Kirkland & Ellis Adds Skadden Tax Lawyer: Business of Law

Tax lawyer Dean S. Shulman joined Kirkland & Ellis LLP’s New York office from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.

“Dean is a top-of-market tax lawyer with a perfect blend of intellect, experience and energy that complements and bolsters our existing strong tax practice,” Jeffrey C. Hammes, chairman of Kirkland’s global management executive committee, said in a statement.

Shulman represents clients on U.S. and international tax matters, including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, tax-free spinoffs, leveraged buyouts, initial public offerings and fund formation, the firm said.

He was part of the Skadden team advising Zoetis Inc., the animal-health company, in its initial public offering last year. He also was on the Skadden team advising Sprint Corp.’s takeover bid for Clearwire Corp.

Moves

Dentons, Troutman Sanders Kilpatrick: Lateral Partner Roundup

Garreth Sarosi joined Dentons’ intellectual property and technology practice in Dallas. He was most recently deputy general counsel at MetroPCS Communications, Inc.

Troutman Sanders LLP said that litigator Kiran Mehta and an associate are joining the firm from K&L Gates LLP in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Jackson Lewis PC announced that Amy R. Worley has joined the firm’s Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, office as shareholder from McGuireWoods LLP. She has represented companies in employment-related litigation as well as in regulatory matters involving data privacy and security.

Sean DeBruine is joining Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP’s Silicon Valley office on the patent litigation team in the intellectual property department from Alston & Bird LLP.

News

Barra Defends GM’s Top Lawyer as Man of ‘Tremendous Integrity’

Mary Barra, General Motors Co.’s chief executive officer, defended her general counsel as a man of integrity after a senator said he should have been fired for the company’s poor handling of a fatally flawed ignition switch.

“I need the right team,” Barra said, adding that the problems with the switch and the potential for punitive damages weren’t brought to the general counsel’s attention. “Mike Millikin is a man of tremendous integrity.”

Senator Claire McCaskill, the Missouri Democrat, opened the fourth congressional hearing into GM’s slow recall of the ignition switches by saying the company should have dismissed its top lawyer. A culture of “lawyering up” as a defense against suits “killed innocent customers.”

“How in the world, in the aftermath of this report, did Michael Millikin keep his job?” asked McCaskill, who otherwise praised Barra for her efforts to fix the company. The senator told Barra that excusing Millikin’s inaction represented a “blind spot.”

Millikin appeared before the panel yesterday with Barra, as did Anton Valukas, the lawyer who led GM’s internal investigation, and Rodney O’Neal, CEO of Delphi Automotive Plc. (DLPH) Kenneth Feinberg, who is administering the compensation program for victims of crashes involving the recalled Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars, appeared separately.

The Valukas investigation found that Millikin hadn’t been informed of the lengthy review of the Cobalt switch until the recall decision was made in 2014 and that he was also unaware of litigation involving fatal accidents.

The company has hired Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, Jim Cain, a GM spokesman, said yesterday. Cain said he didn’t know which office or which lawyers would be working on the review.

For more, click here.

Law Firm News

Jones Day, Seyfarth Shaw Can’t Escape Jewel Judge Montali

Law firms Jones Day LP and Seyfarth Shaw LLP were unable to extricate themselves from a suit before U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali in disputes over profits made winding up matters they took over when Howrey LLP went out of business and into bankruptcy.

The suits involve the Jewel doctrine, named for a decision from an intermediate California state appellate court in 1984. That court said profit earned after a law firm’s dissolution belonged to the “old” firm, not to a newly formed firm that completed the work.

Montali, based in San Francisco, has presided over three law-firm bankruptcies, including Howrey’s, and has declared Jewel good law. Rather than fight, many firms settled by giving up some of the income they received after taking on unfinished business.

In one of Montali’s cases, involving Heller Ehrman LLP, U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer ruled last month that Jewel isn’t good law and is unlikely to be followed by the California Supreme Court. Breyer dismissed suits against Jones Day and three other firms from which Heller Ehrman creditors were seeking profits on unfinished business.

Jones Day and Seyfarth asked U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong in San Francisco to take the two Howrey suits away from Montali and rule on them herself.

Armstrong said this week that the suits properly belong in Montali’s court, though perhaps they should go to district court if there’s a trial.

For more, click here.

Litigation

Billionaire Khosla Spars With Surfers Over Beach Access

Billionaire Vinod Khosla, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems Inc., made his last stand to block public access to a northern California beach on a 56-acre plot he bought for $32.5 million.

Khosla, who started his own venture capital firm a decade ago, is fighting a lawsuit brought in state court by the nonprofit Surfrider Foundation. The group claims that by locking a gate on a beach access road about 33 miles (53 kilometers) south of San Francisco, Khosla is effectively engaged in beach development without the permit required by the California Coastal Act.

“How do you force Mr. Khosla to comply with the law?” Joseph Cotchett, a lawyer for Surfrider, asked Superior Court Judge Barbara J. Mallach in Redwood City July 16.

“My client’s property is not a state park,” Jeffrey E. Essner, a lawyer for Khosla, told the judge.

Cotchett is known for theatrical court performances and his claim to only take cases involving what he calls “just principle or causes.” His law firm, as well as the beach and the court, are in San Mateo County.

For more, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Amon in New York at eamon2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net Andrew Dunn, Joe Schneider

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