News

Congratulations to Pam Duffy for being recognized as one of California’s Top 50 Development Lawyers by the Daily Journal. The Daily Journal article highlights Pam's involvement as lead counsel for California Pacific Medical Center and the development of its $2.7 billion, five-campus project extending across San Francisco. Of the project, Pam says, "Land use lawyers get an incredible opportunity to undertake projects that have significant effects on the long-term future of communities. I've never been so challenged with something that is so important."

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Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP persuaded a Colorado federal district judge to reject a request to certify a class of individuals allegedly "robocalled" by DISH Network LLC, the premier satellite TV and internet provider.  The complaint was filed in July 26, 2012.  Plaintiff Seth Warnick alleged that DISH called his cell phone without his consent, using an automatic dialing system in violation of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA").  He sought injunctive relief and statutory damages of $500 for each call made, plus an additional $1500 per violation in punitive damages on behalf of himself and all class members.

The Honorable Wiley Y. Daniel of the United States District Court of Colorado found that Warnick's proposed class was overbroad, was not ascertainable, and that attempting to identify the members would render the case unmanageable. DISH had made a handful of non-solicitation calls to Warnick’s phone by mistake when it was trying to contact one of its customers. 

DISH argued that the class was a fail-safe class, and it was overbroad and that it was not ascertainable because the only way to find the calls made by mistake was to make individualized, case-by-case investigations.  Coblentz partners Richard Patch and Zuzana Ikels represented DISH at a two day evidentiary hearing in March 2014.  At the hearing, the Court indicated it would provisionally certify a smaller, sub-class and invited Plaintiff to propose a more narrow class definition.  Several rounds of briefing then followed over the next few months.  Plaintiff submitted a proposed definition that continued to require the review and production of records from millions of customers who were not in the class. 

The June 26, 2014 order found that "the proposed class is not administratively feasible because identifying the class members is not a manageable process and would require extensive individual factual inquiry. See Carrera, 727 F.3d at 307-08. The inquiry into factual records to determine class members is so daunting as to make the class definition insufficient. Agne, 286 F.R.D. at 566."

This is one of the first decisions to address the propriety of certifying a TCPA class in the context of non-solicitation calls made to cellular telephones.  In light of the rising tide of TCPA class actions filed around the country, it should be useful for companies facing claims that calls made to a wrong number, when trying reach their own customers, could subject them to TCPA liability.

The Coblentz Team included Richard Patch, Susan Jamison, Zuzana Ikels, Jeremiah Burke, Sean Kiley and David Mehretu.

See the full press release here.

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Congratulations to the Exploratorium and its new home at Piers 15-17 for being named a finalist for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) 2014 Global Awards for Excellence, widely recognized as the land use industry’s most prestigious recognition program. The Exploratorium was selected as one of 23 outstanding development projects from around the globe. From this select group, a jury representing the many fields of real estate development expertise will choose a group of winners that will be announced in October at ULI’s 2014 Fall Meeting in New York City.

“The 2014 Global Awards for Excellence finalists demonstrate high-quality, innovative land use and building design. In addition, many involve historic preservation, public-private partnerships, environmental sustainability, and creative financing,” said jury chair M. Leanne Lachman, president of real estate consulting firm Lachman Associates in New York, N.Y. “This group of diverse projects is a timely reminder of how thoughtful design plays a central role in community health and longevity."

Congratulations to the Exploratorium and all of the finalists.

Read more about the Exploratorium here.

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Coblentz is pleased to announce Maggie Callicrate has joined the firm as Chief Operating Officer (COO). As COO, Maggie will lead the firm's business operations and will work closely with the firm's Managing Partners on strategic growth initiatives. She will also work closely with the firm's functional area managers on business practices and systems integral to the legal services provided by the firm.

Maggie brings substantive skills in leadership development, strategy execution and management of functional area teams including finance, marketing and business development, technology, human resources, facilities and information systems. She has more than 25 years of experience in working with law firms to improve operational effectiveness, build teamwork and advance strategic growth.

"The firm couldn’t be more delighted to have Maggie joining the management team," says Co-Managing Partner, Jeff Knowles. "She brings a wealth of experience and the demonstrated ability to apply it. She is also the kind of person who both inspires confidence and is a pleasure to be around. Professionally and personally, Maggie is a perfect fit."

Prior to joining Coblentz, Maggie was the COO of New England-based Pierce Atwood LLP. She was also previously a partner in a global consulting firm, advising law firm clients on strategic, competitive and leadership issues; and served as the Chief Executive of a leading law firm in New Zealand. Maggie is currently President-Elect of the College of Law Practice Management.

Read the press realease here.

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Coblentz partner Tim Crudo has been selected as the Governance and Insider Trading Expert for emtrain, a leader in corporate compliance education and training. As a resident expert for emtrain, "Tim regularly advises corporate boards and executives on topics such as: insider trading, securities violations, accounting fraud, and other corporate crimes."

Read Tim's emtrain profile here.

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Coblentz has been selected as one of 20 firms named on the National Law Journal's 2014 Midsize Hot List. According to the NLJ, the exclusive list from across the country highlights firms that "are succeeding at a time when many of their bigger competitors are struggling amid high headcounts and overhead. These midsize firms, ranging from 51 to 150 lawyers, know they can beat the bigger players on price — but they understand that it takes more than lower fees to bring in and retain business. They've got to offer great lawyering."

In its profile of Coblentz, the National Law Journal makes note of the firm's "forward-thinking approach," with focus on diversity, community and top talent. As managing partner Danna Kozerski told the National Law Journal, "The way we retain and promote young attorneys is with a collaborative and interesting practice."

