The CLAY Awards recognize California lawyers whose recent work has made a significant impact. The 2015 awards identify 27 achievements in 17 categories-from appellate practice to water law-between November 2013 and November 2014.
Legal Profession Category
Mittelstaedt, Hughes, Hirsch, and Orton won a federal court judgment in the Heller Ehrman bankruptcy that makes it easier for clients to hire lawyers and for lawyers to switch firms. They successfully asserted that it is the client, not the lawyer, who owns a case, and that a defunct firm's estate therefore has no claim to recover hourly fees earned on cases it can no longer handle. The bankruptcy trustee had pursued claims for profits earned by law firms that took over Heller's hourly-fee cases when former Heller lawyers joined those firms. At least 40 firms settled, but the 4 that these lawyers represented-Jones Day; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Davis Wright Tremaine; and Foley & Lardner-continued to litigate and prevailed before District Judge Charles R. Breyer.
Additional California lawyers: Mittelstaedt was assisted by Jason McDonnell; Hughes by Pamela Phillips and Diana D. DiGennaro; Hirsch by John C. Bostic and Steven P. Ragland; and Orton by Maureen R. Green and James L. Miller.
Status: The trustee has appealed.
The full list of winners is available here.