Greenberg, Clifford Chance, Venable: Business of Law

Greenberg Traurig LLP announced leadership changes, including the promotion of Hilarie Bass to co-president from global operating shareholder. Bass, a Miami partner, is the first female president of the firm and holds the highest position a woman has held there.

A former head of the firm’s litigation department, Bass is lead counsel for the Homebuilder Group in the Chinese Drywall MDL.

Brian Duffy, a Denver partner and the firm’s global litigation practice chairman, will be co-president.

Former President Matt Gorson moves to co-chairman of the firm along with Cesar L. Alvarez, who has been executive chairman. Larry Hoffman, a former chairman, will become founding chairman.

Bass’s promotion comes on the heels of a December lawsuit, filed by a former Philadelphia partner who claims that women at the firm are paid less and given fewer opportunities for advancement than men.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in June found “reasonable cause to believe” that the firm violated federal law by underpaying female partners in the Philadelphia office and retaliating against the woman when she complained about it.

Bass, in a statement issued in December, called the lawsuit “a financially motivated publicity stunt” and said it lacks merit.

Four vice presidents were also named by Richard A. Rosenbaum, the firm’s chief executive officer. They are Ernest Greer, managing shareholder of the firm’s Atlanta office; Brad Kaufman, co-chairman of the national securities litigation practice; Patricia Menendez-Cambo, chairwoman of the global practice and co-chair of the infrastructure and project finance practice; and Keith Shapiro, chairman of the Chicago office and co-chairman of the business reorganization practice.

“Change will occur in an orderly manner over several years,” Rosenbaum said in a statement. “We are pleased to have so many talented leaders and performers, not just those with titles.”

Greenberg has about 1,750 attorneys at 35 offices in the U.S., Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

Clifford Chance Elects Americas Regional Managing Partner

Evan Cohen was elected Clifford Chance LLP’s regional managing partner for the Americas. Cohen, a New York-based partner, succeeds Craig Medwick, who will return to his corporate practice when his term ends April 30.

Cohen has expertise in acquisition and leveraged finance, project finance and syndicated lending and restructurings. He has led the Americas banking and finance practice at Clifford Chance since 2005.

Under his leadership, the asset finance team advised on 10 aircraft finance-related transactions, the energy and infrastructure team advised on $4 billion in renewable energy projects through a U.S. government program, and the financial services regulatory groups were integrated to handle U.S. and European cross-border matters, the firm said.

Cohen thanked Medwick for leadership during a time of economic turbulence in the U.S. market.

“He helped us build a strong foundation to deliver profitable growth,” Cohen said in a statement.

Clifford Chance has 3,400 legal advisers at 35 offices in 25 countries.


Former FCC Public Safety, Homeland Security Chief Joins Venable

A former chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau for the Federal Communications Commission, James Arden Barnett Jr., is joining Venable LLP in Washington, where he will co-chair the telecommunications group and be a partner in the firm’s cyber security practice.

Barnett, a retired Navy rear admiral, most recently was senior vice president of national security policy at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. While there, he focused on policy issues related to national defense, cybersecurity, supply chain threats and public safety broadband communications. He wrote a report on the challenges facing a nationwide public safety broadband network, the firm said.

At the FCC, Barnett worked to reduce botnets, secure the domain name system and reduce Internet route hijacking under the auspices of the Cybersecurity and Communications Reliability Division, which he created, the firm said. He was chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at the FCC from July 2009 through April 2012.

“At a time when many people were talking about ways to respond to cyber assaults, Jamie was implementing protocols at the FCC that have fortified our collective ability to protect the nation’s networks, whether government, business or industry,” Brock Landry, chairman of Venable’s government division, said in a statement.

At Venable, Barnett joins Frederick Joyce as the other communications group co-chairman. The firm has seven U.S. offices.

Cooley Practice Heads Leave Firm to Join Kirkland, Proskauer

Cooley LLP lost two partners in firm leadership positions Feb. 6, to different law firms. Cooley tax practice group chairman Daniel P. Meehan left to join Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago. Connie N. Bertram, Cooley’s Washington employment and labor and government contractor compliance groups head, joined Proskauer Rose LLP.

