If the 2012 presidential campaign ends in a recount and legal challenges, Robert Bauer, President Barack Obama’s attorney, and Ben Ginsberg, Republican Mitt Romney’s counselor, will be on opposing sides leading the clash that follows.
The pre-election maneuvering already has begun. Voting machine malfunctions, absentee ballots and even the weather are on the radar for each campaign’s legal team, according to Edward Foley, a professor at Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law in Columbus.
Bauer, 60, and Ginsberg, 61, are described by friends and colleagues as embodying the rare combination of top-notch legal minds with equally astute political instincts.
They are now applying those dual skills as they oversee each party’s program for monitoring voter suppression and intimidation charges or attempts at voter fraud. With the presidential race too close to call, they are also girding for a courtroom showdown similar to 2000.
“Post-election litigation is probably the most nerve- racking, tension-inducing subject of all for campaigns,” Ginsberg, a central player in the 2000 Florida recount that ended with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that made George W. Bush president, said during a 2009 panel discussion. “The stakes are higher than they ever are, nerves are more frayed than they ever are and sleep is more absent than ever.”
Bauer, a partner in the Washington office of Perkins Coie LLP, and Ginsberg, who is at Patton Boggs LLP, declined to be interviewed for this story.
The Democratic National Committee, where Bauer also serves as general counsel, has invested millions of dollars on its legal operation and will count on thousands of attorneys in the days ahead, according to a person familiar with their operation.
Ginsberg is ensuring that the Republican team has the resources and infrastructure it needs should a recount or challenge arise, according to a Romney official.
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NBA Players’ Union Review Is Almost Over, Treasurer Jones Says
An independent review of the National Basketball Players Association’s financial and business practices, conducted by Theodore V. Wells Jr. and the New York law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison LLP, is nearly complete, said union treasurer James Jones, a member of the organization’s executive committee.
“It’s at the end,” Jones, who plays for the Miami Heat, said in an interview before his team’s Nov. 2 game at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Jones didn’t give a date for completion of the review. Lisa Green, a spokeswoman for Paul, Weiss, didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment on the review, which will include a financial audit.
The union retained the firm in April after the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said it was investigating union practices.
Jones said he spoke with lawyers at the firm “a couple of months ago.” He said the conversation was “one way,” and consisted of “general stuff,” but wouldn’t provide specifics of what was asked.
“There’s no rush to judgment,” he said. “Let’s all wait until it’s concluded.”
Authorities opened the probe in April after union President Derek Fisher asked for independent reviews of the association’s finances and business practices.
Fisher had complained to executive committee members about nepotism at the union, which represents about 450 players.
Union Executive Director Billy Hunter, who turns 70 in two days, has a daughter and daughter-in-law on staff at the New York-based association. Another daughter is special counsel at a law firm used by the union, and Hunter’s son is a principal at a financial planning and investment firm that advises the organization on investments and runs its financial awareness program for players.
Hunter has said his family members are qualified and, in most cases, underpaid by market standards.
Stifel Financial to Buy KBW in Deal Valued at $575 Million
Bryan Cave LLP advised Stifel Financial Corp. (SF), the St. Louis-based brokerage, which agreed to buy KBW Inc. (KBW) in a cash- and-stock transaction valued at $575 million to build its financial-services business. Sullivan & Cromwell LLP represents KBW Inc.
The Bryan Cave team was led by partners Rob Endicott, who oversaw the securities and employee retention aspects of the transaction and Ryan Davis, who oversaw the M&A and corporate aspects of the transaction. Additional lawyers contributing include partners Todd Kaye, securities; Phil Wright, tax; Jennifer Stokes, employee benefits; and Jeff Kalinowski regulatory matters.
The S&C team included partners H. Rodgin Cohen, corporate; Mitchell Eitel, financial institutions M&A partner; Ronald Creamer Jr., tax and Frederick Wertheim, broker-dealer matters.
KBW shareholders will receive $17.50 a share, comprised of $10 in cash and $7.50 in Stifel common stock, the companies said yesterday in a statement. The deal values KBW, a New York-based broker-dealer and investment bank, 7.4 percent higher than its closing price on Nov. 2.
Stifel, run by Chief Executive Officer Ronald Kruszewski, has been seeking acquisitions to gain market share as the financial-services industry recovers from the credit crisis. KBW, which lost 67 employees at its World Trade Center headquarters in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, has posted a loss in five of the past six quarters as bank mergers dwindle.
The KBW purchase “provides Stifel with an exciting opportunity to grow and become a market leader in the financial- services sector,” Kruszewski, 53, said in the statement. “This combination expands our capabilities at a time when we believe the financial-services sector is poised to benefit from improving fundamentals.”
Stifel’s acquisitions, including Legg Mason Inc. (LM)’s capital- markets business and Thomas Weisel Partners Group Inc., have helped the firm post record net revenue every year since 1997, when Kruszewski became CEO. The KBW deal will make Stifel the No. 1 adviser on mergers and acquisitions in the financial- institutions industry, Stifel said in a web presentation.
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Harbinger Group to Pay $373 Million for Exco Gas Stake
Andrews Kurth LLP and Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP advised Philip Falcone’s Harbinger Group (HRG) Inc. on its agreement to buy a stake in U.S. natural gas fields from Exco Resources Inc. (XCO) for $373 million, betting on a rebound for the fuel. Latham & Watkins LLP advised Exco.
