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    October 22, 2008  
Big Name
on New Door

Shout-out to great sponsor Katten: 50 Katten attorneys were named by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America 2009 guide. Congratulations!


Jerry Oshinsky, name partner at what was formerly known as Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky (more recently just Dickstein Shapiro), has moved his well-known name to the firm formerly known as Gilbert Randolph, now Gilbert Oshinsky. (This is beginning to sound like Prince, huh?)  The news was announced yesterday, and we were on hand for a welcome breakfast, where the insurance titan met with his new colleagues over celebratory scrambled eggs and bagels.


Insurance companies may break into sweats at this image. Jerry, left, is known as dean of the policyholder bar, and earlier in his career at Anderson Kill (ninth in the door and had his name on that firm, too) was lead counsel on the seminal case of Keene Corp. v. Insurance Co. of North America, which opened the door to expanded insurance recovery on long-tail claims like asbestos suits. While asbestos litigation will be around “forever,” Jerry tells us these days he’s working a lot of professional liability matters (eg, D&O liability claims). He and Scott Gilbert, right, another leading policyholder lawyer, practiced at Dickstein Shapiro before Scott launched his own shop in ‘01, now up to 38 attorneys.


Jerry, wife Sandy, Gilbert Oshinsky partners Rachel Kronowitz and Jen Brennan, and Jerry’s longtime executive assistant Susan Taylor. When Jerry went from Anderson Kill to Dickstein in ’96, he brought 35 lawyers with him, but this time packed a lighter load—he flew solo and says he’ll “let the chips fall where they may” in terms of followers. Note to those tired of DC weather: He’ll be opening an LA office (the temporary address is on Wilshire Boulevard), which puts him closer to his new grandson and the Santa Barbara house he and Sandy bought a few years ago. Lest you think Cali will make him soft, Jerry emphatically says he isn’t slowing down—although he has gone a bit Hollywood and just appeared as Juror #7 in Center Stage’s Twelve Angry Men.


So what else is going on at the new Gilbert Oshinsky? Scott tells us the firm has taken on the fight of two Hurricane Katrina whistleblowers in the Southern District of Mississippi. The Rigsby sisters, former claims adjusters for a State Farm subcontractor, contend that the insurance giant told adjusters to wrongfully characterize numerous property claims as resulting from flood damage (covered by the National Flood Insurance Program and thus not on State Farm’s tab), rather than wind damage, which was covered by the policies. Actually, the ultimate beneficiaries in the case are not the sisters; it’s a qui tam action, brought against the insurer on the behalf of “We the People.”

Supreme Court Sneak Preview

On Monday night we hit the E Street Cinema (cause we’re indie like that) for a look at a rough cut of Advise & Dissent, a documentary on the battle over the nominations of Chief Justice Roberts, Harriet Miers, and Justice Alito.  We found ourselves sitting next to one of the film’s major players: Ralph Neas, CEO of People for the American Way (‘00-’07) and progressive leader behind the sinking of Robert Bork’s nomination. The doc, which doesn’t tip a political agenda, tracks the efforts of Ralph and conservative counterpart Manny Miranda of the Third Branch Conference as they mobilize to influence senatorial votes.


Manny took questions after the screening with PFAW President Kathryn Kolbert, Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute (co-sponsor of the event with the Center for American Progress), and moderator Jan Crawford Greenburg, ABC’s Supreme Court correspondent. Besides revealing Manny and Ralph’s methods, the film shows the warm relationship between Judiciary Committee leaders Sens. Leahy and Spector, offering stark contrast with the ultra-politicized nature of today’s nomination battles. Director David Van Taylor says he’s hoping for a theatrical run around the time of the next SCOTUS vacancy.

John Ford, Bisnow’s Legal Editor, does not seek, and will not accept, a nomination to the Supreme Court.  Well, maybe he would.  Until then, when he will become less accessible, send story ideas to john@bisnow.com.

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