Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP is opening a Washington office with the hire of Clarine Nardi Riddle, former chief of staff to retired U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, who joined Kasowitz Benson last week as senior counsel in New York.
Riddle joins the firm as counsel and will lead the government affairs practice, where she will focus on expanding the firm’s Capitol Hill presence and advising clients on a regulatory and public policy issues.
“Clarine’s extensive political and legal experience will be an invaluable asset to our clients who seek counsel in navigating a range of matters involving the intersection of business and government,” Marc Kasowitz, the firm’s founding and managing partner, said in a statement. “We look forward to developing our government affairs practice under her guidance, and also underscoring the importance of strong women leaders at the firm.”
Riddle was Connecticut’s 22nd attorney general from 1989 to 1991, the only woman who has held the position. She was also the first female attorney general to appear before the U.S. Supreme Court, successfully arguing in Martin W. Hoffman v. Connecticut Department of Income Maintenance, the firm said.
Her position as chief of staff to Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, involved participating in and leading congressional staff delegations to Europe, Asia and the Middle East as well as organizing Senate bipartisan chiefs of staff meetings. She has also been a judge at the Connecticut Superior Court, Connecticut’s highest trial court of general jurisdiction, and special counsel to Lieberman, as well as his deputy and counsel, when he was attorney general of Connecticut.
“I am eager to apply my knowledge and experience to help companies and individuals advocate for legislative and policy changes that protect and expand their businesses,” Riddle said in a statement.
Kasowitz Benson has more than 375 lawyers, primarily focusing on complex commercial litigation. The firm has nine U.S. offices.
Epstein Becker Scales Real Estate Services in Atlanta Office
In an effort to keep its focus on health care and labor and employment law, Epstein Becker Green PC, is scaling back its Atlanta office, the firm said in a statement.
“Several years after it was opened, the firm’s Atlanta office grew outside of the firm’s core areas of expertise, with a heavy concentration in real estate, and a predominantly regional client base which was out of sync with the firm’s strategic direction,” the firm said in a statement.
Epstein Becker also said in the statement that its focus on health care and labor and employment law, with complementary litigation, corporate, benefits and immigration support, has created an important niche for the firm and resulted in its recognition for those core practices.
The firm declined to comment further or answer questions about how many lawyers will remain in the office or whether lawyers will be departing the firm or relocating to other offices. The firm has 10 members listed as resident in the Atlanta office and four additional lawyers, according to its website.
The firm opened the Atlanta office in 2000. In 2009, it added a team of six lawyers from Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP that included business and real estate lawyers. The firm said in a statement at that time that real estate was one of its five core practice areas.
With the Atlanta office, the firm has 11 U.S. locations with about 275 lawyers.
Baker Donelson Adds Government Regulatory Actions Partner
Carol Owen joined Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, & Berkowitz PC as a shareholder and a member of the firm’s government regulatory actions group in the Nashville office. She was previously at Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP.
Owen concentrates her practice in complex litigation and operations/risk management. She has experience in environmental and financial services litigation, the firm said.
Baker Donelson has more than 650 attorneys and public policy advisers at 18 U.S. offices.
Occupational Health Team Joins Fasken Martineau
Fasken Martineau LLP announced that a team of lawyers and advisers specializing in occupational health and safety practice, including partner Norm Keith, joined the firm in Toronto from Gowlings Lafleur Henderson LLP.
Keith’s practice is in employment, regulatory and criminal law, with an emphasis on regulatory and corporate crime, occupational health and safety, workers’ compensation and workplace risk management litigation, the firm said.
“We are delighted to welcome Norm and team to our firm,” Martin Denyes, regional managing partner for Ontario, said in a statement. “Norm is recognized as one of the country’s leading OHS lawyers and his joining our firm dramatically increases our capabilities in this area and will add tremendous value for our clients.”
The additional members of the team include an associate, who joins the firm in the labor, employment and human rights group, along with four consultants in the occupational health and safety practice.
Fasken Martineau has more than 770 lawyers with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, London, Paris and Johannesburg.
Business Lawyer Joins Edwards Wildman From Cadwalader
Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP announced that Susan E. D. Neuberg has joined the firm as a partner in its business law department in the New York and Washington offices. She was previously at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft LLP.
Neuberg has experience in real estate and structured finance matters as well as knowledge of capital markets issues, particularly in the areas of commercial securitization, CMBS portfolio management, pooling and servicing agreements, transfer of servicing rights, and related rating-agency matters, the firm said.
In addition to structuring complex debt and equity transactions for financial institutions, investors and their advisers, she represents special servicers, senior lenders and members of the capital stack in a broad range of transactions.
Edwards Wildman has more than 600 lawyers at 15 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
USTP Releases New Guidelines for Attorneys’ Fees and Expenses
The Justice Department’s U.S. Trustee Program unveiled new guidelines for reviewing fee requests in larger Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganizations, Bloomberg News’s Bill Rochelle reports.
U.S. Trustees around the country will use the revised guidelines when analyzing fees in bankruptcies where assets and debt exceed $50 million. The new guidelines will become effective Nov. 1.
The most controversial feature of the new guidelines requires lawyers to tell the court more than the firm’s posted hourly rates. Instead of basing fees entirely on the firms’ sticker prices, professionals must disclose how much they actually billed or collected from other clients in the prior year.
“Outside of bankruptcy, clients are asking for -- and more times than not getting -- concessions” on hourly rates, according to Nancy B. Rapoport, acting dean at the University of Nevada Las Vegas Law School.
Rapoport, an expert on bankruptcy ethics, explained in an interview that the U.S. Trustees want clients to have rates in bankruptcy they would be given outside of bankruptcy.
Chip Bowles, a bankruptcy lawyer from Louisville, Kentucky, said disclosing actual billing rates or collections “will drive everybody bonkers, because you’re telling all your clients what your blended hourly rates are.” As result, other clients will ask, “Why aren’t I getting those rates?” Bowles said in an interview.
When disclosing fees charged to or collected from other clients, the calculation must exclude billings or collections by bankruptcy professionals. Consequently, the guidelines may block professional firms from charging more for their bankruptcy lawyers than for people in other specializations.
Much in the guidelines reflects how U.S. Trustees and courts already review fee requests. The U.S. Trustees are the Justice Department’s bankruptcy watchdogs. Their assignments include forming creditors’ committees, appointing trustees to serve in individual cases, objecting to fee requests, and taking positions in court even when no one else objects.
Budgets are another controversial feature of the new guidelines. The U.S. Trustees will require professionals at the outset of a case to establish a budget and staffing plan, “either with the consent of the parties or by court order as soon as feasible after the commencement of the case.”
Bowles said that some professionals are worried that the budgets will tip off adversaries about strategies or faults the lawyers anticipate in their own cases. As an example, Bowles said, “Barclays would have liked to have known the staffing and budget of Lehman’s lawyers in their litigation.”
Rapoport said that the U.S. Trustees received “a whole lot of pushback on budgets” from lawyers who said “we can’t possibly predict what will happen in a case.”
The new guidelines require sometimes minute details describing how professionals spend their days. For instance, billings must be in increments of tenths of an hour, and work on different projects can’t be lumped together. When the professionals file their fee requests, the work must be broken down into at least 22 different categories.
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Snowden Seeks Legal Help in Hong Kong, Oriental Daily Reports
Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old U.S. contractor who says he leaked details of an electronic surveillance program, may be seeking legal help in Hong Kong after checking out of a hotel in the Chinese city on Monday.
Snowden is trying to contact Hong Kong-based human rights organizations and lawyers for help, the Oriental Daily News, a Hong Kong-based Chinese language newspaper, reported yesterday, without naming its sources. Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor has not received any message from Snowden, the paper said.
He left the Mira Hotel in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district at lunchtime on Monday, according to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper June 11, which reported that he is thought to be in a safe house. The city’s immigration department has no record of him departing, according to another Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, which cited unidentified sources.
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, currently on an official visit to New York, declined June 11 to answer questions by reporters about how his government would handle the case.
The American identified himself as the source of reports in the Guardian and the Washington Post about the U.S. surveillance program, prompting U.S. House Speaker John Boehner to call him “a traitor” whose disclosure “put Americans at risk.” Boehner spoke on ABC News’s “Good Morning America.”
Snowden was a former technical assistant for the Central Intelligence Agency and had worked for the National Security Agency in the past four years for contractors including Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. (BAH:US), according to the Guardian and the Washington Post. Booz Allen, his most recent employer, said Snowden has been fired.
S&C, Jones Day Advise Apollo and Cooper on $2.5 Billion Deal
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A Shroff & Co. were legal advisers to Apollo Tyres Ltd. (APTY), India’s second-biggest tire maker by market value, which agreed to acquire Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. (CTB:US) for about $2.5 billion for greater access to the U.S. automotive market. Jones Day was legal adviser to Cooper Tire.
Sullivan & Cromwell’s team included partners Scott D. Miller and Jay Clayton, corporate/mergers and acquisitions; Scott D. Miller and Presley L. Warner, financing; and Juan Rodriguez, competition.
The Jones Day deal team advising Cooper was led by Cleveland mergers and acquisitions partners Lyle Ganske and Peter Izanec. The deal team also included partners James Dougherty, mergers and acquisitions; Brett Barragate, banking and finance; Manan Shah and Dan Hagen, employee benefits and executive compensation; and Stan Weiner, labor and employment.
