Bloomberg News

Baker Botts, Akin Gump, Greenberg, Wachtell: Business of Law (1)

May 13, 2013

Baker Botts LLP announced three lateral hires last week including international tax lawyer Don J. Lonczak and capital markets lawyer Bonnie A. Barsamian.

Lonczak will be based in the firm’s Washington and New York offices while Barsamian will be based in its New York office. Jay Ryan, an electric power lawyer, also joined the firm in its Washington office last week. Before joining Baker Botts, Lonczak was a partner in Shearman & Sterling LLP’s tax group. Barsamian was previously at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP. Ryan joined the firm from Van Ness Feldman PC, where he was on that firm’s executive committee and was formerly managing partner of its electric practice, the firm said.

Lonczak has a transaction-oriented practice that includes structuring and negotiating the tax aspects of domestic and international mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and corporate spinoffs, as well as of public and private financings and derivatives financial products, the firm said. He has experience counseling clients on tax matters associated with cross-border transactions.

Barsamian’s background crosses a range of industries, including REITs, financial and specialty finance services, media and entertainment and industrial/consumer products. She represents issuers and underwriters on public and private securities offerings and other corporate finance transactions.

Ryan has worked for clients on matters that include the operation of wholesale power markets and regional transmission organizations; transmission and generation development; licensing and relicensing of hydroelectric assets; LNG exports; and compliance issues arising under federal and state energy and environmental laws, the firm said.

Baker Botts has about 700 lawyers at 14 offices in the U.S., Europe, China and the Middle East.

Hunton & Williams Hires White & Case Corporate Partner

Hunton & Williams LLP added Alison Dreizen to its New York office as partner in the global corporate practice. Dreizen joins the firm from White & Case LLP, where she was the resident partner in Moscow and spent a year in its Hong Kong office, the firm said.

She has more than 30 years of global corporate experience in the financial services, manufacturing, mining and shipping sectors.

Hunton & Williams has more than 800 lawyers with clients at 19 offices around the world.

Sidley Expands in Houston with Capital Markets Partner Hire

Timothy C. Langenkamp, a capital markets lawyer with experience in energy transactions, joined Sidley Austin LLP as a partner in Houston. He’ll be a member of the securities/capital markets practice group. He was previously at Andrews Kurth LLP.

Langenkamp’s practice is primarily focused on representing underwriters and issuers in debt and equity capital markets transactions, with a particular emphasis on offerings by master limited partnerships, the firm said. He counsels clients on securities law compliance, corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and other general corporate and securities matters.

Sidley has 30 lawyers in its Houston office, which opened in February 2012. The firm has 1,750 lawyers in 18 offices worldwide.

Corporate Partner Joins Carlton Fields in New York

Carlton Fields announced that Edward C. Marschner has joined the firm’s corporate, securities, and tax practice group as a shareholder in New York. He was previously at Fox Horan & Camerini LLP. 

Marschner represents closely held multinational groups in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, public contract teaming, and transnational partnership relationships. He also advises industrial groups on competition and antitrust law, and on protecting intellectual property, the firm said.

Carlton Fields has more than 300 attorneys and government consultants at eight U.S. offices.

Nelson Levine Adds Reinsurance Partner in New York Partner

Marc Abrams has joined the reinsurance practice of Nelson Levine de Luca & Hamilton LLC (0590246D:US) as partner in the New York office. He was previously a partner at Wollmuth Maher & Deutsch LLP.

Abrams represents domestic and international insurers, cedents and reinsurers in dispute resolution, both in U.S. courts and before arbitration panels.

Nelson Levine has lawyers at seven offices in the U.S. and London.

Barnes & Thornburg Grows in Atlanta With Labor Partner

Barnes & Thornburg LLP added Peter Spanos as a partner in the labor and employment law department in the Atlanta office. He was previously a partner at Burr & Forman LLP.

