‘Enemy’ Davidoff, Nixon Peabody, Bird: Business of Law

After Sid Davidoff was anointed public enemy number 12 by President Richard Nixon almost 40 years ago, the political operative for former New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay turned to the law.

“It was a defining moment,” the Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron LLP partner said in a telephone interview yesterday. “I realized that with my law degree and knowledge of government, this was the time for me to get into the practice of law to do what I do best -- take on the government in some fashion on behalf of clients who can’t get the government to understand what they want to do and why they want to do it.”

At an event tomorrow sponsored by Common Cause in Washington commemorating the 40-year anniversary of Watergate, Davidoff will be among three people attending who were on Nixon’s top 20 enemies list, said Common Cause’s Gary Ferdman. About 20 others who were on an expanded enemies list will either attend in person or will be represented.

Among those on the top 20 list were labor union organizers, journalists, Nixon’s political opponents and Hollywood celebrities, including former government adviser Morton Halperin and U.S. Representative John Conyers, who will both attend the ceremony.

Davidoff said testimony at the time revealed that Nixon believed that Lindsay, a former ally, had the potential to hurt Nixon’s career but was thought to be too difficult a target, making Davidoff the next best thing.

“I was his political lieutenant. I was in charge of his troops,” Davidoff recalled about Lindsay. “Take down the leadership in the field, I guess that’s what they thought.”

Davidoff said he realized after the list was made public in 1974 that he had been the target of government harassment through Internal Revenue Service audits and by snooping strangers.

Ferdman said Davidoff’s experience showed the outrageousness of the political climate. “He was acting as a patriotic American engaged in the political process,” Ferdman said.

Within a year of the announcement, Davidoff, who had left the Lindsay administration, joined a small law firm. The name has changed several times, but Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron has grown to more than 50 lawyers in four offices in New York, Albany, Washington and Long Island.

While the firm once focused primarily on government relations, it now has a broad commercial practice that includes intellectual property, trusts and estates and other matters.

Despite the passage of time, Davidoff said he continues to be asked about the experience, which had a benefit Nixon probably couldn’t have imagined. New clients often want to meet him because of his inclusion and the notoriety helped generate business for his practice. “It is definitely a badge of distinction,” he said.


Ex-U.S. Senator Scott Brown Joins Nixon Peabody Law Firm

Scott Brown, who won the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts then lost to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in November, joined Nixon Peabody LLP as counsel in the law firm’s Boston office.

“During my time in politics, I never hesitated to reach across the aisle to work with members of any political party to secure a preferable outcome,” Brown said in a statement. “My approach is consistent with the way Nixon Peabody does business, and I believe we can be successful together.”

Brown, 53, became the first Republican elected to the Senate from Massachusetts since 1972 by winning an open Senate seat in a 2010 special election after Kennedy’s death. He lost to Warren by seven percentage points last year in an election for a full six-year term.

Brown’s business and governmental affairs practice at Nixon Peabody will focus on the financial services industry and commercial real estate matters, the firm said.

He joins other political and government officials at Nixon Peabody, including Tom Reynolds, a five-term U.S. congressman who leads the firm’s government relations practice.

“As we anticipate the future needs of our clients, we are always looking for innovative ways to add value. Scott’s personality and entrepreneurial spirit will build strong relationships, Andrew I. Glincher, the law firm’s managing partner, said in a statement.

Brown said in a press conference today that he hasn’t made any decision on his political plans. “I’ve enjoyed doing it for the last 15 years, but I’m not sure what the future holds,” he said. “I’ll make that announcement in the future. For now, Nixon Peabody has given me this opportunity.”

Nixon Peabody has about 700 attorneys at 17 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Paul Hastings Adds Justice Department Prosecutor Edmonds

Nathaniel Edmonds, the former assistant chief of the U.S. Justice Department’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act unit, joined Paul Hastings LLP as a partner in the global compliance and disputes practice in Washington.

Edmonds, who was an assistant chief of the fraud section of the FCPA in the criminal division, was one of the longest-tenured FCPA prosecutors, the firm said.

