Cleary Gottlieb, Loeb & Loeb, Cozen: Business of Law

Robert W. Cook, former director of the division of trading and markets of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, will return to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP as a partner. He will be based in the firm’s Washington office and will focus on securities, derivatives, and market regulation, the firm said.

“Robert rejoins our partners Alan Beller, David Becker, and Giovanni Prezioso and senior counsel Edward Greene, all former senior SEC officials,” Cleary Gottlieb managing partner Mark Leddy said in a statement. “His broad experience and deep expertise as one of the leading practitioners on broker-dealer and market regulation in the United States will be of enormous benefit to our clients.”

Cook, 47, was the director of his division from January 2010 to January of this year, supervising 250 professionals. He was responsible for regulatory policy and oversight of securities exchanges and markets, broker-dealers, security-based swap dealers, clearing agencies, and credit rating companies, the firm said.

Under his direction, the division reviewed and acted on over 2,000 rule filings and new product listings and implemented more than 30 major rulemakings and studies generated by the Dodd-Frank and JOBS Acts, the firm said. Cook also oversaw market structure initiatives, including the adoption of enhanced risk controls for traders with access to the securities markets, large trader registration and reporting rules, according to the firm.

“Market participants and intermediaries face a range of significant new and enhanced regulatory mandates,” Cook said in a statement. “With its deep financial regulatory expertise and international perspective, Cleary Gottlieb provides an excellent platform for helping clients understand and comply with this complex regulatory environment.”

Cleary Gottlieb has more than 1,200 lawyers in 16 offices around the world.

Debevoise Trusts and Estates Team Joins Loeb & Loeb

Loeb & Loeb LLP announced that Jonathan J. Rikoon and Cristine M. Sapers will join the firm’s trusts and estates department as partners in the New York office next month, along with five other lawyers. Rikoon and Sapers were previously at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in New York, where Rikoon has been the trusts and estates group chairman. Debevoise said in a February e-mail that the firm was discontinuing its trusts and estates practice.

Rikoon has experience in planning, administration and litigation in trusts and estates matters. He has handled estate and tax planning for wealthy individuals and families, preparation of wills and trusts, and the administration of trusts and estates. Sapers focuses her practice on estate and tax planning for high net worth individuals, preparation of wills and trusts and administration of large trusts and estates, the firm said.

“Jonathan and Cristine’s decision to join Loeb & Loeb validates our ongoing strategic commitment to further strengthen our pre-eminent private client platform and reflects our strong reputation as a leader in this complex area of law,” Loeb & Loeb chairman Michael D. Beck said in a statement.

The new hires bring Loeb & Loeb’s trusts and estates department attorney count to more than 40 attorneys. Loeb & Loeb has more than 300 attorneys in six offices in the U.S. and Beijing.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Romania Rejoins Mayer Brown

Former U.S. Ambassador to Romania Mark Gitenstein has rejoined Mayer Brown LLP in Washington as special counsel in the government and global trade practice.

Gitenstein, formerly a partner at Mayer Brown, was appointed Ambassador in 2009 by President Barack Obama and completed his term at the end of 2012.

“We are delighted to welcome Mark back to the firm,” Mayer Brown Chairman Paul Theiss said in a statement. “His long and distinguished career in both public service and private practice has been characterized by skill, dedication and integrity. Those attributes, along with the insights he gained and the relationships he established during his ambassadorial tenure in Romania, will make him a great asset to our clients seeking to establish or expand their business relationships in that part of the world.”

As U.S. Ambassador to Romania, Gitenstein promoted deeper development of Romania’s equity markets, as well as a fair and transparent business environment, the firm said. He also encouraged greater private sector involvement in state-owned enterprises, including the introduction of a corporate governance code for SOEs, according to the firm.

Gitenstein spent two decades at Mayer Brown, primarily focused on government relations matters. He advised corporations and associations on legislative strategies, monitored and drafted legislation on behalf of corporate clients and advised clients in the context of antitrust, white-collar crime and civil liability controversies, the firm said.

Mayer Brown has lawyers at offices in the Americas, Asia and Europe.


