Mergers in 2013, Jones Day, Cadwalader: Business of Law

The first week of January brought several new law firm combinations. Midwestern firm Dickinson Wright PLLC announced a merger with Phoenix-based Mariscal, Weeks, McIntyre & Friedlander PA, to create a 350-lawyer firm. Houston-based civil litigation law firm Beirne Maynard & Parsons LLP acquired New Orleans’s Lemle & Kelleher LLP, to create an 80-lawyer firm. Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP absorbed Houston’s Powers & Frost LLP. Boston-based Rissman Hendricks Oliverio LLP joined Novak Druce Connolly Bove + Quigg LLP, which is based in Houston.

Dickinson Wright, founded in Detroit, has 12 offices in Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, Tennessee and Washington. Its combination with Mariscal Weeks, which has about 60 lawyers in its sole Phoenix office, expands the firm’s geographic range. In Arizona, the combined firm will operate under the name Dickinson Wright/Mariscal Weeks.

“The Arizona and Southwestern U.S. legal and business communities are key markets for our client base,” William T. Burgess, chief executive officer of Dickinson Wright, said in a statement about the motivation for the combination.

Beirne Maynard has five offices in Texas and Louisiana. The firm said in a statement that acquiring Lemle & Kelleher will allow it to expand its commercial transactions, securities, and white-collar defense and litigation practices, specifically in the areas of energy, environmental, employment, commercial, bankruptcy, transportation and maritime law.

Lemle & Kelleher, which had offices in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, traces its origins to the late 19th century when New Orleans was experiencing a boom as the shipping and commercial center of the South, the firm says on its website.

“We have combined skilled litigation and commercial transaction attorneys while strengthening our international reach and presence along the Gulf Coast,” Brit T. Brown, managing partner for Beirne Maynard said in a statement.

Wilson Elser, with almost 800 lawyers at 24 U.S. offices, almost doubled its numbers in Houston with the absorption of Powers & Frost’s eight lawyers. The firm now has 20 lawyers in Houston and 35 in Dallas.

Novak Druce, which completed a merger with Connolly Bove on Jan. 1, took on seven attorneys, including four partners, from Rissman. The new hires, who are opening a Boston office for the firm, make Novak Druce the seventh largest IP firm in the country with more than 140 attorneys, agents and technical advisers across eight offices, the firm said.


Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Joins Jones Day in Columbus

Jones Day hired former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Yvette McGee Brown, who will join the firm as a partner in the Columbus office where she will be part of the business and tort litigation practice.

McGee Brown has experience deciding constitutional, regulatory, utility, health care and contract cases. She was elected to the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, Domestic Relations and Juvenile Division, in 1992, where she served until 2002. After retiring from the bench, she created the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the firm said. She has also been a public company director for M/I Homes and sat on the board of Fifth Third Bank of Central Ohio. She sat on the Ohio Supreme Court from January 2011 through December of 2012.

“As we continue to expand our capabilities throughout the Midwest, Yvette brings a terrific judicial perspective to our world class litigation practice,” said Lyle Ganske, the partner responsible for coordinating the firm’s activities in Cleveland, Columbus and Pittsburgh.

Jones Day has more than 2,400 lawyers at 37 offices throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Cadwalader Hires Capital Markets Partner in Beijing

Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP announced that Rose Zhu, formerly a partner at K&L Gates LLP, where she specialized in capital markets, mergers and acquisitions and bank financing transactions, has joined the firm’s corporate group as a partner. Zhu is the fourth partner to join the firm’s Asia practice since 2012 and she will reside in the Beijing office, the firm said.

Zhu has worked with issuers and underwriters navigating complex cross-border transactions throughout Hong Kong, Europe and the U.S. She has advised clients such as China Development Bank, Sinochem, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, CITIC Bank and Postal Savings Bank of China, among others. She has also advised several investment banks, such as China International Capital Corp., Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley and Macquarie, leading transactions related to deal structure, deal protection, governance and defensive mechanisms, the firm said.

Cadwalader has lawyers in eight offices in the U.S., Europe and China.

Foley Adds Health-Care and Transactional Attorney in Boston

Foley & Lardner LLP announced that Christopher J. Donovan, formerly at partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP, has joined the firm’s health-care industry team and business law department as a partner in the Boston office. He will also be a member of the life sciences and senior living industry teams. He practiced at McDermott for almost 30 years and co-led the firm’s Post-Acute and Outpatient Services Strategy Affinity Group, the firm said.

Donovan’s practice is focused on counseling companies, as well as their investors and lenders, in mergers and acquisitions, recapitalizations, buyouts and restructurings. He represents clients in the life sciences and health service sectors, particularly in post-acute health care.

Foley & Lardner LLP has approximately 900 attorneys in 21 offices, in the U.S., Brussels and Asia.

McDermott Hires State & Local Tax Lawyers from Sutherland

McDermott Will & Emery LLP hired partner Stephen P. Kranz and at least one other lawyer in the firm’s state and local tax practice group in Washington. They were both previously with Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP.

Kranz focuses on state tax controversy and tax policy matters. He also is involved in taxpayer advocacy including audit defense and litigation, legislative monitoring, and the formation and leadership of taxpayer coalitions, the firm said. Previously, he was general counsel to trade association, Council on State Taxation.

In 2012, McDermott expanded its tax team with 11 new partners, including Washington tax controversy attorney Dwight Mersereau who previously served inside the Internal Revenue Service.

