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Sutherland Joins With Energy Boutique: Business of Law

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is combining with Arbis LLP, a boutique law firm with offices in London and Geneva that features a strong energy practice, to give the U.S. firm its first international offices.

“The Arbis team complements and expands the services we provide, particularly in the shipping, downstream transaction, and shipping and trade dispute resolution sectors,” Sutherland managing partner Mark D. Wasserman said in a statement. “Between our firms, we represent 11 of the top 15 global independent energy trading houses and seven of the top 10 investment banks.”

Arbis, which focuses on transactional, regulatory, dispute-resolution and crisis-management services, has nine lawyers. The firm will be known as Arbis Sutherland LLP in London and Geneva.

“Our clients will immediately benefit from this natural combination and the depth and breadth that Sutherland’s energy practice brings,” London co-partner-in-charge Mark Aspinall said in a statement.

Sutherland’s energy, environmental and commodities practice group has more than 70 lawyers who counsel crude oil, natural gas, LNG, electric power, electric cooperative, renewable and alternative energy, oil pipeline and nuclear energy clients, the firm said.

Partner Moves

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Joins Sidley Austin in Boston

Jack W. Pirozzolo, a former first assistant U.S. attorney in Boston who worked on the cases against James J. “Whitey” Bulger and Boston Marathon bombing defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, joined Sidley Austin LLP’s Boston office as a partner and member of the white-collar, government-litigation and investigations practice.

“The experience Jack has gained at the U.S. Attorney’s Office will allow him to immediately provide value and insight to our clients in a range of industries,” Mark Hopson, managing partner of Sidley’s Washington office and co-global coordinator of its white-collar practice, said in a statement.

Former SEC Official Matthew Rossi Joins Mayer Brown

Mayer Brown LLP announced that Matthew Rossi joined the firm in Washington as a partner in its securities litigation and enforcement group. He was previously at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Enforcement Division, where he was assistant chief litigation counsel.

At the SEC, he primarily investigated and litigated violations of the federal securities law by investment advisers, hedge fund managers, broker-dealers, large financial institutions and others, the firm said.

“Matt is a highly regarded securities lawyer and litigator with a distinguished career in both government and private practice, and we are thrilled to have him join Mayer Brown,” Daniel Masur, partner-in-charge of Mayer Brown’s Washington office, said in a statement.


Cleary Gottlieb Advises AmEx on Business-Travel Stake Sale

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP is advising American Express Co., which agreed to sell a 50 percent stake in its business-travel division for $900 million as it seeks to boost revenue from corporate bookings.

AmEx will create a joint venture with an investor group formed by Certares International Bank LLC that includes Qatar Holding LLC and funds managed by BlackRock Inc. and Macquarie Capital, according to a statement from AmEx and the Qatari fund.

Dechert LLP is legal adviser to the Certares investor group on the transaction. Linklaters LLP advised Qatar Holding; Ropes & Gray LLP advised BlackRock on behalf of managed funds; and Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP advised Macquarie Capital.

The Cleary Gottlieb team is led by New York mergers and acquisitions partner Paul Shim and includes partners Tihir Sarkar, M&A; Mark Nelson and Romano Subiotto, antitrust; Arthur Kohn, employee benefits; Len Jacoby, IP; Bill McRae, tax; Derek Bush and Paul Marquardt, regulatory; and Steven Horowitz, real estate.

Linklaters is advising Qatar Holding with a deal team led by partner Tom McGrath. Willkie represented Macquarie Capital with a team led by partner A. Mark Getachew.

Dechert corporate partners Geraldine Sinatra, Stephen Leitzell and tax partner Edward Lemanowicz worked on the deal.

For more, click here.


Chevron Faces Lawyer’s Appeal of Ecuador Fraud Finding

A New York lawyer who won a $9.5 billion pollution judgment against Chevron Corp. in Ecuador said he will fight a U.S. judge’s finding that he resorted to bribery and fraud to secure the award.

The lawyer, Steven Donziger, filed a notice of appeal yesterday in Manhattan federal court to challenge this month’s decision by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. The ruling left Donziger, who has spent two decades fighting Chevron, with a slimmer chance of securing compensation for rain-forest dwellers in Ecuador’s Lago Agrio area who claimed their land was turned into a toxic dumping ground for foreign oil interests.

Donziger also asked the judge to delay enforcing his ruling, saying it is “without precedent” and “unlikely to survive appeal.”

“It seeks to pre-emptively undermine the judicial decree of a foreign sovereign nation and, in so doing, to let Chevron Corp. off the hook for decades of deliberate pollution in the Amazon rain forest,” Donziger said.

In his findings, reached in a racketeering lawsuit filed by San Ramon, California-based Chevron, Kaplan said Donziger paid off a judge and fabricated evidence to win the $9.5 billion award, which was cut in half from an original $19 billion by Ecuador’s highest court on Nov. 12.

For more, click here.

Ford Seeks Garlock Asbestos Trial Transcripts

Ford Motor Co. joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in seeking transcripts of a trial in which a bankruptcy judge ruled the “impropriety of some law firms” representing asbestos personal-injury plaintiffs led to “unfairly inflating recoveries against” Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, a unit of EnPro Industries Inc.

The Chamber of Commerce’s Legal Newsline filed papers early this month asking U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George R. Hodges in Charlotte, North Carolina, to unseal transcripts of the trial culminating in the January decision. Before the trial, Hodges ruled that the proceedings would be closed to the public.

Ford joined the fray on March 14, saying it “may have been induced into inflated settlement in some of the same cases” that Hodges reviewed in his opinion. For possible use in cases where Ford paid asbestos settlements, the automaker wants Hodges to unseal the transcript, trial exhibits and disclosures by the asbestos plaintiffs’ lawyers about their clients.

Aetna Inc., the insurance company, filed last month for lists of the lawyers’ asbestos clients.

Hodges said in his January decision that claimants’ lawyers previously withheld evidence about the comparative degree of exposure to Garlock’s products. Legal Newsline said Hodges’s opinion made “misconduct by asbestos plaintiffs and their lawyers the focus of national debate.”

The official committee of Garlock asbestos claimants last week asked Hodges to throw out Legal Newsline’s March filing.

For more, click here.

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