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Survey Reports Litigation Spend, Number of In-House Lawyers Up

Fifty-three percent of companies in the United States reported spending $1 million or more on litigation in 2012, the same as the prior year. Attorneys and clients can find good news in that. Ten percent fewer companies reported using alternative fee arrangements, though, more than half the companies used them. Fifty-eight percent of companies in Fulbright’s Ninth Annual Litigation Trends Survey reported employing three or more in-house attorneys, an increase of 10 percent. Forty-two percent of the companies reported hiring attorneys to conduct an internal investigation of some kind, an increase of 4 percent. Perhaps there is evidence of more secure financial footing for our profession in the survey results.

Higgs Fletcher & Mack LLP has been able to recruit Karl A. Rand as a partner, formerly special counsel to McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP and Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps LLP for nearly seven years. Rand’s practice will focus on all aspects of employee benefits and executive compensation. He serves as an expert witness in Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) litigation, is published in a number of journals and has given multiple presentations/seminars related to his practice area. Rand is a past chairman of the Taxation Section of the San Diego County Bar Association and was an adjunct professor for the University of San Diego School of Law from 2008-2011.

HF&M also recently named Laura Buckley a partner. Buckley joined the firm in 2009 and practices in all areas of federal and state taxation. Buckley represents individuals and businesses before the Internal Revenue Service and the state taxing agencies in the United States Tax Court and other federal and state forums. Prior to joining HF&M, Buckley was an IRS Chief Counsel attorney and a Special Assistant United States Attorney where she represented the Internal Revenue Service in tax and bankruptcy matters.

Common Bond Capital Partners LLC has added real estate and finance attorney Ellen Jamason and real estate developer David Guy as managing directors in hopes of increasing its capacity to acquire and turn around stalled land development projects troubled by defaulted municipal bonds. Jamason brings to Common Bond broad experience in law, business and government affairs. She has been a partner at two major international law firms, specializing in complex land development projects, renewable energy, corporate real estate, and public-private partnerships, as well as the repositioning of distressed real estate assets. Guy has an extensive background in real estate, both at large publicly traded land development or homebuilding companies and as a founder of the GS Cos., a group of real estate development, consulting and advisory firms specializing in the southeastern United States. 

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Wilson Elser, a national firm with a San Diego office, recently announced that Peter M. Hughes has joined the firm’s San Diego office as of counsel. Founding partner of his former firm, The Hughes Law Firm, Mr. Hughes has more than 24 years of experience in the defense of civil litigation matters with an emphasis on the defense of transportation, general liability and casualty, construction, product liability, professional liability and services, commercial and business litigation and employment matters.

Best Best & Krieger LLP recently hired two entry-level attorneys for its San Diego office, both of whom were summer interns at the firm during law school. Richard L. Hyde, whose practice focuses on real property litigation, title insurance litigation, commercial litigation, municipal and public entity representation, and civil code enforcement and litigation, will be a member of the firm’s municipal law practice group. Marco A. Verdugo, who joined the special districts practice, will work on water quality issues, eminent domain and election law for various public agency clients. Licensed in California as a general engineering contractor, Verdugo helped oil companies, cities and utilities comply with air quality and water quality regulations relating to underground and aboveground storage tanks before he turned to a legal career. During law school, Verdugo interned at the Chula Vista City Attorney’s Office where he assisted on various municipal law and California Environmental Quality Act issues.

Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP recently hired attorneys Nikki W. Ma and Robert G. Marasco as associates in the Del Mar Heights and downtown San Diego offices, respectively. Ma’s practice primarily focuses on intellectual property litigation. She has litigated complex intellectual property cases related to chemical compounds and computer accessories before the U.S. District Courts. Prior to practicing law, Ma worked as an undergraduate researcher in a bacteriology lab at UCLA and a microbiologist in a commercial testing facility. Marasco’s practice primarily focuses on the health care industry, namely serving as medical staff counsel for numerous hospitals and health systems, and as litigation counsel on behalf of health systems, hospitals, physician groups, and individual providers in business, professional liability, fraud and abuse, and administrative matters in both federal and state courts. Prior to joining Procopio, Marasco was an Assistant United States Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice, United States Attorney’s Offices in the District of New Jersey and Southern District of California, where he was lead prosecutor on hundreds of investigations of both individual and corporate targets.

Randy C. Frisch is the president and publisher of the San Diego Business Journal. He is licensed to practice law in California, Nevada and Idaho. He can be reached at rfrisch@sdbj.com.

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