Meehan, a former tax associate in Kirkland’s Chicago office, focuses on the tax aspects of private fund formation, private equity transactions and mergers and acquisitions, the firm said.

“It was a difficult decision to leave Cooley, but I am excited to rejoin Kirkland and its outstanding tax group,” Meehan said in a statement. “Kirkland’s private fund and transactional practices are at the forefront of the industry, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work again with colleagues in those groups.”

Bertram, who joins Proskauer as a partner in its Washington office, will co-head the firm’s Washington labor and employment practice and the firm’s government regulatory compliance and relations and whistleblowing and retaliation groups.

Bertram defends employers in high-profile litigation and has experience litigating whistle-blower, restrictive-covenant and trade-secret claims and disputes involving executives, the firm said. She also advises federal government contractors and subcontractors on whistle-blower, affirmative action and compliance issues. She joins Guy Brenner, who will be senior counsel and co-head of Proskauer’s noncompete and trade-secrets group.

Cooley had no comment on the departures, according to a firm spokesman. The firm did announce a new partner yesterday. Jamie Leigh joined the business department as a member of the mergers and acquisitions group. Leigh, who will be based in Cooley’s San Francisco office, joins from Latham & Watkins LLP, where she was a partner in the firm’s mergers and acquisitions and public company representation practices.

Haynes & Boone, Chadbourne & Parke Hire Partners in Mexico City

Haynes & Boone LLP and Chadbourne & Parke LLP made recent hires in Mexico City. Ariel Ramos joined Haynes & Boone as a partner in the finance practice group. He joins the firm from White & Case LLP. Ramos, who has been practicing for 20 years, focuses on transactions related to the development and financing of infrastructure projects, the firm said.

Chadbourne also hired an energy finance attorney, Jose Antonio Prado Carranza. Prado was general counsel for Comision Federal de Electricidad, Mexico’s state-owned electric facility, before joining the firm. Before that, he worked at Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned petroleum company, where he served as chief legal officer for control and compliance as well as general counsel for contracts and corporate affairs, the firm said.

Los Angeles Lateral Partner Hires: Jackson Lewis, Alston & Bird

Jackson Lewis LLP hired Leila Nourani in its Los Angeles office as partner. Nourani joins from Foley & Lardner LLP, where she was chairwoman of the Los Angeles office’s litigation department from 2008 to 2011.

Her practice focuses on the defense of claims for sexual harassment, discrimination, defamation, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, violations of California Business and Professions Code Sections 17200, as well as contract and breach of fiduciary duty claims and CFAA violations, the firm said.

Charles W. Cox joined Alston & Bird LLP’s litigation team as a partner in the Los Angeles office. He was previously in the Los Angeles office of Latham & Watkins LLP.

Cox focuses on representing clients in complex commercial litigation, including stockholder litigation, class actions, derivative suits and matters related to mergers and acquisitions, the firm said.

Dallas Roundup: Restructuring Partner, Former U.S. Attorney

John Mitchell joined Baker & McKenzie LLP’s corporate and securities practice as a partner. Mitchell, who will be based in Dallas, was previously a partner at Vinson & Elkins LLP. Mitchell’s practice covers restructuring and reorganization, including the representation of lenders, creditors, debtors and trustees. Specifically, he focuses on complex bankruptcy, out-of-court workouts and sales, voluntary liquidations, receiverships and asset sales, the firm said. His recent roles include lead counsel to Trico Marine Services Inc. and representing exploration and production company CDX Gas LLC.

Patton Boggs LLP hired James T. Jacks, a former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, as a partner in the Dallas office. Jacks joins the firm’s litigation and dispute resolution practice group. He will focus on client matters involving internal investigations, white-collar crime, securities fraud, health-care fraud and national security.

As U.S. attorney, he managed an office of more than 100 lawyers with an annual budget of about $20 million, the firm said.


