Pepper, Latham, Wachtell, Sedgwick: Business of Law

Pepper Hamilton LLP, which last year acquired former FBI head Louis Freeh’s law firm, bolstered its white-collar practice in New York with the hiring of Larry Byrne and Ruth Harlow from Linklaters LLP.

At Linklaters, Byrne held several leadership roles, including head of the U.S. litigation practice, co-managing partner of the New York office and co-head of the global U.S. practice. Byrne, a former prosecutor in the Southern District of New York and in the criminal division of the Justice Department, will also become a managing director at Freeh Group International Solutions, a risk-management firm founded by Freeh that merged with Pepper Hamilton.

“I have known Larry for many years and worked closely with him when he served as a federal prosecutor,” Freeh, who was recently named chairman of Pepper’s executive committee, said in a statement. “He and Ruth are outstanding additions to Pepper.”

Byrne’s clients have included Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., which was involved in the largest criminal antitrust matter prosecuted criminally by the U.S., as well as related civil class-action litigations, according to his Linklaters profile. He also advised Royal Ahold NV, the international food provider, on settlements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department.

Harlow, who was counsel at Linklaters, has worked with Byrne for almost 10 years, Pepper said. Her practice includes regulatory investigations and commercial litigation, bankruptcy court adversary proceedings, antitrust actions, and fraud and breach of fiduciary duty cases.

Harlow led the legal issues team for Deutsche Bank AG in its defense against over a dozen Enron Corp.-related civil suits, according to her Linklaters profile. She also was the lead counsel for the prevailing plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the state’s law making homosexual sodomy a crime.

“We wish Larry and the team well,” Linklaters said in a statement.

Pepper Hamilton, which along with Freeh was involved in a report for Pennsylvania State University about the school’s sex-abuse scandal, earlier this week hired two white-collar lawyers who represent universities and nonprofits in internal investigations related to sexual misconduct.

Pepper Hamilton has more than 500 lawyers at its U.S. offices.

Dykema Gossett Los Angeles Real Estate Head Joins Loeb & Loeb

Loeb & Loeb LLP hired Thomas F. Hanley III as a real estate partner in the Los Angeles office. He was formerly a partner at Dykema Gossett PLLC, where he led the firm’s Los Angeles real estate practice group.

“Tom brings a wealth of experience and expertise in the Los Angeles market that will only strengthen our national platform as we continue to expand, particularly in the areas of finance, acquisitions and sales,” Raymond A. Sanseverino, chairman of Loeb & Loeb’s real estate department, said in a statement.

Hanley focuses his practice on transactional real estate law, with an emphasis on acquisitions and dispositions, retail and office leasing, representation of commercial lenders and other matters.

Hanley is the fourth lateral partner to join Loeb & Loeb’s real estate department in the past year, the firm said.

Loeb & Loeb has more than 300 attorneys in seven U.S. and Asian offices.

Former Dow AgroSciences General Counsel Joins Barnes & Thornburg

William W. Wales, who spent more than 30 years in the legal department of Dow Chemical Co. and Dow AgroSciences LLC, has joined Barnes & Thornburg LLP’s Indianapolis office as a partner in the litigation and corporate departments.

Wales recently retired from Dow AgroSciences as vice president, general counsel and secretary, the firm said.

At Barnes & Thornburg, Wales will focus his practice on complex product liability and commercial litigation matters; commercial transactions, including mergers and acquisitions; and compliance issues. He also will work with high-technology growth companies, the firm said.

“Bill has been on the front lines of significant trials and a key negotiator on intellectual property matters and corporate transactions,” Joseph G. Eaton, vice chairman of the firm’s litigation department and co-chairman of the toxic tort practice group, said in a statement.

Barnes & Thornburg has more than 600 attorneys and other legal professionals at 12 U.S. offices.

