Cooley Adds Dow Lohnes Washington Office: Business of Law

Cooley LLP, known for its technology practice, is combining with Dow Lohnes PLLC’s Washington office, giving the firm 54 more attorneys in the U.S. capital, most with strong regulatory experience.

The Dow Lohnes group counts communications, higher education and media among its three key practice areas. The firm’s 12-lawyer Atlanta office won’t be joining Cooley, and the lawyers there have until the end of the year to find new jobs, according to John Byrnes, Dow Lohnes’s managing partner.

“We’ve long had part of our strategic plan, expanding the regulatory practices in Washington and enhancing our credibility inside the Beltway,” Joseph Conroy, the chief executive officer of Cooley, said in a phone interview. “Their practices are so instantly and highly deployable into our client base, it fits masterfully.”

Last week, Venable LLP added two former Dow Lohnes partners in Washington. In September, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP added five of its technology, media and telecommunications lawyers in Washington, including three partners. The month before, Sutherland hired four other lawyers, including two partners, in Atlanta.

Byrnes said in a phone interview that the firm is about half the size it was several years ago.

“The decision to merge was in response to how the marketplace seems to be changing and how the needs of our clients are changing,” Byrnes said in the interview. “We really needed a broader and deeper substantive expertise platform in litigation, M&A and IP, and we thought we needed a better geographic footprint, across the country.”

Conroy said Cooley was late to the courtship of Dow Lohnes, and was instantly certain that the merger was a good match. Atlanta wasn’t a location of interest to Cooley and it wasn’t on the table in any case, he said.

“They draw a circle around a core group -- the most profitable, skill-set laden practices -- and put it up for sale,” Conroy said. “We had to get in and sell ourselves at once, and we did.”

Among the lawyers joining Cooley are John Feore, who leads the Dow Lohnes regulatory team; Mike Goldstein, the founder and co-chairman of its higher-education industry practice; and David Wittenstein, co-leader of the media and information technology practice.

Cooley’s Washington office was founded in 2005 and has about 80 lawyers. The firm also has almost 70 attorneys in Reston, Virginia. All told, Cooley has more than 700 lawyers across 11 offices in the U.S. and China.

Firm News

Ashurst Elects Ben Tidswell New Global Chairman

Ben Tidswell was elected chairman of the newly integrated law firm Ashurst LLP for a five-year term beginning Nov. 1.

Ashurst announced plans to merge with Australia’s Blake Dawson in 2011 to form an 1,800-lawyer firm with 28 offices in 16 countries and combined revenue of more than 550 million pounds ($882 million).

The firm’s financial integration, in which it will have a single profit pool, with partners paid under a managed lock-step system, and a unified management structure is scheduled to begin the same date as Tidswell takes the helm.

“As board member of Ashurst LLP for the last six years, and chair of the new partners committee prior to that, he has made a significant contribution to the firm and its strategy,” James Collis, global managing partner, said in a statement.

Tidswell joined Ashurst in 1993 and has been a partner in the London-based dispute resolution team since 2000. He specializes in complex commercial litigation, particularly finance disputes. He also handles antitrust litigation and telecommunications and media disputes.

“I look forward to working with James and his team, the board and all of my colleagues around the world, to capitalize on all the significant opportunities we have as a firm,” he said.

Elections for the vice chairmanship will be open to candidates from Ashurst Australia only, the firm said. The firm will have elections for that position and the 14-member board soon.

Brian Dunlop is the firm’s chief financial officer and Robert Gillespie and David Turner are independent board members, according to the firm.

Moves

King & Spalding Hires Former BNY Mellon Official Bromberg

Matthew J. Bromberg, former senior managing counsel and managing director in the global fund services group at Bank of New York Mellon Corp., joined King & Spalding LLP as a partner in its financial institutions and capital transactions and real estate practices in New York.

“He is a well-seasoned lawyer with extensive experience in investment management law,” Robert F. Perry, managing partner of King & Spalding’s New York office, said in a statement. “His successful record at a number of key financial institutions will be a significant benefit to our clients and extends our scope of services in the financial services arena.”

Bromberg has more than 18 years of experience advising clients on federal securities, commodities and banking laws. His primary expertise is in representing registered investment companies in general business, transactional, regulatory, compliance and enforcement matters.

King & Spalding opened its New York office in 1990 and has 110 lawyers there. The firm has 800 lawyers in 17 offices in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Orrick Adds Antitrust-and-Competition Partner in Paris

Orrick Rambaud Martel announced that Michel Roseau joined the firm’s antitrust and competition practice group as a partner in Paris. Roseau was most recently a partner at Bird & Bird LLP.

Roseau previously spent almost a decade at France’s Ministry of Finance and Ministry of European Affairs including as head of the antitrust unit of the French Office of Fair Trading, the firm said.

