Akin Gump, Mark Lewis, Skadden Arps, Dewey: Business of Law

Patricia A. Millett, the head of the Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP’s Supreme Court practice and co-head of its national appellate practice, broke the record on Tuesday for the most oral arguments before the court by a woman.

“It’s a great privilege and very exciting and I’m happy to be part of crossing lines that haven’t been crossed,” said Millett in an interview. “But it’s not a record I want to keep. I want lots of women arguing lots more cases in the Supreme Court and I hope this is a non issue for my daughter’s generation.”

Millett has argued 31 cases, besting Arnold & Porter LLP’s Lisa Blatt, who has 30 arguments before the high court, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing an article in the National Law Journal.

Millett represented the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians in a case involving sovereign immunity and federal Indian trust lands.

Millett credited Justice Department lawyer Beatrice Rosenberg, who argued 28 or 29 cases between the 1940s and 1970s, and the first female assistant solicitor general Harriet Shapiro with making her work possible. “They opened the door and I came waltzing in,” she said.

Former deputy solicitor general Lawrence G. Wallace holds the modern day record with 157 arguments, while Walter Jones (1776-1861) holds the all-time record with 317 cases, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish case is Millett’s second this year before the high court and third of the term. In January, she argued the case of Filarsky v. Delia, which concerned qualified immunity for private individuals retained by the government to carry out its work, the firm said in a statement. The court issued a unanimous decision in her favor on April 18. In November, she argued before the court on Gonzalez v. Thaler.

The cases are Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak, 11-246; Salazar v. Patchak, 11-247; and Filarsky v. Delia, 10-1018, U.S. Supreme Court (Washington).

Akin Gump Strauss has offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Murdoch Shadowed by Lawyer Who Is Planning U.S. Suits

As Rupert Murdoch testifies this week before a judge-led inquiry into media ethics, security at the Royal Courts of Justice won’t protect the News Corp. chief executive officer from a dangerous adversary, a Manchester lawyer who was instrumental in putting the company’s hacking scandal in the public eye.

The lawyer, Mark Lewis, took his usual perch in the gallery at the so-called Leveson inquiry into media ethics when Murdoch testified in London yesterday, just as he shadowed James Murdoch when he appeared the day before. Lewis is observing the Murdochs’ comments as he prepares to file phone-hacking lawsuits against News Corp.’s London papers in U.S. courts, expanding the measures he has taken so far in the U.K., Bloomberg News’s Greg Farrell and Erik Larson report.

Rupert Murdoch told the Leveson inquiry under oath yesterday that U.K. media abuses went beyond voice-mail interceptions by journalists at the U.K. unit of News Corp. In a witness statement, he said News Corp. has turned over evidence of “suspected illegality” to the U.S. Justice Department and London police.

Though just one observer of the tribunal led by Judge Brian Leveson, Lewis has been transformed by events of the past three years from a lawyer acting on behalf of phone-hacking victims into a key player in the drama. Likely victims number 1,174, another lawyer suing News Corp. told a judge April 20.

“It’s been a strange experience, a bit surreal,” Lewis said in one of a series of interviews in New York last week as he laid the groundwork for U.S. lawsuits. “I was a face in the crowd, and now I’ve become a lead character.”

While Lewis is largely unknown in the U.S., his successful battles against News Corp.’s London tabloids have won him fame in Britain, where he appears frequently on television, opining on the latest twists and turns in the phone-hacking scandal that has particularly damaged the career of James Murdoch, his father’s one-time heir apparent.

Lewis’s success has also landed him on “hot” lists compiled by various British publications, from The Lawyer’s “Top 100” to the London Evening Standard’s “1,000 most interesting people.”

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SEC Reaches $33 Million Settlement in Insider Trading Case

A lawyer, a stock trader and a mortgage broker who all pleaded guilty to an insider-trading scheme that spanned 17 years agreed to pay $33 million to resolve a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit.

Stock trader Garrett D. Bauer will pay $31.7 million, mortgage broker Kenneth T. Robinson will pay $845,235 and attorney Matthew H. Kluger will pay $516,510, according to a statement by the SEC. The agency sued the men in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, where they pleaded guilty last year.

They admitted Kluger stole nonpublic data on about 30 corporate transactions while working at four law firms, including Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati PC. Kluger passed tips to Robinson, who gave them to Bauer, who made trades. The companies included Sun Microsystems Inc., 3Com Corp. and Acxiom Corp.

“Bauer, Kluger and Robinson schemed to outsmart law enforcement by structuring their relationships and communications to avoid detection and frustrate insider-trading detection mechanisms,” Robert Khuzami, the SEC’s enforcement director, said in a statement.