Health Regulatory Lawyer Joins McDermott in Chicago

McDermott Will & Emery LLP announced that health regulatory lawyer Clare Connor Ranalli joined the health industry advisory practice group as a partner in its Chicago office. She was previously with Holland & Knight LLP.

Ranalli is the eighth new lawyer or professional adviser to join the practice in the past two months, a result, the firm said of clients facing implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Ranalli has experience providing regulatory and transactional advice, particularly in the area of Certificate of Need regulatory matters, the firm said. CONs are required in a number of states whenever health care providers seek to expand facilities, purchase major technologies, or complete merger and acquisition activities.

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


Legal Uncertainty Worries Southeast Asia Investors, Survey Finds

An unpredictable legal environment in Southeast Asia is the top concern of investors, according to an Economist Corporate Network survey, highlighting the challenge the region faces as it seeks to integrate by 2015 in an effort to boost growth and attract more investments.

Governments change their minds about important legislation with little warning, according to a report based on a survey of 147 companies including Unilever and General Electric Co. “Even when laws remain unchanged, court decisions and interpretations of the laws can be highly arbitrary,” the report said.

While China remains the manufacturing capital of the world, companies including Nissan Motor Co. and Google Inc. are expanding in Southeast Asia, lured by the prospect of a $2.2 trillion market. Nations including the Philippines are stepping up efforts to regain investor confidence after regulatory reversals and contract disputes in the past prompted Frankfurt-based Fraport AG to leave the country.

“The region’s diversity and uncertain legal environment remain major challenges for many multinationals,” said Clive Cook, a senior consultant at law firm Baker & McKenzie LLP that commissioned the report. Companies are looking for legal advisers with expertise across different Association of Southeast Asian Nations markets, he said in a statement.

Economic expansions in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia exceeded 6 percent last quarter, compared with 1.5 percent for South Korea and 3.4 percent for Taiwan. Foreign direct investments to the 10-member Asean rose to $116.54 billion in 2011, almost equal to China’s $123.99 billion, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

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Latham, Wachtell Advise Linn and Berry on $2.42 Billion Sale

Latham & Watkins LLP acted as adviser to Linn Energy LLC, which buys older oil and natural gas fields, on its agreement to purchase Berry Petroleum Co. for $2.42 billion in stock to increase its proved reserves by 34 percent.

Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz acted as Berry’s legal adviser. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP acted as a legal adviser to the conflicts committee of Linn’s board. Locke Lord LLP acted as legal adviser to the conflicts committee of the LinnCo LLC board.

Latham & Watkins advised Linn and LinnCo in the transaction with a corporate deal team led from the firm’s Houston office by partners Michael Dillard and Sean Wheeler. Advice was also provided on tax matters by Latham Houston partner Tim Fenn and Los Angeles partner Laurence Stein; on capital markets by Houston partner Divakar Gupta, Washington, partner Alexander Cohen, Chicago partner Roderick Branch and Washington partner Barton Clark; on environmental matters by Houston partner Joel Mack; on employee benefits matters by Washington partner David Della Rocca; on antitrust matters by Washington partner Marc Williamson; on government contracts matters by Washington partner David Hazelton; and on finance matters by Houston partner Catherine Ozdogan.

Wachtell Lipton’s team is led by corporate partners Daniel A. Neff and David K. Lam and includes T. Eiko Stange, tax; and Adam J. Shapiro, executive compensation and benefits.

The Akin Gump lawyers included Houston partner John Goodgame, Chris LaFollette and Thomas Weir.

The Locke Lord team for the LinnCo board includes lead Don Glendenning, co-chairman of the firm’s corporate and transactional department and managing partner of the firm’s Dallas office, on the corporate side. On the tax side of the transaction, Dallas partners Chris Allison and Andrew Betaque were involved.

Berry shareholders will get 1.25 shares of publicly traded LinnCo, a corporation whose only assets are units of Linn Energy, according to a joint statement. That values Berry at $46.24 a share, a 20 percent premium to the Feb. 20 closing price. LinnCo will sell the Berry assets to Linn Energy in exchange for additional partnership units.