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

Edwards Wildman Hires Hong Kong Litigation Partner

John Yiu has joined Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP as a litigation partner in Hong Kong. Before joining Edwards Wildman, Yiu was a partner at ONC Lawyers in Hong Kong.

Yiu has experience in complex commercial litigation and arbitration. His practice includes insolvency and restructuring, employment litigation, and shipping litigation.

Edwards Wildman’s office in Hong Kong, which was founded in 2006, was formally integrated into Edwards Wildman on Jan. 1 and recognized as a law firm permitted to practice Hong Kong law. The firm has 650 lawyers in 15 offices in the U.S. London and Asia.

Roetzel Expands White With Four Attorneys in Florida

Roetzel & Andress LPA announced that three partners, Jon May, Andrew B. Demers and Paul A. Giordano, and an associate have joined the firm’s Florida offices, expanding the business litigation group’s white-collar crime and creditors’ rights services. May and Demers joined the Fort Lauderdale office, Giordano is based in Fort Myers.

May has spent more than 30 years practicing as a trial and appellate lawyer, most recently in private practice at his own firm of May & Cohen PA.

Demers’ practice focuses on representing banking and commercial clients in business litigation and commercial contract disputes. He previously was a partner with Fowler White Boggs PA in Fort Lauderdale.

Giordano handles business and commercial litigation matters, with a special focus on bankruptcy creditors’ rights, partnership disputes, commercial foreclosures, contract and corporate disputes, and general and professional liability lawsuits, the firm said. He also previously was a partner with Fowler White Boggs PA in Fort Myers.

Roetzel has more than 200 attorneys and 13 offices located throughout Ohio and Florida and in Chicago, New York and Washington.


JPMorgan Faces Sanction for Refusing to Provide Madoff Documents

The Treasury Department’s inspector general has threatened to punish JPMorgan Chase & Co. for failing to turn over documents to regulators investigating the bank’s ties to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

Inspector General Eric Thorson gave the largest U.S. bank a Jan. 11 deadline to cooperate with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency probe or risk sanctions for impeding the agency’s oversight. JPMorgan, according to the Dec. 21 letter, contends the information is protected by attorney-client privilege.

Thorson’s letter didn’t spell out what documents the OCC is seeking or the focus of its investigation. Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence after confessing to the fraud that once claimed to have $65 billion in customer assets.

The previously undisclosed OCC probe adds to the lender’s troubles in Washington, where several agencies and lawmakers are investigating the bank’s loss of at least $6.2 billion on botched derivatives trades. The losses have prompted regulators including the Federal Reserve to consider tightening proposed restrictions on proprietary trading.

Jennifer Zuccarelli, a JPMorgan spokeswoman, said the bank “will of course continue to work together with our regulators” on the investigation.

“This dispute does not go to the merits of the matter but it does raise an important issue of principle: Whether we and other banks, large and small alike, have the fundamental right long recognized in this country to communicate freely with and seek confidential guidance from their lawyers,” Zuccarelli said in an interview.

Bryan Hubbard, an OCC spokesman, declined to comment on the agency’s Madoff inquiry.

In the letter sent to JPMorgan general counsel Stephen Cutler, the inspector general -- the Treasury’s internal watchdog -- dismissed JPMorgan’s arguments on attorney-client privilege, saying the OCC “could not do its work” if banks were allowed to withhold information on that basis. The OCC asked the IG office to review the situation, Thorson said in the letter.

Failure to produce records “will have to be seen as a continuing purposeful impediment to the authority of the OCC,” the letter said, and would “require further action by our office.”

The trustee liquidating Madoff’s firm, Irving H. Picard, sued JPMorgan in December 2010, accusing the bank of aiding Madoff’s fraud. The lawsuit, eventually demanding $19 billion, the largest of Picard’s claims, has since been dismissed. Picard has appealed the ruling.

JPMorgan “had financial reports in its possession that clearly evidenced fraud,” David J. Sheehan, lead counsel for Picard and a partner at Baker & Hostetler LLP, said in a February 2011 statement. JPMorgan was the Madoff firm’s “primary banker for more than two decades,” Sheehan said.

In responding to Picard’s suit, the bank issued a statement in 2011 saying it “did not know about or in any way become a party to the fraud” and called it an “unfounded claim” that JPMorgan earned substantial fees from Madoff’s account. JPMorgan also objected in court when the trustee sought more freedom to use confidential Madoff documents provided by the bank.

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Case Western Reserve Dean: There’s No Oversupply of Lawyers

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects there will be 74,000 new lawyer jobs this decade, while American law schools will produce more than 400,000 graduates. Despite those numbers, “it’s not clear to me there’s an oversupply problem at all,” says Case Western Reserve Law School Dean Lawrence Mitchell.

With so many legal needs of the poor going unmet, “finding different paths for people who truly want to be lawyers opens up all sorts of possibilities” for law graduates to find jobs, Mitchell maintains.

“We’re running a business” that’s grown more expensive every year because of clinics and smaller class sizes, he tells Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia. Contrary to popular wisdom, “I don’t turn over a big chunk [of law school tuition dollars] to the university, and I’m not teaching 150 kids in a class,” he says. Mitchell wrote an op-ed in the New York Times in late November, taking to task the many critics of legal education.

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France Faces Difficulty Imposing 75% Tax, Lawyer Says

Arnaud Jamin, a tax lawyer at Fidal, discusses French President Francois Hollande’s plans to re-introduce a millionaires’ tax of 75 percent next year.

He speaks from Paris with Francine Lacqua and Guy Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “The Pulse.”

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