Kasowitz Benson, Slaughter and May, Debevoise: Business of Law

A New York law firm that represented Paul Ceglia in his claims to own part of Facebook Inc. quit after it determined the contract on which he based his case was a fraud, according to a letter cited by a judge.

The letter was sent by Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP to two other firms that formerly represented Ceglia, DLA Piper LLP and Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman LLP, according to an order filed yesterday in federal court in Buffalo, New York.

U.S. Magistrate Leslie Foschio yesterday fined Ceglia and his current lawyer, Dean Boland, $2,000 for failing to obey earlier orders to produce the document, calling their conduct “beyond disrespect.” The judge disclosed the subject of the letter, which wasn’t made public, in the order, which requires Ceglia to turn it over to Facebook within three days.

The three firms quit in June 2011 after less than three months on the case, without giving a reason. DLA Piper, which has 4,200 lawyers, is one of the biggest law firms in the world. The Lippes Mathias team was headed by former New York Attorney General Dennis Vacco.

Facebook is trying to get Ceglia’s suit dismissed, arguing the case is a fraud.

The case is Ceglia v. Zuckerberg, 1:10-cv-00569, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York (Buffalo).


Standard Chartered’s N.Y. Probe Ends as U.S. Inquiries Loom

Slaughter and May and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP assisted Standard Chartered Plc in its $340 million Aug. 14 settlement with the New York State Department of Financial Services in its money laundering probe.

Slaughter and May corporate partner Nigel Boardman and dispute resolution partner Richard Swallow and Sullivan & Cromwell’s corporate and financing partner Rodgin Cohen and dispute resolution partner Samuel Seymour were the key lawyer contacts, according to Slaughter and May’s website.

On Aug. 6, New York financial regulator Benjamin Lawsky issued an order alleging Standard Chartered helped Iran launder about $250 billion in violation of federal laws. He accused the bank of a decade of deception, including keeping false records, in handling lucrative wire transfers for Iranian clients. The bank sent them through its New York unit in so-called U-Turn transactions with client names omitted to hide their provenance, Lawsky said.

The New York regulator said yesterday in a statement that “the parties have agreed that the conduct at issue involved transactions of at least $250 billion.” The $340 million fine will go to Lawsky’s agency, New York’s Department of Financial Services, or DFS, and the state.

As part of the settlement, New York said the bank agreed to install an independent on-site monitor for at least two years who will report directly to regulators. Examiners from the DFS will also be placed at the bank.

Standard Chartered said in a statement yesterday that “a formal agreement containing the detailed terms of the settlement is expected to be concluded shortly.” It “continues to engage constructively with the other relevant U.S. authorities,” the bank said.

For more, click here.

U.S. Workers’ Wage-and-Hour Suits Rise in Precarious Job Market

Lawsuits by U.S. workers contesting wages and hours, including demands for overtime pay, reached a 20-year high this year as unemployment remained above 8 percent.

There were 7,064 federal wage-and-hour cases filed during the 12 months ending March 31, a number that has grown almost every year since 2000, when the total was 1,854, according to the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, which plans to release the data publicly later this year.

The recession and the unemployment rate contributed to the rise, said Richard Alfred, chairman of the national wage and hour litigation practice at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, who represents companies in lawsuits brought by groups of workers. His firm reported the 2012 data in July.

“When employees are laid off, that may be an opportunity for them to seek legal counsel either to see if there’s any basis for contesting their termination or to make sure that what they’re receiving in severance or other benefits is proper,” Alfred said in a telephone interview.

Jason Rozger, a partner at Beranbaum Menken LLP in New York, which represents employees, said high unemployment gives companies leverage to compel work off the clock because people are worried about losing their jobs. That changes once they get fired, he said.

Attorneys for terminated employees seeking advice may be prompted to look into wage-and-hour lawsuits, Alfred said.

“I don’t suggest these cases are brought in such a cavalier way, but they’re complicated,” he said.

Different courts have reached different conclusions on the same questions, such as which employees are entitled to overtime pay, he said.

For more, click here.

News Corp. Revamps Ethics-Oversight Program After Scandal

News Corp., the media company run by billionaire Rupert Murdoch, revamped its compliance and ethics program following last year’s phone-hacking scandal at its U.K. newspaper business.

News Corp.’s general counsel, Gerson Zweifach, will now serve as chief compliance officer, according to a memo sent to employees yesterday. As part of the effort, business units will be organized into five compliance groups: Los Angeles cable and broadcast; film and TV production; Europe and Asia; Australian operations; and New York news.