A Better 2012 for Big Law (With Big Asterisks)

Law firm profits at a selection of the largest U.S. firms increased by 4.3 percent in 2012, but “we do have some concerns about what drove the results,” Dan DiPietro, chairman of Citi Private Bank’s Law Firm Group, tells Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia.

At the 179 firms Citi surveyed -- 80 Am Law 100 firms, 49 Am Law 200 firms, and 50 additional firms -- demand grew just

0.2 percent. Revenue increased 3.6 percent in 2012, much of that because of deal work that began, ended and was collected in the fourth quarter because of concerns about increasing tax rates in 2013, he says.

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S&P Lawsuit Goes Before Former Prosecutor, Clinton Appointee

The judge who will preside over the U.S. government’s lawsuit against Standard & Poor’s is a former prosecutor and Vietnam War veteran who travels to Afghanistan to help reform the judiciary in that war-torn country, Bloomberg News’ Edvard Pettersson reports.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter in Santa Ana, California, is assigned to the case the Justice Department filed Feb. 4. The government accuses McGraw-Hill Cos. and its S&P unit of knowingly understating the credit risks of residential mortgage-backed securities and collateralized-debt obligations in order to gain more business.

Carter, 68, was nominated by President Bill Clinton in

1998. Before becoming a federal judge, he was an Orange County homicide prosecutor and a California state court judge. He earned a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart during his service with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam.

“He’s not afraid of anything or anyone,” said Wayne Gross, formerly a federal prosecutor in charge of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Santa Ana. “Both sides could not have gotten a better judge. He gives every fiber of his being to the case before him.”

In the S&P case, Carter will face another decorated Marine Corps veteran, San Francisco lawyer John Keker, who represents the rating firm. Keker, whose clients have included Lance Armstrong during his criminal investigation and class-action lawyer Bill Lerach, retired from the military in 1967 after being wounded in Vietnam.

Carter is part of a public-private partnership for justice reform in Afghanistan, a program that, among other projects, sends U.S. judges to that nation to work with local legal professionals to help create a better judicial system.

“That’s how much he cares about justice,” Gross, now a lawyer with Greenberg Traurig LLP in Irvine, California, said in a telephone interview. “He’s going around the globe despite his heavy court load.”

“He’s the hardest-working judge I’ve ever encountered and I’ve been doing this for 47 years,” said Mark Overland, a lawyer who represented a Mexican Mafia member in a six-month trial before Carter.

Overland, of Santa Monica, California, said Carter would have lawyers come to court at 6:30 or 7 a.m. to deal with outstanding issues before the jury came in. After the trial ended for the day, Carter would handle his civil case agenda in the evening, he said.

“There’d be lawyers there till midnight,” Overland said in a telephone interview.

The case is U.S. v. McGraw-Hill, 13-00779, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

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London Lawyer Jailed Over Fraud That Funded Luxury Lifestyle

A former U.K. lawyer was sentenced to four years in jail for false accounting in a 2.8 million-pound ($4.4 million) fraud that helped fund a lavish lifestyle of yachts, cars and multiple homes. He was also convicted of forging letters to try to receive a civic honor.

Nathan Andrew Iyer, an ex-lawyer at Ince & Co., set up bogus companies, created false invoices and opened bank accounts over 12 years to help fund his spending, the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement.

“Iyer displayed an astounding degree of audacity,” Mark Cross, the investigating police officer, said in an e-mailed statement. “He abused his position as a solicitor and partner of his law firm to defraud the company and its clients out of millions of pounds, in order that he could live a flash lifestyle.”

Faye Lynam, a spokeswoman for Ince & Co., said all clients affected by the fraud had been reimbursed. Iyer, 46, also tried to receive the Order of the British Empire by writing fake letters to the Department of Health, claiming he raised millions for a cancer charity, the police said.

U.K. civic honors are awarded to well-known people and members of the public deemed to have made a major contribution to British society.

The Crown Prosecution Service declined to give details of Iyer’s lawyers in the case.

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