Bingham, Morgan Lewis, Patton Boggs: Business of Law

Bingham McCutchen LLP lost two groups of prominent partners yesterday.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP announced that Tara Higgins, Torsten Marshall and Rafael Galvan, energy and project finance partners from Bingham, joined the firm’s energy and infrastructure group in New York.

Gary R. Huffman and Joe Garcia Jr., two tax partners from Bingham, with energy industry experience, also left the firm yesterday for the Washington office of Vinson & Elkins LLP.

Higgins, formerly co-chair of Bingham’s energy and project finance group, will become co-head of Orrick’s U.S. energy practice, along with San Francisco partner Mark Weitzel. Her practice focuses primarily on domestic and international energy and infrastructure-related projects. Marshall’s practice is concentrated mainly in the energy, project finance and secured lending areas.

Galvan represents developers, investors and financial institutions in connection with the development, acquisition, financing and restructuring of energy, telecommunication, transportation and other infrastructure and industrial projects.

The new team expects to be joined by several associates from Bingham during the coming weeks, Orrick said.

The partners have represented clients such as GE Energy Financial Services, Overseas Private Investment Corp., Atlantic Power Corp. and the U.S. Energy Department, Orrick said.

“The energy sector continues to grow rapidly, and Orrick is committed to its role as a key player in the industry,” Michael Meyers, co-head of Orrick’s global energy and infrastructure practice, said in a statement.

In Washington, former Bingham tax partner Huffman has advised multinationals including oil and gas companies, V&E said in a statement. Huffman has led corporate acquisitions, asset sales and spinoffs, and structured strategic alliances, both domestic and international, the firm said.

Garcia, who practiced with Huffman at McKee Nelson, a tax and finance boutique, before the firm’s 2009 merger with Bingham, focuses on partnership taxation. He has counseled clients on developing and financing private power projects, oil refineries and telecommunications networks, the firm said.

Bingham spokesman Eric Miller said in a phone call, “We wish them well.”

Morgan Lewis Hires Business and Finance Partner in Boston

Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP hired transactional lawyer Mark B. Stein in its business and finance practice. Stein, who joins the Boston office, was previously with McDermott, Will & Emery LLP.

Stein advises on private equity and venture capital investments, often in the life sciences and health-care industries. He focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions, private-equity and venture-capital transactions, and general representation of operating companies. He also serves as outside general counsel to companies in industries including software, the firm said.

Morgan Lewis’s business and finance team has more than 300 transactional lawyers across its 24 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia, according to the firm. It has more than 1,600 legal professionals including lawyers, patent agents, benefits advisers, regulatory scientists and other specialists.

Norton Rose Hires Corporate Partner in Beijing

Norton Rose LLP appointed Barbara Li, formerly of Baker & McKenzie LLP, as a corporate partner in Beijing.

Li is dual-qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales as well as by the PRC Bar. She works primarily across the mining, infrastructure and energy sectors, advising on both inbound and outbound investment and mergers and acquisitions matters, the firm said.

With Li’s appointment, Norton Rose has eight partners in Beijing, and other China offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai. The firm has 13 offices across the Asia-Pacific region.

Worldwide, Norton Rose has 2,900 lawyers in 40 offices. It will merge with Fulbright & Jaworski LLP this year to create a 3,800-attorney firm.

Monica Quinn Joins Littler Mendelson in Los Angeles

Littler Mendelson PC hired Monica Quinn as a shareholder in its downtown Los Angeles office. Quinn was previously a partner at Allen Matkins Leck Gamble Mallory & Natsis LLP’s Los Angeles office.

Quinn has litigation and counseling experience on employment disputes including wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment and retaliation at all levels of state and federal court.

Littler Mendelson has more than 950 attorneys at 56 offices throughout the U.S. and internationally.

Hogan Lovells Dealmaker Lynch Leaves for Drinker Biddle

Brian J. Lynch joined Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP’s corporate and securities practice group as a partner. He joins the firm from the Philadelphia office of Hogan Lovells LLP.

Lynch focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions and capital markets transactions. He also counsels corporate clients on Securities and Exchange Commission reporting and compliance, corporate governance and general corporate and commercial matters.

Before entering private practice, Lynch worked for the SEC in the division of corporation finance and the office of chief counsel as well as the office of rulemaking.

Drinker Biddle has 650 lawyers in 11 U.S. offices.

Patton Boggs Hires Corporate Finance Lawyer for Middle East

Patton Boggs LLP hired Brian J. Pierce in the firm’s corporate finance practice group as a partner. Pierce, who will work throughout the Middle East and North Africa, joins from Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, where he was special counsel, Middle East, the firm said.

Pierce has experience in project development and finance, mergers and acquisitions, international corporate finance transactions and general corporate matters.

Among Pierce’s past work matters, he represented Emirates Aluminum Co. in connection with the $7 billion financing of its aluminum smelter complex in Abu Dhabi, the firm said. He also represented ING Group in its $100 million divestment of its U.S.-based private market real estate investment management business, the firm said.

Patton Boggs has about 550 attorneys in six offices in the U.S. and three in the Middle East.


Shift in White Collar Probe Tactics a Mark of Breuer’s Tenure

Lanny Breuer, the U.S. Justice Department’s outgoing criminal division chief, said prosecutors have a new paradigm for corporate crime investigations, with wiretaps and insider witnesses becoming core components in the search for fraud convictions.

Breuer, often criticized for his division’s inability to bring criminal cases against Wall Street executives in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, said he will leave his position March 1 after helping to implement tactics “that simply haven’t been used before.”

