Fee Tracker: Apple's Bromwich Battle and More

, The Am Law Daily

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Fees

The Am Law Daily tallies how much Am Law 200 firms are earning on a variety of engagements, from a Goodwin Procter partner’s role as Apple’s court-appointed compliance monitor to Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi’s representation in a credit card-swipe class action and a Winston & Strawn partner’s move in-house with a longtime client.

Apple and Goodwin Partner Go to War

Microsoft, Google, Samsung. Apple is no stranger in battling deep-pocketed adversaries. Now the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant is taking on New York–based Goodwin Procter litigation partner Michael Bromwich.

Bromwich—a former Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson litigation partner hired by the Obama administration in 2010 to serve as the government’s offshore oil drilling monitor—returned to private practice at Goodwin in May 2012. Last October, he was appointed to serve as the federal monitor overseeing Apple’s compliance with federal antitrust laws in the wake of the company’s fight with the Justice Department over whether it had conspired with publishers to fix e-book prices.

It didn’t take long for Apple and Bromwich—who in conjunction with his consulting firm The Bromwich Group is billing the company roughly $1,100 per hour, plus a 15 percent administrative fee, for his services—to butt heads. As sibling publication The Litigation Daily reported at the time, Apple moved unsuccessfully in December to rein in the Goodwin partner, whose fees for the first two weeks of the assignment reached nearly $140,000. (Bromwich has also retained former Fried Frank colleague Bernard Nigro, who chairs the latter firm’s antitrust group, as counsel at $1,025 per hour.)

In court papers, Apple has accused Bromwich of acting as a de facto “independent prosecutor” trying to rake in outsize fees while conducting a lengthy inquiry and seeking to conduct his own interviews with company executives. The U.S. Department of Justice has come to Bromwich’s defense, accusing Apple of character assassination, and Bromwich has also put up a fight, noting that Apple's lawyers from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher charge comparable—if not higher—hourly rates.

Last week a federal judge in Manhattan denied another request by Apple to disqualify Bromwich entirely, according to The Litigation Daily. But on Tuesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit granted Apple a temporary stay from Bromwich’s reach—and a brief reprieve from his mounting bills—until a three-judge panel can further consider the issue.

Big Payday for Robins Kaplan

Robins Kaplan may have been on the losing end of a recent decision in a patent fight involving client Medtronic, but the firm can take solace in collecting a piece of the largest attorney fee award every handed out in a private antitrust case.

The Litigation Daily reports the firm is in line to reap some of that windfall thanks to last month’s ruling by a federal judge in Brooklyn, who awarded $544.8 million in attorney fees to the plaintiffs firms that represented a class of 12 million merchants in their $5.7 billion fee-swipe settlement with Visa, Mastercard and a group of banks. Robins Kaplan, Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd and Berger & Montague submitted papers seeking about 55 percent of that sum, and could wind up splitting as much as $270 million, according to The Litigation Daily.

Mayer Brown Suffers Fee Woes on Two Fronts

Earlier this month, the office of Illinois Gov. Patrick Quinn III—brother of Schiff Hardin litigation leader Thomas Quinn—announced that Chapman and Cutler would serve as the state’s new bond counsel. The legal services contract, worth roughly $1 million a year, had been held by Mayer Brown since 2011.

The bond counsel selection came some six months after former Mayer Brown chairman and current firm partner Tyrone Fahner was caught up in a controversy over public comments he made last summer encouraging Wall Street ratings agencies to downgrade Illinois’ bond ratings because of the state’s fiscal woes.

While it’s unclear whether Fahner’s remarks played any role in his firm being replaced as the state’s bond counsel, Mayer Brown was one of 14 firms—others included Foley & Lardner, Ice Miller, Katten Muchin Rosenman, Kutak Rock and Quarles & Brady—vying for the work that ultimately went to Chapman and Cutler. (Katten, now home to former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, has long served as the city of Chicago’s bond counsel.)

Meanwhile, Mayer Brown’s request to recover $126,000 in fees in a New York landlord-tenant dispute earned a blistering response from a Manhattan judge this month, according to sibling publication New York Law Journal. In one particularly withering comment contained in his eight-page ruling in the case, Judge Frank Nervo blasted the firm for spending a “stunningly inordinate amount of time” on simple tasks.

Winston Partners Depart, With One Joining a Longtime Client

Winston & Strawn lost two top litigation partners—and, presumably, at least some of the revenue they bring in—this month. Gene Schaerr left Winston’s office in Washington, D.C., to defend Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, according to sibling publication The Blog of Legal Times, which notes that he has agreed to cap his fees for the cause at $200,000.

Meanwhile, Chicago-based litigator R. Mark McCareins is poised to become general counsel of the Metals Service Center Institute on Feb. 3. McCareins, who is also a senior lecturer on business law at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, has long served as counsel to the suburban Chicago–based trade association. A 2011 tax filing by the institute shows it paid Winston $848,509 for “legal consulting” that year.

Syracuse Sports on the Move?

The Fee Tracker’s alma mater, Syracuse University, officially shifted its high-powered college sports program to the Atlantic Coast Conference last year. The move spurred talk that the school’s football and basketball teams might leave Syracuse’s storied Carrier Dome for a more modern facility, and The Post-Standard of Syracuse reported this month that the university is indeed strongly considering building a retractable roof replacement for its current 50,000-seat stadium.

A federal tax filing by the university covering the 12-month period that ended June 30, 2012, shows that it paid roughly $4 million that year to four architectural and engineering firms. Also receiving more than $4 million in fees was the university’s longtime legal adviser, Syracuse-based Bond Schoeneck & King. As for the Greensboro, N.C.–based ACC, which is mired in litigation with former members that defected for other conferences, its 2011 tax filing shows $130,732 being paid to North Carolina’s Smith Moore Leatherwood.

MoMA Keeping Firms Busy Amid Controversial Expansion

The Museum of Modern Art in midtown Manhattan has embarked on an aggressive redesign, one element of which has involved its 2011 purchase of the American Folk Art Museum, which will be razed to make way for the new expansion. The entire campaign has prompted The New Republic’s art critic Jed Perl, a visiting professor at The New School, to complain that the world famous museum is on its way to looking like a “f—king department store.”

A review of MoMA’s corporate member roster reveals that a half-dozen Am Law 100 and Global 100 firms dot the list. The museum’s 2011 tax filing shows that two of those firms—Proskauer Rose and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel—earned $545,469 and $108,662, respectively, for legal services.

Miscellaneous Matters

Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney and Dickstein Shapiro competing for a $360,000 litigation contract to represent Chevy Chase, Md., reports the Maryland Gazette.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that a probe of former Chicago comptroller Amer Ahmad cost Windy City taxpayers approximately $825,000, about $360,408 of which went to Duane Morris.

Faegre Baker Daniels could reap up to $1 million from the privatization of the Gary/Chicago International Airport, according to the Northwest Indiana Business.

The Republican reports that Fish & Richardson’s legal bills could reach $1.2 million in an employment dispute involving Evan Dobelle, the former president of Westfield State University in Massachusetts.

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