Apollo Tyres, based in Gurgaon, India, agreed to pay $35 a share to stockholders of Cooper Tire. That’s 43 percent higher than the June 11 closing price of $24.56.
Apollo Tyres, which last month agreed to sell most of its South African operations to Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd. (5110) for $60 million, is looking to expand beyond India and Europe to meet its goal to be among the top 10 tire makers in the world by 2016. Automobile demand in both India and Europe has slowed amid weaker economic expansion. Deliveries in the U.S., the second-biggest auto market, are on pace for its best year since 2007.
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Rothstein Funds in Firm Account Not Subject to Forfeiture
Funds held in bank accounts of convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein’s bankrupt law firm can’t be forfeited to the government, a federal appeals court said.
The money in the law firm accounts, mixed with receipts from clients at the time Rothstein was charged, isn’t subject to forfeiture, the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals said yesterday, reversing the lower court and handing a victory to the trustee of the law firm’s Chapter 11 proceeding.
The funds are so intermingled that it’s difficult to determine which money is from the Ponzi scheme and which is from the legitimate business of now-defunct Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Rothstein, Rosenfeldt & Adler PA, which included billings from 70 attorneys, the court ruled.
“The government, standing in Rothstein’s shoes, may appear in the Chapter 11 proceeding and lay claim to Rothstein’s share of law firm assets that survive bankruptcy,” U.S. Circuit Judge Gerald B. Tjoflat wrote for the appellate panel.
Rothstein is serving a 50-year sentence for selling investors stakes in sex- and employment-discrimination cases that turned out to be non-existent. The scheme imploded in the fall of 2009. He pleaded guilty to five counts of money laundering, fraud and racketeering in 2010.
Creditors started an involuntary bankruptcy against Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler just before prosecutors indicted Rothstein, who co-founded the firm.
As part of criminal forfeiture proceedings, prosecutors claimed law firm bank accounts, contending they contained proceeds from the scheme. Prosecutors acknowledged that the accounts contained funds of the firm not tainted with fraud that were comingled with fruits of the Ponzi scheme.
After the federal district court sided with the government, the law firm’s Chapter 11 trustee, Herbert Stettin, appealed.
Tjoflat said yesterday that proceeds of fraud used to acquire other property can be forfeited only when they can be traced.
The appeal is In re Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler PA (U.S. v. Rothstein), 11-10676, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (Atlanta). The Chapter 11 case is In re Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler PA, 09-bk-34791, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District Florida (Fort Lauderdale).
Pfizer Receives $2.15 Billion From Teva, Sun Over Protonix
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (TEVA) and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (SUNP) will pay $2.15 billion to Pfizer Inc. (PFE:US) and a partner to settle litigation over unauthorized sales of the heartburn drug Protonix.
Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, will receive 64 percent of the settlement while partner Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. will get the rest, New York-based Pfizer said in a statement yesterday. Teva will pay $1.6 billion, including $800 million this year and the rest in 2014, according to a company statement. Sun said it will pay $550 million.
“We are pleased with today’s settlement, which recognizes the validity and value of the innovation that led to Protonix,” Amy Schulman, Pfizer’s general counsel, said in the statement.
Teva and Sun began selling generic versions in 2008 only to lose a challenge to a patent on the medicine two years later. Pfizer’s Wyeth unit was seeking $2.7 billion from Teva and Sun, saying it was entitled to a share of the revenue from those generic versions, as well as compensation for sales it lost to the copycat.
A trial over Pfizer’s claims began June 3 in federal court in Newark, New Jersey.
“We are pleased to put this matter behind us as we continue to focus on delivering safe and affordable medicines to patients around the world,” Richard Egosi, Teva’s chief legal officer, said in the statement.
The case marked a rare instance in which a brand-drug company was seeking compensation for the early release of a copy of its medicines. Typically, generic-drug makers wait until the patents expire or they get a court ruling that clears the way. Teva has undertaken more than a dozen such at-risk market entries, betting that it would eventually win the case. It usually did.
At the trial in Newark, Pfizer attorney William Lee told jurors that Teva and Sun were unwilling to wait until the patent expired on Protonix before they began selling their cheaper copies.
“They decided to take a risk,” said Lee in his opening statement on June 4. By starting generic sales, the market for branded versions of the drug was “destroyed,” he said.
“Teva and Sun in 2007 had a choice,” said Lee of WilmerHale LLP in Boston. “They couldn’t wait until January 2011 and launch. If they had, we wouldn’t be here today.”
The case is Altana Pharma AG v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., 04-cv-02355, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).
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