“Within the FCPA bar, there are few practitioners with Nat’s combination of investigative experience, technical and legal expertise, and understanding of the international legal and regulatory environment,” William Sullivan, global chairman of the litigation practice said in a statement. “In an environment where compliance issues have become increasingly important worldwide, Nat’s experience working with law enforcement officials from six continents will allow him to distinguish himself to the growing number of companies facing investigations by multiple enforcement agencies around the world,” he added.

Edmonds was responsible for directly supervising as many as half of the Justice Department’s investigations into transnational bribery. He also drafted portions of the FCPA Resource Guide published in November 2012, which details the contours of the FCPA legal regime, the policy positions underlying the enforcement strategy, and the relevance of past enforcement positions taken by the Justice Department and the SEC.

Paul Hastings has lawyers at 20 offices in Asia, Europe and the U.S.

Intellectual Property Litigator Joins DLA Piper in New York

DLA Piper LLP announced that Paul R. Gupta has joined the firm’s litigation and intellectual property and technology practices as a partner in New York. He was previously a partner in the New York and Silicon Valley offices of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

Gupta focuses on intellectual property, information technology, cyber-security, privacy and business litigation in the technology sector, the firm said.

“Given his broad experience handling high-stakes technology, IP and other disputes, Paul will be an outstanding addition to a practice that is well situated to address the constantly evolving regulatory and business challenges facing our clients on a daily basis,” John Allcock, DLA Piper’s global co-chairman and U.S. chairman of intellectual property and technology, said in a statement.

DLA Piper has 4,200 lawyers in more than 30 countries throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.


Data ‘Unmasks’ Law Schools, U.S. News Rankings’ Morse Says

Law schools ranked by U.S. News & World Report magazine in the 50 to 150 range were the ones most affected by the availability this year -- for the first time -- of more-detailed graduate employment data from the American Bar Association, according to Bob Morse, who oversees the rankings for U.S. News.

The new data “unmasked” that some of those schools had a relatively small number of their students taking full-time long-term jobs that require a JD, Morse tells Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia.

Many schools on the East and West coasts also had drops in their rankings as a result of the new data, Morse said. University of San Francisco School of Law had this year’s biggest drop, declining 38 places on the rankings, coming in last at 144 on the list.

At the top of the list, Yale continued to claim the No. 1 spot, with Harvard inching up one slot to tie with Stanford at No. 2.

Turning to last month’s controversial National Jurist magazine ranking of schools, which was meant to provide an alternative to U.S. News’s list, Morse said “welcome to the world of law school rankings, and the world of being criticized for your methodology.”

As for the power of U.S. News’s rankings, which some deans blame for legal education’s woes, Morse says, “U.S. News isn’t the ABA. We’re not responsible for the cost of law school, the state of legal employment, the impact that the recession has had on hiring, or the fact that there are 10 or 20 new law schools that have opened over the past couple of decades. And we’re not responsible for the imbalance of jobs to graduates.”

The full U.S. News rankings are available online by clicking here.

To view the video on the Bloomberg terminal, click here.

SEC Nominee White to Face Conflict Questions at Senate Hearing

Mary Jo White, U.S. President Barack Obama’s choice to run the Securities and Exchange Commission, may be compelled to provide more information about her ties to large banks as senators press her today about how she would operate as Wall Street’s regulator.

Some Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee who will question White at a nomination hearing say their concerns probably don’t threaten her confirmation. White, 65, has said she would retire from New York-based Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, where she has served as a lawyer defending Wall Street, if she’s confirmed by the Senate.

White, who was the Manhattan U.S Attorney from 1993 to 2002, has had numerous meetings with senators in recent weeks as she faces skepticism about her ties to Wall Street. In her prepared Senate testimony, released yesterday, White doesn’t address the issue. She previously pledged to abstain for one year from any SEC matter that involves Debevoise or its clients.

White has said Debevoise would pay her a lump-sum retirement payment within 60 days of her starting at the SEC. The payment would replace her monthly retirement payments for four years. She is eligible for lifetime monthly payments from Debevoise of about $42,500, according to her financial disclosure statement.

White’s testimony dwells on market regulation, a topic that hasn’t been a large part of her career as a litigator. She singled out high-frequency and algorithmic trading as strategies that demand further evaluation from the SEC.

For more, click here.

Hunton Is Top Government-Paid Outside Firm, NLJ Survey Finds

Hunton & Williams LLP ranked at the top of a list of private law firms receiving money from the government in an examination of contract legal work reported by the National Law Journal.

In a review of government payments over the last five years, Hunton received $34.7 million, from a total of $400 million paid to 1,200 private law firms and sole practitioners, according to the review.

The government overall paid $3.3 billion to 4,700 vendors in the five years beginning 2008, the bulk of which, $686.6 million, went to Forfeiture Support Associates, for work for the U.S. Justice Department in seizing the assets of criminals, the NLJ reported. Another $384.3 million went to CACI International Inc., for help given to the Justice Department for trial support, according to the newspaper.

Hunton received the funds for work on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy for licensing issues related to nuclear waste storage site Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, the NLJ said.

The second highest firm was Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, for work for the Treasury Department. Cadwalader received $26.8 million under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the NLJ said.

Hunton & Williams didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Additional firms at the top of the list included in Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP at third, followed by Klarquist Sparkman LLP, Leydig, Voit & Mayer, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, Sidley Austin LLP, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, the law offices of Margaret Dillenburg and Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP.

For more, click here.

Ex-Senator Asks Judge to Toss Suit Over Sex-Sting Legal Fees

Former U.S. Senator Larry Craig asked a judge to throw out a Federal Election Commission suit over hiring lawyers with campaign funds after a sex-sting arrest, arguing he was on congressional travel at the time.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington today voiced skepticism of Craig’s argument that he was engaged in official Senate business simply because he was headed to the capital when he was arrested for soliciting sex at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

“He pleaded guilty to an offense committed in a bathroom that has no connection to his duties other than it was committed in an airport,” Jackson said to Craig’s lawyer, Andrew Herman, at one point during the hour-long hearing. She said she would rule on the issue later.

Craig, an Idaho Republican, spent the money in connection with his arrest, guilty plea to disorderly conduct and subsequent efforts to withdraw the plea in Minnesota, the commission said in a lawsuit filed in June.

Craig, 67, was arrested at the airport on June 11, 2007, by an undercover policeman. He denied soliciting sex in the restroom, saying he had done nothing wrong and that he wasn’t a homosexual.

Craig hired Washington-based Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan to serve as lead counsel in an effort to withdraw his plea and Kelly & Jacobson, a Minnesota firm. He also retained a media relations firm to handle press inquiries about the incident, according to the FEC’s complaint.

The Craig for U.S. Senate Committee paid Sutherland Asbill at least $139,952 for legal services on Craig’s behalf, while Kelly & Jacobson received about $77,032, the commission said in the lawsuit.

The commission has asked the court to make Craig pay back what he spent on his legal defense and to levy civil penalties against Craig and his campaign treasurer of as much as $6,500.

Kevin Hancock, an FEC lawyer, told Jackson that political and media fallout from the arrest wouldn’t justify tapping campaign funds because the underlying conduct was personal. The case is Federal Election Commission v. Craig for U.S. Senate, 1:12-cv-00958, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

For more, click here.

Firm News

Bird & Bird Expands Baltic Sea Presence with Danish Merger

Bird & Bird LLP will merge with Danish technology firm BvHD in May, giving the firm a new Copenhagen office and bringing their worldwide office count to 24.

BvHD, a 19-lawyer firm with nine partners, began with a focus on technology, though the firm now also specializes in corporate, commercial, public procurement and disputes advice. All the lawyers will join Bird & Bird.

“Denmark is a center for innovative industries that match our sector focus globally and it’s exciting to be able to provide clients with a comprehensive service across the Baltic Sea region, something not offered by any other international firm,” Bird & Bird Chief Executive Officer David Kerr said in a statement. “We already know the BvHD team very well. The cooperation agreement, which has been in place for over a year, means we will have an integrated team from day one of the merger and our complementary sector focus means there are excellent synergies between our firms.”

BvHD recently recruited two corporate mergers and acquisitions specialists, Ulrich Lausten and Christian Scherfig.

Bird & Bird LLP has over 900 lawyers in 23 offices across Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

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