Breaking News

Tweet TWEET

Akin, Gump, Steptoe, Gibson Dunn: Business of Law

John Dowd, a combative ex-Marine who cursed at a cameraman after court one day, was the lawyer Galleon Group LLC co-founder Raj Rajaratnam selected for his trial last year on insider-trading charges. The jury, citing overwhelming evidence, voted to convict.

Rajat Gupta -- the ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) director whose own insider-trading trial begins today -- chose a lawyer with a different style: Gary Naftalis, an affable presence in the elite New York white-collar defense bar who recently attended a reception for a Rajaratnam prosecutor at his new law firm and who socializes with the judge presiding over the Gupta trial, Bloomberg News’s David Glovin and Patricia Hurtado report.

“Why is he so good? Because he’s very disarming,” Charles Carberry, a friend of Naftalis and a former federal prosecutor, said. “Gary has a way of talking to people that’s non- confrontational,” said Carberry, now a partner at Jones Day in New York. “There’s nothing about him that reeks of arrogance.”

A jury in Manhattan will determine whether the 70-year-old Naftalis’s low-key style wins Gupta the acquittal that eluded Rajaratnam, who’s serving 11 years in prison. Of almost 90 criminal trials last year in the federal district that includes Manhattan, the Bronx and some suburban counties, all but about eight ended in conviction, according to the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who’s prosecuting the case.

Gupta, who ran consulting firm McKinsey & Co. from 1994 to 2003 and also sat on the Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) board, is charged with conspiracy and securities fraud. Prosecutors say he gave Rajaratnam material, nonpublic information about New York-based Goldman Sachs and Cincinnati-based P&G, the world’s largest consumer-products company. Securities fraud carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.

Gupta’s trial won’t be like Rajaratnam’s, which was built on dozens of wiretapped phone calls in which the hedge fund co- founder could be heard swapping tips. Former colleagues also testified for the prosecution.

The Gupta jury will hear a circumstantial case, centered on the timing of trades after conversations between the two men, plus a smaller number of wiretapped phone calls. Prosecutors say Rajaratnam can be heard on the tapes referring to Gupta without naming him.

Naftalis, who is co-chairman of New York-based Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, comes to Gupta’s defense after representing some of the biggest names on Wall Street.

His clients have included Michael Eisner, the former Walt Disney Co. (DIS) CEO whom Naftalis successfully defended at a 2005 civil trial over claims that he breached his duty to shareholders, and ex-Refco Inc. Chief Executive Officer Phillip Bennett, who is serving 16 years in prison after pleading guilty in a $2.4 billion securities fraud.

Naftalis, who declined to comment for this article, tells his clients he’s a hands-on litigator who will make all decisions except one: whether to testify.

Style matters, said Tom Dewey, a lawyer at New York’s Dewey Pegno & Kramarsky LLP, who isn’t involved in the Gupta case.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’sDowd, Rajaratnam’s lawyer, brought a “no-holds-barred, confrontational, fight-for- every-inch approach” to combat multiple witnesses and wiretaps, Dewey said in an interview. He sparred with witnesses at the Rajaratnam trial and occasionally snapped at a prosecutor.

In Gupta’s case, where the evidence may be less concrete, “a more low-key approach may well be warranted,” Dewey said.

Dowd declined to comment for this story, said Akin Gump spokesman Ben Harris.

“In most criminal cases, the defendant does not testify, so for that reason alone the style and presentation of the defendant’s lawyer are enormously significant to a jury,” Dewey said. “Gary is just as tough, but in a much more understated, buttoned-down fashion.”

The case is U.S. v. Gupta, 11-cr-907, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more, click here.

Firm News

Dewey Bankruptcy Filing Could Come Within Weeks, WSJ says

Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP may file for bankruptcy protection within weeks, the Wall Street Journal reported on May 18.

Joff Mitchell of restructuring firm Zolfo Cooper is acting as the law firm’s chief restructuring officer while Albert Togut of Togut, Segal & Segal LLP was selected to handle the bankruptcy filing, the newspaper said citing a person familiar with the matter.

Dewey, once the 11th-largest U.S. law firm, is collecting bills to pay lenders owed $200 million or more, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The firm has lost most of its partners, the Wall Street Journal said. The firm laid off 533 non-union workers at its Manhattan building last week, according to a notice on the New York State Department of Labor website.

Fulbright Elects Stewart Chairman of Executive Committee

Fulbright & Jaworski LLP elected Kenneth L. Stewart the new chairman of the executive committee. Stewart will succeed outgoing chairman Steven B. Pfeiffer on Jan. 1. Pfeiffer has served in the role since Jan. 2003.

A corporate lawyer, Stewart has been the partner-in-charge of Fulbright’s Dallas office since 2004. A partner since 1987, Stewart has handled mergers and acquisitions, partnership arrangements, securities transactions, business financings, and general corporate transactions and operations. He is also a member of Fulbright’s policy committee and partners committee.

“Superior client service was a focal point throughout Ken’s tenure as partner-in-charge of the Dallas office. I am confident that his forward-thinking leadership will take the firm and its clients to new heights,” Pfeiffer said in a statement.

Fulbright has 17 offices worldwide, six of which were opened over the last decade. Overseas expansion has led to offices in Beijing, Dubai and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Fulbright’s book of energy clients prompted the opening of U.S. offices in Denver and Pittsburgh-Southpointe, and the firm’s health law work led to a new office in St. Louis.

Capital Markets Partner Johnson to Lead O’Melveny in Hong Kong

O’Melveny & Myers LLP announced that capital markets partner David Johnson is the new head of the Hong Kong office. He will be relocating from the firm’s Century City, California, office.

Johnson is a former global head of O’Melveny’s transactions department, responsible for the group’s worldwide strategy. He has 25 years of experience representing corporations, funds, and investment banks in all aspects of capital formation, strategic advice, and restructuring involving the international financial markets.

He represented the underwriters in a $1 billion and a $2.5 billion notes offering for Toyota Motor Credit Corp. in 2011. He also represented Lions Gate Entertainment Inc. in a number of debt and equity offerings, including high-yield debt offerings totaling $436 million, the firm said in a statement.

“Expanding our Hong Kong office capabilities and strengthening our capital markets practice are key components of our larger plans for growing O’Melveny’s presence in Asia and we’re fortunate to have Dave Johnson leading those efforts,” Bradley J. Butwin, chairman of O’Melveny said in a statement.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP began its practice in Asia almost 25 years ago. The firm has approximately 800 lawyers in 15 offices worldwide.

Lawsuits

Facebook Suit Over Subscriber Tracking Seeks $15 Billion

Facebook Inc. (FB), the social network operator whose shares began trading May 18, was sued for $15 billion in an amended complaint by subscribers who claim the company invaded their privacy by tracking their Internet use.

In the complaint filed May 17 in federal court in San Jose, California, the plaintiffs say Facebook improperly tracked users even after they logged out. Twenty-one cases making similar claims have been consolidated before the court. The latest filing seeks to proceed on behalf of U.S. residents who subscribed to Facebook from May 2010 to September 2011.

“This is not just a damages action, but a groundbreaking digital-privacy rights case that could have wide and significant legal and business implications,” David Straite, a partner at Stewarts Law US LLP, which represents some of the users, said in the e-mailed statement.

Andrew Noyes, a Facebook spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement that the claims are without merit and the company will contest them.

Straite said his firm is evaluating ways to add non-U.S. residents to the group of plaintiffs.

The U.S. Wiretap Act “provides statutory damages of the greater of $100 per violation per day, up to $10,000, per Facebook user,” according to the complaint. Facebook’s more than 800 million members are entitled to about $15 billion in total, according to the plaintiffs.

Facebook, which sold stock in an initial public offering valuing the company at about $104 billion, has been scrutinized by regulators in the U.S. and Europe over how it protects users’ private information. Last year, a German data-protection agency said it may fine the Menlo Park, California-based company over facial-recognition software used for tagging photos.

Facebook sold 421.2 million shares at $38 each to raise $16 billion, it said in a statement. That values the company at $104.2 billion, or 107 times trailing 12-month earnings, more than every S&P 500 member except Amazon.com Inc. and Equity Residential.

The case is In re Facebook Internet Tracking Litigation, 5:12-md-02314-EJD, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (San Jose).

Moves

Hogan Lovells Adds Silicon Valley Insurance Litigator Wells

Hogan Lovells LLP has expanded its presence in Silicon Valley with the addition of insurance litigator Vanessa Wells as a partner in the litigation, arbitration and employment practice. Wells was previously a partner with Sedgwick LLP in San Francisco.

Wells has experience in the representation of insurance companies in complex litigation in California, with a particular focus on pricing issues, business regulation matters, and unfair competition disputes.

Hogan Lovells has more than 2,300 lawyers operating out of more than 40 offices in the U.S., Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia.

Steptoe Expands International and Latin American Practices

Steptoe & Johnson LLP has added Brigida Benitez to the firm as a partner in the international regulation and compliance and commercial litigation practices. Benitez will practice out of the Washington office.