Andrews Kurth’s deal team included partners Cheryl Phillips, oil & gas; Robert McNamara, tax; David Buck and Jon Daly, corporate/securities; Lisa Shelton, environmental; and Kay Lynn Brumbaugh, HSR/antitrust.
Paul, Weiss’s HGI team was led by corporate partners Eric Goodison, Ray Russo and Steve Williams, all in New York.
Latham & Watkins represents Exco Resources with a corporate team led from the firm’s Houston office by partners Robin Fredrickson and Bill Finnegan. Advice was also provided on formation of the limited partnership by Houston tax partner Tim Fenn; and on employee benefit matters by partner David Della Rocca.
Harbinger Group, the New York Stock Exchange-listed vehicle controlled by Falcone’s hedge fund, will get about 75 percent of a partnership it’s setting up with Exco, according to a statement yesterday. Because the partnership will also take on debt, Exco will get $597.5 million of cash.
The acquisition would add a third leg to Harbinger Group’s operations, which already include a life insurance company and a majority stake in the maker of Rayovac batteries. Since Falcone’s hedge fund firm, Harbinger Capital Partners LLC, bought the company in 2009, it has sought to make long-term investments through the acquisition of undervalued or out-of- favor businesses.
“This deal will create long-term value by anchoring our new energy operating business with a long-duration gas asset at a time when natural gas is trading near historically low levels,” Harbinger Group President Omar Asali said in the statement.
In contrast, the Exco assets to be contributed to the partnership include conventional wells in areas of western Texas, eastern Texas and northern Louisiana. The fields involved comprise 520 billion cubic feet equivalent of estimated proved reserves and are about 84 percent gas, according to yesterday’s statement.
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Corporate Law Departments Strategize to Save Money, Survey Says
Corporate law departments are asking their outside counsel to reduce fees and increasing their in-house budgets, according to a survey of 200 general counsel by legal consulting firm Altman Weil.
Seventy-one of the chief legal officers polled said they had negotiated price reductions from outside counsel in the last year, while 47 percent shifted work from outside firms to their own staff.
The chief legal officers also reported in the survey that they had reduced internal costs by improving efficiency though technology, shifting work to paralegals and using contract lawyers.
The full survey is available to download at http://www.altmanweil.com/CLO2012.
Cooley Hires Two Chadbourne Partners, Including IP Chairman
Cooley LLP said that intellectual property lawyers Walter Hanchuk and John Kheit joined the firm as partners in the New York office. Both left Chadbourne & Parke LLP in New York, where Hanchuk was chairman of Chadbourne’s IP practice and Kheit led the firm’s mobile technology practice, Cooley said in a statement. Hanchuk will be Cooley’s chairman of the New York IP practice.
“Walter and John have developed one of the premier IP transactional, litigation, and patent asset creation practices in New York,” Joe Conroy, Cooley’s New York-based chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Their extensive experience in all phases of IP, including a particular expertise in financial services and software technologies, extends the reach of Cooley’s IP practice in New York and creates powerful synergies across our core IP and business technology practices across the firm.”
Hanchuks’s practice focuses on patent and copyright litigation. He also obtains, licenses and enforces worldwide IP rights, as well as conducts IP due diligence investigations and strategic reorganizations of existing patent portfolios, the firm said.
Kheit concentrates on representing technology-focused companies in complex litigation, patent and licensing matters. He is active in the computer software sector and has been involved in the patenting of pure software technologies including financial instruments, data structures, graphical user interfaces, digital rights management, and peer-to-peer networking, the firm said.
Cooley’s IP group has more than 110 lawyers and 50 other professionals. Cooley has 650 attorneys in 11 offices in the U.S. and Shanghai.
Barnes & Thornburg Adds Chicago Labor Attorney David Ritter
Barnes & Thornburg LLP hired Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP’s former labor and employment practice group chairman David B. Ritter, in the firm’s labor and employment law department in Chicago. Ritter was also on Neal, Gerber’s executive committee, Barnes & Thornburg said in a statement.
Ritter has almost 30 years of experience representing public and closely held companies in service and manufacturing industries. He represents clients in labor and employment law and litigation, including discrimination and harassment complaints, trade secret and non-compete covenants, and contract and statutory claims by employees.
Barnes & Thornburg LLP has more than 600 lawyers in 12 offices.
Reed Smith Hires Life Sciences Health Industry Partner
Reed Smith LLP hired Salvatore G. Rotella Jr. as a partner in its life sciences health industry group in the firm’s Philadelphia office. He was a member of Cozen O’Connor’s health law group. Before that, he was chief compliance officer and regulatory counsel for the Department of Mental Health in the District of Columbia.
Rotella represents health systems, acute care and specialty hospitals, and other health care providers in reimbursement disputes with public and private payers, class actions, and billing investigations, the firm said. He also advises providers, health plans and others on health-care regulatory and compliance issues, and on privacy law requirements.
Lehman Bankruptcy Fees, Expenses Total $1.8 Billion From Start
Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which filed the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history in September 2008, was billed $1.8 billion by 47 law firms, accounting firms, investment bankers, and reorganization professionals under review by a fee committee that examines payment demands.
The committee recommended that the judge handling the case approve the final bills at hearings due to start Nov. 8, it said in a filing in federal court in Manhattan.
The defunct investment bank, which continues to liquidate to pay creditors about 18 cents on the dollar after exiting bankruptcy court in March, has been billed another $72.7 million through September, including $12.6 million for that month, according to a separate filing.
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