Spanos represents and counsels management in employment litigation and traditional labor law. He has experience in labor and employment concerns, including employment policies and procedures; Fair Labor Standards Act collective actions; wrongful termination and employment discrimination lawsuits, among other matters.

Barnes & Thornburg has more than 600 attorneys and other legal professionals at 12 U.S. offices.

News

Patton Boggs Accused of Fraud in Chevron Ecuador Case

Chevron Corp. (CVX:US) is pursuing fraud claims against Patton Boggs LLP, alleging the law firm knew about fraudulent behavior in the Ecuadorean lawsuit brought against the oil company over pollution in the Amazon rainforest, the American Lawyer reported.

Chevron was ordered in 2011 to pay as much as $18.2 billion in compensatory and punitive damages for the alleged dumping by Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001, of toxic drilling wastes in the Ecuadorean jungle from 1964 to about 1992. The judgment came in an 18-year-old lawsuit from a judge in Lago Agrio, a provincial capital near the Colombian border.

Chevron has denied wrongdoing in the Lago Agrio lawsuit. The company says Texaco cleaned up its share of the pollution at its former oil fields, which were taken over by PetroEcuador, Ecuador’s state oil company. Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, contends it was released from any future liability by an agreement between Texaco and Ecuador.

Patton Boggs entered the case in 2010 to help the plaintiffs try to enforce an Ecuadorean court judgment in third countries where Chevron has assets. It brought a malicious prosecution claim against Chevron in February 2012, the magazine said.

Chevron’s lawyers, Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP, said in a filing May 10 that Patton Boggs colluded with the Ecuadorean court or court experts and knew that the judgment was ghostwritten by other lawyers for the plaintiffs, according to the magazine.

“Chevron’s proposed complaint against Patton Boggs is perhaps the starkest example yet of how Chevron will use its limitless resources to intimidate and harass anyone that dares to help the Ecuadorian Plaintiffs in their 20-year battle for justice,” Patton Boggs said in an e-mailed statement. “Patton Boggs has acted conscientiously, ethically and in good faith at all times since becoming involved in this case in 2010, and will not be intimidated by Chevron’s scare tactics.”

The racketeering case is Chevron v. Donziger, 11-00691, U.S. District Court, District of New York (Manhattan). The case in Ecuador is Aquinda v. Chevron, 002-2003, Superior Court of Nueva Loja, Lago Agrio, Ecuador.

Facebook Says General Counsel Ted Ullyot Leaving Company

Facebook Inc. (FB:US)’s general counsel Ted Ullyot is leaving the company after helping to guide the social-networking service through an initial public offering a year ago.

“Ted has been a valued member of Facebook’s leadership who built our legal team through an intense five-year period in which we faced complex and high-stakes legal issues of all types,” the Menlo Park, California-based company said May 10 in an e-mailed statement.

Ullyot has been Facebook’s vice president, general counsel and secretary since October 2008, regulatory filings show. Previously, he was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP and served as chief of staff at the U.S. Justice Department and as a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush.

His exit follows the departure of several Facebook employees since the company held its IPO in May 2012. Blake Ross, product director, left earlier this year. Senior executives Katie Mitic and Ethan Beard said in August that they were leaving.

Dewey Meets Opposition to Settlement with Davis and XL

Left out of the $19 million settlement that creditors of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP cobbled together with XL Specialty Insurance Co. and the defunct law firm’s former Chairman Steven Davis, two other former senior executives from the firm are objecting to the settlement and contend that lawyers for the creditors’ trust are disqualified.

XL, a provider of the defunct firm’s management liability policy, contributes the bulk of the settlement funds while Davis will give the firm a note for $511,000. In return, Dewey will waive all claims against XL and Davis.

Stephen DiCarmine, the former executive director, and Joel Sanders, Dewey’s former chief financial officer, were left out of the settlement. In anticipation of a hearing today for approval, they objected to the accord in papers filed earlier this month. The two contended at the time that the settlement had multiple defects, among them injunctions precluding people like them from suing non-bankrupt third parties.

