Cleary Gottlieb, Latham, Proskauer: Business of Law

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP opened an office in Abu Dhabi yesterday after receiving a license from the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. Partner Gamal Abouali, who was based in Paris, has relocated to Abu Dhabi to head the office.

The firm’s Middle East practice, which counts among its clients Orascom Telecom Holding SAE, Emirates Telecommunications Corp. and the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, has about 20 partners and counsel based in London, Paris, New York and Milan, the firm said.

“For several decades now we have represented both corporate and sovereign clients in many of the most important transactions in the Middle East and North Africa,” Cleary Gottlieb managing partner Mark Leddy said in a statement. “Our Abu Dhabi office will enable us to better serve our clients based in the Middle East as well as those who have interests in the region.”

Abouali’s practice focuses on capital markets transactions, mergers and acquisitions, privatization and project financing. He represented Wind Telecom SpA in its combination with VimpelCom Ltd. and the Ministry of Oil of the Republic of Iraq in connection with the Basrah Gas Project.

“Gamal’s broad range of practice, his insightful understanding of the region, his appreciation for the local business environment and his fluency in the main business languages of the region make him well suited to head our new office,” Leddy said.

Cleary Gottlieb has about 1,200 lawyers at 15 offices around the world.

BuckleySandler Opens Office in California’s Orange County

Financial-services and government-enforcement law firm BuckleySandler LLP has opened an office in California’s Orange County. The firm also has offices in Washington, Los Angeles and New York.

“We opened an office in Irvine to provide our many Orange County and Southern California-based clients with on-the-ground expertise drawn from our extensive financial services regulatory, enforcement and litigation defense capabilities,” BuckleySandler Chairman Andrew L. Sandler said in a statement. “The office’s close proximity to two of the most active federal and state courts will further benefit the firm’s clients.”

BuckleySandler represents nine of the 10 biggest mortgage originators and the 10 largest mortgage-servicing companies in the U.S., the firm said. The Orange County office will give California clients access to lawyers with a deep understanding of the laws and regulations and regulatory expectations associated with the mortgage industry, the firm said.

Clinton R. Rockwell, the partner in charge of the firm’s California offices, said in a statement that Los Angeles partners John Redding and John Stoner will spend time in the new office.

The firm has more than 150 lawyers in its four U.S. offices.


Realty Income to Acquire American Realty for $1.9 Billion

Realty Income Corp. agreed to buy American Realty Capital Trust Inc. for $1.9 billion in stock, the second-largest acquisition of a U.S. real estate investment trust announced this year.

American Realty stockholders will receive 0.2874 of a Realty Income share for each share they own, the equivalent of $12.21 a share, the companies said in a statement yesterday. That’s about 2 percent more than New York-based American Realty’s closing price Sept. 5. The companies valued the transaction at $2.95 billion, including debt.

Latham & Watkins LLP advised Realty Income. Proskauer Rose LLP served as legal counsel to American Realty Capital Trust.

Latham’s corporate team was led by partners William Cernius in Orange County and Paul Tosetti in Los Angeles, with partner Julian Kleindorfer in Los Angeles. Advice was also provided on finance and real estate matters by partner David Meckler in Orange County, on environmental matters by partner Christopher Norton, on employee benefits and compensation matters by partner David Taub in Los Angeles, on tax matters by partners Michael Brody and Ana O’Brien in Los Angeles, and on litigation matters by partners Miles Ruthberg in Los Angeles and Michele Johnson in Orange County.

Proskauer Real Estate Capital Markets Group co-head Peter Fass, along with partner Jeff Horwitz, who heads the firm’s private equity real estate practice, led a team of lawyers that include partners Steven Lichtenfeld, Daniel Ganitsky, Andrew Bettwy, corporate; Leslie Loffman, tax; Ira Bogner, employee benefits; Eric Remensperger, real estate; and Jonathan Richman, litigation.

Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP represented Goldman Sachs & Co., the financial adviser to American Realty Capital Trust. The Fried Frank team included corporate partners Philip Richter and David Shine.

