Bloomberg News

Norton Rose Merger, McKenna Long, White: Business of Law

November 15, 2012

Norton Rose LLP and Fulbright & Jaworski LLP are merging, putting the new firm among the 10 biggest in the world by revenue.

The partners approved the combination earlier this month, the firms said yesterday. The new firm will operate as Norton Rose Fulbright from June 2013 and be one of the 10 biggest by revenue, according to American Lawyer magazine’s 2012 law firm survey.

The deal, which creates a trans-Atlantic 3,800-attorney firm with revenue of $1.9 billion, is one of the most significant marriages since the 2010 tie-up between Washington, D.C.-based Hogan & Hartson and the U.K.’s Lovells. London-based Norton Rose has spent much of the last two years significantly expanding its global footprint through mergers in Canada, Australia and South Africa.

“You cannot claim to be a truly global law firm without strength and depth in the U.S., as it represents over 50 percent of the world’s legal services market -- and Fulbright is a good name,” Tony Williams, founder of legal industry advisory firm Jomati Consultants LLP, said in a telephone interview.

The combined firm, operating under a so-called Swiss verein corporate structure, will have 55 offices worldwide to service clients like GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK), the Brentford, U.K.-based drugmaker, and New York insurer American International Group Inc. (AIG:US)

“We have been looking at the U.S. market for a number of years, seeking a firm that meets our requirements,” Norton Rose Chief Executive Officer Peter Martyr, who will be the global CEO of the merged firm, said in yesterday’s statement. Fulbright “is financially strong, with forward-looking management and similar strategic growth aspirations.”

Norton Rose reported global revenues of $1.3 billion dollars in the last financial year while Fulbright posted $597.5 million in 2011.

McKenna Appoints New Heads of Los Angeles, Washington Offices

McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP appointed two new office managing partners, Kathy Jorrie in Los Angeles, and Joanne Zimolzak in Washington. With their appointment, the firm now has women in charge of its three largest offices, including Atlanta.

Jorrie, who has been with the firm since 1998, does transactional and litigation work both domestically and internationally, primarily in business and entertainment matters. She was previously the partner-in-charge of the Los Angeles office of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP, which combined with McKenna Long in March.

She succeeds William Sayers as Los Angeles office managing partner. Sayers remains with the firm as a partner in its litigation practice.

Zimolzak, who has been with the firm since 1994, focuses her practice on complex business litigation relating to commercial and government contracts. She is a leader of the firm’s Washington-based insurance litigation practice and works with clients to identify and analyze potential legal risks and opportunities associated with complex emerging exposures, including climate change, hydrofracking, and cybersecurity.

Zimolzak succeeds Thomas Papson, who served as McKenna Long’s Washington office managing partner since 2003. Papson remains with the firm as a partner in its litigation and government contracts practices.

Joann Jones has been the Atlanta office managing partner since January 2010. She focuses her practice on real estate development and finance.

McKenna Long’s Washington office has more than 100 attorneys and strategic advisers. The Los Angeles office has more than 80 attorneys and strategic advisers. The firm has more than 575 attorneys and public policy advisers in 13 offices in the U.S. and Brussels.

News

In-House Lawyers See Modest Gains in Salary, Survey Shows

In-house legal counsel have seen modest salary increases in the last year, 2.6 percent on average across all levels, according to an in-house compensation survey by HBR Consulting.

Total compensation for chief legal officers at the companies surveyed was $1.96 million on average with total compensation for all attorney levels at $314,700.

“We are seeing healthy increases in in-house compensation at all lawyer levels, despite the challenging economic environment,” Lauren Chung, senior director and survey editor said.

The survey included data on more than 6,000 attorneys at 146 companies with the median company having 32 lawyers worldwide and more than $9 billion in worldwide revenues, according to HBR, formerly known as Hildebrandt Baker Robbins.

The increases are in sharp contrast to HBR’s survey last year, which found an average increase of 7.8 percent in compensation.

Chung said in an interview that the jump was because bonus levels the prior year had been almost nonexistent.

The survey also broke down salaries and found that 78 percent of respondents said they are moving more base compensation to variable pay, like cash bonuses and other incentive pay.

“When there’s instability and a lot of unknown in the economy, the variable pay is an opportunity for a company to have discretion in an environment where you don’t know how the company is going to perform,” she said.

Dewey Committee to Sue Three Former Top Officers

Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP will allow the official creditors’ committee to sue the defunct law firm’s three former top officers. The lawsuit will seek to recover from the firm’s $50 million in officers’ and directors’ insurance.

The committee laid out a case for mismanagement in papers filed this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. There will be a Nov. 29 hearing for the bankruptcy judge to grant formal authority allowing the committee to sue.

The committee explained that the firm can’t sue because the insurance policies prevent Dewey from recovering on its own policy.

The committee described the elements of mismanagement as including over-distribution of cash, income guarantees given to 30 percent of partners, and concealment of Dewey’s financial condition.

The firm leaders targeted by the committee are Steven Davis, the former chairman; Stephen DiCarmine, the former executive director; and Joel Sanders, the ex-chief financial officer. The committee says they received $7 million of income in the year before bankruptcy.

Dewey has two official committees, one for unsecured creditors and the other for former partners. The firm once had 1,300 lawyers before liquidation began under Chapter 11 in May.

There was secured debt of about $225 million and accounts receivable of $217.4 million at the outset of bankruptcy, the firm said. The petition listed assets of $193 million and liabilities of $245.4 million as of April 30.