Benitez most recently was chief of the Office of Institutional Integrity of the Inter-American Development Bank, the firm said. During her tenure at the IDB, she served as a member of the senior management team, reporting directly to the IDB president and to the audit committee of the board, and overseeing a staff of attorneys, auditors and other professionals.

Her practice focuses on high stakes dispute resolution, including international litigation and arbitration, and internal investigations and anti-corruption issues, such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, with a particular emphasis on Latin America.

Steptoe has more than 500 lawyers and other professionals in offices in Beijing, Brussels, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Washington and Century City, California.

K&L Gates Adds Two Partners to Moscow Office

K&L Gates LLP has added real estate partner Andrei V. Soukhomlinov and corporate and finance partner Dmitry K. Gladkov to its Moscow office.

Soukhomlinov joins K&L Gates from Salans LLP, where he was co-head of its Russian real estate/construction practice, while Gladkov was formerly the general counsel for Russia/CIS at the investment bank Aton, the firm said in a statement.

With a focus on real estate and construction law, Soukhomlinov advises domestic and international clients in the real estate, manufacturing, banking and other sectors on acquisitions, financing, investment and development projects, commercial leases, and property management issues.

Transactional lawyer Gladkov counsels on matters involving project and structured finance, capital markets, corporate finance and regulation, mergers and acquisitions, international tax planning, and financial market regulatory issues, among others.

K&L Gates has lawyers practicing out of more than 40 offices located in North America, Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East.

David Lorello Joins Covington & Burling in London

Covington & Burling LLP is strengthening its anti- corruption and trade control practices by adding lawyer David Lorello as a partner in its London office. Lorello was previously at Steptoe & Johnson LLP.

His practice spans U.S., U.K., and European international regulatory issues.

Lorello has represented numerous multinational clients on issues arising under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the U.K. Bribery Act and other related U.S., U.K. and global anti- corruption laws. He helps clients in developing anti-corruption compliance programs and in managing enforcement matters.

Covington & Burling has more than 800 lawyers and offices in Beijing, Brussels, London, New York, Washington, San Diego, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley, California.

Capital Markets Partner Tomer Pinkusiewicz Joins Gibson Dunn

Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP announced that Tomer Pinkusiewicz joined the firm’s New York office as a partner. Pinkusiewicz, formerly with White & Case LLP, will continue his capital markets practice, with a focus on project bonds and infrastructure.

Pinkusiewicz practices in the area of capital markets. He has experience in Latin America-related transactions, project bonds and infrastructure financings and assets, and debt financings. He represents both issuers and underwriters in a range of capital markets transactions, including public offerings, Rule 144A/Regulation S offerings and private placements.

Gibson Dunn has more than 1,000 lawyers in 17 offices in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Akin Gump Adds Corporate and IP Litigation Lawyers in L.A.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP added two lawyers who principally serve the technology and consumer electronics industries. Paul C. Lin and Kevin G. McBride joined the Los Angeles office of the firm as partners in the corporate and intellectual property litigation practices, respectively. Both lawyers were previously at Jones Day.

Lin’s practice is focused on serving the needs of clients in the technology and consumer electronics industries. He has experience in cross-border corporate transactions, mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance.

McBride’s practice focuses on patent and other intellectual property litigation.

Akin Gump has more than 850 lawyers and advisers in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Dewey & LeBoeuf Moves

Dewey Energy Lawyer Moves to O’Melveny & Meyers.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP has added federal energy regulatory lawyer Hugh Hilliard as counsel in the firm’s Washington, office. He will be a member of O’Melveny’s project development and real estate practice group.

Hilliard was a partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP prior to joining O’Melveny. Before practicing law, Hilliard worked at the U.S. Department of the Interior, where he was involved in leasing federal lands and royalty collection in connection with oil, natural gas, and coal development, the firm said.

O’Melveny & Myers has approximately 800 lawyers in 15 offices worldwide.

Kaye Scholer Hires Dewey Team in Chicago

Kaye Scholer LLP hired a four-member securities and financial services litigation group from Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP in Chicago. Led by former Dewey partner Alan Salpeter, who joins the firm as senior counsel and three other lawyers.

Salpeter has experience litigating securities fraud and other kinds of class-action lawsuits; contested tender offers; proxy contests; aborted business transactions and business failures; alleged breaches of fiduciary duty and negligence by corporate officers and directors and antitrust issues.

He also has extensive arbitration and mediation experience. Recent matters include the successful representation of DeVry Inc. and two of its senior executives in a putative class action and the successful representation of Walgreens in two dismissals of a putative shareholder class action claim, the firm said.

Kaye Scholer has offices in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia.

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

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Dunn at adunn8@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

Bloomberg reserves the right to remove comments but is under no obligation to do so, or to explain individual moderation decisions.

Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.