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Law firm co-founder joins Skadden, Arps

  Legal Business  -   POSTED: 2007/03/13 23:41



Jerry Salzman, longtime outside counsel for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, joined Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom on Monday, leaving the law firm he co-founded as it winds down operations.

Freeman, Freeman & Salzman is going out of business after 40 years, he said. The firm had only nine lawyers after some partners retired in recent years.

"People were getting older, and it stopped being sustainable as we were getting smaller," said Salzman. "It was a good run."

Yet, Salzman said he did not want to quit working.

Who could blame him? The Merc recently agreed to acquire CBOT Holdings Inc., parent of the Chicago Board of Trade, in an $8 billion transaction that would create the world's largest futures exchange. The deal awaiting regulatory approval from the Justice Department and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Salzman joins one of the nation's elite law firms, and one he's worked with over several years. Skadden has represented the Merc in several matters, including its reorganization, initial public offering and, now, its merger.

Salzman is one of the few legal experts in derivatives regulation left in Chicago, as the city is no longer the banking center it used to be. He hopes to help build the practice at Skadden.

Meanwhile, a group of Salzman's former colleagues, he said, is moving to Jenner & Block, including Lee Freeman Jr. Freeman could not be reached for comment.

LEGAL AID: The charitable arm of the Chicago Bar Association for the first time has launched a fundraising campaign to help address what it calls a crisis in the state's legal aid system. The funds will be used to help supplement the disparity in incomes of lawyers who work for Chicago-area pro-bono and legal aid organizations compared with their counterparts in private practice.

Legal aid attorneys typically start at $38,500, according to a report from the Chicago Bar Foundation and Illinois Coalition for Equal Justice. A 2006 law school graduate earns $145,000 at one of the city's top-tier law firms.

The report forecast an impending exodus of legal aid lawyers because of the low pay.

Stopping the departures is an immediate priority for the legal community, said Kimball Anderson, president of the Chicago Bar Foundation and a partner at Winston & Strawn. Otherwise, the legal aid system is headed for collapse.

There are about 250 legal aid attorneys in the Chicago area to serve the more than 750,000 Cook County residents living in poverty.

The foundation distributed brochures and donation cards to about 35 law firms and corporations. Partners are being asked to contribute $500, and associates, $100, said Tony Valukas, a partner at Jenner & Block and chairman of the fundraising effort.



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