Reed Smith, Fennemore, Patton Boggs: Business of Law

Reed Smith LLP, Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP and Fennemore Craig PC have been recognized for integrating women into leadership positions among law firms with more than 100 lawyers.

The determination by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum is made by measuring specific benchmarks of women’s achievements that address money and power, rather than family-friendly policies or initiatives. Six criteria, including whether women account for at least 20 percent of a firm’s equity partnership, whether they hold positions of power like firm chair or managing partner or practice group leader and whether they served on key committees at their firm, such as governance or compensation, are used. The organization also looked at whether women represented at least 10 percent of the top half of the most highly compensated partners.

In order to gain “certification” the firms had to meet at least three of the six criteria. Fifty firms at least met the minimum requirements; three met them all. Thirteen firms met five out of the six criteria.

“The reality is -- the world is diverse. Juries are diverse, clients are diverse, customers are diverse,” Marie Woodbury, a partner at Shook Hardy, said in a statement. The most successful law firms need to be able to incorporate diverse perspectives in solving problems for clients, whether those problems are resolved in the courtroom, the board room or the marketplace.’’

Reed Smith and Shook Hardy made the exclusive list of firms meeting all the requirements two years in a row.

“We are also grateful to WILEF for creating these standards, and for encouraging law firms to adhere to them, and to strive to do better -- it’s a tremendous benefit to our firm internally and to our clients,” Reed Smith global managing partner Gregory B. Jordan said in a statement.

The firm has more than 600 women lawyers, who account for about 21 percent of the total partnership. Women hold 23.5 percent of all leadership positions at Reed Smith, and 27 percent of the firm’s compensation and promotion committee, according to the firm.

Among the firms who applied for certification, 84 percent met the standard that women constitute at least 10 percent of the top half of the highest paid partners. At the bottom of the rankings, 37 percent met the standard that women make up at least 25 percent of practice group leaders or department heads.

Elizabeth Tursi, the organization’s chair, said that equity partner status is the most important criterion. Only 42 percent of the certified firms had 20 percent or more women as equity partners. “Given the current environment relating to law firms, equity status is getting more difficult to achieve even for men,” Tursi said in an e-mail. “If it’s a two-tier firm, women are disproportionately affected and are often relegated to non-equity status.”

Firm News

Patton Boggs Hires Dewey Riyadh-Based Team, Opens New Office

Patton Boggs LLP will open an affiliated office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with former Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP lawyers, as well as adding three professionals to support them at offices in the U.S. The new hires will expand the mergers & acquisitions, capital markets, litigation, energy and Islamic finance practices at the firm.

Of the seven lawyers formerly affiliated with Dewey, five will form the Riyadh office, two will be based in the firm’s Washington office and a professional will join the New York office.

The group is led by Khalid Al-Thebity, who will manage the Riyadh office. Al-Thebity’s firm previously served as the Riyadh office affiliated with Dewey, Patton Boggs said in a statement. The firm handles corporate, commercial and financial law, as well as real estate and Saudi-specific litigation and arbitration. Al-Thebity’s work primarily focuses on assisting clients in the energy and real estate industries with a range of transactions, particularly project finance and development. His expertise extends to regulatory-related insurance affairs and construction matters.

Al-Thebity has represented the government of Saudi Arabia for more than 15 years. He has also worked with foreign companies completing transactions and joint ventures in Saudi Arabia, the firm said.

The firm has offices in Doha and Abu Dhabi currently. Edward J. Newberry, managing partner of Patton Boggs, said in an interview that the firm had been interested in a Riyadh office for four or five years. “We’ve been active in the Middle East for three decades and have had offices there for over a decade,” he said. “Entry into the Saudi market allows us to have a more complete presence.”

Four Riyadh-based associates will work with Al-Thebity. In Washington, counsel David A. Colson, a former U.S. State Department deputy assistant secretary for Oceans, and counsel Brian J. Vohrer also join the team. International energy adviser Tess Serranti will be based in New York.

Patton Boggs has more than 550 lawyers with 10 offices in the U.S. and Middle East.


Hilton In-House Counsel Joins Sutherland in Washington

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP announced that Mark A. Robertson, former senior vice president and assistant general counsel for Hilton Worldwide Inc., has joined the firm as a partner in Washington.

Robertson spent 17 years in the legal department at Hilton, ultimately serving as the senior legal representative for the company’s operations, brand and commercial services teams, the firm said. He managed business and legal issues relating to international and domestic hotel operations for more than 3,500 owned, leased, licensed, franchised and affiliated properties across 10 different Hilton brands.