The case is In re Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, 12-12321, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

Moves

Hedge Fund General Counsel Joins Schulte Roth & Zabel

Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP has added Brian T. Daly as a partner in the firm’s investment management and regulatory and compliance groups in the New York office.

Daly joins the firm after nearly a decade in-house as general counsel and chief compliance officer at several hedge fund firms. He most recently was with Kepos Capital LP, which he joined in early 2010 as a founding partner. Previously, he served as the principal legal counsel and compliance officer for Raptor Capital Management LP and Carlyle-Blue Wave Partners Management LP, joining both firms at inception. Daly began his in-house career at Millennium Partners LP, where he became general counsel.

Daly will concentrate on advising hedge and private equity fund managers on regulatory, compliance and operational matters, including registration and disclosure obligations, trading issues, advertising and marketing, and the establishment of compliance programs.

Schulte Roth’s regulatory and compliance group represents more than 300 private fund managers, including 50 of the 100 largest hedge fund managers, the firm said.

The firm has offices in New York, Washington and London.

Locke Lord Hires Banking and Finance Partner Morris

Finance and banking lawyer Luke Morris has joined the London office of Locke Lord LLP as a partner in its transactional banking team in London. Morris comes to Locke Lord from Mishcon de Reya Ltd, where he headed the banking and finance team for the past five years, the firm said.

Morris advises lenders, financial institutions, real estate and private equity houses and funds on a range of debt financing transactions. These include real estate investments and developments, leveraged buy-outs, corporate loans, swap and hedging transactions, refinancings, recapitalizations, work-outs and restructurings, the firm said in a statement.

Locke Lord LLP has about 650 attorneys in 13 offices in the U.S., London and Hong Kong.

McDermott Hires DLA Piper Restructuring Lawyer in New York

McDermott Will & Emery LLP hired Jeremy R. Johnson as a partner in the firm’s New York office. Johnson, who was previously at DLA Piper LLP, joins McDermott’s restructuring and insolvency practice.

In his restructuring practice, Johnson advises domestic and international clients in insolvency proceedings, out-of-court restructurings and insolvency issues in non-distressed transactions. He has served as counsel to corporate debtors, committees, creditors, purchasers of distressed assets, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and other stakeholders in bankruptcy cases, with an emphasis on corporate debtor and buy- side asset sale representation, the firm said.

McDermott Will & Emery has more than 1,100 lawyers at 18 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Reed Smith Hires Real Estate Partner in Falls Church, Virginia

Reed Smith LLP announced that David S. Houston has joined the firm as a partner in its real-estate practice in the Falls Church, Virginia office. Houston was formerly a partner in the Tysons Corner office of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, the firm said.

Houston’s real-estate development practice has a focus in land use as well as retail leasing. He has represented land developers, owners, companies, institutions, and lenders for more than 30 years throughout Fairfax and Arlington Counties.

Reed Smith has more than 160 lawyers worldwide in the firm’s real-estate practice. The firm has more than 1,700 lawyers in 23 offices throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Litigation

Nexans, Prysmian Win Court Bid Against EU Cable Cartel Raids

Prysmian SpA (PRY) and Nexans SA (NEX), represented by White & Case LLP, partly overturned a European Union decision ordering antitrust raids that seized swathes of company documents, a ruling that may clip the wings of the bloc’s competition regulator in future probes.

The EU General Court, the bloc’s second-highest tribunal, yesterday partly annulled decisions by the European Commission from 2009 to raid the companies over their alleged roles in fixing prices for undersea and underground high-voltage power cables, saying the scope of its information-gathering was too wide.

“The commission will now have to make sure it’s on much firmer ground before it goes on a fishing expedition,” said Christopher Hutton, a competition-law specialist with Hogan Lovells LLP in London.

The EU’s antitrust watchdog last year sent formal complaints to as many as nine companies including ABB Ltd. (ABBN) in the wake of its 2009 raids. Prysmian and Nexans argued that officials failed to adequately define the goal of the inspections, during which officials mined the contents of entire hard drives of several managers.

The White & Case team was led by partners Mark Powell and Jean-Paul Tran Thiet. They were assisted by White & Case partners J. Mark Gidley and Peter Carney.

Claudio Tesauro, head of the antitrust and regulatory affairs department of Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, was counsel for Pyrsmian Europe.

“The commission has not demonstrated that it had reasonable grounds for ordering an inspection covering all electric cables and the material associated with those cables,” the Luxembourg-based court said. The companies’ other points, including a request to get back documents and copies taken during the raids, were rejected. The ruling can be appealed to the EU Court of Justice, the bloc’s highest court.

Following yesterday’s decisions, the commission “won’t be able to use any of the evidence, documents or statements” from the raids that don’t concern high voltage underwater and underground cables, said Trevor Soames, a lawyer with Shearman & Sterling LLP in Brussels who isn’t involved in the matter.

The Brussels-based commission will closely examine the rulings “and the consequences that need to be drawn from them,” Antoine Colombani, a spokesman for the commission, said in an e-mail.

“It should however be noted that the General Court has upheld the commission’s inspection decisions as regards the high voltage underground and submarine cables which form part of the Commission’s ongoing cartel investigation into the power cables sector,” he said.

The cases are T-140/09, Prysmian, Prysmian Cavi and Sistemi Energia v. Commission, T-135/09, Nexans France and Nexans v. Commission.

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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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