Latham, Bryan, Alston & Bird, O’Melveny: Business of Law

Latham & Watkins LLP is opening a new office in Dusseldorf and hiring four partners from Shearman & Sterling LLP, which announced the closing of two German offices last month.

The new partners in Dusseldorf include Harald Selzner, Rainer Wilke and Martin Neuhaus, who have experience in complex mergers and acquisitions. Markus Rieder, a litigator, will be based in Latham’s Munich office.

“Dusseldorf is the epicenter of legal activity catering to German blue-chip corporations,” Latham’s Vice Chairwoman Ora Fisher said in a phone interview.

She said the firm had been looking to open a Dusseldorf office for several years and that these lawyers fit well with their current practice, which includes three German offices. The new partners’ mergers-and-acquisitions practice is more focused on private-equity work, which will complement Latham’s practice, which handles more strategic corporate matters.

Shearman announced a restructuring of its German leadership and the move of several partners from the closing offices to the firm’s remaining German office, in Frankfurt. With the departure of Wilke and Rieder, the firm lost its German managing partners.

Shearman’s Frankfurt office, which will be a hub of its Germany practice, will be led by M&A partner Thomas Konig and tax partner Bodo Bender, who have been named German managing partner and deputy managing partner, respectively. Georg Thoma and Alfred Kossmann will join the firm’s corporate/M&A group in Frankfurt from Dusseldorf. Winfried Carli will join the finance team in Frankfurt, working with the capital markets team.

Richard Kreindler will continue to lead the firm’s international arbitration/litigation practice in Germany, the firm said.

Creighton Condon, Shearman & Sterling’s senior partner, said in an e-mailed statement about the departing lawyers, “They are all outstanding lawyers, and we wish them the best.”

Fisher declined to comment on what clients the new lawyers will bring with them. Past clients have included Daimler, Allianz, E.ON and Siemens, according to Shearman’s website.

Thomas Fox, Latham’s Munich managing partner, will head the new Dusseldorf outpost.

Latham has approximately 2,000 attorneys in 31 offices in the U.S., the Middle East, Asia and Europe, including in Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich.

Bryan Cave Adds Outsourcing Team of Six Lawyers in Atlanta

Bryan Cave LLP added four partners, two additional lawyers and three administrative support staff to its Atlanta office from Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP.

The new partners -- Scott Hobby, Charles F. Hollis III, Derek C. Johnston and Sean D. Christy -- focus their practice on outsourcing.

“The Atlanta market is very important to Bryan Cave and our clients, and we are committed to continue strategically growing this office,” Tom McNeill, managing partner of the firm’s Atlanta office, said in a statement. “Over the past few years, Bryan Cave has had great success welcoming groups of attorneys within a particular practice area to join us.”

Hobby is known for his work in the design and operation of onshore and offshore outsourcing and shared-service arrangements, the firm said. His practice focuses on customer-side outsourcing transactions.

“The international platform that Bryan Cave has established will offer our clients access to a broad array of legal talent across the country and around the globe,” Hobby said.

Hollis has concentrated his practice on outsourcing matters for more than 14 years, advising clients on customer-side outsourcing transactions, including the outsourcing of business processes, information technology outsourcing, applications development and maintenance, and human resources outsourcing, the firm said.

Johnston specializes in customer-side offshore and onshore outsourcing transactions, software systems acquisition and implementation transactions, and transition services arrangements in merger-and-acquisition transactions, the firm said.

Christy focuses his practice on customer-side offshore and onshore outsourcing transactions, software systems acquisition and implementation and telecommunications transactions.

“We hope this change will be good for Scott and the practice,” Mark Wasserman, Sutherland’s managing partner, said in an e-mailed statement. “We wish them well personally and professionally.”

Bryan Cave has more than 1,100 lawyers and other professionals in over 30 offices in the U.S., the U.K., Europe and Asia.

Alston Adds Five Capital Markets Partners from Dentons

Five Dentons partners are joining Alston & Bird LLP’s capital markets practice in New York and Washington. Richard Simonds, Scott Samlin, A. James Cotins and Matthew Lyons are joining the firm in New York, Stephen Ornstein in Washington.

