Johnson Named NY Protection Bureau Chief: Business of Law

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman named securities litigator Chad Johnson as chief of the office’s Investor Protection Bureau. The former head, Marc B. Minor, resigned in August.

Johnson, a former partner from Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann LLP, joined the executive division of the Office of the Attorney General in 2012, first as senior trial counsel and later as deputy attorney general.

“Chad has already successfully led a number of the most important and noteworthy matters in our office -- from investigating the conduct that led to the financial crisis in 2008 to ensuring that no one has an unfair early advantage in the markets,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

Among his accomplishments in the past two years, the attorney general credited Johnson with obtaining an interim agreement by Thomson Reuters to discontinue its practice of selling early access to market-moving information to high-frequency traders. He also led an investigation of JPMorgan Chase & Co., which resulted in an agreement by the firm to revert to the practice of allowing proxy sponsors to gain access to interim voting results, according to the office’s statement.

Johnson, a 1993 graduate of Harvard Law School, was a partner at Bernstein from October 2003 to April 2012. He was also a partner at Latham and Watkins LLP and worked as a strategic adviser at BlackRobe Capital Partners, represented institutional investors in lawsuits against banks over the sale of mortgage securities.

“I look forward to building on the work of the Investor Protection Bureau and to pursuing additional means of reforming Wall Street,” Johnson said in a statement. “Having represented shareholders and financial institutions over the last 20 years, I appreciate the interests of all involved and the important role that this office serves in helping to keep investors safe.”

Firm News

Nineteen Lawyers From Paris Office of Morgan Lewis Leave

Nineteen lawyers, including nine partners from Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP’s Paris office are joining Gide Loyrette Nouel. Five partners and four associates will join the mergers and acquisitions department, including mergers and acquisitions lawyer Anne Tolila, who is the office managing partner.

The additional Morgan Lewis M&A partners leaving include David-James Sebag and Pierre-Antoine Dubecq, who also has a focus on cross-border transactions; and Olivier Edwards and Karen Noël, both of whom also handle venture capital matters as well.

Also joining Gide are partners Ann G. Baker, fund structuring; Christian Nouel, tax; Francois Vergne: employment law and Jean Leygonie, competition law. Leygonie founded the Morgan Lewis office in Paris.

“The practices of the departing partners, although well respected in Paris, were not consistent with the needs of our clients and our firm’s global focus,” Morgan Lewis said in an e-mailed statement. “We believe that this departure is in the best interests of all concerned, and we wish our former colleagues well in their new firm. We maintain our presence in Paris with partners and associates in the corporate, litigation and intellectual property practices.”

The departures leave Morgan Lewis with six lawyers in the Paris office, including two partners, the firm said.

Gide, which was founded in Paris in 1920, has 600 lawyers at 18 offices in 15 countries.

“We are delighted to welcome these nineteen lawyers, whose quality, enthusiasm and importance on the market has been known to us for a long time now,” senior partner Baudouin de Moucheron and managing partner Stéphane Puel said in a statement. “We are particularly pleased that they have chosen Gide in order to carry out their projects, where they will find the resources to back up their talent, both in Paris and abroad.”

Moves

Sullivan & Cromwell Hires Appellate Co-Head Jeffrey Wall

Solicitor general alum Jeffrey B. Wall will join Sullivan & Cromwell LLP’s Washington office as co-head of the appellate litigation practice.

Wall argued 10 cases and filed more than 150 briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court while at the Office of the Solicitor General at the U.S. Department of Justice, the firm said. He worked on issues involving securities law, bankruptcy, taxation, preemption, labor and employment, the False Claims Act, and the First Amendment.

Wall will work in conjunction with Brendan P. Cullen, the other co-head of Sullivan & Cromwell’s appellate litigation practice.

“We are delighted Jeff will be joining us,” Joseph C. Shenker, chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell, said in a statement. “His expertise in all phases of appeals, up to and including the Supreme Court, will add to the quality and depth of the services we offer to clients.”

Among the matters Sullivan & Cromwell has litigated before the Supreme Court are Watters v. Wachovia Bank and Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific Atlanta Inc., which recognized limitations on the reach of the federal securities laws.

Sullivan and Cromwell has about 800 lawyers at offices in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Asia.

Winston & Strawn Hires Four Houston Partners From Weil

Four partners from the Houston office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP joined Winston & Strawn LLP, including the office managing partner, litigator John B. Strasburger. The additional lawyers who have experience in litigation and bankruptcy include Melanie Gray, Lydia T. Protopapas, and Jason W. Billeck.

“Houston is an extremely competitive market and this group gives us significantly more bandwidth in litigation and restructuring, particularly in the oil and gas industry,” John Keville, Winston & Strawn Houston office managing partner, said in a statement.

Strasburger’s litigation experience includes handling contract disputes, securities litigation, financial derivatives, bankruptcy litigation, insurance disputes, employment covenant disputes, trade secret litigation, and product liability matters, the firm said.

Gray has experience in commercial and bankruptcy litigation, including cases involving financial derivatives and employment issues.

Protopapas represents debtors, acquirers, and potential acquirers of assets from bankruptcy estates and secured and unsecured creditors, the firm said.

Billeck has experience in business litigation matters, including breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, insurance claims, fraud, negligence, consumer complaints, and shareholder claims, the firm said.

Winston & Strawn has lawyers at 17 offices in North America, Asia, and Europe.

Cozen O’Connor Expands Litigation Team in New York

Cozen O’Connor has added five litigation partners in New York in recent months including John J. Sullivan, Michael B. de Leeuw, Patrick B. Sardino, William K. Kirrane and Adam I. Stein.