They also objected to a provision in the settlement amounting to a court finding that XL acted in good faith with everyone covered by the policies.

Later this month, DiCarmine and Sanders were handed another ground for objection when Brown Rudnick LLP, lawyers for the creditors’ trustee, hired a former Dewey partner named Stephen A. Best, who had been co-chairman of Dewey’s white-collar criminal defense group.

DiCarmine and Sanders said in court papers they had a meeting of several hours with Best to discuss potential legal problems. They contend that giving him confidential information makes Brown Rudnick disqualified.

In response, the trustee said that Best left Dewey in 2010, long before bankruptcy. In addition, the trustee says the settlement was signed and the approval motion filed before Best joined the firm on May 1. Since he arrived at Brown Rudnick, the firm established a so-called ethical wall around Best.

Brown Rudnick said in a court filing that demanding the firm’s disqualification is based on “contrived and false claims” that shouldn’t delay approval of the settlement.

For details on the settlement, click here for the April 24 Bloomberg bankruptcy report.

Dewey’s liquidating Chapter 11 plan was approved by the bankruptcy court in February and implemented in March. The firm estimated that midpoint recoveries for secured and unsecured creditors under the plan would be 58.4 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively. The plan created a trust to collect and distribute remaining assets.

Dewey once had 1,300 lawyers. The liquidation began under Chapter 11 in May 2012. At the outset of bankruptcy, there was secured debt of about $225 million and accounts receivable of $217.4 million, the firm previously said. The petition listed assets of $193 million and liabilities of $245.4 million.

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

Deals

True Religion to Be Acquired by TowerBrook for $835 Million

Greenberg Traurig LLP and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP advised True Religion Apparel Inc. (TRLG:US), the maker of designer jeans worn by Megan Fox and Angelina Jolie, which agreed to be bought by TowerBrook Capital Partners LP for about $835 million. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz advised TowerBrook.

Dennis J. Block, senior chairman of the global corporate mergers and acquisitions practice at Greenberg Traurig, led his firm’s team. Additional shareholders included Daniel Serota, corporate; Jeffrey M. Wolf, debt financing; Ian A. Herbert, employee benefits; Steven C. Russo, environmental; William C. Donovan, debt financing; and Kelly A. Terribile, corporate.

Akin Gump’s team was led by corporate practice co-head Frank Reddick.

Wachtell didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail requesting information about the partners involved.

True Religion, which hired Guggenheim Partners in October to evaluate a possible sale, has lost female customers after maintaining higher prices than competitors such as VF Corp. (VFC:US)’s 7 for All Mankind label. While revenue (TRLG:US) increased 11 percent last year, True Religion’s profitability has shrunk. Operating margin narrowed to 16.7 percent last year from 33.2 percent in 2005.

TowerBrook is a New York-based private-equity firm founded by Ramez Sousou and Neal Moszkowski, who also serve as co-chief executive officers. Its previous retail investments include the Jimmy Choo Ltd. luxury brand, acquired by Labelux GmbH in 2011.

For more, click here.

Firm News

Rushing Named Co-Head of MoFo’s Global Litigation Department

Morrison & Foerster LLP named San Diego partner Don Rushing co-chairman of the firm’s global litigation department. He joins San Francisco partner Arturo Gonzalez and succeeds New York partner Grant Esposito, who had been co-chairmen of the department since 2010.

Rushing, former head of the firm’s products-liability group, is a trial lawyer who handles defense of aviation, consumer product, chemical, and pharmaceutical companies.

“Don is an incredibly accomplished litigator and experienced leader who commands tremendous respect from his partners, clients and adversaries,” Larren M. Nashelsky, chairman of MoFo, said in a statement.

Morrison & Foerster has more than 1,000 lawyers at 16 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

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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