Local firm makes good?

DLA Piper gets love from the American Lawyer annual rankings issue today. The magazine points to Piper as one of the few firms for whom a major merger has actually panned out:

The firm has yet to come back down to earth. It has quadruple the number of lawyers of either of its original predecessors. Per-partner profits kept up double-digit growth for five of the last eight years and are up nearly 150 percent since 1999. DLA significantly outpaced The Am Law 100 in average year-on-year growth in revenue per lawyer, profits per partner, and average partner compensation postmerger. And, as the chart shows, the firm grew fast enough in eight years to finally beat the Am Law 100 average in revenue per lawyer in 2007 (it has yet to catch up in profits).

However, the magazine also points out that more than 50 partners have departed the firm since late 2005. I wonder if most of this had to do with lawyers being conflicted out of work that they had always handled, or if there were other major reasons.

CARYN TAMBER, Legal Affairs Writer

Pink slip for Law Firm Inc.

Law Firm Inc., an ALM publication that bills itself as “The Business Magazine for Law Firm Executives,” will cease publishing with its May/June issue, an employee at the company confirmed.

Originally launched as a quarterly in 2003, the $79-a-year magazine announced it would expand to 10 issues in 2007; it scaled back to bimonthly this year, the employee said. (If there was a March/April issue, though, it hadn’t been posted electronically as of this writing; the “current issue” on the Law Firm Inc. site is from January/February.)

More information is expected on its Web site next week.

BARBARA GRZINCIC, Managing Editor/Law

Powerless patent judges?

Was the appointment of some patent appeals judges unconstitutional?

That is the question raised in a Supreme Court petition (PDF) filed this month by Translogic Technology, a company whose patent was rejected by a three-judge panel of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences. (Translogic Technology v. Dudas, No. 07-1303; hat tip to the Law.com/the National Law Journal and patentlyo.com).

The BPAI’s decision was affirmed (PDF) by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which then set aside an $86.5 million infringement verdict for Translogic.

Based on the work (PDF) of intellectual property scholar John Duffy of George Washington Law School, Translogic is arguing that one of the judges on the BPAI panel was appointed in derogation of the U.S. Constitution.

Under reforms made in 1999, the director of the Patent and Trademark Office can appoint BPAI judges. Duffy and Translogic claim that the Constitution’s Appointments Clause reserves that power to the president, courts, or the secretary of the Commerce Department — not the director of the PTO.

According to the NLJ article, the problem could affect nearly two-thirds of the BPAI judges, about 40 of whom have been appointed by the director. What do you think? Were these appointments unconstitutional? And if they were, what is the remedy?

CHRISTINA DORAN, Assistant Legal Editor

Dogged pursuits

From the Department of Good Intentions But Bad Timing:

At 5:10 p.m. Tuesday I received an e-mail from Baltimore County warning me that if I did not have a license for my cat and/or dog after Thursday, May 1, I could receive a $100 fine for violating a new ordinance.

Six minutes later, I received another e-mail from Baltimore County – about a cat and dog adopt-a-thon at the county’s Animal Shelter on Saturday.

Sounds like someone is a little too anxious to test the new law…

DANNY JACOBS, Legal Affairs Writer