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Sidley, Bird & Bird, Jacoby & Meyers: Business of Law

The Blackstone Group’s general counsel of advisory services and the chief compliance officer of Blackstone Capital Partners, Joshua B. Rovine, has rejoined Sidley Austin LLP’s pooled investment entities group as a partner in New York. He will also be a member of the firm-wide investment funds, advisers and derivatives practice, concentrating primarily on hedge fund and fund of funds formation as well as investment adviser regulation and compliance, the firm said. Rovine was a partner at Sidley from 1998 to 2002.

“The level of experience he has in this practice area coupled with his 10 years of in-house tenure at one of the leading alternative asset management companies in the world will strengthen further the level of service that our firm will be able to provide to clients,” Michael J. Schmidtberger, global co-head of the investment funds, advisers and derivatives group and managing partner of Sidley’s New York office said in a statement.

While at Blackstone, Rovine was responsible for legal and compliance matters including advising internal clients on regulatory issues, implementing compliance programs for registered investment advisers and broker-dealers and working on the implementation of new business initiatives, the firm said.

At Sidley, Rovine’s practice will include advising clients on compliance issues and the representation of managers in spin-outs from financial institutions; buyers, sellers and other participants in secondary/structured secondary transactions; and institutional clients investing in, or co-investing alongside, hedge and private equity funds. Sidley has approximately 1,700 lawyers in 18 offices worldwide.

Bird & Bird Hires Two Partners in London, Two in Paris

Bird & Bird LLP hired two new partners in its London office and two partners in its Paris office.

International financial services lawyers Michael Brown and Martin Sandler join in London. Brown is a solicitor-advocate with 18 years’ experience of dispute resolution for banks and financial institutions. He joins from Jones Day. Sandler focuses on regulatory and transactional work in financial services. He was most recently head of U.K. legal at NYSE Euronext.

Alexandra Stocki and Anne-Charlotte Le-Bihan joined Bird & Bird’s Paris office as partners. Stocki was previously with Bredin Prat. Le-Bihan joins Bird & Bird’s international IP Group from Gide Loyrette Nouel.

Stocki focuses on employment law and joins the firm’s international HR services group which encompasses employment, employee benefits and business immigration. She has 14 years’ experience in employment law.

Le-Bihan specializes in patents, trademarks, copyright, design and advertising with particular expertise in patent litigation.

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

McDermott Hires Partners in Washington and New York Offices

McDermott Will & Emery LLP hired two health-care lawyers, Dale Van Demark and Jason B. Caron, as partners in the firm’s Washington, office. The two, from Epstein Becker Green PC, join McDermott’s health industry advisory practice group.

Van Demark is a health-care transactional lawyer who focuses on health industry mergers and acquisitions. Caron represents health care and life sciences organizations in legal, regulatory, reimbursement and policy matters.

The firm also announced this week that corporate lawyer Robert H. Cohen has joined as a partner in the New York office. Cohen, who joins from Greenberg Traurig LLP, has nearly 30 years of experience representing issuers and underwriters on corporate, M&A and financing transactions.

McDermott has more than 1,100 lawyers with 18 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Davis Wright Hires Two Partners in San Francisco

Litigator Erica Wilson, who represents clients in complex patent and other technology-related matters, has joined the IP litigation practice at Davis Wright Tremaine LLC. Wilson, who was previously at Goodwin Procter LLP, joins the firm as a partner in the San Francisco office.

Don Buder, a transaction lawyer in the food, beverage, and restaurant industries, has also joined the San Francisco office of Davis Wright as a partner. Buder was previously a co-founder and managing partner of MBV Law, a 14-attorney transaction and litigation firm in San Francisco started in 1985.

Davis Wright has about 500 lawyers in nine offices in the U.S. and Shanghai.

DLA Piper Hires New Lawyers in Philadelphia, L.A. Offices

DLA Piper LLP hired Courtney Gilligan Saleski as a partner in the firm’s litigation practice in Philadelphia. She was previously an assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, where she led investigations and prosecutions, focusing primarily on health-care fraud, procurement fraud, securities fraud and public corruption matters.

Former Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Linda Bernhardt also joined in Los Angeles as senior adviser to the California Real Estate, Land Use, Development and Governmental Affairs practices. Bernhardt joins DLA Piper from Greenberg Traurig LLP, where she served as co-head of the firm’s California Land Development Practice Group and head of the Southern California Government Affairs Practice. Bernhardt was previously with Loeb and Loeb LLP, where she served as head of the Land Development and Regulatory Affairs Practice, the firm said.

DLA Piper has 4,200 lawyers located in more than 30 countries throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.

New York Lawyers Moves: Kirkpatrick, Carter Ledyard, Locke Lord

Several more lawyers have moved firms this week in New York, including several who are leaving their own firms to join up with larger law firms.

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP announced that Guy N. Molinari has joined the firm’s New York office. Molinari will be a partner on the mergers and acquisitions and securities team within the firm’s corporate, finance and real estate department.

Molinari has 25 years at a variety of firms. For the past five years, he operated his own firm where he provided general corporate advice to investors in distressed or developing businesses. He has also served for two years as general counsel of next generation wind turbine technology company Northern Power Systems, Inc., and as general counsel for multistrategy investment funds. For eight years, he was with Heller Ehrman LLP in New York

Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP announced that Pamela Mann has joined the firm in New York as partner in the trusts and estates department and head of its tax-exempt organizations group. Mann joins, along with an associate, from the Mann Legal Group, which she founded in 1996.

Michael Kushner, formerly of Moses & Singer LLP, has joined Locke Lord LLP’s New York office as a partner in the tax practice, bringing with him more than 25 years of experience in Employee Retirement Income Security Act, employee benefits and federal tax law matters.


