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Winston, Debevoise, Akin Gump, Wachtell: Business of Law

Dec. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Winston & Strawn LLP reorganized its litigation department, which is headed by Jim Hurst, to create new roles and make appointments that integrate recent prominent lateral hires to the firm.

Four out of seven litigation practices groups and two sub-practices will be led by partners who joined the firm within the past two years, including several former partners from Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, which went bankrupt earlier this year.

“With our recent high-profile lateral hires, we were able to foster even greater integration in assigning leadership roles,” Hurst said in a statement. “The recent additions have also enabled us to decentralize leadership to locales where certain practices are more regionally focused, such as securities litigation in New York.”

Recent lateral hires appointed as practice leaders include Dewey refugees Jeffrey Kessler, antitrust and competition and James P. Smith III, securities litigation.

Robb Adkins, who joined from the Department of Justice last year, will head the white collar, regulatory defense and investigations team. Joseph Tirado, who joined from Norton Rose LLP in London, co-heads the international arbitration with Mark Bravin, who joined from Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP.

Winston also has established a new sports sub-practice, led by co-heads Kessler and another former Dewey partner David Feher. The trademark, domain names and brand enforcement subpractice will be headed by Paul McGrady, who joined the firm this year from Greenberg Traurig LLP.

Winston drew from its stable of veteran litigation partners for new leadership in two additional practice groups. Those new chairmen include Bruce Braun, complex commercial litigation; and George Lombardi, chairman, and Michael Brody, vice chairman for intellectual property. Gene Schaerr and Linda Coberly will continue as leaders of the appellate and critical motions practice.

Steve D’Amore, a commercial litigator in Chicago, will serve as vice-chairman of the litigation department.

Winston is led by Dan K. Webb, a veteran trial attorney. The firm has more than 500 litigators, including more than 50 partners who have tried cases to verdict in the past five years, the firm said in a statement.

The firm has almost 1,000 lawyers at 15 offices in North America, Asia and Europe.


Robert Bork, Judge Defeated in Supreme Court War, Dies at 85

Robert Bork, the U.S. judge and legal scholar whose nomination to the Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan set off a battle for the judiciary that lived on long after the U.S. Senate rejected him, has died. He was 85.

He died this morning at Virginia Medical Center in Arlington, Virginia, said his son, Robert Jr. The cause was heart disease.

Bork’s defeat in the Senate by a roll call of 58 to 42 -- the most votes ever against a Supreme Court nominee -- established new rules for how prospective justices get selected and vetted. The word “borking” entered the political lexicon, meaning, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, trying to block candidates for public office “by systematically defaming or vilifying them.”

In nationally televised hearings, the Senate Judiciary Committee delved into Bork’s ideology, not just his legal qualifications or competence. His past commentary on hot-button issues became fodder for his interrogators, establishing that long paper trails can be liabilities for judicial nominees.

In a 1963 article for New Republic magazine, Bork had criticized civil-rights legislation that barred restaurants, hotels and other public accommodations from discriminating on the basis of race. While the “ugliness” of racism was clear, he wrote, “having the state coerce you into more righteous paths” is “a principle of unsurpassed ugliness.”

Intent on becoming an antitrust lawyer, Bork went to work in New York after law school at what today is Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, then in Chicago at Kirkland & Ellis LLP. In 1962, with a wife and three young children, he moved to New Haven, Connecticut, to accept a teaching job at Yale Law School.

He was named U.S. solicitor general by President Richard Nixon at the start of his second term in 1973. Later that year, Bork became acting attorney general.

He returned to Washington in 1981 as a partner with Kirkland. Months later, Reagan named him to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

For more, click here.

MF Global Parent’s Unpaid Fees Rise to $46 Million

Professionals liquidating MF Global Holdings Ltd. have run up almost $46 million in fees that can’t be paid, according to the latest operating report filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New York. MF Global Holdings is the parent of the liquidating commodity broker with a $1.6 billion shortfall in customers’ property.

Through the end of November, Louis Freeh and professionals serving him as Chapter 11 trustee for the MF Global holding company together have accrued $32.7 million in fees since the bankruptcy began at the end of October 2011. Professionals for the official creditors’ committee billed another $13.3 million that can’t be paid for lack of cash.

Freeh’s principal lawyers are Morrison & Foerster LLP, and his financial advisers are FTI Consulting Inc.

To pay expenses of liquidation other than professional fees, Freeh has been using cash representing collateral for the claim of secured lender JPMorgan Chase & Co. Originally $25.3 million, cash had been reduced to $14.1 million when November drew to a close.

The cash outflow at the holding company was $610,500 in November, according to the operating report. The month’s loss from operations was $845,000.

The MF Global Holdings Ltd. parent and the commodity brokerage subsidiary, MF Global Inc., went into separate bankruptcies on Oct. 31. The holding-company parent is under control of Freeh as Chapter 11 trustee, while the broker is under control of a separate trustee selected by the Securities Investor Protection Corp. The SIPC pays expenses of the separate trustee for the brokerage.

