Steptoe, Fasken, Perkins Coie, Porzio: Business of Law

Steptoe & Johnson LLP hired Markham Erickson as a partner in the telecom, Internet and media practice in the Washington office. He was previously at Holch & Erickson LLP, a firm he co-founded in 2006.

Erickson has more than 20 years of experience in Internet law and policy, including helping to form two Internet coalitions, Steptoe said in a March 14 statement. He serves as general counsel to the Internet Association, a trade group, and as lead counsel to a coalition of Internet and technology firms that promotes open Internet rules.

“Markham has devoted his legal career to representing Internet and other technology companies, frequently in coalitions formed to press their cause at the FCC, the FTC, or on Capitol Hill,” Steptoe Chairman Roger Warin said in the statement. “His depth of knowledge on Internet matters will greatly complement our existing team.”

Steptoe, based in Washington, has more than 500 lawyers and other professionals at nine offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Ogletree Deakins Adds California Employment Attorney Raizman

Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart PC added David Raizman as a shareholder in the Los Angeles office. He comes from Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, where he was a partner.

Raizman is known for his disability-rights practice, specifically for his work under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the firm said in a statement.

Ogletree Deakins has more than 650 lawyers at 43 offices across the U.S. and in Europe.

Fasken Martineau Hires Mining Partner Alfonzo in Toronto

Fasken Martineau LLP announced that Samantha Alfonzo has joined the firm’s Toronto office as a partner in the mining and mergers-and-acquisitions groups. She was previously at Gowlings.

Alfonzo’s practice focuses on corporate matters and transactions including the negotiation, review and preparation of contracts and corporate governance issues. She has experience in mergers and acquisitions, asset and share sales, business, and tax-driven corporate reorganization in the mining industry, the firm said.

Fasken Martineau has more than 770 lawyers at nine offices in Canada, Europe and Africa.

Perkins Coie Hires IP Partner Fournier in Chicago Office

Perkins Coie LLP added David B. Fournier to its Chicago office as a partner in the intellectual property practice. Fournier was most recently a partner at K&L Gates LLP, where his practice included work with pharmaceutical clients.

Perkins Coie has more than 900 lawyers in 19 offices across the U.S. and Asia.

Gardere Hires International Arbitration Attorney in Mexico City

International arbitration attorney Viviana Castro-Hurtado joined the Mexico City office of Gardere, Arena y Asociados SC as a member of the Mexico and Latin America practice. She was previously at White & Case LLP.

Castro-Hurtado will focus on representing clients involved in commercial and investment arbitrations. She has handled arbitration matters under various international rules, including the American Arbitration Association/International Centre for Dispute Resolution, International Chamber of Commerce, International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes and United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

Gardere has 230 lawyers at three Texas offices and one Mexican partnership office.

Duane Morris Adds Partners in San Francisco, Miami

Duane Morris LLP hired three partners at two U.S. offices.

In San Francisco, James C. Krieg and Allison Lane Cooper, formerly of Krieg, Keller, Sloan, Roman & Holland LLP, joined the firm’s trial practice group. In Miami, Leslie J. Croland, previously at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, joined the firm’s corporate practice group.

Krieg and Cooper focus on commercial litigation, particularly in the areas of professional liability defense, fiduciary liability, legal ethics and commercial disputes.

Croland’s practice focuses on venture capital, particularly in the areas of technology and life-sciences transactions.

Duane Morris has more than 700 attorneys in 24 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Evain Joins McCarter & English’s IP Practice in Delaware

McCarter & English LLP announced that Eric J. Evain has joined the firm as a partner in Wilmington, Delaware. He was previously with Novak Druce Connolly Bove & Quigg LLP.

Evain will focus on litigating complex intellectual property infringement cases.

McCarter & English has 100 intellectual property and information technology lawyers and patent agents. The firm has more than 400 attorneys at seven U.S. offices.


French Lawyer Olivier Metzner Found Dead of Apparent Suicide

Olivier Metzner, one of France’s best-known lawyers, was found dead from an apparent suicide, the prosecutor’s office in the Brittany city of Vannes said.

Metzner’s body was found yesterday floating off an island he owned in Brittany’s Bay of Morbihan, and he left behind a note, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office said by telephone. The results of an autopsy will be announced today, she said.

Metzner, 63, represented former Societe Generale SA trader Jerome Kerviel, heiress Francoise Bettencourt-Meyers, politician Dominique de Villepin, businessmen Loik Le Floch-Prigent and Jean-Marie Messier, as well as Continental Airlines in the 2000 Concorde crash.