“We are pleased to welcome this group, which strengthens our litigation capabilities in New York across a number of important areas,” Cozen O’Connor CEO Michael J. Heller said in a statement. “New York is a key market for us, and one we are committed to growing.”

Sullivan, who was previously a partner with Dechert LLP, has experience in products liability defense, including pharmaceuticals and tobacco. He also has represented clients in class action matters, including mass tort and securities class actions, as well as consumer fraud, contract and corporate governance litigation, the firm said.

De Leeuw, who previously was a partner at Fried Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, focuses his complex litigation practice on securities, bankruptcy, antitrust, mergers and acquisitions and defamation.

Sardino concentrates his practice on complex contract disputes, labor law and construction matters. He was previously a partner at Smith, Sovik, Kendrick & Sugnet, P.C.

Kirrane, who was of counsel at Wade Clark Mulcahy, has more than a decade of litigation experience in claims, including construction defect, personal injury, products liability and aviation/transportation matters. He has also handled labor and employment cases, defending employers in claims based on racial discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination.

Stein, formerly with Ropes & Gray LLP, is a member of the firm’s global insurance department and represents insurers in arbitrations, mediations and trials of complex, third-party liability claims stemming from product liability, environmental and other mass tort actions, natural catastrophes and director and officer liability claims, the firm said.

The firm currently has more than 90 attorneys practicing in New York. In all, Cozen has 575 attorneys at 23 offices.

Alcohol Beverage Group Lawyers Joins Akerman Senterfitt

Akerman Senterfitt LLP announced that an alcohol beverage group including partners Robert Lewis and Marbet Lewis, and an associate, have joined the firm from GrayRobinson in Miami.

Robert Lewis, who previously led the team, will serve as chairman of Akerman’s alcohol beverage industry group. He has represented clients on alcohol licensing and structuring matters, enforcement defense actions, litigation, land use and zoning processes, state and local government lobbying, and other matters.

Marbet Lewis focuses her practice on the laws governing the alcohol industry and the manufacture, importation and sale alcohol beverage products. She represents clients in alcohol and business licensing, national alcohol licensee mergers and acquisitions, trade practices, contracts and other matters.

“Akerman’s expansive platform and leading reputation across the Americas attracted our team to the firm,” Robert Lewis said in a statement. “Our clients frequently need a full-range of services and experience that extend beyond their borders.”

Akerman has more than 550 lawyers and government affairs professionals at 19 offices.

Dickinson Wright Hires Partners in Toronto and Washington

Dickinson Wright LLP adds partners in Toronto and Washington. John D. Leslie, previously of Miller Canfield, joined the Toronto office. Intellectual property attorneys Bruce D. Gray and Fred W. Hathaway, previously of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, have joined the firm’s Washington office.

Leslie focuses his practice on domestic and cross border restructuring and insolvency matters. He represents debtors, financial institutions, receivers, trustees, customers, suppliers and other creditors and stakeholders in insolvency and restructuring proceedings.

Gray has experience in patent acquisition, evaluation and litigation. Hathaway’s practice is focused on domestic and international trademark counseling, prosecution, and enforcement.

Dickinson Wright has over 350 lawyers in offices in the U.S. and Canada.

Robins, Kaplan Adds Business Litigation Partner in Minneapolis

Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP announced that Jeffrey S. Gleason has joined the firm’s Minneapolis office as a principal in the business litigation group. Gleason most recently served as a trial attorney in the civil fraud section of the justice department.

“We are delighted to welcome Jeff to our firm. His experiences with the Department of Justice will provide our clients with a deep level of understanding of federal FCA violations. His litigation and trial practices, and the industries he served, perfectly align with the services that we provide our clients, and he will be a terrific asset,” said Jan M. Conlin, chairman of the Business Litigation Group said in a statement.

Robins Kaplan has more than 230 lawyers at its U.S. offices.

Litigation

Billionaire Mark Cuban Found Not Liable in SEC Insider Suit

Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban, who was represented by Thomas Melsheimer, Fish & Richardson PC’s Dallas office managing partner, didn’t engage in insider trading nine years ago, a federal jury decided in a case brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The jury of two men and seven women in Dallas deliberated for less than a day before reaching its verdict in the trial that started with their selection on Sept. 30.

The SEC accused Cuban, 55, of using inside information from the chief executive officer of a Canadian Internet company to avoid a $750,000 loss in 2004. He denied the allegations.

Holding 6.3 percent of the outstanding shares, Cuban was the biggest stockholder in the company once known as Mamma.com. He sold his stake for $7.9 million after learning from then-CEO Guy Faure that the company was planning a private investment in public equity, or PIPE transaction.

The stock sale would have diluted the value of Cuban’s holdings.

To win its case, the SEC was required to prove seven elements, among them that Cuban had received material, non-public information about the PIPE, that he had agreed to keep that information confidential and not act on it, and that he acted on it without telling the company he planned to do so, according to the instructions jurors received from U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater.

“Find Mark Cuban liable,” the SEC’s lead trial lawyer, Jan Folena, told jurors in her closing argument yesterday. “His trade was downright illegal. Of all the investors in the market, Mr. Cuban knew better.”

Melsheimer, Cuban’s lawyer, countered in his closing argument that the PIPE information was publicly known before Cuban sold his shares.

“Mr. Cuban made no agreement to keep anything confidential,” Melsheimer told jurors. “Mr. Cuban made no agreement not to sell his stock. Mr. Cuban disclosed his intent to sell his stock. Mr. Cuban acted like a man with nothing to hide because he had nothing to hide.”

The case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Cuban, 08-cv-02050, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

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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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