Stikeman, Linklaters, Jones Day, Crowell: Business of Law

Slower growth and smaller financial gains -- trends law firms have faced during the past four years

Promontory’s Friend Rejoins OCC as Bank Regulator’s Top Counsel

Amy Friend, a former Senate Banking Committee lawyer who helped craft the Dodd-Frank Act, is rejoining the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency as the agency’s top counsel, the agency said today.

Friend, who joined Promontory Financial Group LLC in January 2011, will fill a vacancy at the OCC left by longtime chief counsel Julie Williams, who was hired by Washington-based Promontory after leaving the national-bank regulator last year.

“I’m very pleased that Amy has agreed to rejoin the OCC in this new capacity,” Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry said in a statement. “She has been involved in financial services regulation and legislation for more than 20 years, and she has an unparalleled knowledge of the Dodd-Frank Act, which we are still in the process of implementing.

Friend, who starts work at the OCC next month, was assistant chief counsel at the agency before she was hired by then-Senator Chris Dodd in 2008 to be the Senate Banking Committee’s top lawyer. She has also worked for other Democratic lawmakers, including Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.


Stikeman Advises ARMZ on C$1.3 Billion Purchase of Uranium One

Stikeman Elliott LLP is advising JSC Atomredmetzoloto, a Russian state-owned uranium miner that said it plans to buy the shares it doesn’t own in Uranium One Inc. for C$1.3 billion ($1.32 billion) and take the company private. Goodmans LLP and Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP are acting as legal counsel to Uranium One and the independent committee, respectively.

Stikeman’s legal team includes partners Amanda Linett, mergers and acquisitions; John Lorito, tax; Susan Hutton, regulatory; Andrea Boctor, pensions; and Lorna Cuthbert, employment.

The Goodmans team includes partners Jonathan Lampe and Neill May, corporate/mergers and acquisitions, and Alan Bowman, tax.

Cassels partners advising Uranium One’s special committee of the board of directors included Paul Stein and Jeff Roy.

Uranium One in-house counsel include John Sibley, Executive Vice President, general counsel and Secretary, Jane Luck, Vice President and legal counsel and Bozidar Crnatovic, legal counsel.

Atomredmetzoloto, which together with units owns 51.4 percent of Uranium One, and its Effective Energy NV affiliate offered C$2.86 a share, the Vancouver-based target said in a statement yesterday. The offer from the Moscow-based company, known as ARMZ, is a 32 percent premium to Uranium One’s 20-day weighted average price in Toronto, it said.

ARMZ aims to build a company covering the full nuclear cycle, from mining uranium to building reactors, said Leila Kulbayeva, mining and industrials research director at Visor Capital in Almaty, Kazakhstan. ARMZ may be seeking to gain from reduced uranium prices following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and its offer for Uranium One is low, she said.

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Firm News

Duane Morris Names New Co-Heads of Real Estate Practice Group

Law firm Duane Morris LLP named partners Chester Lee in New York and George Kroculick in Philadelphia as co-chairmen of its firmwide real estate practice group. They succeed partner Marc Brookman, who will continue his practice, in heading the group.

Kroculick focuses his real estate practice on eminent domain -- including just compensation, right to take, relocation assistance and highway access management, as well as land use and land use litigation -- and real estate tax relief matters.

Lee provides advice to both lenders and borrowers in secured financings and loan restructurings, including construction loans, real-estate-owned properties, leasehold financings, debtor-in-possession loans and exit financings, among other matters. He also has represented international and domestic investors in natural resource acquisitions that include uranium and coal mining projects and has handled the financing of energy assets, such as wind farms and propane gas distribution facilities.

Duane Morris’s real estate practice has more than 90 lawyers. The firm has more than 700 attorneys in 24 offices in the U.S., London and Asia.

Linklaters Appoints New French Head of Intellectual Property

Linklaters LLP appointed Pauline Debre, newly hired from Bird & Bird LLP as counsel, head of its intellectual property department in Paris.

Debre has IP experience in national and cross-border patent litigation, including in the field of life sciences and telecommunications, the firm said. She also has expertise in advising and assisting clients on negotiating and drafting contracts related to IP rights.

Linklaters has lawyers in 28 offices in Europe, Asia, the Americas and the Middle East.


Aitken, Former Canada Competition Watchdog, Joins Bennett Jones

Melanie Aitken, the former Canadian competition watchdog, has rejoined Bennett Jones LLP to run the law firm’s office in Washington.

Aitken, who stepped down as competition bureau commissioner in September, will also act as co-head of the firm’s antitrust and competition practice, according to a statement from Bennett Jones LLP. Aitken was a partner at Bennett Jones before moving to the competition bureau in 2005.

Aitken developed a reputation as a guardian of Canada’s antitrust rules in battles against companies such as Visa Inc. and Air Canada. She also oversaw an increase of cases where companies made concessions, such as selling assets, to get mergers approved.