Berry’s reserves are 75 percent oil, which increases Linn’s exposure to liquids, which are more profitable than natural gas. The deal is the biggest oil and gas purchase announced this year and the largest ever for Linn, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Last year, the company announced four deals, valued at a total of $2.6 billion.

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Firm News

K&L Gates Posts 2012 Results on Website in Bid for Transparency

K&L Gates LLP posted its comprehensive financial information on its website, a move that K&L’s chairman described in an internal e-mail as a bid for transparency and law firm consultants said is unusual.

Among the disclosures, the firm’s revenue dropped slightly to a little more than $1.06 billion from the previous year, the firm had no outstanding bank debt and it ended 2012 with more than $220 million in cash, according to the statement posted yesterday on the website.

Chairman Peter Kalis, whose Pittsburgh-based firm has more than 2,000 attorneys, addressed the disclosures in an e-mail to the firm’s lawyers obtained by Bloomberg News.

“Although our firm’s financial performance is fully transparent to our partners, we wish to extend that transparency to all of our lawyers, including associates, and to include categories of information that industry publications have ignored,” Kalis said in the e-mail.

Kalis didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment on the internal e-mail. Earlier, when asked by Bloomberg News about the posting on the website, Kalis referred to the implosion of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, the New York law firm that once had 1,300 lawyers before seeking bankruptcy in May.

“Our industry and profession were shamed by Dewey,” Kalis said in an e-mail. “This is our modest attempt to fight back and lead by example.”

In the firm-wide e-mail, Kalis said that information such as “debt loads, unfunded retirement obligations, undercapitalization, illiquidity and the like” are often not made public even though these “indicia go right to the heart of institutional stability.”

The firm opened offices in Milan and Seoul last year and merged with the Australian firm Middletons Lawyers in January, according to the statement on its website. The firm said its “annual retirement obligation expense” as a percentage of revenue is 0.3 percent.

Net income per partner was reported as $899,960 for “fully participating equity partners” and $636,920 for all partners. The highest-paid partners make 7.9 times as much as first-year partners, according to the statement,

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Brown Eassa & McLeod Joins Sedgwick in California Offices

Sedgwick LLP said attorneys from the trial and litigation defense firm Brown Eassa & McLeod LLP will join the firm on March 1.

Brown Eassa has experience in product liability, class action, commercial litigation, mass tort, labor and employment, and environmental matters. Seven partners and their team of associates will be based in Sedgwick’s San Francisco office, and one partner and one associate will work out of Sedgwick’s Los Angeles office.

“When we are considering an opportunity to add a group to our firm, we look for attorneys who share our firm’s core values of outstanding client service, integrity and creativity, and who provide the highest quality legal services,” firm Chairman Michael Tanenbaum said in a statement. “The attorneys at Brown Eassa possess all these qualities, and we’re excited to have them join the Sedgwick family.”

The Brown Eassa trial lawyers joining Sedgwick specialize in complex mass tort and product liability cases, the firm said.

“Sedgwick provides a great opportunity to join a firm with a national mass tort and product liability litigation practice with seasoned trial attorneys located throughout the country,” Brown Eassa managing partner Eugene Brown said in a statement. “We already share many clients with Sedgwick attorneys. We will now be able to streamline the services we provide those shared clients and offer a larger menu of legal services and geographic bench strength to all of our clients.”

Brown will be joined in San Francisco by partners Robert Eassa, Bruce McLeod, Delia Isvoranu, Troy McMahan, Amee Mikacich and Susan Ogdie, along with their team of associates. In Los Angeles, partner Philip Cosgrove will be joined by an associate.

Sedgwick provides trial, appellate, litigation management, counseling, risk management and transactional legal services. It has more than 370 attorneys in 14 U.S. and European offices.