The holding company’s Chapter 11 case is In re MF Global Holdings Ltd., 11-15059, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The liquidation of the broker is In re MF Global Inc., 11-02790, in the same court.


Debevoise, Akin Gump Advise on Markel Deal for Alterra

Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Appleby advised Markel Corp., the seller of property-casualty coverage, which agreed to buy Alterra Capital Holdings Ltd. for about $3.13 billion in cash and stock to expand in reinsurance. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP and Conyers Dill & Pearman counseled Alterra.

The Debevoise team is led by partners Nicholas F. Potter and Gregory V. Gooding and includes partners Jonathan F. Lewis and Peter F.G. Schuur.

The Akin Gump team was led by Kerry Berchem and Jeffrey Kochian, partners in the firm’s corporate practice in New York, which Berchem co-leads. It also included partners Ron Grabov-Nardini, Anthony Swisher and Rolf Zaiss.

Brad Adderley is the Appleby partner who worked on the deal for Markel.

Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP is advising BofA Merrill Lynch as financial adviser to Alterra Capital Holdings. The Davis Polk corporate team includes partner Leonard Kreynin.

Investors in Bermuda-based Alterra will get 0.043 Markel share and $10 in cash for each share they own, the companies said in a statement yesterday. Based on Markel’s closing price yesterday of $486.05, the deal values Alterra at about $30.97 a share. That’s 34 percent more than Alterra’s close of $23.15.

Markel, founded by a pioneer of jitney insurance in the 1920s, is adding to its main business of underwriting risk as its stock heads for a fourth straight annual gain. The Glen Allen, Virginia-based company provides coverage for businesses such as farms and railroads.

Markel’s shareholders will own 69 percent of the combined company upon the completion of the deal, which is expected in the first half of next year, according to the statement. The combined company will be domiciled in the U.S., which may limit tax benefits for Alterra.

The transaction has support from the seller’s two largest shareholders, insurer Chubb Corp. and the Trident Funds managed by Stephen Friedman’s Stone Point Capital LLC, Steven Markel said yesterday on a call with analysts. Those investors controlled about 16 percent of the company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

For more, click here.

Knight Gets Higher Price in Getco Sacrificing Cash Certainty

Knight Capital Group Inc.’s decision to pursue a takeover by Getco LLC gives its shareholders, mostly Wall Street firms, an opportunity for stock appreciation while surrendering the certainty of cash. Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz advises Knight and Sullivan & Cromwell LLP counseled Getco.

Wachtell Lipton’s team is led by corporate partners Edward D. Herlihy. Additional partners include Jeannemarie O’Brien, executive compensation and benefits; Joshua M. Holmes, tax; and Joshua A. Feltman, restructuring and finance.

The S&C New York-based team includes H. Rodgin Cohen, senior chairman, and John P. Mead, corporate/M&A; Marc Trevino, employee benefits; John E. Estes, financing; Ronald Creamer Jr., tax; and David B. Harms, securities.

Knight, pushed to the brink of bankruptcy in August by a trading error, chose Getco’s proposal Dec. 18 over a competing offer from Virtu Financial LLC, three people with direct knowledge of the matter said yesterday. The Chicago-based high-frequency trader offered $3.75 a share for Knight, one-third of it in stock, for a total value of $1.4 billion, according to a statement from Knight yesterday. Virtu’s offer was all-cash.

An acquisition would end the 17-year independence of Jersey City, New Jersey-based Knight, a company propelled by the explosion in electronic trading in American stock markets. While joining with Getco preserves Knight’s listing and expands its reach, it also means the company’s value will depend on the view of markets, where Getco has never traded.

For more, click here.


Squire Sanders Hires Two Partners in Financial Services Group

Squire Sanders LLP is expanding its financial services practice group with the lateral hires of two partners: Philippa Chadwick and Paula Laird. Chadwick, who will be based in the London office, joins the firm from Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP, where she led its project finance team. Laird, who will also be based in London, is head of banking at Wragge & Co., the firm said.

Chadwick specializes in international project finance and development bank finance. Her work includes international economic and social infrastructure financings and infrastructure investments in the emerging markets. Most recently she has advised the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on projects in Russia, Poland, Romania and Turkey. She will be based in the London office but will work across the firm’s global network, particularly with the Moscow, Warsaw, and Asia-Pacific offices.

Laird specializes in asset-based lending and asset finance, including equipment leasing. She typically acts for major commercial lenders and corporates on asset finance transactions, including operating leasing, receivables finance, asset-based lending and sale of leasing/asset finance portfolios.

Squire Sanders has more than 1,300 lawyers in 37 offices in 18 countries.

Holland & Knight Hires Real Estate Team in Miami

Holland & Knight LLP hired a five-lawyer team led by real estate partners Vivian de las Cuevas-Diaz and Barbara Ferrer in Miami. They join from Broad & Cassel PA, the firm said.