News Corp., based in New York, is streamlining its compliance rules as the company prepares to spin off its publishing division into a separately traded public business, a process that is slated to take about a year to complete.

The company has been trying to move past a hacking scandal that erupted last year after reports that one of its newspapers in the U.K. accessed the voice mail of a murdered teenager, Milly Dowler. Rebekah Brooks, the former head of the company’s British division, was charged by London police this month for her part in those alleged crimes.

Authorities in the U.K. are considering whether to bring corporate charges against News Corp.’s board for hacking and bribery. About 60 people have been arrested in connection to those allegations, including at least eight former journalists.

For more, click here.


Carlyle Buys Getty From Hellman & Friedman for $3.3 Billion

Carlyle Group LP, the world’s second-largest private-equity firm, agreed to buy photo archive Getty Images Inc. from Hellman & Friedman LLC in a deal valued at $3.3 billion.

Carlyle was advised by Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, and Getty Images was advised by Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP. Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is advising Getty Investments.

The Debevoise team was led by partners Paul S. Bird and Jonathan E. Levitsky, and included partners David A. Brittenham, Jeffrey P. Cunard, Peter A. Furci and Elizabeth Pagel Serebransky,

Simpson Thacher partners included Chad Skinner, mergers and acquisitions; Katharine Moir, tax; Tristan Brown, ECEB; and Bill Brentani and Brian Steinhardt, credit.

The Weil team was led by Silicon Valley corporate partner Kyle Krpata and included Silicon Valley intellectual property transaction partner Karen Ballack and corporate partner Craig Adas. London competition partner Douglas Nave and New York corporate partners Michael Nissan and Richard Ginsburg also assisted on the deal.

The Davis Polk corporate team includes partners Daniel G. Kelly Jr. and Sarah K. Solum. The tax team includes partner Kathleen L. Ferrell, Partner Frank J. Azzopardi is providing intellectual property advice. Members of the Davis Polk team are based in the Menlo Park and New York offices.

Carlyle will acquire a controlling stake in the company, while Getty co-founder and Chairman Mark Getty and the Getty family will roll “substantially all” of their ownership interests into the transaction, Washington-based Carlyle said yesterday in a statement. Getty Images’ management, including co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Klein, will also invest “significant equity” in the company, Carlyle said.

For more, click here.


Zhao to Lead McDermott’s Team Advising Chinese Companies

McDermott Will & Emery LLP announced the appointment of international dealmaker Winston (Jiusu) Zhao as head of its China Outbound Transactions team. He joins McDermott from the Shanghai office of Jones Day, the firm said.

Zhao will be based in Shanghai at MWE China, McDermott’s strategic alliance firm in China, where he will build a team of lawyers from across the firm, who will focus on providing Chinese companies looking to make investments outside of China with legal services ranging from corporate, to intellectual property to international tax planning. Zhao will also be a member of the firm’s china management committee.

Zhao has more than 20 years of experience advising companies in their international corporate and commercial projects in China, including cross-border mergers and acquisitions operations, China inbound and outbound investments, corporate restructuring, corporate finance, IP and product liability matters, the firm said.

McDermott Will has more than 1,000 lawyers, with 17 offices in the U.S., Europe and a strategic alliance in Shanghai.

Sheppard Mullin Hires Beijing Lawyer Simon Kai-Tse Cheong

Simon Kai-Tse Cheong has joined Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP as a partner in the firm’s corporate and finance and bankruptcy practice groups, in the Beijing office. Cheong joins from the Chinese law firm Zhong Lun in Beijing, the firm said.

Cheong has more than 16 years of experience advising multinational companies and financial institutions on cross-border mergers and acquisitions and financing matters. In addition to his private practice experience, Cheong served as senior counsel for the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation and was responsible for managing the IFC’s legal activities in mainland China, the firm said.

Cheong’s clients have included multilateral and government institutions such as the IFC, China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund, the Swedish Export Credit Corporation, KfW IPEX-Bank, and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation.

Sheppard Mullin has close to 600 attorneys in 15 offices located in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Locke Lord’s Hires Litigation Partner in New York Office

Antitrust litigation partner Paul Kaplan has joined Locke Lord LLP’s New York office as part of the firm’s litigation department and antitrust practice group. Previously he was a partner in the New York office of Alston & Bird LLP, the firm said.

Kaplan brings more than 25 years of experience in handling litigation and counseling for major corporations as well as for domestic and international financial institutions.

Locke Lord has more than 650 lawyers in 13 offices in the U.S., London and Hong Kong.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE