Morgan Lewis, Katten Muchin, Bird & Bird: Business of Law

A lawyer for Winifred Jiau, the ex-Primary Global Research LLC consultant serving a four-year prison term for insider trading, sought to be taken off the case after Jiau asked the court to set aside her conviction.

Joanna Hendon, of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, Jiau’s lead defense lawyer at trial, asked U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan yesterday to remove her from the case. Hendon said that Jiau contacted her in August and said she intended to challenge her conviction based on a claim that her attorney was ineffective.

“Among other arguments, Ms. Jiau intends to allege that her counsel at trial and sentencing were constitutionally ineffective,” Hendon wrote to Rakoff. “In my communications with her, Ms. Jiau has made it clear that she no longer wishes to be represented by me.”

Jiau was found guilty by a jury last year of selling inside information about technology companies including Nvidia Corp. and Marvell Technology Group Ltd. to hedge-fund managers Noah Freeman, a former SAC Capital Advisors LP portfolio manager, and Samir Barai, founder of New York-based Barai Capital Management LP.

Jiau, who’s serving her term at the federal prison in Dublin, California, yesterday filed her own brief in which she asked for her conviction to be set aside and her sentence to be corrected. She argued that her lawyers didn’t adequately represent her at trial and that her sentence is much longer than the prison terms given to others convicted of insider trading.

Jiau said in her filing that federal prosecutors in her case have “fled out of the prosecution office and hurried to Wall Street law firms for megabucks,” and claimed that her defense lawyers “labored under numerous conflicts of interest” and “advanced their own careers.”

She also said the case has been “a nightmare” for her and claimed that her lawyers failed to investigate Primary Global or the hedge fund managers, such as Freeman, who testified against her.

“Other errors of constitutional proportion occurred at trial,” Jiau said. “Had the defendant been represented by a lawyer who had her interests at stake, it is likely she would not be before this court.”

Jerika Richardson, a spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, declined to comment on Jiau’s assertions.

Hendon’s firm, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, yesterday called Jiau’s allegations “categorically false.”

“Her attorneys carefully, comprehensively and repeatedly reviewed with her the evidence against her, the defenses available to her, and the likely sentence she would face if convicted,” the firm said in a statement. “The decision to proceed to trial was Ms. Jiau’s. The District Court and the responsible AUSAs have stated publicly that Ms. Jiau received ‘extraordinary’ representation in this case -- the ‘Cadillac’ of defenses.”

At Jiau’s sentencing last September, Rakoff complimented Hendon and her partners for their work on Jiau’s behalf.

The case is U.S. v. Jiau, 11-cr-161, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

General Counsel

Fannie Mae Names Pfizer’s Bradley Lerman as General Counsel

Fannie Mae named Bradley Lerman as general counsel, executive vice president and corporate secretary effective Oct. 1.

Lerman, 56, joins from Pfizer Inc., where he was senior vice president, associate general counsel and chief litigation counsel, Fannie Mae said yesterday in a statement.

Before joining Pfizer, Lerman was a partner at Winston & Strawn LLP and co-chairman of the firm’s white collar defense practice group. He concentrated his practice on white-collar defense, product-liability and securities-litigation matters, Fannie said.

“Brad has integrity, excellent leadership skills and a proven track record in achieving positive outcomes for corporations across a broad spectrum of legal specialties,” Timothy J. Mayopoulos, president and chief executive officer of Fannie Mae, said in a statement.


U.K. Begins Tax-Evasion Probe With Focus on Lawyers, Hair Salons

The U.K. began a crackdown on tax evasion, including among London lawyers, which it expects to bring in 19.5 million pounds ($32 million).

HM Revenue & Customs task forces starting yesterday will focus on five “high risk” business areas in an effort to flush out tax evaders, the authority said in a press release. The Scottish motor trade and retail businesses in four U.K. regions are being targeted in the latest project, the agency said.

“This is not an empty threat -- HMRC can and will track you down if you choose to break the rules,” said Mike Eland, the agency’s enforcement and compliance chief.

The task forces were introduced following a 917 million-pound government investment that began in 2011 to take on tax evasion, avoidance and fraud. The authority said it intends to raise 7 billion pounds each year by 2015 from the project.

Restaurants in southeast England and hair and beauty salons in the northeast of the country are also under scrutiny.

Firm News

LCD Price-Fixing Case Should Yield High Attorney Fees

Lawyers involved in the LCD price-fixing lawsuits that settled for more than $1.5 million, will face off at a November hearing set to hash out the awarding of fees, the Recorder said.

AU Optronics Corp., LG Display Co. and Toshiba Corp. in July agreed to pay $543.5 million to resolve allegations they conspired to fix prices of flat-screen panels used in televisions and computer monitors.

Combined with an earlier settlement with other panel makers for $538.5 million, approved by a federal judge, the cash settlement set a record for recovery in a class-action lawsuit over price-fixing.

More than 150 law firms are involved, with four San Francisco plaintiffs firms expected to be the big winners, The Recorder said.

U.S. District Judge Susan Illston has already approved $121.5 million for Pearson, Simon, Warshaw & Penny LLP and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP, who represented the direct purchaser class, while Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason LLP and the Alioto Law Firm, who represented indirect purchasers, are seeking more than $300 million, according to the Recorder.

The companies are alleged to have fixed prices for the screens, driving up prices from 1999 to 2006, according to the lawsuit filed in 2007.

The case is In RE TFT-LCD Antitrust Litigation, 07-01827, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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Katten Hires Structured Finance and Securitization Attorney

Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP hired Stephen B. Esko as a partner in its structured finance and securitization practice in New York. He was previously with Sidley Austin LLP.

Esko focuses his practice on residential mortgage-backed securitizations.

Katten’s structured finance and securitization practice has more than 35 attorneys. The firm has more than 600 lawyers in 10 offices in the U.S., London and Shanghai.

Corporate Partner Thomas Man Hired by Morrison & Foerster

Morrison & Foerster LLP hired Thomas Yunlong Man in the firm’s Beijing office as a corporate transactions partner. He was previously a partner in the Beijing office of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

Man has experience in advising both inbound and outbound transactions for U.S. and Chinese clients. He counsels Chinese and international clients on corporate matters that include mergers and acquisitions, private equity, corporate strategy, anti-monopoly law and investigations, particularly concerning potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and related issues, the firm said

Morrison & Foerster has about 70 legal professionals in its three China offices. The firm has more than 1,000 lawyers in 15 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Holland & Knight Grows Litigation Practice in Chicago

Holland & Knight LLP hired Mark A. Flessner, a white-collar lawyer with more than 25 years of experience, as a partner in its Chicago litigation practice group.

A former assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago, Flessner counsels clients on the litigation risks arising from government investigative actions, including criminal, civil or regulatory ones.

Flessner has tried more than 40 cases to verdict and argued about 35 cases on appeal, the firm said. He also has experience in investigating corporate wrongdoing and represents clients facing complex commercial litigation, internal corporate investigations, grand jury inquiries and issues involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Holland & Knight has more than 1,000 lawyers in 17 U.S. offices as well as Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Bogota and Mexico City.

Intellectual Property Lawyer Joins Bird & Bird in London

Bird & Bird LLP hired Allan Poulter as partner in its international intellectual property practice group in the firm’s London office.

Poulter joins from Field Fisher Waterhouse, where he headed the firm’s India desk, Bird & Bird said. He has experience in intellectual property with particular focus on trademarks, brand clearance, protection, exploitation and enforcement.

Bird & Bird has more than 900 lawyers in 23 offices in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Michelmores Expands London Office With Hirings

Michelmores LLP expanded its London office with the addition of partner Chris Willison and an associate.

Willison specializes in banking and asset-based lending work. He previously headed the asset-based lending team at Blake Lapthorn and was formerly a finance law partner at Hammonds LLP and vice president legal of GMAC Commercial Finance Plc, Michelmores said.

Michelmores has 47 partners and 115 other fee-earners in three U.K. offices.


Billionaire Ross Says Deal With Lehman Brokerage Is Fair

Billionaire Wilbur Ross said his company is paying a fair price for an asset held by defunct brokerage Lehman Brothers Inc., after hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. said the price was too low.

Elliott, a creditor of the brokerage, said the 34 percent stake in gas-tanker company Navigator Holdings Ltd. is being offered to W.L. Ross & Co. for about $110 million without a proper bidding process. Trustee James Giddens, a partner at Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, would be letting Ross’s company, which already owns Navigator shares, raise its stake to 61 percent without paying a premium for control, Elliott said Sept. 17 in a bankruptcy court filing in Manhattan.

The fight pits two billionaire investors against each other in the market in distressed industries. Elliott, the $20 billion firm founded by billionaire investor Paul Singer, asked the judge not to let Giddens complete the sale to Ross.

“WLR not only has agreed to pay a full and fair price for the shares following arms’ length negotiations between the trustee and WLR, but WLR, like any other potential purchaser, was required to agree to binding standstill restrictions that preclude it from acquiring or exercising control” for a specified period, the Ross company said in a filing yesterday that was accompanied by a declaration from Ross, the chairman.

The Lehman brokerage, which is liquidating separately from its parent, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., hasn’t paid institutional creditors anything from its $25 billion hoard after four years in liquidation. Elliott demanded in June that Giddens sell securities and pay an initial $3.2 billion soon.

Noting the payment demand, the Ross company said Elliott appears to have an agenda that many of the brokerage’s creditors don’t share.

The Lehman brokerage liquidation is Securities Investor Protection Corp. v. Lehman Brothers Inc., 08-01420, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The parent’s case is In re Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., 08-13555, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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