De las Cuevas-Diaz represents institutional lenders and developers in the financing of complex real estate transactions. She is currently president of the Cuban American Bar Association.

Ferrer has a background working with national, regional and community banks on financing projects involving construction, real estate and asset-based loans, the firm said. She also has experience in public private financing.

“Vivian, Barbara and their team have created a very sophisticated and successful real estate practice and we are extremely pleased to have them join our firm,” said John Halula, Holland & Knight’s Miami real estate practice group leader.

Additional Broad & Cassel employees moving to Holland & Knight include two senior associates, an associate, two paralegals, two secretaries and a law clerk.

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

Litigator Rejoins Nelson Mullins in Myrtle Beach Office

Bob Calamari has rejoined Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP’s Myrtle Beach office as a partner from McAngus Goudelock & Courie LLC.

Calamari has experience in state and federal trial courts in North and South Carolina. His trial experience includes multimillion dollar insurance coverage disputes. Calamari has also worked with businesses assisting with contracts, business decisions, corporate protection, and business strategy and is an experienced mediator, arbitrator, and special referee.

Nelson Mullins has more than 470 attorneys and government relations professionals with offices at 13 U.S. offices.


Argentina Debt War Lawyers Spend Decade Grappling With Judge

Two lawyers have spent much of the past decade defending Argentina in front of the same U.S. judge in dozens of lawsuits arising from the South American country’s 2001 default on $95 billion in sovereign debt.

Jonathan Blackman and Carmine Boccuzzi, partners at New York’s Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, have represented Argentina in litigation that began in 2002. The two share a history with U.S. District Judge Thomas Griesa, the Manhattan jurist who has presided over the fate of billions of dollars of Argentine debt over the same period.

The work, on behalf of a government that has criticized and ignored Griesa, has put the lawyers in a difficult position with the 82-year-old judge who oversees litigation over the defaulted bonds. Their conflict with opposing counsel and even the judge may only intensify as the landmark case heads toward a dramatic hearing before a federal appeals court early in the new year.

At a Nov. 9 court conference, Griesa asked Boccuzzi about press statements by Argentine President Cristina Fernandez De Kirchner and Economy Minister Hernan Lorenzino that the Republic wouldn’t pay what it called the “vulture funds” that are trying to collect on the defaulted bonds.

“Is that the position of the president of the Republic?” Griesa asked. “Is that the position of the economic minister, Mr. Boccuzzi?”

Boccuzzi made several attempts to argue that Argentina’s officials weren’t publicly announcing their defiance of Griesa’s court and the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York. After questioning Boccuzzi for several minutes, Griesa gave up.

“I don’t think there is any utility in me going back and forth with Mr. Boccuzzi further,” he said. “Obviously, Mr. Boccuzzi does not really want to say that the Republic is saying what is reported in the press.”

A spokeswoman for Cleary Gottlieb didn’t respond to voice-mail messages seeking interviews with Blackman and Boccuzzi.

The litigation also has drawn in Ted Olson, a former U.S. solicitor general, and David Boies, who represented the U.S. government in its antitrust case against Microsoft Corp. Olson and Boies opposed each other in the litigation that decided the 2000 U.S. presidential election -- Olson for Republican George W. Bush and Boies for Democrat Al Gore. More recently they joined forces to challenge California Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that banned gay marriage in that state and is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Olson represents Elliott Management Corp.’s NML Capital Ltd., which is trying to collect on its defaulted bonds in a case involving $1.3 billion of debt and interest. Boies represents a group of investors who traded their defaulted bonds for new ones, at a discount, when Argentina restructured its debt.

Argentina issued the bonds beginning in 1994. Since the 2001 default, its government has refused to make any payments on principal or interest.

Lawyers from Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, led by partner Joseph Neuhaus, also have some history with the litigation. Neuhaus, who earlier represented Argentina’s central bank, now represents the Clearing House Payments Co. LLC, which operates a cross-border and domestic wire-transfer system. The Clearing House Interbank Payment System, known as Chips, handles almost $2 trillion of transactions daily, according to its website. In-house lawyers Paul Saltzman and Joseph Alexander are also working on the case.

Representing NML Capital with Olsen is Robert Cohen of Dechert LLP. Joining Boies in representing the exchange bondholders is Sean O’Shea of New York’s O’Shea Partners.

Hundreds of Italian pensioners who invested in Argentine bonds at face value years ago and didn’t agree to exchange them in the restructuring are also involved in the litigation. Initially, they were represented by Dreier’s firm. When that firm imploded after its founder’s arrest, some of the pensioners hired Michael Spencer of Milberg LLP while others turned to Rudolph DiMassa of Duane Morris LLP.

The case is NML Capital Ltd. v. Republic of Argentina, 08-cv-06978, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

For more, click here.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Amon in Brooklyn, New York, at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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