems from Mayer Brown's courtship of Nestlé as a client--archrival Hershey was a client of Halbleib's.

Former UBS division director Bradley Birkenfeld pled guilty on Thursday to tax conspiracy charges before U.S. district court judge William Zloch in Fort Lauderdale. Represented by Danny Onorato of Washington, D.C.'s Schertler & Onorato, Birkenfeld said a large salary and incentives from UBS enticed him to take part in a scheme to help the Swiss bank's wealthiest customers avoid U.S. taxes on overseas accounts. Birkenfeld's cooperation will likely aid a wider IRS and Justice Department probe into foreign tax shelters, reports the Daily Business Review's John Pacenti.

Venture capitalists are discovering the benefits of hiring in-house counsel, reports The Recorder's Zusha Elinson. San Francisco-based Sofinnova Ventures just hired its first general counsel last year--former O'Melveny & Myers counsel Hooman Shahlavi--and half a dozen venture funds in the Bay Area have followed Sofinnova's lead.

The Philadelphia Bar Association held its first summit dedicated to the status of women in the legal profession on Wednesday with some leading lights of the bench taking part. The Legal Intelligencer's Amaris Elliott-Engel reports that U.S. district court judge's Norma Shapiro and Petrese Tucker were in attendance as well as U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Judge Dolores Sloviter. The judges joined an all-star panel that discussed some of the challenges women attorney's face when entering the profession's leadership ranks.

The Supreme Court said on Thursday that defendants found mentally competent to stand trial are not necessarily also competent to represent themselves at that trial, reports Legal Times's Tony Mauro. In a 7-2 ruling the Court said that states may insist that mentally ill defendants be represented by counsel when "they are not competent to conduct trial proceedings by themselves." Writing in dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia accused the majority of being politically incorrect in its treatment of the mentally ill.

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