“We’re using wiretaps, flipping witnesses, pressuring witnesses -- we’ve been pretty aggressive,” Breuer, 54, said yesterday in an interview. “That has become the hallmark of those kinds of cases, and I think that is going to be the way white-collar case are investigated and prosecuted in the future.”

Breuer’s almost four years as assistant attorney general in charge of the criminal division are the longest tenure in that job in half a century. His division has overseen the largest criminal resolution in U.S. history in the $4 billion settlement with BP Plc over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Its investigation into the rigging of interest rates continues after settlements with two major banks, criminal charges against two traders and a guilty plea from a bank subsidiary.

Yet his critics seize on the shortcomings of his tenure, including an inability to pin cases on high-level Wall Street executives and the refusal to indict some financial institutions. Congressional investigators cited him for failing to notify superiors of problems during a bungled federal gun operation known as Fast and Furious.

Breuer said he understands the frustration with the lack of Wall Street prosecutions and said the industry’s behavior before the crisis was “morally reprehensible.” His difficulty is mirrored by U.S. attorneys’ offices around the country, which also have been unable to make cases against illegal behavior by those blamed for the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Breuer left the Covington & Burling law firm in 2009 to join the Justice Department. While he hasn’t decided what he plans next, he acknowledged that it probably won’t be difficult for him to find a job.

Breuer said he’s confident in what he’s leaving behind -- a division and a change in prosecutorial tactics that may pose a threat to future wrongdoing on Wall Street.

For more, click here.

Mexican Governor Negotiated Bribes, Ex-Wal-Mart Lawyer Says

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s Mexican unit used a current state governor there to facilitate $156,000 in bribes meant to help open stores, an ex-lawyer for the retailer told company officials in 2005, according to documents released by members of the U.S. Congress.

The payments were negotiated by Graco Ramirez Garrido Abreu, who at the time served as a federal lawmaker for the state of Morelos, a Wal-Mart summary of the accusations stated. It was released Jan. 10 by Democratic Representatives Henry Waxman of California and Elijah Cummings of Maryland, whose staff is investigating the lawyer’s allegations.

The accusations by attorney Sergio Cicero Zapata, who alleged Ramirez was “the main contact person” to speed needed permissions from the Urban Development Ministry, came in a summary of an Oct. 13, 2005, meeting with the retailer’s officials. Cicero, a 28-year veteran of the company, told them he set up the bribery scheme while employed by Wal-Mart. He was forced out in 2004 after colleagues questioned his oversight of payments to consultants in company-related real-estate deals.

Governor Ramirez denied Cicero’s claims, saying on his official website he had no relationship with Wal-Mart at the time in question. Partly based on Cicero’s accounts, the New York Times reported last year that at least $24 million in “suspect payments” were made in Mexico on Wal-Mart’s behalf to open stores. Cicero couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

Both U.S. and Mexican prosecutors said last year they were investigating the bribery allegations. Wal-Mart de Mexico SAB is the country’s largest private employer, with more than 209,000 employees. Twenty percent of Wal-Mart’s more than 10,000 stores worldwide are in Mexico, following growth during the past decade.

“There is nothing new in these documents,” Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove said. “This information has been part of the company’s ongoing investigation of potential violations of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for more than a year and has been the subject of two New York Times articles.”

For more, click here.

Wells Fargo Survey of Big Firms Shows Income Rose in 2012

Big law firms did well last year, according to a survey by Wells Fargo Private Bank’s Legal Group, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The survey of about 100 firms found that a 5 percent increase in gross revenues from 2011. Net income rose by 6 percent, while profit per equity partner climbed by almost 5 percent, the newspaper said.

Increased collections and a pickup in business prompted by the threat of the fiscal cliff may account for the gains, according to the Journal.

The report also showed that firms in the second tier of revenues, known as the AmLaw 200 for the trade magazine, The American Lawyer, which ranks firms by their finances, did better than the 100 richest firms.

For more, click here. (Password required.)

Firm News

Jackson Lewis Names Ackerstein National Director of Litigation

Jackson Lewis LLP Boston partner Joan Ackerstein will be the firm’s new national director of litigation. Ackerstein succeeds firm Chairman Vincent A. Cino, who has been the national director of litigation since 2006.

“Having served in that role previously, I understand what is involved, and I have full confidence in Joan’s ability to coordinate and monitor our litigation matters with immense skill and dedication,” Cino said in a statement.

Ackerstein will continue to counsel employers on workplace issues and litigate employment claims.

Jackson Lewis has 750 attorneys at 51 U.S. locations.

Dykema Appoints Michael Borders Chicago Office Head

Litigator Michael C. Borders is Dykema Gossett PLLC’s new Chicago office managing member. He succeeds former Chicago office managing member Derek Cottier.

Borders, who has been at the firm for more than 30 years, is a member of its executive board. His litigation practice includes insurance disputes, product liability, personal injury, commercial disputes and class actions.

Chicago is Dykema’s largest office, with almost 100 attorneys and government policy advisers. The firm has lawyers and professionals in 12 U.S. offices.


Apple Loses First ‘Big’ Case to MobileMedia, Lawyer Says

Steven Bauer, co-head of the patent law group at Proskauer Rose LLP, talks about his representation of patent-licensing firm MobileMedia Ideas LLC in its recent infringement case against Apple Inc. The maker of the iPhone lost the lawsuit when a federal jury decided that it had misappropriated protected technology for its handheld devices.

Bauer, speaking with Bloomberg Law’s Spencer Mazyck, also discusses the rise of U.S. patent jury awards in 2012 and reasons why several verdicts have been reversed with post-trial motions or on appeal.

To hear the podcast, click here.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.