The proposed deal will add 501 properties to Realty Income’s portfolio, bringing its holdings to more than 3,250 buildings, John Case, the Escondido, California-based company’s chief investment officer, said in the statement. The transaction would increase rental revenue from tenants with higher credit ratings, such as FedEx Corp. and Walgreen Co., and allow Realty Income to diversify by reducing revenue from retail real estate to 77 percent from 86 percent.

Realty Income said the deal would immediately add to its funds from operations, a measure of cash flow used by REITS, and boost its dividend. The transaction is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2013.

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Partner Moves Abound This Week, Especially in Washington

Now that summer is over and Labor Day behind us, law firm partners were on the move this week, particularly in Washington. There also were moves in other U.S. cities and in London and Asia.

Reinsurance attorney Mary Lopatto joined Cozen O’Connor as a member of the global insurance group in the Washington office. She came from Chadbourne & Parke LLP, where she was the managing partner of that firm’s Washington office, Cozen said.

Reed Smith LLP added Victoria Holstein-Childress as a partner in its financial industry group in the Washington office. She was formerly a partner in the financial services litigation group of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP’s Washington office, Reed Smith said.

Paul Rubin joined Ropes & Gray LLP’s Life Sciences Practice in Washington. He was most recently co-chair of the FDA Practice Group and head of the Transactional Risk Assessment Practice Group at Patton Boggs LLP.

Bingham McCutchen LLP added Clara Poffenberger, former Exxon Mobil Corp. counsel on environmental and safety law, as a partner in its environmental, land use and natural resources practice group in Washington.

King & Spalding LLP recruited Boyd Cloern as a partner in its Washington office as the firm continues to expand its patent litigation practice across the U.S. Cloern joined from Bingham McCutchen.

The Washington office of global law firm K&L Gates LLP added Stuart B. Nibley as a partner in the government contracts and procurement policy practice. Nibley joined from Dickstein Shapiro LLP.

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP hired litigator Robert Shulman as a partner in the insurance recovery practice group in the firm’s Washington office. Shulman joins from Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP, the firm said.

Manatt also hired H.H. Sean Wee this week in the firm’s New York office as a partner in the corporate practice. Wee moves to Manatt from Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP in New York.

Ronie Schmelz joined Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP as a partner in the firm’s Insurance and Reinsurance Department. She will divide her practice between the firm’s offices in Los Angeles and New York. Previously, Schmelz was a partner in the Los Angeles office of Sidley Austin LLP.

Bruce G. Chapman joined Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP as a partner in the intellectual property practice group in the firm’s Los Angeles office. Chapman joins from Connolly Bove Lodge & Hutz LLP in Los Angeles, the firm said.

Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP announced that intellectual property litigator Paul Storm joined the firm as a partner in the Dallas office. Storm established his own IP firm in 2005 and has more than 22 years of experience representing clients in patent-infringement cases as well as copyright, trade secret, and trademark disputes, the firm said.

Cozen O’Connor also added Steve Auten, former intellectual property head of Novartis AG’s North America Generic Pharmaceutical Division, to its Intellectual Property Group in Chicago.

John Meyers, who has almost 30 years of experience, joins Barnes & Thornburg LLP in the Atlanta office as a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department. He was previously at Seyfarth Shaw LLP.

McCarter & English LLP hired Heidi E. Opinsky as a partner in the firm’s Stamford, Connecticut, and New York City offices. Before joining McCarter & English, Opinsky, who has more than 27 years of experience in family law matters, was a Family Law partner at Fox Rothschild LLP in Connecticut and New York, the firm said.

Nixon Peabody LLP expanded its China practice with the addition of corporate partner Xueqing Linda Ji, who joins the Boston office. She was previously vice chair of Foley & Lardner LLP’s China practice, the firm said. At Nixon Peabody, she will focus on cross-border business transactions involving the U.S. and China.

Covington & Burling LLP announced the addition of Weishi Li as a partner to its corporate team, further bolstering the firm’s global transactional and IP capabilities in the life sciences and technology sectors. Li will be based in Shanghai when that office opens.

