Clifford Chance, Cadwalader, Loeb, Skadden: Business of Law

Ying White, previously the head of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP’s (1117L) investment funds practice, joined Clifford Chance LLP’s Beijing office as a partner in the corporate practice, the firm announced.

White also served as counsel, finance in the legal vice presidency of the World Bank, according to an April 1 statement from Clifford Chance.

At Clifford Chance, she will focus on both onshore and offshore funds formation for private equity and hedge funds, RMB funds and offshore investments by Chinese institutions.

“Since the global financial crisis, we’ve seen global private investment funds shift their focus to China, and at the same time Chinese institutions and investors are increasingly seeking global investment management expertise,” said Mark Shipman, Clifford Chance’s head of funds, Asia Pacific. “The addition of Ying will not only help the firm maintain its leadership position in this sector, but will also strengthen our capability to meet the ever-increasing demand in China.”

Spencer Griffith, the partner in charge of the Beijing office of Akin Gump put out a statement wishing White well and saying the firm “remains committed to our China and Asia practices.”

Cadwalader Adds Justice Department Lawyer to Fraud Group

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP announced yesterday that senior Adam Lurie has left the U.S. Justice Department to be a partner in the firm’s business fraud and complex litigation department in Washington.

Lurie joins one week after Ken Wainstein, former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia and assistant attorney general for national security, joined the group.

At the Justice Department, Lurie was senior counsel to the assistant attorney general for the criminal division. Before that, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in Newark, New Jersey, specializing in securities and health-care fraud and corruption. He was an associate in Cadwalader’s business fraud group from 2002 to 2005.

Walkers Investment Team Joins Maples in Caribbean Offices

Maples & Calder announced the recruitment of seven partners and three associates from Walkers to join the firm’s investment funds practice in the Caribbean.

Partners Julian Ashworth, Heidi De Vries, Sheryl Dean, David Marshall, Philip Millward and Gwyneth Rees, and senior associates Philip Dickinson, Patrick Head and Lucy Nicklas will join the Cayman Islands office, according to a March 29 statement. Partner Tim Clipstone will be joining the firm’s British Virgin Islands office, the firm said.

Maples said its global investment funds practice advises on the laws of the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Ireland. Walkers has offices in the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Delaware, Dubai, Dublin, Hong Kong, Jersey, London and Singapore.

In a March 30 statement, Walkers said that none of the lawyers leaving are equity partners.

“Walkers has one of the largest investment funds teams globally, which still consists of 55 investment funds lawyers,” said Rod Palmer, the firm’s global head of investment funds. “We will also shortly be announcing the relocation of several senior investment funds partners back to the Cayman office.”

News

SEC Weighs Sanctions for Lawyers Who Advise on Fraudulent Deals

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigators are considering extending the reach of enforcement actions in cases involving complex financial transactions to lawyers who provided the legal advice on fraudulent deals, Bloomberg’s Joshua Gallu reported, citing an agency official.

“I’ve seen some factual situations where advice that was given didn’t look like it was done in good faith,” Kenneth Lench, head of the structured products unit in the SEC’s enforcement division, said March 30 in New York. “Something we need to seriously consider in appropriate cases are charges against lawyers.”

The SEC typically sanctions individuals who play an active role in making false statements or material omissions to investors, not the lawyers who advise them. Often, in matters involving a company and its employees, the individuals claim the lawyers signed off on the conduct in question, Lench said.

That claim presents a challenge for the SEC because communications between attorneys and their clients are generally considered confidential and not available to regulators who are investigating a matter. If the company refuses to waive confidentiality in the course of the probe, it can be difficult for the SEC to prove that someone willfully violated the law, he said.

Lench, whose unit is responsible for uncovering fraud in structured products such as mortgage-backed securities and derivatives, also said that the agency is prepared to pursue negligence claims against individuals who didn’t take reasonable steps to keep a fraud from occurring. Negligence is a lower legal standard than intentional or reckless fraud.

First-Quarter Law Firm Mergers Continue to Rebound, Altman Says

U.S. law firm mergers and acquisitions totaled 14 in the first quarter of 2012, a trend that reflects the continued return of activity to pre-recession levels, according to Altman Weil MergerLine.

“We’ve averaged about 15 mergers and acquisitions in each of the last six quarters,” said Altman Weil principal Eric Seeger said in a statement yesterday. “The pace of merger activity is holding steady at pre-recession levels.”

McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP (1263L), based in Atlanta, combined with California’s Luce Forward Hamilton & Scripps (1320L) last month, creating a firm of more than 550 lawyers. The rest of the deals involved acquisitions of firms with 20 or fewer lawyers or mergers of small firms, according to Altman Weil, a legal management consulting firm.

Some deals brought firms offices in new cities or regions. K&L Gates LLP (1142L) acquired Marini Salsi Picciau in Milan, giving the firm its first Italian office. Littler Mendelson PC acquired labor and employment boutique Kiesewetter Wise Kaplan Prather, expanding to Memphis.