“He will work closely with our corporate team on merger control issues and will help our clients address the increasing risk of private damages litigation in Europe,” Robert Rosenfeld, the head of Orrick’s antitrust and competition practice group, said in a statement.

Orrick has lawyers at 25 offices in North America, Europe and Asia.

Deals

V&E, Hogan Lovells Advise on Oman Oil Deal for Advent’s Oxea

Vinson & Elkins LLP advised Oman Oil Co., which agreed to buy Oxea from Advent International to expand beyond refining into chemicals and ingredients for manufacturing and consumer goods. Hogan Lovells LLP advised Advent.

The V&E team was led by mergers-and-acquisitions partner Jeff Eldredge and energy transactions/projects partner Rob Patterson. The team was also assisted by partners Billy Vigdor, antitrust; Sandy Weiner, real estate; and Mark Coker, finance.

Hogan Lovells’s lead partner on the deal was private-equity lawyer Joachim W. Habetha. Additional partners on the deal include Amit Nayyar, corporate/private equity; Alexander D. Cobey and Jens Uhlendorf, corporate/M&A; Philip Cheng, Imtiaz Shah and Jean-Michel Schmit, corporate; Michael Dettmeier, tax; and Christoph Wuenschmann, Adrian Emch and Laura Philipp, antitrust.

The state-owned oil producer will use the purchase of Oxea as a springboard for tapping demand for oxo-based chemicals, the companies said. Oxea, formed from units of Celanese Corp. (CE) and the predecessor of Evonik Industries AG (EVK), generated about 1.5 billion euros ($2.03 billion) in sales in 2012. Oman Oil paid almost 1.8 billion euros, according to three people familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the negotiations were private.

The deal with Oman Oil “will provide additional access to growth markets in Asia and the Middle East,” Martina Floel, managing director of Oxea, said in the statement.

For more, click here.

Litigation

Chevron Says It’s Victim in Lawyer’s Ecuador Payout Scheme

For more than a decade, lawyers for Ecuadorean villagers have argued Chevron Corp. (CVS) is responsible for polluting a swath of Amazon rainforest bigger than Rhode Island that it refuses to clean up.

Yesterday, facing a $19 billion judgment won on behalf of those villagers, the second-largest U.S. oil company told a Manhattan federal judge that it will prove that it’s a victim rather than the villain in a legal drama over the environmental devastation.

In a non-jury trial, Chevron is seeking to persuade U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to bar enforcement of the 2011 verdict against the company in Ecuador that it says was a product of coercion and manufactured evidence.

Randy Mastro, a partner at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP and a lawyer for the company, told the judge yesterday the judgment was obtained by fraud, coercion, extortion, money laundering and the bribery of the Ecuadorean judge who wrote it.

Mastro pointed to the Ecuadoreans’ lead lawyer, Manhattan attorney Steven Donziger, and said he headed a “racketeering enterprise” that also included two other attorneys, consultants, activists and others to “shake down” the oil producer.

“That’s what Steven Donziger was trying to do against Chevron, coerce a big payday against a big company until the pain went away,” Mastro said. “But Chevron refused. It refused to be extorted and defrauded and that’s why we’re here today.”

Kaplan said last week that there was “considerable evidence” the litigation was “tainted by fraud.”

Mastro yesterday said San Ramon, California-based Chevron is seeking a ruling barring Donziger and his associates from trying to enforce the verdict in courts around the world where Chevron has assets. Plaintiffs have sued Chevron for payment in Canada, Argentina and Brazil so far without success. Mastro said Donziger could collect as much as $1.2 billion as his portion of the judgment.

In the underlying 20-year-old environmental case, Donziger and other lawyers for indigenous people in Ecuador’s Lago Agrio region sought damages for Texaco Inc.’s alleged dumping of toxic drilling wastes from 1964 until about 1992 that polluted about 1,500 square miles (3,885 square kilometers). The lawsuit continued against Chevron when it acquired Texaco in 2001.

Richard Friedman, a lawyer for Donziger, yesterday denied his client had committed any bribery or wrongdoing and said he had worked to hold Chevron accountable for polluting the rain forest, comparing his client to U.S. civil rights leaders.

“Like Thurgood Marshall, like Ralph Nader, like a host of human rights lawyers before him, Mr. Donziger understood you need legal and social change,” Friedman told the judge.

Friedman argued Donziger had fought against the powerful oil company and taken up the cause of the indigenous Ecuadoreans who were mistreated and discriminated against in the country. He argued that his client had successfully persuaded the Ecuadorean courts to hold Chevron responsible for its actions in a foreign country.

“It wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t bribery,” Friedman said. “He’s changed the way people think. He’s here today because of that judgment.”

The racketeering case is Chevron Corp. (CVX) v. Donziger, 11-cv-00691, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The appeals court case is In Re Naranjo, 13-00772, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan).

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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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