The article notes that 40 percent of Coblentz's partners and 50 percent of the firm's associates are women, and highlights the firm's attorneys as pro bono and volunteer champions, including mention of Coblentz's 2013 Outstanding Law Firm in Public Service Award from the San Francisco Bar Association's Justice and Diversity Center.

Read the full article here.

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Tim Crudo is quoted in “On Haag's Watch, White-Collar Cases Take Dive” by Julia Love, The Recorder
May 23, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO — The last time Silicon Valley was booming, the U.S. attorney's office was in hot pursuit.

With Robert Mueller at the helm of the office from 1998 to 2001, a specialized team aggressively targeted corporate wrongdoing and insider trading fueled by the dot-com bubble. But with money coursing through the Valley once more, there's been a curious quiet from U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.

Many in the bar hoped that Haag, an Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe partner who served as Mueller's white-collar chief, would bring about a renaissance in high-impact fraud cases as the Bay Area's top federal prosecutor. But three years into her tenure, white-collar prosecutions have slumped nearly 40 percent, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a nonpartisan research institute at Syracuse University that tracks criminal enforcement. Overall case numbers have also fallen, albeit less dramatically, according to TRAC.
. . .
With new companies constantly cropping up, many of which aim to disrupt established industries and business practices, the Valley is a vexing region to police, lawyers say.
. . .
"At the margin, there are more controls, and it makes it more difficult," said former Northern District prosecutor Timothy Crudo, who is now a white-collar partner at Coblentz, Patch, Duffy and Bass. "But it's not going to stop all fraud."

Click here to read the full article from The Recorder.

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Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass is ranked third nationally in Law360's article naming the 25 Ceiling Smashers – law firms with the top female partner percentages.

The 25 Best Law Firms For Female Partners by Jake Simpson

Law360, New York (April 20, 2014, 4:29 PM ET) -- Law360 is pleased to announce its 2014 class of Ceiling Smashers, the 25 U.S.-based law firms out of nearly 400 surveyed that have the highest percentage of female partners.

The Glass Ceiling Report: 2014, based on a survey of more than 380 law firms, found that while women make up 43 percent of the nonpartner ranks at U.S. law firms, they comprise just 21 percent of partnerships. 
. . .
While no U.S. firm has 50 percent or more women at the partner level, the inaugural class of Ceiling Smashers all fall well above the average. Women make up at least 29 percent of the partnership at all the Ceiling Smashers, and at the top 10 firms, at least one-third of partners are women.
. . .
Congratulations to all the 2014 Ceiling Smashers.

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Justice & Diversity Center Honors Outstanding Legal Services and Diversity Educational Program Volunteers

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California Carol Corrigan was on hand to present awards

April 18, 2014 -- San Francisco – The Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) of The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) celebrated its most outstanding volunteers at its annual Appreciation Celebration on April 17.

More than 250 people attended the event, held at the Louis B. Mayer Lounge at UC Hastings College of the Law. Guest of honor Associate Justice Carol Corrigan, Supreme Court of California, provided inspirational remarks at the awards ceremony and greeted awardees. JDC honored the top 15 percent of the volunteers in its Pro Bono Legal Services Program, Homeless Advocacy Project, and Diversity Educational Programs with Outstanding Volunteer in Public Service Certificates. JDC also recognized four individual volunteers and a law firm with special awards.
. . .
Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass received the 2013 Outstanding Law Firm in Public Service Award. The firm was the second to sign onto JDC’s Right to Civil Counsel Pilot Program, and in 2013, the firm’s attorneys volunteered on behalf of low-income tenants, consumers and taxpayers. In addition to its pro bono legal services work, in 2013, Coblentz also sponsored one of JDC’s Bay Area Minority Law Students Scholarships, a $30,000 three-year commitment, and hosted a reception introducing the scholarship recipients to their donors.”

Coblentz recipients honored with Outstanding Volunteer in Public Service Certificates were Jeff Bernstein, Jana Contreras, Bejan Fanibanda, Fred Fields, Mark Hejinian, Misti Schmidt and Katharine Van Dusen.

Click here for further reading.

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Tim Crudo is quoted in “Gibson Dunn, Fenwick Advise HP on $108 Million FCPA Settlement” by Julia Love, The Recorder
April 09, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO — Hewlett-Packard Co. will pay more than $108 million to resolve allegations that it bribed foreign officials in Russia, Poland and Mexico to win lucrative government contracts.

The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Department of Justice announced sweeping settlements with HP on Wednesday that address alleged violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the three countries. As part of the deal, HP's Russian subsidiary admitted it paid bribes to land a technology contract with the Russian government and will plead guilty to violating the FCPA. The company's subsidiaries in Mexico and Poland also admitted wrongdoing in exchange for nonprosecution and deferred prosecution agreements, respectively.

HP will shell out nearly $76.8 million in criminal penalties and forfeiture. The company will also pay almost $31.5 million to settle administrative proceedings brought by the SEC. HP and its subsidiaries netted about $29 million from the schemes, according to the SEC's order.
.  .  . 
Wednesday's deals settle the matter for HP, but its employees may not be in the clear. Both the SEC and the DOJ have vowed to go after individuals in recent years, and FCPA cases are no exception, though the prosecutions can be tricky to carry out, lawyers say.

"I think that if they can make cases against individuals, they will," said Timothy Crudo, who heads the white-collar defense and government enforcement practice group at San Francisco's Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass. "But these kinds of cases often by definition involve folks in far-off countries."

Click here to read more.

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