Rothman Joins Sills Cummis to Head New Defense Practice

Eight-term former New Jersey Congressman Steven R. Rothman has joined the law firm Sills Cummis & Gross PC, where he will head the firm’s new interdisciplinary defense industry group and practice in its government relations/public policy and litigation practice groups.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Rothman, a Democrat, was a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the Subcommittee on Defense, where he helped procure funding for missile defense programs and other defense-related projects, the firm said. He also sat on the House Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs.

‘‘We are very pleased that someone with Steve Rothman’s record of accomplishments and leadership chose to practice law at our firm after eight terms in Congress,” Sills Cummis & Gross Chairman Steven E. Gross said in a statement. “Our clients will find him to be a valuable resource, and we look forward to working with him for many years to come.”

At Sills Cummis & Gross, Rothman will head the new defense industry group, which will handle litigation, government relations and corporate matters for aerospace and defense sector clients. Rothman, a general commercial litigator, will also represent clients in their dealings with elected and appointed officials from the federal, state, county and local governments. Rothman was a Bergen County Surrogate Court Judge from 1993 to 1996.

Sills Cummis includes other political names including former New Jersey Attorney General Peter G. Verniero, also a former State Supreme Court justice.

Sills Cummis has more than 150 attorneys in offices in New Jersey and New York.


Thomas Makes Joke in About Defense Lawyers Alma Mata

Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at a U.S. Supreme Court argument for the first time in almost seven years, evoking laughter as he made a wisecrack during a discussion about Ivy League law schools.

Neither the court’s official transcript nor the audio recording are clear as to exactly what Thomas said. He jumped into the conversation while Justice Antonin Scalia was asking a Louisiana prosecutor about the adequacy of a criminal defendant’s lawyers.

The lawyer, Carla S. Sigler, confirmed first that one member of the defense team was a graduate of Yale Law School and then that a second attended Harvard Law School. Scalia, a Harvard graduate, responded, “son of a gun.”

Thomas, a Yale graduate who until recently had a strained relationship with the school, quipped that a Yale degree could be a sign of incompetence, rather than competence, according to Scotusblog, which tracks the court and is sponsored by Bloomberg Law.

The transcript then indicates laughter, after which Sigler responded, “I would refute that, Justice Thomas.”

Thomas hasn’t asked a question at argument since Feb. 22, 2006, when he interjected in a South Carolina death penalty case. Since then, he has limited his courtroom comments to summaries of his opinions.


Jones Day, Kilpatrick, Crowell Advise Hostess and Flowers

Jones Day advised Hostess Brands Inc., which signed Flowers Foods Inc. to $390 million in contracts to be the lead bidder at auctions on Feb. 28 for most of the bread business, including 20 plants, 38 depots and brands including Wonder bread. Flowers is represented by Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP and Crowell & Moring LLP.

The bankruptcy judge in New York will approve auction and sale procedures at a Jan. 25 hearing. If the judge agrees, other bids will be due Feb. 25. A hearing to approve the sales will be March 5. The Feb. 28 auction determines if there is a better bid than Flowers’ offer.

The Jones Day team was led by mergers and acquisitions partners John Kane and Bob Profusek. The Jones Day team also included partners Lisa Laukitis and Heather Lennox, business restructuring and reorganization; Phil Proger and Mike Knight, antitrust; Will Herzberger, real estate; and Mary Beth Deemer, environmental

Kilpatrick Townsend partners included Todd Meyers, Paul Rosenblatt, Ben Barkley, Miles Alexander, Stan Blackburn, Bill Brewster, Ted Davis, and Virginia Taylor.

Crowell & Moring LLP is serving as antitrust regulatory counsel to Flowers Foods. The Crowell & Moring team is lead by partner and co-chairman of the firm’s antitrust group, William Randolph Smith.

Hostess says the sales must occur quickly because the Hostess brands already lost shelf space to competitors. The remaining bread assets and the snack-cake business will be sold separately.

The purchase price will be paid in cash. Proceeds will be applied to payment of Hostess’s secured debt. Flowers isn’t taking any of the plants that go along with the Beefsteak brand.

Thomasville, Georgia-based Flowers’ best-known brands are Nature’s Own and Tastykake. The 44 bakeries generate about $3 billion a year in sales, Flowers said.

The bakery union went on strike Nov. 9 after Hostess imposed contract concessions authorized by the bankruptcy judge in October. The strike forced Hostess to liquidate, with the loss of more than 18,000 jobs.

Now based in Irving, Texas, Hostess filed under Chapter 11 for a second time in January 2012, listing assets of $982 million against liabilities totaling $1.43 billion. Brand names include Wonder, Hostess, Merita, Dolly Madison, Drake’s and Butternut.

The new case is In re Hostess Brands Inc., 12-22052, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of New York (White Plains).