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice  (1188L)LLP added an office in Columbia, South Carolina, by acquiring Hall & Bowers. Carroll Burdick & McDonough, a San Francisco-based firm with 72 lawyers, combined with Schweiger & Partners, a five-lawyer, intellectual property boutique with offices in Germany and Singapore.

There were 11 deals announced at the end of last year that were completed in the first quarter, including Bryan Cave LLP’s (1137L) acquisition of Holme Roberts & Owen and the merger of Faegre & Benson with Baker & Daniels.

For more M&A information from Altman Weil, see www.altmanweil.com/MergerLine.

Richard Chandler Picks Team for Sino-Forest Restructuring

Richard Chandler Corp., the biggest shareholder of Sino- Forest Corp., appointed a team for its proposed restructuring of the forestry company, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month, Bloomberg News’s Elisabeth Behrmann reports.

Bennett Jones LLP is Sino-Forest (TRE)’s Canadian legal adviser. Osler Hoskin & Harcourt LLP is Canadian legal adviser to its board. Moelis & Co., Goodmans LLP and Hogan Lovells LLP (1131L) are advising the group of bondholders.

Sino-Forest filed for bankruptcy protection as part of a plan under which the Chinese timber grower sold to bondholders, nine months after it was accused of fraud by short seller Carson Block. Richard Chandler owns a 19.49 percent stake, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“Sino-Forest faces a range of complex problems,” David Walker, an adviser on the forest products industry appointed to lead the restructuring team, said in the statement. “A successful restructuring which builds a long-term sustainable plantation business will take a considerable amount of time and a strong team to drive the process.”

Investors in Sino-Forest, once the largest Chinese forestry company by market value, lost about C$3.3 billion ($3.3 billion) since Block’s research firm Muddy Waters LLC published a report June 2 accusing it of overstating earnings. The shares plunged 74 percent before being suspended Aug. 26 amid investigations by Canadian regulators and police. Allen Chan, the company’s co- founder, stepped down as chief executive officer in August.

The cases are In the Matter of a Plan of Compromise or Arrangement of Sino-Forest Corp., CV-12-9667-OOCL, and Sino- Forest Corp. v. Muddy Waters LLC, CV-12-9666-OOCL, Ontario Superior Court of Justice (Toronto).

Deals

Express Scripts, Medco Deal Led by Skadden and Dechert Lawyers

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP (1112L) lawyers led Express Scripts Inc. (ESRX)’s successful $29.1 billion bid for rival drug benefit manager Medco Health Solutions Inc. (MHS)

U.S. antitrust regulators announced their unconditional approval of the deal yesterday, clearing the way to create the biggest manager of prescription benefits for corporate and government clients.

M&A partners Howard Ellin, Lou Kling and Kenneth Wolff were lead attorneys for Skadden. Clifford Aronson and Ian John were the antitrust lawyers.

Dechert LLP (1154L) developed the antitrust strategy for Medco, with partners Mike Cowie and Paul Denis leading, according to the firm.

The Federal Trade Commission said in a statement that an eight-month investigation of the proposed deal “revealed a competitive market for pharmacy benefit management services characterized by numerous, vigorous competitors who are expanding and winning business from traditional market leaders.”

FTC Commissioner Julie Brill, who dissented, said in a separate statement that the transaction is an industry “game changer” that creates a “merger to duopoly.” She called on the commission to take another look at the pharmacy benefits management market in three years.

The companies, known as PBMs, negotiate prices with drugmakers for health-plan sponsors, manage worker claims and track patients’ use of medicines. Their profits are tied to cutting their clients’ drug costs.

The proposed acquisition drew opposition from drugstore chains and pharmacists, who have said Express Scripts and its competitors have done little to slow drug-price increases.

The Dechert antitrust team included Paul Frangie and associates C.B. Buente, Eric Cochran, Evan Davis, Jennings Durand, Michael Frankel, Rani Habash, Sean Pugh and David Stanoch.

For more, click here.

Law Firm News

Loeb & Loeb Names Majers Chicago Administrative Partner

Commercial finance partner Elizabeth L. Majers has been named Loeb & Loeb LLP (1300L)’s administrative partner of the Chicago office. She will succeed Daniel Frohling, who served since 2007, the firm said in a statement.

Majers’ responsibilities will include general oversight of the Chicago office, supporting practice management and lateral partner recruiting initiatives. She will continue her practice, primarily as special counsel representing institutional lenders in the direct placement and restructuring of corporate securities, in her new role.

“Our office has grown significantly over the past few years -- now with 30 attorneys and a variety of new business opportunities. I look forward to building on the success of my predecessor and working closely with firm leadership to further expand our capabilities and profile in this region,” Majers said in a 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: Andrew Dunn at adunn8@bloomberg.net

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