Skadden, Akin Gump, Kaye Scholer, Norton: Business of Law

Lisa Gilford, a class-action and products-liability lawyer, joined Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP’s mass torts, insurance and consumer litigation group in Los Angeles.

Gilford, most recently co-chairwoman of Alston & Bird LLP’s products liability group, has been lead counsel in the defense of Toyota Motor Corp. over claims arising from alleged “unintended acceleration” incidents.

She has so far succeeded in securing dismissal of the class claims of plaintiffs from more than 14 different countries from the multidistrict litigation, Skadden said in a statement.

Gilford has also represented DuPont Co. and T-Mobile USA in connection with consumer class-action and products-liability claims.

“Her expertise will bolster our capabilities in servicing companies facing complex mass-tort and consumer litigation nationwide, as well as those subject to class actions brought under California consumer and unfair competition laws,” John H. Beisner, who heads Skadden’s mass-torts, insurance and consumer litigation group nationally, said in a statement.

Skadden’s Los Angeles litigation practice group has represented MGA Entertainment Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and the former chief financial officer of Broadcom Corp. The firm’s mass torts, insurance and consumer litigation clients have included Altria Group Inc., Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, Pfizer Inc. and Red Bull GmbH.

“I have had the opportunity to work closely with the firm and its lawyers in representing Toyota, and I am excited about joining such an impressive group of attorneys,” Gilford said in a statement.

Skadden has 1,800 attorneys in 23 offices in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Akin Gump Adds Shah as Co-Leader of Supreme Court Practice

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP said Pratik A. Shah, an assistant to the solicitor general at the U.S. Justice Department, is joining the firm as co-head of its U.S. Supreme Court practice and a partner in the national appellate practice in Washington.

Shah has worked in the Office of the Solicitor General since 2008. He argued 13 cases before the Supreme Court and wrote merits briefs in 10 others, the firm said in a statement. He handled cases involving same-sex marriage, securities, taxes and retirement benefits, as well as Indian and environmental law.

“His broad experience and superb academic background will contribute materially to our provision of the highest-caliber appellate representation for our clients,” Patricia Millett, who heads Akin Gump’s Supreme Court practice and is co-leader of the national appellate practice, said in a statement.

Shah clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen G. Breyer and for Judge William A. Fletcher of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Akin Gump has more than 850 attorneys in offices throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Kaye Scholer Hires Antitrust Litigator Laura Shores

Laura Shores, an antitrust litigator, joined Kaye Scholer LLP as a partner in the firm’s Washington office. She was previously a partner at Pepper Hamilton LLP.

Shores focuses on civil and criminal antitrust litigation, including the defense of actions brought under the Sherman Act, the Federal Trade Commission Act and their state-law counterparts, the firm said in a statement.

Among her recent successes was the defense of Schering-Plough Corp. in the first reverse-payment case tried before the Federal Trade Commission, the firm said.

She also has experience in white-collar, securities and complex commercial litigation, including claims of money laundering, accounting and securities fraud and procurement fraud.

“Her vast experience defending major pharmaceutical and other life sciences companies further enhances our already formidable strengths as a top life sciences law firm,” Washington partner Robert Bell, co-head of Kaye Scholer’s antitrust practice, said in a statement.

Kaye Scholer has 450 lawyers in nine offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Litigation

London Whale Surfaces to Aid U.S. in JPMorgan Trading Probe

Bruno Iksil, the former JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) trader whose bets caused more than $6.2 billion in losses last year, is now central to any U.S. charges against his former colleagues.

Iksil, the Frenchman who became known as the London Whale because of his trading book’s size, has been cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office for months in their probe of the New York-based bank’s biggest trading debacle ever, said three people with direct knowledge with the matter. Iksil won’t face charges as long as he cooperates and testifies, the people said.

Prosecutors may announce charges as early as this week against former London-based JPMorgan employees, accusing them of trying to mask losses on a complex derivatives portfolio, said another person who asked not to be named because the investigation isn’t public.

It still isn’t clear who may be charged, the person said. Javier Martin-Artajo, a former executive who supervised Iksil’s trading strategy, and Julien Grout, a trader who helped mark Iksil’s book, are likely to be charged, the New York Times reported Aug. 9. Prosecutors also are weighing penalties for the bank, including a fine and reprimand, the newspaper said in a subsequent report.

Martin-Artajo has co-operated with every investigation required in the U.K. and is confident he will be cleared of wrongdoing when a “fair reconstruction of these complex events is completed,” his attorneys at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP in London said yesterday in a statement.

Jennifer Queliz, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan, and Peter Donald of the FBI’s New York office, declined to comment on the investigation.

Police showed up at Grout’s home in London last week and his landlord gave them a forwarding address in the south of France, said a person with direct knowledge of the matter. A spokesman for London’s Metropolitan Police declined to comment on whether officers visited Grout’s home. A French citizen, Grout may be difficult to arrest if he’s charged because France has tougher extradition laws than the U.K., the person said.

“He is not a fugitive,” said Edward Little, a partner at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP in New York who represents Grout. “He visited the U.S. last month with confidence he was not being indicted and moved to France to save money and look for a job. We did not expect a decision on the investigation one way or another until the fall.”

Martin-Artajo is away on vacation and “received no communication from any governmental regulators, including the Financial Conduct Authority in the U.K. with whom he has fully cooperated, which would indicate that he should not be on vacation at this time,” according to the statement from his lawyers.

Attorneys for Iksil declined to comment, as did a spokesman for the bank. JPMorgan ousted all three men last year and sought to recoup some of their back pay.

For more, click here.

News

BP Is Becoming One Giant Law Firm After Gulf Oil-Well Blowout

BP Plc used to be a company that produced oil. Increasingly these days, it’s producing litigation in almost equal measure, Paul M. Barrett reports for Bloomberg News.

Senior company executives have told Barrett in recent months that a substantial part of the London-based energy giant now effectively operates as a law firm, dealing full-time with what the company sees as the surprisingly persistent courtroom and regulatory fallout from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

For more, click here.

Video

Jobs, Court Funding on Agenda for New ABA President

James Silkenat, the incoming president of the American Bar Association, spoke about plans for his term with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia in a Bloomberg podcast.

To download, watch or listen to this report, click here.

Firm News

Norton Rose Fulbright Names Lansdale Head in San Antonio

Daryl Lansdale Jr., a financial-institutions, health-care and energy partner at Norton Rose Fulbright LLP, was named partner-in-charge of the firm’s San Antonio office. He succeeds George Scofield, who is now on the firm’s U.S. management committee and global executive committee.

“I have been privileged to work with and learn from George, who has managed this office for more than eight years,” Lansdale said in a statement. “The San Antonio office has provided counsel to our community’s most successful businesses for more than three decades, and I look forward to continuing our commitment to client service.”

The San Antonio office has almost 60 lawyers and 50 support staff, the firm said. It focuses on public-finance, corporate and securities, mergers-and-acquisitions, litigation, health-care, energy, real estate, employment-and-labor, and tax matters.

Lansdale’s practice focuses on corporate and securities transactions including M&A, securities offerings, advising board governance, joint ventures and private-equity investments.

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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