For powerhouse attorney Louis R. "Skip" Miller, the rock hit "Bat Out of Hell" appears to be a way out of limbo.


Miller, a founding partner at the law firm now known as Christensen Glaser Fink Jacobs Weil & Shapiro LLP, left in May after being sanctioned along with the firm for his handling of a case involving singer Rod Stewart in Las Vegas. The messy exit coming on the heels of fellow partner Terry Christensen's indictment for his involvement with Anthony Pelicano was wrapped up only after the two sides went to arbitration.


Miller subsequently looked into joining Goodwin Procter LLP, an East Coast firm looking to establish a West Coast beachhead, but those talks broke down after the firm reportedly did not extend an offer.


Now, Miller has decided to go on his own and he's establishing his own firm. His first case is representing Grammy-winning singer Meat Loaf (real name Marvin Lee Aday) in a rights battle against his agent and Jim Steinman, composer of the first two "Bat Out of Hell" records, released in 1977 and 1993. Meat Loaf is preparing to release "Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose." Steinman filed to trademark the "Bat Out of Hell" name in 1995.


Miller has been at the center of a number of high profile cases in the Los Angeles area, including those involving Rodney King, Michael Jackson and former City Councilman Nate Holden.


Strike One?
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia struck down a 40-year precedent earlier this month, ruling that unions cannot strike over a single worker.


Scott Witlin, shareholder of Los Angeles employment firm Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart LLP, represented International Transportation Service Inc. of Long Beach in the appeal of its case petitioning the National Labor Relations Board.


The court ruled that the California container terminal operator did not commit an unfair labor practice when it fired Deanna Tartaglia in 2002 after she picketed the firm in a bid to have the company recognize the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) as her personal bargaining representative. Tartaglia's picketing led to a half-day sympathy strike at the Port of Long Beach, which cost the port an estimated $90,000.


Through its membership with the Pacific Maritime Association, the company indirectly employs longshoremen represented by unions affiliated with the ILWU. International Transportation initially found to have violated the National Labor Relations Act for its dismissal of Tartaglia when it petitioned the National Labor Relations Board. But the Appeals Court judge rejected the union's right to petition for recognition for a one-person unit.


"She wanted union representation, but as a single employee there's no right for collective bargaining," Witlin said. The ILWU declined to comment.


Honoring Diversity
A Mexican American Bar Foundation event last week doled out a record $75,000 in scholarships to 15 students of Latino heritage.


O'Melveny & Myers LLP, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Cedar Sinai Medical Center and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, which donated $15,000, sponsored the Beverly Hilton event. Dr. Cynthia Ann Telles of UCLA's Neuropyschiatric Institute, Counsel to Mayor Villaraigosa, Thomas A. Saenz and U.S. Representative Hilda Solis (D-Ca.) also were honored.


The size and scope of this year's awards represents some impressive growth for the fund. In 1998, the foundation awarded a total of $6,000 to six students attending Los Angeles area law schools, and last year it handed out $40,000 to thirteen students. The foundation credits the increase in donations over eight years to a growing awareness among major law firms and corporate law departments of the need to diversify.


Changes in Latitudes
The still white-hot lateral market wherein attorneys change firms while retaining the same essential job is keeping recruiters busy. The areas seeing the greatest number of shifts of this sort are real estate, employment, litigation and corporate law.


Two partners at major L.A. firms changed companies last week.


Greenberg Traurig LLP snagged Scott Bertzyk for its Los Angeles real estate practice. Bertzyk, a former partner at Jones Day LLP, will join Eric Rowen, another recent Jones Day defector, as head of the litigation unit's western unit.


"Scott is among the best litigators in the nation," Rowen said. "He thinks creatively and brings extensive knowledge, skill and experience to bear in representing clients. He will add tremendous depth and breadth to our group, and be an invaluable asset.


Meanwhile, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP announced that Donna Melby, formerly of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, would join its employment law department in Los Angeles as a partner.


"Her wealth of trial experience and class action expertise will be a tremendous asset to our client base," said Jamie Wareham, global litigation department chair.


Hollywood Report
Trade publication The Hollywood Reporter has recognized the growth in entertainment and intellectual property work by launching The Hollywood Reporter Esq., an online daily and weekly PDF suite of products targeted to entertainment lawyers and studio executives. The publication is the brainchild of Norah Weinstein, formerly of Skadden Arps LLP. She has been planning the launch for a year.


Staff reporter Emily Bryson York can be reached at eyork@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235.

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