“We are thrilled to have Mark join us,” said managing partner Mark D. Wasserman. “His experience managing diverse legal matters on a global scale, from ecommerce and information technology to compliance and crisis management, will benefit a broad spectrum of our clients.”

“Our outsourcing team has had the pleasure of working alongside Mark over the past three years in developing and implementing various strategies and solutions for core business functions and operations.” said Scott M. Hobby, who leads Sutherland’s outsourcing and mergers and acquisitions practices. “We are delighted to have him join our team and continue expanding our services to the hospitality sector.”

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP has 425 attorneys in six U.S. offices and London.

Latham Hires Bingham Corporate Partner in Boston

Latham & Watkins LLP has hired Sarah K. Gagan, previously of Bingham McCutchen LLP, in the firm’s Boston office as a partner in the corporate department.

Gagan practice focuses on technology and intellectual property transactions, including complex licensing and development arrangements, systems integration projects, information technology and business process outsourcing, the firm said. She also regularly advises clients on technology and intellectual property issues in mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and private equity transactions.

Latham’s Boston office opened in 2011 and the firm has built a client base advising emerging companies and multinational conglomerates as well as the investment banks, venture capital and private equity firms that serve them.

“Our clients come from a diverse array of backgrounds and Sarah’s expertise in technology ownership for emerging companies, open source matters, licensing, intellectual property diligence and merger provisions will be invaluable to them,” Phil Rossetti, Latham & Watkins’ office managing partner in Boston, said in a statement.

Latham & Watkins has approximately 2,000 attorneys in 31 offices in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Former Armed Services Committee Counsel Joins McKenna Long

John W. “Jay” Heath, a former counsel on the minority staff of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, has joined the government contracts practice of McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP as counsel in the firm’s Washington office.

As a counsel to the minority of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, Heath conducted congressional investigations and helped prepare Senator John McCain, the ranking Republican member, for Committee markup, Senate floor action and conference of the annual defense authorization bill, the firm said. Heath had oversight responsibilities on matters related to major defense acquisition programs. He also served as the minority staff lead for all Department of Defense intelligence programs and non-waived special access programs, according to the firm.

Heath joins McKenna Long’s government contracts practice of more than 70 attorneys and professional advisers. The firm has more than 575 attorneys and public policy advisers in 13 offices in the U.S. and Brussels.

Baker Hostetler Hires Former Government Lawyer for Tax Practice

Jay R. Nanavati, former U.S. Department of Justice Assistant Chief for the Western Criminal Enforcement section of the Tax Division, has joined Baker Hostetler LLP’s national tax controversy and litigation practice as counsel.

Nanavati spent more than seven years with the DOJ. His practice will focus on criminal tax defense, white-collar criminal defense and civil-tax controversy. In that capacity, he will advise and represent individuals and corporations in criminal tax fraud investigations, sensitive civil tax examinations where fraud or substantial penalties may arise, voluntary disclosures, criminal and civil tax disputes, tax shelter matters and corporate internal investigations of tax and finance related matters, the firm said.

Baker & Hostetler has more than 800 lawyers with 11 U.S. offices.


News Corp. Hacking Lawyer Settles Libel Case Against U.K. Police

Mark Lewis, the British lawyer for some of the first victims of News Corp.’s tabloid phone-hacking, accepted 206,200 pounds ($319,600) to settle a defamation lawsuit against London police related to the scandal.

The case, which had been scheduled for a trial in London next month, was resolved after the Metropolitan Police Service paid the lawyer 30,000 pounds in damages and 176,200 pounds in legal costs, Lewis said today in an e-mail. Lewis sued after police officials contradicted his assertion to Parliament in 2009 that phone hacking at News Corp.’s News of the World tabloid was widespread. He was later proved right.

The case “could have been avoided if there had been a proper investigation into the activities in 2006,” when police limited their probe to “one rogue reporter” at the tabloid who was then jailed for the offense, Lewis said. “There was widespread phone hacking.”

A media-ethics inquiry triggered by the scandal has heard from victims who claim police portrayed the scandal as being contained even though they had evidence showing otherwise. While the Met opened a new investigation in January 2011, probes in 2006 and 2009 failed to reveal the extent of the illegal practice. News Corp. shuttered the paper in July to help contain public anger over the scandal.

“The MPS has not admitted liability in this matter, but is rightly mindful of the cost of legal proceedings to the public purse,” Met spokesman Rob Singh said in an e-mail.

The case relates to Lewis’s testimony to lawmakers probing phone-hacking in 2009, in which he claimed a detective had told him privately that phone hacking was far more widespread than police had revealed at the time. Since then, the Met has arrested about 50 people in three parallel probes.

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