“He was one of the greatest case lawyers of our bar who knew best how to make legal procedure a weapon in the service of justice,” Christiane Feral-Schuhl, head of the Paris bar, said in an interview with Agence France-Presse.

The cigar-chomping, media-friendly Metzner started his career defending gang members, making a name for himself by freeing clients on technicalities. He developed an expertise in financial law in the 1980s as he defended businessmen and politicians caught in political party financing cases.

“Olivier Metzner was totally devoted to his clients to whom he consecrated his extreme intelligence,” Georges Kiejman, a Paris lawyer he often faced in court, told BFM TV. “His death leaves a big loss in the Paris bar.”

There was no answer yesterday outside of normal business hours at the Paris offices of his firm, Metzner & Associes.

Ex-Mercury Attorney Settles SEC Backdating Case for $853,037

Susan Skaer, former general counsel for Mercury Interactive LLC, settled a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit over stock-option backdating for $853,037, according to a court filing.

Skaer didn’t admit or deny wrongdoing, according to an agreement she signed March 5 that was filed today in federal court in San Francisco. She was ordered to disgorge $628,037 in profit and interest, pay a $225,000 fine and refrain from breaking securities laws.

The SEC sued Skaer and other former executives at Hewlett-Packard Co.’s Mercury Interactive unit in 2007, alleging they participated in a scheme to backdate employee stock options without accounting for the resulting compensation expenses. The other executives already settled with the SEC.

The final judgment in the case is subject to a judge’s approval.

The case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Mercury Interactive LLC, 07-cv-02822, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Firm News

Porzio Bromberg Expands Real Estate Practice in New York

Porzio, Bromberg & Newman PC absorbed the real estate law firm Wagner Davis PC, adding four lawyers.

Steven R. Wagner, who founded Wagner Davis in 1984, joins Porzio as a principal, along with two of counsel and an associate. All will be based in Porzio’s New York office.

“The Wagner group’s core area of real estate transactions and litigation is an area that we have been looking to further develop in our New York office,” D. Jeffrey Campbell, Porzio’s managing principal, said in a statement.

Steven Wagner concentrates his practice in co-op and condominium law, real estate litigation, land use, and overall real estate in the New York area. His litigation background includes disputes for control of partnerships, corporations and limited liability companies, and disputes between adjacent landowners.

“With the collaborative strength this union provides, we look forward to providing the same high-quality legal services, with the advantage of the additional resources and geographic reach that a larger firm provides,” Wagner said in a statement.

Porzio has more than 90 lawyers at four U.S. offices.


Carrillo Huettel, Gibraltar Global Sued by SEC for Fraud

Carrillo Huettel LLP, a San Diego law firm, and Gibraltar Global Securities were sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly taking part in an international “pump and dump” stock-selling scheme.

The SEC said the defendants were part of a group that used a boiler-room operation to promote and artificially inflate two publicly traded U.S.-based companies, Tradeshow Marketing Co. and Pacific Blue Energy Corp.

The defendants allegedly secretly took control of the companies and inflated the stock prices with false and misleading promotions. They also allegedly hired a group of salespeople who called U.S. investors to tout the stocks, falsely claiming the information was based on independent research.

The commission alleges that the defendants sent out investors from two stock-touting websites they controlled -- Skymark Research and Emerging Stock Report. U.S-based attorneys Luis Carrillo and Wade Huettel were described as “central participants” in the scheme by helping promoters acquire control of Pacific Blue through offshore nominee entities. Gibraltar is an unregistered broker-dealer incorporated and located in the Bahamas, the SEC said.

The defendants earned at least $11 million by “scalping” Pacific Blue and Tradeshow shares, secretly selling the stock while simultaneously promoting it to investors.

Nicholas De Feis, a lawyer for Gibraltar, and William Fleming, a lawyer for Wade Huettel, didn’t immediately return voice-mail messages left at their offices seeking comment on the suit.

The case is SEC v. Carrillo Huettel, 13-cv-01735, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).


Consultant: BigLaw Growth is NOT Dead!

Despite challenges, professional-services consultant John Grimley is optimistic about the prospects for law firm growth.

“I’m bullish about the law because law firms in the future are going to adopt sophisticated business development systems,” he tells Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia

Grimley reasons that U.S. law firms are in a unique position because the fastest-growing global economies want access to the country’s markets. To get new work, firms will need to significantly increase their marketing and business-development staffs.

“They need sophisticated divisions devoted to generating revenue,” he says.

Grimley disagrees with law-firm consultant Bruce MacEwen, who said in a Feb. 28 interview with Bloomberg Law that growth is a thing of the past and that large firms are now finding themselves “in a battle for market share.”

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