“This is a significant strategic move for our capital markets practice and demonstrates Alston’s ongoing commitment to the continued growth of our corporate and finance practices,” Alston & Bird managing partner Richard Hays said in a statement. “These new partners will add depth and breadth to the finance practices we are building in New York and add new capabilities to our financial services regulatory practice in Washington.”

Simonds focuses his practice on the representation of issuers and underwriters in mortgage- and asset-backed securitizations.

Ornstein has experience with federal and state regulation of real estate, as well as residential and commercial mortgage finance. He counsels national mortgage companies, mortgage insurers, financial institutions and others in complying with mortgage and consumer lending regulations.

Samlin works with Ornstein in counseling national mortgage companies, mortgage insurers and other financial institutions regarding compliance issues. He’s the former executive director for the residential mortgage and lending compliance business at Morgan Stanley.

Cotins specializes in structured finance. Lyons works with Cotins in representing the main participants in CMBS, CRE CLOs and other commercial real estate-related financing transactions.

Dentons didn’t respond to an e-mail request for comment on the departures.

Alston & Bird has more than 800 attorneys at offices at 10 offices in the U.S and Brussels.

News

Top Environmental Crimes Attorney Leaving Justice Department

Assistant U.S. Attorney General Ignacia Moreno, who led the Justice Department’s prosecution of environmental crimes, will leave government June 7, the agency said in a statement.

Attorney General Eric Holder praised the results the department’s Environment and Natural resources Division achieved on Moreno’s watch, including obtaining “record-setting” for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and negotiating settlements with Indian tribes to resolve disputes over the management of trust resources.

Moreno, confirmed by Senate in November 2009, oversaw a record $1 billion civil penalty from Transocean Ltd. (RIG) for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The U.S. agreed to pay $1.7 billion to resolve 69 tribes’ allegations of the government’s mismanagement of trust funds and trust resources, according to the government statement.

Wyn Hornbuckle, a Justice Department spokesman, said in an e-mail that Moreno hasn’t decided on her next job. She “will be exploring a variety of opportunities over the summer,” he said.

Moreno worked for Hogan & Hartson (predecessor to Hogan Lovells LLP) and Spriggs & Hollingsworth after getting her law degree at New York University in 1990. She joined General Electric Co. in 2006, where she was counsel, corporate environmental programs until her confirmation as assistant attorney general.

Litigation

Enron’s Jeff Skilling Poised to Get Decade Off Sentence in Deal

Jeffrey Skilling, the convicted former Enron Corp. chief executive officer, may get out of prison in as little as four years if a judge approves a deal with prosecutors that would allow the payment of more than $40 million to victims of one of the biggest corporate frauds in U.S. history.

In exchange for cutting as many as 10 years from his 24-year sentence, Skilling will drop his bid for a new trial and end litigation over his conviction. A jury found that he spearheaded a fraud of as much as $40 billion that in 2001 destroyed the world’s largest energy trader and caused the biggest U.S. bankruptcy at the time.

“The proposed agreement will bring certain finality to a long painful process, although the recommended sentence for Jeff would still be more than double that of any other Enron defendant, all of whom have long been out of prison,” his lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, said in a phone interview. “Jeff will at least get the chance to get back a meaningful part of his life.”

Skilling, 59, has served more than six years of his 2006 sentence for fraud, conspiracy and insider trading. A 2011 appellate ruling effectively lopped nine years off his sentence, according to court records.

With the potential benefit of two years off for good behavior and another year off for participation in a drug treatment program, Skilling could be released in 2017 or early 2018, according to his lawyer and the agreement, which was revealed yesterday in a filing in federal court in Houston.

Skilling will be resentenced June 21 in Houston, where Enron victims will be given a chance to speak out on the deal, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake III said in an order issued yesterday.

After a 16-week trial, a Houston jury convicted Skilling alongside Kenneth Lay, Enron’s former chairman, for conspiring to use off-books partnerships to manipulate the company’s finances and mislead investors about its true financial condition. Lay died before he could appeal, and his conviction was erased.

More than 5,000 jobs and $1 billion in employee retirement funds were wiped out when Enron plunged into bankruptcy in December 2001. Investors sued to recover more than $40 billion in market losses.

Skilling is incarcerated in a federal prison in Englewood, Colorado, outside of Denver.

The case is U.S. v. Causey, 04-cr-00025, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).

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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