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Winston, Morgan, Linklaters, Dykema: Business of Law

Winston & Strawn LLP announced that six attorneys and three associates joined the firm’s Los Angeles labor and employment practice from Norton Rose Fulbright LLP.

Marcus A. Torrano, Michael S. Chamberlin and Julie Capell joined the firm as partners. Torrano formerly was the head of Norton Rose’s Los Angeles labor and employment practice, and he joins as co-chairman of Winston & Strawn’s Los Angeles practice. Chamberlin will assume a role on various firmwide committees, it said.

“In the California legal market, labor and employment is one of the three hottest areas in demand, and this will allow us to tap further into the market,” Eric Sagerman, Winston’s Los Angeles office managing partner said in a statement. “The arrival of this well-regarded team furthers our West Coast growth strategy in a very significant way.”

The attorneys have experience in class-action work, traditional labor and employment, counseling and single plaintiff defense work.  They also have experience counseling and litigating on behalf of employers in executive employment agreements, trade secrets, wrongful discharge, discrimination and harassment issues, the firm said.

Winston’s labor and employment practice has almost 70 partners and associates in the firm’s domestic and international offices. It has lawyers at 16 offices in North America, Asia and Europe.

Morgan Lewis Adds Eight Banking, Finance Lawyers in Moscow

Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP hired a group of eight business and finance lawyers from Gide Loyrette Nouell in Moscow. The group is led by partners Grigory Marinichev, the former head of the banking and finance and restructuring practices at Gide, and Konstantin Kochetkov, a project finance lawyer. They will be joined by six associates, the firm said in a statement.

“Grigory and Konstantin’s team of top-tier finance and corporate transactional lawyers represent many large financial institutions and corporate enterprises that are particularly active in Russia and Europe,” firm Chairman Francis M. Milone said in a statement. “The diversity of their practice and client base offers attractive synergies with our international presence and deep bench in related areas,” he added.

Marinichev began Gide’s banking and finance practice 10 years ago. His practice focuses on structured finance and secured lending as well as debt restructuring and insolvency matters for blue chip borrowers, Russian and European lenders and debtors undergoing liquidation or reorganization, the firm said.

Kochetkov advises clients on project finance transactions, as well as on issues relating to pre-export finance, export finance, restructuring, equity financing and private-equity transactions.

Morgan Lewis’s business and finance team has more than 350 transactional attorneys. The firm has more than 1,600 legal professionals in 24 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Ex-Texas U.S. Attorney DeGabrielle Joins Bracewell & Giuliani

Donald J. DeGabrielle, former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, joined Bracewell & Giuliani LLP as a partner in the white-collar defense, internal investigations and regulatory enforcement practice.

While at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, DeGabrielle led the Criminal Division in the district and worked in the Public Integrity Unit, where he focused on public corruption, white-collar crime, environmental crime and bank fraud, the firm said.

“The judgment one develops and exercises as U.S. attorney is unparalleled. It gives Don the ability to advise clients with insight that very few lawyers possess,” former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, the firm’s name partner and a former U.S. attorney,, said in a statement.

Bracewell & Giuliani has 470 lawyers in Texas, New York, Washington, Connecticut, Seattle, Dubai and London.

Narayan Iyer Rejoins Linklaters’ India Practice

Narayan Iyer, a partner with Talwar Thakore & Associates in Mumbai, will rejoin Linklaters LLP in August, the firm said in a statement.

Iyer, who joined Linklaters as a trainee in 1996, was a founding member of the firm’s India practice and was elected a partner in 2007. He left Linklaters in 2009 for Talwar Thakore, where he spent the last 3 1/2 years developing the firm broadly and the finance practice specifically. ‪

Iyer will be based in London and will work alongside partners Sandeep Katwala, head of Linklaters’s India practice, and Savi Hebbur to support clients investing in India and Indian corporate and financial institutions as they expand and raise funds.

“Narayan’s return will further strengthen our London-based India facing capability and complement the India expertise we have in Asia,” Katwala said in a statement. “Our best-friends arrangement between Linklaters and TT&A will continue to thrive, and Narayan will play a key part in strengthening this relationship.”

Linklaters has lawyers at 28 offices worldwide.

FCC Chief Counsel to the Chairman Joins Paul Hastings

Paul Hastings LLP announced that Sherrese Smith will join the firm in August as a partner in the Washington office as part of the telecommunications, media and technology and privacy and data-security practices.

She was most recently chief counsel to Chairman Julius Genachowski of the Federal Communications Commission and prior to that was general counsel at Washington Post Digital.

“We have developed an impressive track record advising clients on some of the most significant media M&A deals of the last 12 months,” Elizabeth Noe, chairwoman of the corporate practice at Paul Hastings said in a statement. “Sherrese’s addition will take our TMT-focused transactional practice to a still higher level.”

Paul Hastings has lawyers at 20 offices in Asia, Europe and the U.S.

