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    March 23, 2009  

Jenner & Block; Corporate Counsel;

Big shout-out to great Bisnow sponsor American University Washington College of Law. Don’t miss their 11th annual Grotius lecture next Wed, Mar 25, and learn what international law can do to accelerate the transition towards a green economy. Click on ad to the right for more details.


Jenner’s new import from DOJ, Jessie K. Liu, has a good game of tag going with former managing partner Tom Perrelli. Tom was a Deputy Asst. AG in the late 90s, a few years before then-associate Jessie left Jenner for a six-year spell with the Feds, ending up as Deputy Asst. AG herself. And now that Tom’s headed back as Assoc. AG they’re switching places again, with Jessie coming aboard Jenner last week as a partner in litigation and white collar.


At Justice, Jessie oversaw the civil rights division’s appellate, employment litigation, and housing and civil enforcement sections. Example of a prosecution she’s proud of: U.S. v. Pine Properties, which ended in a monetary settlement and civil penalty for a Massachusetts landlord found to be discriminating against Cambodian-Americans through DOJ’s “Operation Home Sweet Home,” which sounds very sunny but actually uses undercover rental applicants to expose biased housing practices.


On the way to her promotion as Deputy Assistant AG, Jessie crossed paths with a number of recent big catches coming out of government. She worked with Ken Wainstein (now at O'Melveny) in DC’s U.S. Attorney’s office, and, later, as his Deputy Chief of Staff in DOJ’s national security division. She also briefly worked under Paul McNulty (he of the famous memo, now at Baker & McKenzie) in the Deputy AGs office. But the connection we like the most? Jessie went to Yale with Above the Law honcho David Lat. If we read any ATL gossip about this interview, Jessie, we know who’s responsible.

ACC Endorses Ethics Amendment

Lawyers dealing with conflicts headaches as they move laterally got some help recently from an unexpected source: the Association of Corporate Counsel. The gist of the ABA’s recently adopted rule change, as ACC VP Susan Hackett broke it down for us: Previously, client waivers were required to get around imputed conflicts that a lawyer imports from her old firm; under the new rule (ABA Model Rule of Conduct 1.10, for those who can’t get enough of this stuff), it’s sufficient to give notice to affected former clients and set up screening procedures to shield the lateral from matters she’s conflicted out of.


You might expect corporate clients to take a hard stand against any perceived relaxation of conflict rules, but Susan says the ACC had plenty of reason to support the change (which does not have force of law until adopted on a state-by-state basis): (1) While it allows lawyers to work alongside others they wouldn’t otherwise be able to—and, incidentally, will facilitate mergers—it doesn’t change privilege rules or confidentiality obligations; (2) this “realistic,” workable approach will actually lead to more emphasis on conflicts and screening practices; and, (3) the flip side of giving lawyers more flexibility to work with each other is that clients have more choice among firms as well.  

His Head’s In the Clouds

We mean that headline in a good way, of course. We’re talking about “cloud computing,” which refers to Internet-based applications like Google Docs and takes its name from the cloud shape that people tend to draw on network diagrams to represent the Internet. John Nicholson of Pillsbury, a member of the firm’s privacy and virtual worlds teams representing clients like Activision Blizzard (which you know from playing Guitar Hero and World of Warcraft), is one of the relatively few lawyers making careers mapping out the legal boundaries of the worlds inside your Ethernet cable.


As economies of scale shift and make “cloud” software attractive for nuts and bolts business apps—they call these things SaaS, which sounds like a Paris Hilton magazine but actually means “software as a service”—John is finding a hoard of issues that businesses should consider before signing up for Internet-based tools. Who is liable for damage caused by a service interruption that shuts down your sales software for a day? Would your provider hand over your electronic information if it were demanded by the government of whatever country its servers are in? Does your contract put an onus on you to comply with E.U. data protection laws? The Internet can make your life (or Second Life, as the case may be) easier, but John says there are cloudy days ahead if you don’t look into these questions.

Congrats to R. Mathes, who picked 15 of the sweet 16 correctly and stands at the front of the Bisnow Bracket Challenge. John Ford, Bisnow’s Legal Editor, believes he may be mathematically eliminated already. Send story ideas to john@bisnow.com

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