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Fried Frank, O’Melveny & Myers, Mayer Brown: Business of Law

Audrey Strauss, a partner in the New York office of Fried, Frank, Shriver, Harrison & Jacobson LLP, has been named the new chief legal officer of Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum producer.

Strauss will work in New York, where Alcoa has corporate offices.

Additionally, Alcoa announced that Max Laun will be promoted to general counsel. Laun had been the assistant general counsel for mergers and acquisitions. He is based in Pittsburgh and will report to Strauss, according to Libby Archell, a spokeswoman for the firm.

At Fried Frank, Strauss represented corporations and individuals in a wide range of matters and led the firm’s white collar defense practice, according to a statement. Strauss didn’t return a call seeking comment on the move.

The firm has named partner William F. Johnson to assume that role. Johnson served as chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York before joining Fried Frank in 2009, according to the statement.

“For more than two decades Audrey has excelled at serving our clients with regard to their most critical and highly sensitive legal matters,” Valerie Ford Jacob, Fried Frank’s chairwoman, said in a statement.


O’Melveny Expands Its Health-Care and Life Sciences Practice

Ross Galin has joined the New York office of O’Melveny & Myers LLP as counsel. Galin, who previously was counsel at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, will become part of O’Melveny’s health-care and life sciences practice as well as its white collar group.

Galin said in a telephone interview that defense work for pharmaceutical and device makers continues to grow.

“It’s a challenging time for people in this industry,” he said. “Over the last few years, for example, we’ve seen some large settlements by pharmaceutical companies.”

David Deaton, co-chairman of the firm’s health-care and life sciences practice, said “there are multiple pipelines” of work, citing false-claims cases, government investigations and class-action suits. “It’s a very vibrant” area, he said.

Paul Hastings Adds Two Health-Care Lawyers in Its Atlanta Office

Paul Hastings LLP announced that it is bolstering its health-care and life sciences practices in the firm’s Atlanta office by hiring Phillip Street and Craig Smith. Both previously worked in the Atlanta office of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP.

Street was a partner there and is now a partner at Paul Hastings.

He said in a telephone interview that he made the move because “Paul Hastings has a national and international platform that dovetails well into our practice group. We’re out west as much as we’re out east.” He said that since joining the firm April 2, he has been “in Arizona and abroad, but only in my new Atlanta office one day.”

Smith will be of counsel at Paul Hastings and will continue to focus on private and nonprofit clients in health systems, hospitals, medical groups, physician groups and long-term care facilities.

Dewey Loses Another Transactional Attorney to Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown LLP said yesterday that Richard Spitzer has joined the firm’s New York office as a partner in the Insurance Finance Group as well as the banking and finance practice. He had been a partner in the corporate finance group at Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP.

According to a statement, Spitzer joins two other former Dewey attorneys, Stephen Rooney and James Woods, who moved to Mayer Brown last week. The three work in insurance-related transactions.


Two Lawyers, Part of Patriotic Millionaires, Head to Washington

When President Barack Obama pressed his case yesterday for the so-called Buffett rule to set a minimum tax on those earning at least $1 million annually, two lawyers were in attendance. As part of the group known as the Patriotic Millionaires, Daniel Berger of Philadelphia’s Berger & Montague PC and Edward Krugman, a partner at New York’s Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, traveled to Washington to be present at the conference.

Berger said he joined the group because “in light of the supposed fiscal emergency we’re in, those who make $1 million or more should pay more. We’re advocating a return to the rates in effect before the Bush tax cuts in the 1990s.”

Krugman said “I got the e-mail only a couple of days ago” about the trip, “but this one caught my eye. I have an interest in tax policy and a deep feeling that we have lost our way on progressiveness.”

The group met Obama and had “briefings with staff at the White House including Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s senior advisers,” Krugman said.

According to a White House report released yesterday, 22,000 households made more than $1 million in 2009 and paid less than 15 percent in income taxes.

Both lawyers said their effective tax rates were already roughly 30 percent.

Berger said that his rate is “close to the statutory marginal rate because most of my income is from earned rather than investment income. If adopted, the Buffett rule wouldn’t raise, but wouldn’t lower my taxes either,” he said.

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