Khuzami Says He Will Step Down as SEC’s Top Enforcement Cop

Robert Khuzami, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement chief who led the agency’s pursuit of financial crime after the credit crisis, said he would step down.

Khuzami said in a memo yesterday announcing his departure that he would remain at the agency for about two weeks. SEC Chairman Elisse Walter hasn’t named a successor.

In a statement, Walter said his “leadership and bold ideas transformed and reinvigorated the enforcement program.”

Walter’s predecessor, Mary Schapiro, hired Khuzami shortly after she was appointed in 2009 to help restore the agency’s image after it was battered for missing Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Khuzami, 56, carried out the biggest shakeup in the enforcement unit’s history, eliminating management layers, expanding investigators’ powers and creating five specialized units to police Wall Street.

His tenure has seen criticism from lawmakers, judges, investors and at least one current commissioner who have argued the agency hasn’t been aggressive enough in holding top executives accountable for practices that led to a taxpayer bailout of the banking industry.

Under Khuzami, the SEC filed more than 130 cases related to the financial meltdown, including 57 actions against senior corporate officers. His investigators have taken aim at lenders who generated subprime mortgages as well as Wall Street traders and investment banks that bundled the home loans for investors.

He oversaw some of the biggest settlements in SEC history. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. agreed in July 2010 to pay $550 million over claims it misled investors about a mortgage-linked investment; Citigroup reached a $285 million settlement and JPMorgan Chase & Co. forfeited $154 million for their roles in similar deals.

A former federal prosecutor in New York who went on to work as a top lawyer at Deutsche Bank AG, Khuzami was a strong defender of the SEC’s enforcement record and argued it brought as many cases as the law allowed. He also worked as an associate at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP earlier in his career.

For more, click here.

Ex-OCC Chief Counsel Williams Joining Promontory Financial Group

Julie Williams, a longtime federal regulator who helped banks argue against state oversight, is joining Promontory Financial Group LLC, a Washington-based consulting firm that advises financial-services companies.

Williams stepped down Sept. 30 as chief counsel with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency after 19 years with the agency including two stints as acting comptroller. She will become a managing director and director of advisory practice at Promontory, which is led by former Comptroller of the Currency Eugene Ludwig.

“Almost 20 years ago, I asked Julie to be chief counsel at the OCC, and it was clearly one of the wisest decisions I made as comptroller,” Ludwig said yesterday in a memo to staff. “Julie has been at the center of virtually every important bank-regulatory development in the past 20 years, and it is difficult to overstate her contributions to the agency and its culture.”

“Promontory’s role is broader and has more facets to it than legal interpretation, and that was appealing to me,” Williams said yesterday in an interview. “The financial services firms are facing incredible challenges, and so being in a position at Promontory where I can help provide a holistic approach to problem-solving was appealing to me.”

Before joining the agency, she worked for the Federal Home Loan Bank Board, the Office of Thrift Supervision and as a Washington attorney with a predecessor of law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP.

Giffords Anti-Gun Effort Given $1 Million by Texas Trial Lawyers

Steve and Amber Mostyn, wealthy Texas trial attorneys, said yesterday that they are giving $1 million to help start the gun-control advocacy group formed by former Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.

Steve Mostyn, one of the top contributors to a super political action committee that helped President Barack Obama’s re-election effort, is listed as treasurer of Giffords’s new super-PAC, Americans for Responsible Solutions. Mostyn said the group will have a nonprofit wing, which will be used to conduct a public education campaign.

Mostyn said the super-PAC will counter the political contributions of the National Rifle Association, which is how he’s pitching it to other big Democratic donors.

“It’s time to stop the NRA from bullying common sense out of the discussion,” he said in an interview. “There are more options than just ‘guns or no guns.’”

Mostyn, 41 and a Houston resident, said he owns many guns and has a shooting range on his ranch in west Texas.

Mostyn said he believes the super-PAC will be able to compete with the NRA’s political giving. Federal Election Commission records show that the NRA’s Political Victory Fund spent $16 million in the two years leading to the Nov. 6 election. An NRA nonprofit affiliate, the Institute for Legislative Action, made another $7.5 million in independent expenditures such as direct mail and ads, to help NRA-friendly candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, based in Washington.

Giffords, a Democrat, was wounded in a 2011 shooting in Tucson that killed six others.

“Achieving reform to reduce gun violence and prevent mass shootings will mean matching gun lobbyists in their reach and resources,” Giffords and Kelly wrote in a USA Today opinion piece published Jan. 8, the second anniversary of the Arizona shooting.

For more, click here.

Firm News

Jacoby & Meyers Wins Round in Dispute on Nonlawyer Investors

Jacoby & Meyers, the discount law firm with storefront offices across the U.S., won an appeals court ruling reinstating its legal attack on a New York statute barring nonlawyers from owning interests in law firms.

Jacoby & Meyers, which wants capital to expand into communities with working-class and immigrant families, has asked federal courts in New Jersey and Connecticut as well as New York to throw out such laws. A judge last year dismissed the New York case citing technical grounds.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New York yesterday reinstated the suit and returned it to the trial court.

Jacoby & Meyers has said it wants to add new legal challenges in its suit, which the appeals court said the firm may do. The court didn’t rule on the “interesting theoretical issues” raised by the case.

Three directors of a small New York bank, including one who also sells new and used Mercedes-Benzes, have expressed interest in investing in Jacoby & Meyers, the firm said in court papers.

The case is Jacoby & Meyers v. Presiding Judges, 12-1377, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan).

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