Jones Day, DLA, Sullivan & Cromwell: Business of Law

Mergers and acquisitions lawyer Wesley R. Johnson Jr. was named partner-in-charge of Jones Day’s New York office. Johnson succeeds Willis Goldsmith, who led Jones Day in New York since January 2008. Goldsmith will continue his practice advising clients on labor and employment matters as a partner in New York.

Johnson’s practice focuses on cross-border mergers and acquisitions. He first joined Jones Day’s Paris Office in 1986, where he was partner-in-charge from 1994 to 2010.

His transactions have included French clients such as France Telecom/Orange, Alcatel-Lucent, Société Générale, Credit Agricole, Sanofi, Veolia, Total, and PSA Peugeot-Citroen. He has also advised U.S. clients on their European investments and Chinese clients including China Investment Corp., Sinochem, and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation, the firm said.

Steve Brogan, managing partner of Jones Day, said in a statement that Johnson’s management experience in Paris makes him “extremely well suited to lead our New York office, the largest office in the firm and one that is marked by the highest levels of competency in all disciplines necessary to respond to client needs in New York and to do so with real efficiency.”

Jones Day’s New York office opened in 1986 and has grown to almost 300 lawyers, making it the firm’s largest. The office is home to leaders of eight of the firm’s global practices: banking and finance, business restructuring and reorganization, capital markets, corporate criminal investigations, financial institutions litigation and regulation, intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions, and securities litigation and SEC enforcement, the firm said.

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

Labor and Employment Firms Expand in San Diego and Michigan

Two labor and employment firms expanded last week with new offices. Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC opened an office in San Diego, headed by litigator Spencer Skeen, who moved to the firm from Fisher & Phillips LLP.

Jackson Lewis LLP opened an office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and hired partner Timothy J. Ryan and counsel Linda L. Ryan, both formerly with Kotz Sangster Wysocki PC. The office will be overseen by Maurice Jenkins, who is the managing partner of Jackson Lewis’s office in Detroit as well.

Ogletree’s San Diego office is the firm’s fifth in California and 43rd to house its 650 lawyers. The new office is the fourth the firm has opened in less than a year. Jackson Lewis has 750 attorneys at 51 U.S. locations.


DLA Piper to Close Glasgow Office, Sell Insurance Practice

DLA Piper LLP and Allen & Overy LLP are among international law firms moving jobs to cheaper locations or cutting positions to reduce costs.

DLA Piper plans to close its office in Glasgow, Scotland, and sell its defendant-insurance practice, spokesman Nick Bell said in a statement Jan. 26. The firm is also shrinking its multi-site document-production unit, he said.

Earlier this month, the firm opened an office in Seoul, headed by Daniel Lee, managing partner for Korea. DLA Piper has a total of about 4,200 lawyers in more than 30 countries.

The closing of the firm’s Glasgow office comes as some global law firms restructure their workforces. Allen & Overy is transferring 43 support staff to Belfast from continental Europe and the U.S., the firm said in a statement Jan. 26.

The office was opened in 2011 to provide support services that were previously based in the firm’s London headquarters at a lower cost, the firm said. Allen & Overy is offering relocation packages to its staff in an effort to minimize job losses, according to the statement.

“We understand that these changes will be difficult for those of our staff in each location who are affected, and we are committed to supporting them and treating them fairly,” Allen & Overy global managing partner Wim Dejonghe said. “But with low economic growth across many developed markets, we must ensure we are operating in a way that will deliver the cost efficiencies our clients expect of us.”

Another U.K. law firm, Eversheds LLP, has proposed a plan to close its 29-person Copenhagen office and open one in Beijing, the Financial Times reported Jan. 26.


AT&T to Buy Spectrum From Verizon Wireless for $1.9 Billion

Sullivan & Cromwell LLP advised AT&T Inc., the second-biggest U.S. wireless carrier, on its agreement to acquire airwaves from larger rival Verizon Wireless for $1.9 billion, helping bolster its network in a region that covers 42 million people. Verizon’s in-house lawyers worked on the deal according to two people familiar with the matter.

The 700-megahertz spectrum spans 18 states, including California, Texas, New York and Florida, AT&T said Jan. 25 in a regulatory filing. The deal is expected to be completed in the second half of 2013.

The Sullivan & Cromwell team includes Los Angeles mergers and acquisitions partner Eric M. Krautheimer.

The Dallas-based company will use the airwaves to build out its next-generation network, which relies on a technology called long-term evolution, or LTE. AT&T plans to reach 300 million people in the U.S. with its LTE network by the end of 2014.

Verizon is selling airwaves to its biggest competitor after forging a separate spectrum deal with cable companies. Verizon won regulatory approval last year for a $3.6 billion acquisition of unused airwaves from Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable Inc. and other cable providers.

Verizon said last April that it would sell other spectrum if regulators allowed the company to complete the cable deal. Advocacy groups such as Public Knowledge and Free Press had opposed the cable transaction, saying it wouldn’t promote competition in the telecommunications industry.

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Lateral Partner Moves Round-Up: Jones Day, Duane Morris

Jones Day expanded its German banking and finance practice with the addition of three new partners from White & Case LLP. Annica Lindegren in Frankfurt and Nick Wittek join in Frankfurt, while Ulf Kreppel joins the firm in Munich. Lindegren was co-head of the bank finance practice at White & Case from 2001. Kreppel has led the White & Case structured finance practice since 2003, the firm said. Wittek’s practice focuses on structured finance and banking regulation and compliance.