In London, bankruptcy and restructuring lawyer Paul Atherton joined Kaye Scholer LLP as a partner in its London office. Previously a partner with Kirkland & Ellis International LLP in London, Atherton focuses on international insolvency and restructuring processes with a particular emphasis on cross-border matters and complex LBO restructurings.

Also in London, Eversheds LLP appointed SJ Berwin LLP’s Lesley Farrell as a partner in its EU, Competition and Regulatory Group, the firm said.


Consultant Says Law Firm Profits Dropping, Layoffs Ahead: Video

Kent Zimmermann, consultant to law firms for the Zeughauser Group, talks with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia about the prospects for the legal-services industry in 2013 in this video.

Law firms have seen such a steep decline in demand for corporate work in the past six months, that many large law firms will face serious economic turbulence going into 2013, Zimmermann said. Work is even off in Silicon Valley, thanks to the less-than-stellar Facebook Inc. initial public offering. As a result, Zimmermann says law firms plan to “get lean” by reducing headcount in coming months.

Zimmermann also said that unless the economy improves by mid-2013, three to five AMLaw 200 law firms may go out of business.

Rothstein’s Wife Charged With Hiding $1 Million in Jewelry

The wife of Scott Rothstein, a disbarred Florida attorney who ran a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, illegally hid $1 million in jewelry from U.S. authorities trying to seize his assets to repay investors, prosecutors charged.

Kimberly Wendell Rothstein, 38, was charged with four other people yesterday with lying after Internal Revenue Service agents tried to confiscate the jewelry, including a 12-carat yellow diamond ring. Rothstein amassed tens of millions of dollars in real estate, cars, boats, luxury watches, jewelry and sports memorabilia during his Ponzi scheme, authorities said.

Rothstein, who is serving a 50-year prison term, agreed in November 2009 to plead guilty and forfeit his illegal gains. When agents showed up on Nov. 9, 2009, Kimberly Rothstein held back some jewelry, U.S. prosecutors said in court papers filed in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. She and a friend sold some jewelry and joined others in covering up their actions by lying during bankruptcy proceedings, according to court papers.

“The integrity of our system of justice is based on the truthfulness of every witness that participates in the process,” Wifredo Ferrer, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, said in a statement. “When a witness lies under oath or conspires to obstruct justice, the integrity of our system of justice is undermined.”

Kimberly Rothstein was charged with Stacie Weisman, 49, and Scott Saidel, 45, with conspiracy to commit money laundering, obstruct justice and tamper with a witness. Eddy Marin, 50, and Patrick Daoud, 54, were charged with perjury and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Prosecutors seek forfeiture of five diamond rings, 10 watches, two bracelets, four necklaces, five pairs of earrings, 50 gold bars, and various coins from the U.S., Canada, South Africa, England and China.

“Kim would like to take the opportunity to express her disappointment, shame, and sadness in regard to all of the victims” of her husband’s Ponzi scheme, David Tucker, an attorney for Kimberly Rothstein, said in a telephone interview. “She had no involvement or knowledge of his fraudulent activity. She takes full responsibility for her actions in regard to the charge filed today.”

The cases are U.S. v. Marin, 12-cr-60205, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale) and U.S. v. Kimberly Wendell Rothstein, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Miami).

Chadbourne Law Firm Takes Former Dewey Space in Midtown Tower

Chadbourne & Parke LLP will relocate its headquarters to Manhattan offices once occupied by Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, the law firm that sought bankruptcy in May, ending a two-year space search.

The 20-year lease for more than 200,000 square feet (19,000 square meters) at 1301 Avenue of the Americas is the largest by a Manhattan law firm this year, Chadbourne said in a statement. The 45-story, 1.8 million-square-foot tower is a block north of Rockefeller Center in Midtown.

Chadbourne has been searching for new headquarters since 2010, when its space at 30 Rockefeller Plaza was leased to the accounting company Deloitte LLP. The law firm intends to build “an office for the future” under a design by the Gensler architectural firm, Andrew Giaccia, a Chadbourne managing partner, said in the statement. The rent wasn’t disclosed.

The skyscraper is controlled by Paramount Group Inc., the U.S. real estate unit of Germany’s Otto Group.

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