Bloomberg News

Dewey, Davis Polk, Latham, Bingham, Sidley: Business of Law

May 01, 2012

At least 11 lawyers announced departures from New York law firm Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP yesterday, pushing the total to more than 80 in recent months, as the firm continues to work toward an agreement with banks about the deadline for a line of credit.

New York prosecutors are probing possible wrongdoing at the firm and Steven Davis, formerly sole chairman, hired criminal defense attorney Barry Bohrer, a partner at Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer, as he faces allegations of misconduct.

Among those leaving yesterday, were Marshall Stoddard, the U.S. head of Dewey’s bank and institutional finance practice group, and Charles Moore, an energy partner in Houston. They both left for Philadelphia-based Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP along with two counsel lawyers and an associate.

Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP hired disputes partner Peter Gray for the firm’s Dubai office, and Clifford Chance LLP hired Gary Boss, who specializes in mergers and acquisitions and insurance. Howard Adler, Dewey’s former co-chairman of the compensation, benefits and employment department, has jumped to Clifford Chance also. Adler is the fourth Dewey partner to join the firm’s New York office since the start of the year, Clifford Chance said.

Dewey partner Gary Apfel, co-chairman of the consumer financial services group, also announced his departure yesterday to Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton LLP to lead that firm’s California expansion.

Gordon Warnke and Joseph Pari have joined Linklaters LLP’s U.S. tax practice as of today.

Dewey management sent another memo to the firm’s partners yesterday informing them they are free to explore other job opportunities, said a person familiar with the contents of the document. The firm is carrying on business as usual and at the same time trying to find employment for legal and non-legal staff, according to the person who saw the memo and who declined to be identified because the information is private.

As the firm faces prepares for a possible bankruptcy, merger talks with Greenberg Traurig LLP ended over the weekend, according to two people familiar with the matter.

No single firm currently appears willing to buy all of what is left of Dewey, according to a person familiar with the situation. Dewey now is talking with several firms that might take parts of its specialized practice groups, as part of a bankruptcy plan devised with lenders’ consent, said the person, who declined to be named because the talks are private.

Patton Boggs LLP, based in Washington, is among the firms conferring with Dewey, said the person. Under Dewey’s plan, different firms might pay to acquire receivables generated by lawyers they took on, he said. The New York-based law firm does have something to sell -- groups of strong practices, he said.

Dewey’s most profitable practices include bankruptcy, corporate law, litigation and public policy, the firm has said.

The plan remains uncertain because firms considering taking some of Dewey’s lawyers might do better to pick up the pieces after a bankruptcy filing, the person said.

Patton Boggs wouldn’t say if it will take on some of Dewey’s lawyers.

“From time to time we have conversations with other firms in connection with our interest in making strategic acquisitions to strengthen our practice,” said Patton Boggs Managing Partner Edward Newberry. “We have only the highest regard for the lawyers at Dewey & LeBoeuf. They have a legacy of being among the very best in the areas in which they practice.”

The firm is close to reaching an agreement with banks about the deadline for a line of credit, a person familiar with the talks said.

The extension, giving the New York law firm more time to keep operating and collecting bills from clients, would be for a couple of weeks, much less than the 120 days envisaged this past weekend before Dewey’s talks with Greenberg Traurig about a partial combination ended, said the person, who declined to be named because the talks were private.

An accord between Dewey and lenders, including JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM:US) and Citigroup Inc. (C:US), wasn’t yet signed, the person said.

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Moves

White House Deputy Counsel Kim Harris Returns to Davis Polk

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP announced that former White House principal deputy counsel Kim Harris will rejoin the firm’s litigation department as a partner, one of a number of senior Washington lawyers the firm has hired recently.

Harris’s practice will focus on advising institutions and individuals under investigation by the U.S. Congress, the Justice Department, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other government agencies.

During her time at the White House, Harris developed and executed the president’s response to congressional investigations, advised senior executive branch officials on congressional investigations and executive privilege issues, managed litigation matters involving the president, and advised senior white house officials on a range of compliance and risk management issues and other legal matters, the firm said.

Harris practiced in Davis Polk’s litigation department from 1997 to 2009, representing major corporations in all aspects of regulatory and criminal investigations.

Earlier this year, international trade lawyer John Reynolds III joined Davis Polk’s newly expanded Washington office. Litigator Greg Andres, former deputy assistant attorney general in charge of the fraud and appellate sections of the Justice Department’s criminal division, also rejoined the firm in March.

Harris joins other former senior government lawyers in the litigation department who are focusing on white collar criminal defense and government investigations, including Washington partners Linda Chatman Thomsen, former director of enforcement at the SEC, and Raul Yanes, former assistant to the president and White House staff secretary. New York partner Scott Muller is a former general counsel of the CIA.

Davis Polk and its associated entities have more than 800 lawyers in offices in New York, Menlo Park, California, Washington, Sao Paulo, London, Paris, Madrid, Hong Kong, Beijing and Tokyo.

Jackson Lewis Adds Former Merck VP and Associate Counsel

Former Merck & Co. Vice President and Associate General Counsel John L. Sander joined Jackson Lewis LLP in New York as partner.

Sander has more than 15 years of senior management experience in employment and labor counseling and litigation within the U.S. and globally, the firm said in a statement. He joined Schering Plough in 1995 and managed major employment and labor matters outside the U.S. after Merck’s merger with Schering Plough in 2009.

“John’s experience in the international employment law arena is the perfect fit for Jackson Lewis, for our international practice, and our L&E Global Alliance” said Patrick L. Vaccaro, firm-wide managing partner.

Jackson Lewis has almost 700 lawyers practicing in 49 offices across the country.

Washington Lawyer Boggs Leaves Blank Rome for King & Spalding

J. Caleb Boggs III, formerly at Blank Rome LLP, joined King & Spalding LLP’s government advocacy and public policy practice as a partner in Washington. He will concentrate on the financial services industry.

Boggs has experience representing corporate, trade association and non-profit clients before Congress and the executive branch on matters affecting financial services, tax, privacy and information security, e-commerce, homeland security, international trade and political law.

Boggs was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2009 to a six-year term as representative to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, an agency of the World Bank. He is a former counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs and the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, including the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

King & Spalding has 800 lawyers in 17 offices in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Seyfarth Shaw Bolsters Employee Benefits Practice in Atlanta

Seyfarth Shaw LLP announced that Nicole D. Bogard has joined as a partner in the firm’s employee benefits and executive compensation department in the Atlanta office. Bogard was previously with boutique employee benefits law firm, Mazursky Constantine LLC.

Bogard has more than 17 years of experience in the health and welfare benefits arena. She represents clients with matters before the Internal Revenue Service, the Labor Department and the Department of Health and Human Services. She has represented employers on numerous health and welfare employee benefit compliance issues including COBRA administration, HRAs and HSAs.

Seyfarth Shaw has more than 800 attorneys located in 10 offices throughout the U.S., including Atlanta, Boston, Washington, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Sacramento, California, as well as internationally in London.

Deals

Energy Transfer Buys Sunoco for $5.3 Billion, Adds Oil Lines

Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP:US), owner of more than 17,500 miles of natural-gas pipelines (ETP:US), agreed to buy Sunoco Inc. for $5.3 billion, expanding its ability to ship higher-margin oil and natural gas liquids.

Latham & Watkins LLP, Bingham McCutchen LLP and Delaware’s Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP acted as legal counsel for Energy Transfer Partners. Wells Fargo & Co. was financial adviser. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz LLP was Sunoco’s legal adviser, while Credit Suisse was its financial adviser.

Latham & Watkins’s corporate deal team was led by Houston partners Bill Finnegan, Sean Wheeler and Chicago partner Timothy FitzSimons. Assistance was also provided by Houston partner Timothy Fenn and Los Angeles partner Laurence Stein on tax matters. Washington partners Kenneth Simon and Natasha Gianvecchio contributed on regulatory matters; Houston partner Joel Mack assisted on environmental matters; and Washington, partner Michael Egge on antitrust matters. Houston partners Craig Kornreich and Catherine Ozdogan, New York partner Robert Zuccaro and Washington partner Patrick Shannon assisted with financing. Washington partner David Della Rocca assisted on employee benefits.

Bingham acted as tax counsel with Washington partners Brad Whitehurst, Bill McKee, Gary Huffman, Jasper Howard and Mike Schultz acting for ETP.

Morris Nichols acted as conflicts committee counsel. Partners Andrew Johnston in the Delaware corporate law counseling group and Louis Hering in the commercial law counseling group were involved.

Wachtell’s legal team for Sunoco was led by corporate partners David A. Katz and David K. Lam. Associates James R. Gilmartin and Sebastian L. Fain also helped. On antitrust, partner Nelson O. Fitts and associate Yuni Yan were involved. On executive compensation and benefits Adam J. Shapiro and associates Adam Kaminsky and Michael J. Schobel assisted. Tax partner Eiko Stange and associate Michael Sabbah also contributed.

Sunoco holders will receive about $50.13 a share, consisting of $25 in cash and 0.5245 common units of Energy Transfer, according to a joint statement yesterday. Dallas-based Energy Transfer is paying a 23 percent premium above the April 27 closing price for Sunoco.

Sunoco, based in Philadelphia, has been shutting or selling its refineries and said in September it was considering a possible sale. Energy Transfer Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Kelcy Warren has been trying to transform the company from a regional gas shipper in Texas to a national logistics operation that handles oil, refined products and natural gas liquids.

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News

Madoff Costs Surpass Victim Payoffs as Strategy Lies in Ruins

Irving Picard, who said last year he hoped to pay investors in Bernard Madoff’s defunct firm as much as $65 billion, has only put his hands on about $2.6 billion to actually give back to customers.

More than three years after Madoff’s epic swindle collapsed, Baker & Hostetler LLP partner Picard, the trustee responsible for liquidating the firm, has paid investors back about $330 million, while holding about $2.3 billion in customer accounts. About $6.4 billion that Picard has won in settlements with former Madoff investors is being challenged in court and is unavailable for disbursement.

So far, winding down the Madoff estate has cost more than Picard has sent to customers, with total administrative spending as of March 31 at about $554 million, including fees for Picard, his firm and consultants he hired, according to his April 25 report. At the same time, Picard’s strategy of filing $100 billion of lawsuits to claw back money from Madoff winners has largely collapsed, as federal judges led by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in New York have dismissed about $90 billion of Picard’s claims.

Amanda Remus, a Picard spokeswoman, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail asking if the trustee has revised his estimate of how much he will ultimately pay Madoff customers.

Picard’s latest estimate of the con man’s fictitious customer statements is $52 billion. That includes $17.3 billion in actual money invested, with the rest being the fake profits Madoff invented for customer statements. As of December, Picard estimated the total at $65 billion, before the withdrawal of some claims.

The $330 million he has sent to customers, out of the $2.6 billion set aside for them, contrasts with about $800 million they’ve received from the insurance program of the Securities Investor Protection Corp., which hired Picard and pays him.

As of March 31, Picard himself has been paid about $5.1 million in fees. His law firm, Baker & Hostetler, has been paid about $262.2 million in fees. All professional fees and expenses now stand at about $522 million, with about $31.7 million having been spent on general administrative costs such as office rent and telephones. By 2014, the bill will top $1 billion, Picard has estimated.

The case is Picard v. Katz, 11-cv-03605, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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SEC Names New York Chief Canellos Deputy Enforcement Director

George Canellos, head of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s New York regional office, has been named deputy director of the agency’s enforcement division, the agency said in a statement yesterday.

Canellos, 47, will take over the job vacated by Lorin Reisner, who left the SEC in January to become a top federal prosecutor in New York, the agency said. Canellos joined the agency in 2009, overseeing about 400 staff, including investigators, accountants and examiners responsible for policing more than 4,000 investment banks, advisers, brokers and hedge funds.

“For the past three years, George has been an incredibly effective advocate for investors and has helped the New York office take on some of the most difficult cases in the securities arena,” SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said in the statement.

Canellos, who holds degrees from Harvard College and Columbia University School of Law, became a U.S. prosecutor in the Southern District of New York (1071L:US) in 1994 before joining law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP, the SEC said.

He will take over as deputy enforcement director on June 4, and Andrew Calamari, senior associate regional director, will become acting head of the New York office, the SEC said.

Firm News

Carter Phillips Selected To Head Sidley’s Executive Committee

Sidley Austin LLP announced that Carter G. Phillips will become the head of the firm’s executive committee next year after a one-year period of sharing the title with his predecessor.

Thomas A. Cole, who will be 65 next year and is in his 15th year as chairman of the executive committee, will continue as co-chairman for the transitional period.

In a statement Cole said he was happy with Phillips’ selection to succeed him. “His prominence as the leading U.S. appellate lawyer, his proven management skills as the leader of our 275-lawyer Washington office for 17 years and the fact that he is an exemplar of our storied firm culture, all make him the clear choice. When the baton pass has been completed in 12- months’ time, I look forward to having even more time to serve clients on M&A and corporate governance assignments.”

Phillips, 59, has argued 76 cases before the Supreme Court, more than any other lawyer in private practice, the firm said in a statement. He also has argued more than 100 cases in other appellate courts.

Sidley Austin LLP has about 1,700 lawyers practicing in 18 U.S. and international cities, including Beijing, Brussels, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hong Kong, London, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.

DLA Piper Appoints New Asia Pacific Managing Director

Bob Charlton, DLA Piper LLP’s international group head of finance and projects, was appointed to the role of managing director, Asia Pacific, effective today, the firm said in a statement.

He replaces Alastair Da Costa, who served for five years as head of DLA Piper’s Asia, then Asia Pacific, business. Da Costa is returning to the U.K. where he will pursue a masters degree at the London School of Economics, while remaining as a consultant for the firm, according to the statement.

Charlton is a finance and projects lawyer both in the U.K. and Asia with experience in the infrastructure, transactional and banking fields. He will be based in Hong Kong and plans to split his time between DLA Piper in Australia and Asia. He will regularly visit the firm’s 11 offices in the region: Bangkok, Beijing, Brisbane, Canberra, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Perth, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo, according to the statement.

DLA Piper has 4,200 lawyers in 31 countries and 77 offices throughout the U.S., U.K., Continental Europe, Middle East, Asia and Australia, according to an earlier firm statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Amon in Brooklyn, New York, at eamon2@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.


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