Akerman Grows in Chicago With Litigators: Business of Law

Akerman LLP added litigation partners Douglas Albritton, Martin Tully and Dara Tarkowski as well as staff attorney Lauren Cooper and an associate to its Chicago office, which has tripled in size since opening in February.

Scott Meyers, the managing partner of the firm’s Chicago office, said the firm opened its office because “our clients here needed representation in the city and we have clients outside of Chicago that needed representation here.” In a telephone interview yesterday, Meyers said that the firm hoped to expand further. “The firm is very committed to Chicago, but never with the mandate that the office has to be filled immediately, but rather that we should fill the office with the right people.”

Of the new partners, Albritton represents investors, software companies, and private-equity and venture-capital firms, and also works on trade-secrets and restrictive-covenant cases. He was previously a partner at Reed Smith LLP in Chicago.

Tully and Tarkowski were partners at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. Cooper practiced at Katten in Chicago as well.

Tully, the mayor of Downers Grove, Illinois, is a trial lawyer who represents domestic and multinational companies in complex commercial litigation matters. 

Tarkowski focuses her practice on complex litigation and consumer finance, representing clients in the debt-buying and debt-collection industry.

“The reputation of our new colleagues represents another significant step in the growth of Akerman’s Chicago office as well as our litigation and arbitration teams,” Lawrence Rochefort, chairman of Akerman’s litigation practice group, said in a statement.

Intellectual-Property Firm Novak Druce Adds Four Partners

Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg LLP, an intellectual property law firm, hired four new partners. Joining are William Sloan Coats in Silicon Valley, James Glenn and John Weatherspoon in Houston, and Chris Holm in Los Angeles.  

Coats, previously a partner at Greenberg Traurig LLP, is joining the San Francisco and Cupertino, California, offices. His practice focuses on IP litigation involving patents, copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets for the computer, electronics, entertainment and movie industries.

Glenn, previously a partner in the Houston office of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, concentrates on high-tech patent litigation in the U.S. and elsewhere. He represents clients in commercial litigation, including patent, trade secret, trademark and copyright matters. He has a transactional intellectual-property practice as well. 

Weatherspoon, who holds a doctorate in pharmacology, is joining the firm’s litigation and life-sciences groups. In addition to counseling clients on patent litigation and prosecution, he advises on the development, protection, leveraging and monetization of intellectual property. He was previously counsel at Kleinberg & Lerner LLP in Los Angeles.

Holm was previously a senior associate in the Los Angeles office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. A registered patent attorney with a technical background in aerospace, Holm focuses on high-tech litigation.

Reed Smith Adds IP, Finance Partners in Chicago, San Francisco

Three former partners at Neal Gerber & Eisenberg LLP joined the intellectual-property practice of Reed Smith LLP in Chicago. Robert Browne and John Cullis are joining as partners, and Lawrence James Jr. will be of counsel.

“This team has deep roots in Chicago, and strong backgrounds in trademark law and other elements of intellectual property law,” said James Hultquist, firm-wide leader of the firm’s IP practice.

Browne represents clients in patent, trademark, copyright and unfair-competition matters, including litigation.

Cullis focuses on intellectual property litigation, counseling and procurement. James also focuses on IP litigation and obtains patents and clears new products for mechanical, electromechanical, Internet and e-commerce applications.

Reed Smith also added Vanessa Gage as a partner in San Francisco, where she’s a member of the firm’s financial industry group. Gage was formerly an associate in the New York office of Mayer Brown LLP, where she focused on asset-based lending, securitization and other structured products, and worked on aviation and rail deals.

Litigation News

Orion Sued by U.S. in First Wellness Program Discrimination Case

Orion Energy Systems Inc. (OESX) was sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and accused of retaliating against an employee who declined to participate in a mandatory wellness program, according to a complaint filed in Green Bay, Wisconsin, federal court.

The EEOC said the employee was punished by being forced to pay all of her health-care premiums before she was fired. The agency said it was the first such lawsuit filed under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Scott Jensen, chief financial officer for Orion, didn’t immediately reply to a voice-mail message seeking comment on the allegations.

The case is Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Orion Energy Systems, 14-cv-1019, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin (Green Bay).

Insider-Trading Conviction Based on AA Tip Upheld on Appeal

A federal appeals court upheld the insider-trading conviction of a Philadelphia investment adviser for acting on a tip he received at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

Timothy McGee, an Ameriprise Financial Inc. (AMP) broker, learned about a pending takeover from another AA member he mentored. He bought shares in the man’s company and tipped a co-worker as well. McGee and eight others made about $1.8 million trading before Philadelphia Consolidated Holding Corp. announced that it would be acquired by Tokio Marine Holdings Inc. (8766)

McGee argued that AA membership didn’t generate a duty of trust or confidence to support a conviction for misappropriation of inside information. He said his relationship with the executive “did not bear the hallmark indicators of a confidential relationship. McGee characterizes their relationship as purely social, limited to ‘occasional bike rides and sporadic AA meetings,’” the appeals court held, citing McGee’s brief.

After upholding the government’s misappropriation rule, the appeals court said confidentiality wasn’t just a “unilateral hope; it was the parties’ expectation. It was their ‘understanding’ that information discussed would not be disclosed or used by either party.”

John Grugan of Ballard Spahr LLP, who represented McGee, didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the ruling.

The case is U.S. v. McGee, 13-3183, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Philadelphia).

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen Rosen in New York at erosen14@bloomberg.net

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

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