Retired Connecticut U.S. senator Joseph I. Lieberman joined Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP as senior counsel in New York.
Lieberman, who retired from the Senate after four terms in January, will focus on independent and internal investigations and advise clients on public policy, strategic and regulatory issues.
Lieberman said in an interview that he considered many firms and chose Kasowitz Benson after a friend, Colorado lawyer Norman Brownstein, suggested it to him. The firm appealed to Lieberman because of its reputation for fighting hard, creatively and successfully for its clients and because of the firm culture, he said.
“It seemed like a fit with my own independent nature, as evidenced by my political career,” he said. “They are not exclusively a plaintiffs’ firm or a defense firms. They do white collar defense work but have had the guts to sue the big banks over the behavior during the credit crisis and the downturn.”
Lieberman, who was a Democratic vice presidential candidate and unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004, left the Democratic party to run and win his seat as an independent in 2006.
During his 24 years in the senate, Lieberman was chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, where he led congressional investigations, including into Enron Corp.’s collapse, the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, the Fort Hood mass shooting, and the attack in Benghazi, Libya, the firm said.
Before his election to the Senate, Lieberman spent six years as Connecticut attorney general. He also spent 10 years in the Connecticut State Senate, including three terms as majority leader, the firm said.
At Kasowitz Benson, he joins the white collar criminal defense and investigations practice.
“I will build on my investigative experiences as AG and in the Senate,” Lieberman said. “It’s the sort of thing I like to do and there is a demand for it.”
Marc Kasowitz, founder of the firm, said he was pleased to have wooed Lieberman. The two men’s families knew one another in New Haven and Kasowitz worked on Lieberman’s first political campaign in 1970.
“He’s going to be a great addition -- I really think he’s going to be a magnet for the practice,” Kasowitz said in an interview.
The practice, which Kasowitz estimates has 20 to 25 lawyers dedicated to it, has worked on investigations including for MF Global Holdings Ltd. and Hilton Worldwide Inc.
Kasowitz said he expects Lieberman will be “a natural” at boosting the firm’s work with overseas companies that have business, particularly litigation matters, in the U.S.
Kasowitz Benson has more than 375 lawyers, primarily focusing on complex commercial litigation.
Ken Salazar Joins WilmerHale, Will Open Firm’s Denver Office
Former Interior Secretary and U.S. Senator Ken Salazar is joining Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP as a partner and will anchor the firm’s new Denver office.
At WilmerHale, Salazar will provide legal, strategic and policy advice to clients. He will work on energy, environment, and natural resources issues, and help build on the firm’s work with Native Americans.
“As an Interior Secretary, United States Senator and State Attorney General, Ken adds to the firm’s rich tradition of lawyers who have served at the highest levels of government,” WilmerHale co-managing partner Robert Novick said in a statement. “With his deep roots in Colorado, Ken will spearhead WilmerHale’s new Denver office, extending WilmerHale’s reach into a region with vibrant energy, natural resources, technology and financial sectors.”
Salazar, a Colorado native, was U.S. Secretary of the Interior from 2009 to 2013 and led the government’s response to the BP Plc oil spill in 2010. He also led the 70,000-employee department in promoting solar-energy projects on federal lands, overseeing oil exploration off Alaska’s coast and expanding the nation’s parks network.
He represented Colorado in the U.S. Senate from 2004 to 2008. While in office, Salazar served on the Energy and Natural Resources, Finance and Ethics Committees.
As Colorado attorney general from 1999 to 2004, he oversaw thousands of civil and criminal cases, including matters before the Colorado Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court.
The firm declined to immediately provide more information about the Denver office, which is in the planning stages.
WilmerHale has 1,000 lawyers at 14 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Christie Names Chiesa Interim Senator as Candidates Line Up
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie named state attorney general Jeffrey Chiesa as the interim replacement for the late U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, who died Monday at age 89.
Chiesa, who lives in Branchburg and identified himself as a registered Republican, will begin June 10, and won’t run in the special election to complete Lautenberg’s term, Christie said at a press conference yesterday.
Chiesa has been state attorney general since Jan. 10, 2012, and previously served as chief counsel to Christie. He was an assistant U.S. attorney from 2002 through 2009. At law firm Wolf & Samson, he was a partner in the litigation group.
