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Patent Holder Sues Jones Day For Backing Out Of IP Row

August 30th, 2015 Alexander No comments

Soverain Software LLC wants the court to reverse an arbitration panel decision finding Jones Day breached the parties’ 2007 engagement agreement, yet awarding the law firm “substantial” damages for attorneys’ fees it claimed had gone unpaid.

“The panel disregarded the provisions of the 2007 engagement letter, and ordered an award that is not based on any provision of the 2007 engagement letter,” the complaint said. “Instead, the panel implemented its own notion of what would be reasonable and fair without any semblance to contractual authorization.”

Jones Day began representing Soverain in 2004 in the company’s efforts to prosecute and license its patent portfolio, and the duo executed an engagement letter in 2007.

Soverain owns patents for electronic shopping cart systems that it says are commonly used by online retailers.

Jones Day began representing the company in a Texas federal court case but withdrew from representing the client in 2010. The parties did not agree on whether the withdrawal was proper and how much fees were owed, so in 2011, Jones Day launched a proceeding with the American Arbitration Association, bringing a single count for collection of past due fees.

Soverain says it filed a counterclaim alleging Jones Day had breached its fiduciary duty to the company, committed legal malpractice and breached the parties’ 2007 engagement agreement.

“The panel expressly found that Soverain had not breached the 2007 engagement letter, but that Jones Day had breached the contract,” it said. “Yet … the panel made an award to Jones Day. Therefore, a gross error of law appears on the face of the award.”

For more information, see Law360.



Skadden Ranked as Most Arrogant Firm, Survey Shows

December 3rd, 2014 Alexander No comments

General counsel view dozens of major law firms as arrogant, and one of BigLaw’s biggest names stands alone at the top of pile, a survey shows.

The 2015 BTI Client Services A-Team report found that 63 firms are at least occasionally seen as smug. That’s the same number as last year and more than double the tally recorded during the Great Recession, when most firms at least feigned a bit of modesty.

An array of pompous practices can land firms on the list, such as not sugarcoating advice or bluntly laying out legal solutions before a client gets to speak. For a fifth straight year, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, was king of the haughty hill.

However, Skadden also ranked No. 1 in the report’s Client Service 30, a list of the finest firms as measured by various attributes, including expertise and dedication, that corporate counsel can simultaneously describe as domineering and desirable.

That doesn’t mean all arrogance has a silver lining. No clients enjoy inflexible rates, clumsy communication or disrespecting junior members of an in-house legal team.

“Sometimes, arrogance is simply an ego-driven trait manifesting itself in client-unfocused ways,” the BTI report said.

But generally speaking, arrogance and success can mix, as evidenced by the fact that half of the firms that made the Client Service 30 were also called arrogant. Of those, four firms — Gibson Dunn, Jones Day, Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Sidley Austin LLP — ranked just behind Skadden, in the second of three vanity tiers.

However, keep in mind that all it takes to land on the arrogance list is a thumbs-down from one GC, and that thumbs-down can come from opposing counsel. With that in mind, firms that make the Client Service 30 probably accept that their success may come at the cost of not being universally loved.

“One of the things that gets law firms into the arrogant rating is they know how to do things, and they’re off to the races without ever talking with the client.”

“If you’re seeking client feedback, it often puts you on the slightly more humble side because you’re always asking clients how you can improve,” according to one attorney.

Ultimately, the BTI report suggests that a lot of cocky firms manage to make their clients happy but also that firms don’t need outsize egos to deliver stellar results.

“If you can do this without being perceived as arrogant, more power to you.”

For more information, see Law360.

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