“The arrival of this strong team of banking and finance lawyers demonstrates that we have become one of the most attractive firms for high-profile practitioners in Germany. Jones Day’s ’One Firm Worldwide’ culture, based on team effort, collegiality, and putting clients first, is more compelling today than ever before,” Angsar Rempp, partner-in-charge of Jones Day Germany, said in a statement.

Duane Morris LLP hired David A. Sussman in the firm’s corporate practice group as a partner in its Newark office. He joins the firm from Day Pitney LLP, where he was co-chair of that firm’s private equity and investment funds practice group. Sussman advises investment advisers and others in connection with launching investment partnerships, including hedge funds, private equity funds, venture capital funds and real estate funds.

Mayer Brown LLP announced that William T. Heller IV and Harry R. Beaudry have joined the firm as partners in its corporate and securities practice in Houston. Previously, Heller and Beaudry were partners at Thompson & Knight LLP. Heller represents clients in corporate and securities law matters, with a focus on the energy industry, including oilfield services and upstream oil and gas. Beaudry represents clients in public and private offerings of equity and debt securities, mergers and acquisitions, corporate reorganizations and divestitures of businesses.

Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP LLP hired Matthew R. Nicely in its international trade department as a partner in Washington. Nicely was most recently a partner and head of the international trade and customs practice group at Thompson Hine LLP.

Reed Smith LLP hired Jeff Legault as a partner in its corporate and securities practice in the firm’s New York office. Legault was previously a partner in the private equity group of Goodwin Procter LLP.

Laura M. Burson has joined Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP as a partner in the firm’s intellectual property practice group, in the firm’s Los Angeles office. Burson joins from Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Los Angeles.

Intellectual property law firm Oblong Spivak LLP hired an electrical practice group from Oliff & Berridge, Plc. The group includes partner John S. Kern, as well as an associate and a technical specialist.

Kleinberg, Kaplan, Wolff & Cohen PC announced that Claudio A. De Vellis has joined the firm in the estate planning and administration practice as a partner from Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. He brings an associate with him from the firm.

Morris, Manning & Martin, LLP is expanding its tax practice with the addition of Anthony Boggs, who joins as a partner in Atlanta. He was previously a partner at Bryan Cave LLP. Boggs will provide tax-related legal services across the firm’s key practice areas including real estate, real estate capital markets, international trade, corporate mergers and acquisitions and technology.


Obama Labor Board Recess Appointments Invalid, Court Rules

President Barack Obama’s recess appointments to the U.S. National Labor Relations Board last year were “constitutionally invalid” because the Senate wasn’t in recess at the time, a federal appeals court ruled.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington in a unanimous ruling Jan. 25 sided with Republican lawmakers and a canning company that challenged the appointments. The judges said the definition of “the Recess” in the Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause is limited to the period between one session of Congress and the next, and that Congress had begun a new session at the time the president made the appointments.

Noel Francisco of Jones Day, who represented the canning company challenging the appointments, said anyone subject to regulations created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would be able to file a lawsuit in Washington challenging them under the argument that Cordray’s appointment was invalid.

The ruling is the first substantive decision by a federal appeals court on several challenges to the president’s naming of the NLRB members on Jan. 4, 2012, while the Senate was holding so-called pro-forma sessions that sometimes involved a single senator appearing in the chamber every third day.

To prevent Obama from making appointments after Congress started a holiday break last December, House and Senate Republicans refused to adopt a resolution to formally adjourn.

Congressional Republicans were seeking to block the president from appointing former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray as the first head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, having refused a confirmation vote since he was nominated in July 2011.

Obama put Cordray in the post on the same day as the NRLB board members. That appointment is also being contested in a lawsuit in federal court in Washington. Obama renominated Cordray Jan. 24.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 41 other Republican senators filed briefs challenging the NLRB appointments, and McConnell attended oral arguments in the case.

Mark Pearce, the chairman of the NLRB, said in a statement that the board will continue to issue decisions while more than a dozen similar challenges are pending in other courts.

The labor board’s website lists more than 200 decisions issued since Jan. 4, 2012 when the recess appointments were made.

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Article Notes Possible Avenue for Disciplining Law Schools

Fifteen law schools have been sued by their graduates for publishing allegedly fraudulent employment data. The graduates have yet to win any of the cases.

Professor Ben Trachtenberg, of University of Missouri School of Law, may have another way for the graduates to prevail.

In a forthcoming law review article, he notes that the Model Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit lawyers from engaging in dishonesty and misrepresentation, even beyond the practice of law. Many law school officials are licensed attorneys and are subject to professional discipline. He points out that lawyers with first-hand knowledge of the alleged misconduct have a duty to report them.

Trachtenberg believes that a bar ethics complaint could provide a measure of justice and, if successful, have a significant effect on the marketing practices of American law schools.

To see the video, click here.

Law Professor: Schools May Close if 2-Year Program Adopted

A proposal to allow students to leave law school after two years, take the bar and practice could lead to fewer law schools, according to one of its authors, Professor Samuel Estreicher of New York University School of Law.

Under the plan, only students who remain for the traditional third year would actually receive a law degree. Another consequence of the proposal is that some schools might increase tuition to make up for the revenue lost by students taking only two years of classes. But because tuition costs are already so high that “I don’t think most schools have that ability,” he says. “Even the great brand schools will not have the ability to jack up their price much more.”

But the proposal would also significantly trim student debt levels, making it easier for students to serve low-income clients. “I see this as an access to justice proposal,” he said. Professor Estreicher speaks with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia.

To see the video, click here.

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