Lautenberg, a five-term Democrat, who died of complications from viral pneumonia, had said in February that he wouldn’t run again in 2014. Christie, a Republican seeking a second term in November, set an Oct. 16 special election for the Senate seat, with an Aug. 14 primary.
Chiesa, 47, said he was surprised by the appointment, which will end Oct. 16, the day of the special election.
As attorney general, Chiesa has targeted issues including gun and gang violence, crimes against children and public corruption, and helped to lead the state’s response to Hurricane Sandy, according to Christie’s office.
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Fried Frank Advises Media General on Young Broadcasting Merger
Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP is representing Media General Inc., the television broadcaster backed by Mario Gabelli and Warren Buffett, which agreed to combine with New Young Broadcasting Holding Co. in a stock deal valuing the companies at almost $800 million. Debevoise & Plimpton LLP is counsel to New Young Broadcasting.
Fried Frank lawyers working on the matter are mergers and acquisitions partners Philip Richter and John Sorkin, executive compensation and employee benefits partner Donald Carleen, tax partner Michael Alter, financing partner Gus Atiyah and capital markets partner Michael Levitt. Andy Carington is general counsel to Media General.
The Debevoise team is led by partner Jonathan E. Levitsky and includes partners Peter A. Furci and Elizabeth Pagel Serebransky.
Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is representing the independent directors of Media General in the merger. Gibson Dunn’s team is led by Stephen I. Glover, Washington corporate partner and co-chairman of the firmwide mergers and acquisitions practice group.
The merger highlights the hastening consolidation in local TV, driven by the fees stations and broadcast networks are beginning to extract from cable and satellite operators such as Comcast Corp. and DirecTV. Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. has spent more than $1.84 billion in the past two years buying local outlets, expanding its reach to 34 percent of U.S. households, according to Bloomberg Industries.
George L. Mahoney, president and chief executive officer of Media General, will lead the new company, which will keep the Media General name and remain based in Richmond, Virginia. New Young Broadcasting is based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Media General will have about 89.1 million shares outstanding once the deal is completed, according to a statement, giving a market value of about $870 million based on yesterday’s prices.
With the combination, Media General will own 30 network affiliated stations in 27 markets, reaching about 16.5 million U.S. TV households, or 14 percent of the company. The stations will include 11 CBS affiliates, nine working with NBC, seven ABC outlets and one with Fox.
NCAA’s Latham Lawyers Win Dismissal of Penn Sanctions Suit
The National Collegiate Athletic Association, represented by Latham & Watkins LLP, won the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging sanctions against Pennsylvania State University for its role in the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal.
The lawsuit brought by Governor Tom Corbett failed to show a violation of federal antitrust law, U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane said yesterday in her decision throwing out the case. Corbett said the fines restrained competition in the market for college sports. The NCAA countered in a presentation to the judge last month that Corbett’s arguments were insufficient to serve as the basis of an antitrust claim.
“Each of defendant’s arguments is strong enough to render the governor’s action under antitrust law a Hail Mary pass,” Kane said her 28-page opinion. “These arguments are well-founded in the law and require that the governor’s complaint be dismissed.”
Latham’s Washington-based team was led by partner J. Scott Ballenger, who argued the case, with associate Roman Martinez. Washington partners Everett Johnson Jr. and Douglas Greenburg and Brussels/Washington partner Michael Egge also advised on the matter.
A call to Corbett’s office was referred to General Counsel James Schultz. Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the state Office of the General Counsel, had no immediate comment on the ruling.
Wick Sollers, a spokesman for the family of deceased Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno, called the decision “disappointing,” and said in a statement that other litigation is pending and that the NCAA needs to provide more documentation for its actions.
Corbett sued the Indianapolis-based NCAA, the governing body for college sports, in January, challenging a $60 million fine levied against the university for its failure to prevent the sexual abuse by Sandusky, who was convicted of molesting boys when he was a football coach. He was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.
The case is Corbett v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, 1:13-cv-00006, U.S. District Court, Middle District of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg).
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Law Firms With Blogs Grow Revenue Faster, Survey Shows
Kevin O’Keefe, founder of the social media company LexBlog, talks with Sarah Kopit about who’s blogging in the AmLaw 200 law firms and how those firms are turning blogs into revenue.
The nation’s 200 highest-grossing firms have increased their blogging so that 78 percent of the firms are participating, with as many as 660 blogs. Employment is the most popular topic of blogs, with 91 blogs.
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