Firm News

Dykema Gossett Opens a Second Texas Office in Austin

Law firm Dykema Gossett PLLC opened an office in Austin, Texas, the firm’s 13th nationwide and second in the state. Establishing the office are a mix of nonpartner lawyers from outside and within the firm, including senior counsel Kimberly L. Kiplin, an attorney in Dykema’s government policy group and former Texas Lottery Commission General Counsel. The office will be further augmented by two Dallas-based Dykama partners, including Bill Finkelstein, director of Dykema’s Texas offices.

“Our expansion into Austin is driven by our single-minded dedication to serve our clients’ needs,” Finkelstein, a member of the corporate finance and bankruptcy practice groups, said in a statement. “As Texas is the second most-populous state in the nation, and Austin the center of state government, opening an office here makes strong strategic sense.”

Dykema opened the Dallas office in 2007, and during 2013 the firm has added 10 attorneys to the Texas offices. In January, the firm opened a Minneapolis office and last August one inn Charlotte, North Carolina.

Kiplin is a senior counsel in Dykema’s government policy practice group with more than 25 years of experience in administrative law. Kiplin was general counsel of the Texas Lottery Commission from 1993 to 2012.

Tax lawyers Kevin Oldham and Drew McEwen join Dykema from McEwen Oldham LLC, in nonpartner positions. Erin B. Dempsey, senior counsel in Dykema’s real estate practice group, also joins the office. David J. Schenck is a member in the litigation department in Dykema’s Dallas and Austin offices.

Dykema has more than 350 lawyers in 13 U.S. offices.

U.S. Law Firm Mergers for Half Year Top 2008 Record

There have been 39 U.S. law firm mergers in the first half of 2013, with 18 in the second quarter, Altman Weil MergerLine said in a statement.

“The largest annual total for U.S. law firm mergers was 70 in 2008,” according to Altman Weil principal Ward Bower. “If the current pace continues, it looks like 2013 will surpass that record.”

St. Louis-based Husch Blackwell LLP, which has 543 lawyers, combined in June with Brown McCarroll LLP, a 65-lawyer Texas firm, the largest merger in the second quarter.

Baker & McKenzie LLP’s acquisition of 45-lawyer Habib Al Mulla in Dubai was the only cross-border deal in the second quarter, Altman Weil said.

Altman Weil MergerLine tracks law firm combinations reported by media outlets and in press releases. The consulting firm maintains an archive of mergers and analysis.

Litigation

BP Urges Appeals Court to Reject Costly View of Spill Accord

BP Plc (BP/), with billions of dollars at stake, seeks to lower payments from its partial Gulf of Mexico oil spill settlement by persuading a federal appeals court to order stricter standards for evaluating claims.

The administrator, Patrick Juneau, is approving millions of dollars in “fictitious” payments for business losses based on what BP believes is a flawed interpretation of the agreement reached with victims’ lawyers in 2012, according to BP.

“Stop the hemorrhaging of cash,” Theodore Olson, a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LL and a BP lawyer, told a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals yesterday in New Orleans, urging the judges to reverse a lower-court ruling and rein in Juneau. “Irreparable injuries are taking place, and monies are being dispensed to parties from whom it will unlikely be recoverable.”

An attorney for the plaintiffs, Samuel Issacharoff, told the panel that London-based BP was aware as early as April 2012 of the method that would be used and the likely results.

BP underestimated the price tag, Issacharoff told the judges. “They costed it out in a way we thought was erroneous from the very beginning.”

The appeal is BP Exploration & Production Inc. v. Deepwater Horizon Court-Supervised Settlement Program and Patrick Juneau in his official capacity, 13-30315, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans). The lower court case is In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, 10-md-02179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

For more, click here.

S&P Argues Puffery Defense at U.S. Case’s First Court Test

Standard & Poor’s, at the first court hearing on the U.S. government’s claims that the rating service defrauded investors, argued that reasonable investors wouldn’t have relied on its “puffery” about credit ratings.

John Keker of Keker & Van Nest LLP. a lawyer for the McGraw Hill Financial Inc. (MHFI) unit, yesterday told U.S. District Judge David Carter in Santa Ana, California, that S&P’s generic statements about its business aspirations weren’t material to the banks’ buying securities and didn’t meaningfully change the mix of information available to investors.

“They’re seeking to blame the entire financial crisis on Standard & Poor’s,” Keker said. “Those generic statements don’t make a scheme to defraud. For a scheme to defraud there has to be a specific intent to harm the victim, in this case the investor.”

S&P has asked Carter to the dismiss the government’s case in which the U.S. seeks as much as $5 billion in civil penalties, saying it didn’t adequately support allegations that the company defrauded federally insured financial institutions by knowingly understating the credit risks of mortgage-backed securities.

The lawsuit was brought by U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. in Los Angeles under the 1989 Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery and Enforcement Act, passed after the savings and loan crisis to allow the government to seek civil penalties for losses of federally insured financial institutions caused by fraud.

The case is U.S. v. McGraw-Hill Cos., 13-cv-00779, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

For more, click here.

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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