The men consented to final judgments that are subject to a judge’s approval, according to the statement. Bauer has agreed to a bar on working as a broker, while Kluger agreed that he won’t appear before the SEC as an attorney. All three men are scheduled to be sentenced on June 4 in Newark.

Robinson, 45, of Long Beach, New York, was a mortgage broker who secretly recorded Kluger and Bauer for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. All three were criminally charged in April 2011. The SEC sued Kluger and Bauer last year and filed a complaint against Robinson yesterday.

In his plea, Kluger said the scheme started in 1994, when he first worked as an associate for New York-based firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP. Kluger at first passed tips only on those deals on which he worked. As the scheme developed, Kluger stole information about deals on which he didn’t work that he learned about by searching the firm’s computers.

The scheme continued when Kluger worked from 1998 to 2001 at Skadden Arps, another New York-based firm, and when he worked from 2001 to 2002 at Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLP, Kluger admitted. It began again in December 2005 and ran until March 2011, when Kluger worked in the Washington office of Wilson Sonsini.

Kluger attorney Alan Zegas didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

The cases are Securities and Exchange Commission v. Kluger, Bauer, 11-cv-01936 and SEC v. Robinson, 12-cv-02438, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).

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Firm News

U.K. Top Court Rejects Appeal by Lawyer Forced to Retire

The U.K. Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by a lawyer who claimed age discrimination when his law firm forced him to retire on his 65th birthday.

Judge Brenda Hale ruled the partnership contract that mandated retirement at 65 was justified in this case.

“All businesses will now have to give careful consideration to what, if any, mandatory retirement rules can be justified,” she said in a written judgment.

The case was brought by Leslie Seldon, a partner at Clarkson Wright & Jakes Ltd, forced to retire in 2006. Seldon sued the firm for age discrimination before an employment tribunal, which ruled the partnership deed imposing a mandatory retirement age was legitimate.

Seldon’s lawyer Robin Allen didn’t immediately respond to a call requesting comment.

While rejecting Seldon’s bid for a declaration that he had been discriminated against, the Supreme Court did send the case back to the employment tribunal to reconsider whether the law firm’s reasons for requiring retirement at 65 in the partnership deed were appropriate.

“Seldon is one of the most important cases in employment law in recent years,” Claire Dawson, a partner at law firm Russell Jones & Walker, said before the ruling. “If forcing a partner to retire is justifiable, then employers may use similar arguments to attempt to justify” forcing workers out even though the government has decided to abolish mandatory retirement at 65.

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On the Docket

Sun Co-Founder Scott McNealy Set to Testify at Oracle IP Trial

Sun Microsystems Inc. co-founder Scott McNealy will be called by Oracle Corp. today as a witness in a trial over claims that Google Inc. infringed intellectual property to develop Android software.

Fred Norton, an Oracle attorney, told U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco yesterday that McNealy will testify for the database maker, which alleges that Google infringed copyrights and patents for the Java programming language to build the Android operating system for mobile devices. Sun created the language, which is now Oracle’s property after its 2010 takeover of Sun.

Google Chairman Eric Schmidt testified April 24 that Google wasn’t required to license the parts of Java that it used in Android and Sun made no demand for a license to use Java when the search engine company announced Android in 2007.

Robert Van Nest of Keker & Van Nest LLP is Google’s lawyer while David Boies of Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP is Oracle’s.

Oracle, based in Redwood City, California, is seeking $1 billion in damages and a court order blocking sales of Android, now running on more than 300 million smartphones, unless Mountain View, California-based Google pays for a license.

The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 10-03561, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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Dewey Loses Tax Partner, Second Defection to KPMG

Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP lost another partner to KPMG LLP, as the embattled firm’s losses continue. Hershel Wein, a tax partner in the New York office has left, both firms confirmed.

Earlier this week Fred Gander, who was the chairman of Dewey’s European supervisory committee, left for KPMG’s U.S. tax practice for Europe and the Middle East.

Dewey & LeBoeuf has struggled with its finances, fueled by partner departures that are reported to top 70 since the beginning of the year. The firm said last month it would set up a new chairman’s office with five equal members from its most profitable groups.

Sheppard Mullin Hires New York Corporate Attorney

N. Adele Hogan joined the New York office of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP in the firm’s corporate practice group. Hogan joins from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP in New York.

Hogan specializes in securities transactions, M&A transactions, restructurings/bankruptcies, corporate governance and general corporate matters.

Sheppard Mullin has more than 580 attorneys in 14 offices located in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

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