Brussels bar for U.S. American lawyers: “independent” or “employee”?

American attorneys practicing in Brussels/Belgium do not have to switch from employee to independent status

Why is this antitrust-relevant?  Because many U.S. antitrust/competition lawyers practice in Brussels and become members of the so-called Brussels bar “B-List,” or “liste B”…

This piece of news may (1) not be news to some, but is relevant (2) to all who may be directly or indirectly affected by various Brussels bar rules (e.g., as hiring partners considering hiring U.S. attorneys for their BRX office, or directly as American associates or of-counsel etc. moving abroad):

 The [perceived] Belgian prohibition against attorneys having an “employee” status in a law firm – and hence the important, although implicit, requirement that all associates or other non-partner lawyers must be so-called “independents” under Belgian bar rules – does not exist for American lawyers practicing in Belgium.

As long as you are an “American attorney” member of either the E- or B-lists of the BRX bar, you can actually be an employee:  See para. 5 of Art. 6 in Annex 9 (“CONVENTION CONCLUE AVEC L’AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION LE 6 AOÛT 1994”) to the Recueil des règles professionnelles (www.barreaudebruxelles.be/pdf/brochures/recueil2010.pdf), copied below (– let me know if you interpret this differently).

Article 6 : CONDUITE ET PRIVILÈGES

5. L’indépendance des avocats américains étant garantie par les règles professionnelles qui leur sont applicables comme membre des barreaux des Etats-Unis, il ne leur sera pas interdit, par le fait de l’inscription à l’une des listes des avocats étrangers ou pour d’autres motifs, d’avoir le statut d’employé dans un cabinet ou une association.

This may have implications for all U.S. firms hiring or moving American associates or of-counsel to their Brussels location.  Previously, as I have understood past practice, firms have required their U.S. non-partner attorneys to become ‘independents’ under the Brussels bar rules, which may be a wholly unnecessary (and HR-costly) step.

If you have questions, e-mail me.

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Howrey trustee faces calls for removal

Unsecured creditors seek removal of Diamond law firm as Howrey LLP trustee due to alleged conflict of interest

Law360 reports that the California bankruptcy court has been asked to remove the Chapter 11 trustee from the case of venerable antitrust firm Howrey LLP, due to a perceived conflict of interest after Diamond McCarthy LLP had announced several new attorney hires — one of whom (Christopher Sullivan) allegedly represented unsecured Howrey creditors.

The creditors filing the motion last Thursday were Advanced Discovery LLC, Give Something Back Inc., Kent Daniels and Associates Inc., L.A. Best Photocopies Inc. and Western Messenger Inc., Howrey Claims LLC (= William Imhoff — does anyone know him or this Georgia/California based entity?!) and Matura Farrington Staffing Services Inc.

Law360 quotes the motion and the trustee’s response as follows:

“How this could have happened in the era of computerized conflict checks is a mystery,” the creditors said in a court filing.

“There is absolutely no conflict and his motion is completely without merit and it will be addressed through the courts,” Diamond said.

The case is In re: Howrey LLP, case number 3:11-bk-31376, in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California.

Howrey: Antitrust firm’s bankruptcy update – unsecured creditors unlikely to see $$

Understanding the current state of affairs & next steps in the Howrey bankruptcy

The estate of the venerable – and since March 15, 2011 defunct and bankrupt – global antitrust law firm Howrey LLP will likely not be paying out most, if any, of its unsecured creditors.

According to sources familiar with the current state of the bankruptcy proceedings – including the value of settlements to-date, claims made, and so on – the estate’s primary secured creditor, Citibank, is owed around $700,000.  General unsecured claims constitute the bulk of outstanding debt, amounting to about $94.5 million.  Then there are the administrative & priority claims, which technically lie in a gray zone between secured and unsecured claims: “Priority unsecured claims are claims that are not secured by collateral but that have priority over other debts under federal law. These debts have priority typically for public policy reasons — that is, the well-being of the public depends upon these debts being paid.” (Source.) The priority claims are $15 million.

The administrative claims (debts incurred, with court approval, after the March 2011 bankruptcy filing, including items such as  costs of preserving the estate, wages, salaries, court costs, lawyers’ fees, accountants’ fees, trustees’ expenses, etc.) amount to circa $11.3 million.

Prior to any distribution being made to creditors, the administrator will attempt to make further collections of estate assets and to resolve certain creditor claims.

A new status report should be issued by the trustee soon.  There are also public bankruptcy filings that may be consulted by anyone interested.

Paul Hastings makes GCR’s “Highly Recommended” list

Quoting from Global Competition Review, here is its assessment of Paul Hastings’ antitrust and competition practice in D.C.:

GCR logo

The Washington practice at Paul Hastings has had a banner year. Led by the highly regarded Michael Cohen, the firm added partner and Who’s Who Legal nominee MJ Moltenbrey from Dewey & LeBoeuf last year, capping off multiple strategic additions to the practice in offices around the country. “The strategy was to build the practice that fit with what we saw happening in the world,” Cohen says, which included adding to the bench in DC, stretching into the vibrant San Francisco market and growing organically in Europe. The practice now includes 23 lawyers in the district handling the full range of antitrust work in courtrooms and before enforcers.

Headline matters have filled the firm’s docket over the past 18 months or so. None loom larger that its work for American Airlines – a long-time client of both the firm and Moltenbrey – in its pending tie-up with rival US Airways that is under review at the DoJ. The group is also acting for eBay in the government’s anti-competitive hiring practice lawsuit against it, and Twin America in the antitrust division’s New York tourist bus case. It advised Dow Chemical in a price-fixing trial in Kansas City; LG in the LCD litigation; Korean Air in the ongoing air cargo class actions, and hosts of other high-profile work.