Obama Chooses Perez as Labor Chief Seeking Cabinet Diversity

President Barack Obama named assistant U.S. attorney general Thomas Perez as his choice to become labor secretary in his second term.

Perez would replace Hilda Solis, ensuring that the Labor Department is led again by a Hispanic, helping the president maintain diversity in his cabinet. Solis resigned in January.

“Like so many Americans, Tom knows what it’s like to climb the ladder of opportunity,” Obama said yesterday in announcing his intention to nominate Perez, the son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Perez will work to promote economic growth and will “make sure that growth is broad-based,” he said.

If confirmed by the Senate, Perez would probably play a prominent part in pushing Obama’s agenda on issues including immigration overhaul and raising the nation’s minimum wage to $9 per hour from $7.25 per hour.

Perez, 51, has led the Justice Department’s civil rights unit since 2009. He has pursued discriminatory job postings at a Florida health-care company, charges of sex discrimination in hiring by Corpus Christie, Texas, and lawsuits against Georgia for failing to ensure overseas voting rights.

Last May, Perez accused Arizona’s Maricopa County and its sheriff of discriminating against Latinos in a lawsuit. Sheriff Joseph Arpaio said the Obama administration was targeting him in an election-year maneuver.

Before taking his Justice Department post, Perez was secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, which oversees workplace safety laws, wage-and-hour regulations and the state’s consumer-protection laws.

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Firm News

Cozen Hires Six Edwards Wildman Partners for Florida Office

Six attorneys from Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP joined Cozen O’Connor as partners and will be part of a team working out of a new West Palm Beach office.

The six, who practice in trusts and estates/private client services, real estate, insurance coverage, reinsurance, insurance corporate and regulatory and litigation are D. Scott Elliott, Michael Botos, Harvey Feintuch, A. Kenneth Levine, Simeon Brier and John David Dickenson.

Elliott, Botos, Levine and Dickenson will be based in the new office. Brier will work from the Miami and West Palm Beach offices. Feintuch will split his time between the West Palm Beach and New York offices, the firm said in a statement.

“Expanding our presence and capabilities in the vibrant South Florida market is a priority for the firm, and we are pleased to have found such exceptional attorneys to add to our team,” Cozen O’Connor Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Heller said in a statement.

Elliott represents high-net worth individuals and families, and corporate fiduciaries in trust and estate law. Botos focuses on the development of commercial and residential projects, transactional real estate, retail and office leasing and aggregate and sand mining leases and sales.

Feintuch focuses on insurance coverage litigation and reinsurance. Levine helps clients navigate state and federal law regulating the licensure and transaction of insurance, reinsurance and service contracts/warranties, the firm said.

Brier handles commercial litigation and employment law. Dickenson practices in the area of insurance and reinsurance, representing domestic and international insurers and reinsurers in complex coverage, claims handling and bad faith litigation and also provides coverage and excess exposure opinions, the firm said.

“We are grateful to these attorneys and wish them well in their new endeavors,” Heather Fontaine Merton, a spokeswoman for Edwards Wildman, said in an e-mailed statement. “We are committed to the Palm Beach County and South Florida markets, where we have been part of the legal and business community for 32 years. As we continue to expand in the U.S., U.K. and Asia, we are also relocating our Fort Lauderdale office to Miami.”

Cozen O’Connor has 575 attorneys at 22 offices in the U.S., Toronto and London.

Clifford Chance Named Adviser on 2022 FIFA World Cup Stadium

Clifford Chance LLP was appointed by the Supreme Committee for Qatar 2022 to advise on the 2022 FIFA World Cup projects, including the development of the main “Iconic Stadium,” the firm said.

It is “a privilege to be working on a high profile project such as the Iconic Stadium which will set the benchmark for stadium development,” Richard Parris, Clifford Chance Doha office managing partner, said in a statement.

The firm has worked on infrastructure and development projects for the London Olympics and Poland’s Euro 2012 program, as well as advising on other stadium projects such as Wembley National Stadium and Stamford Bridge in the U.K. and Spartak Stadium in Moscow, the firm said.

“The 2022 FIFA World Cup is a prestigious and high profile event. It is essential that we work with suppliers who are best in class and can deliver a quality service,” general counsel for the Supreme Committee, Andrew Longmate, said in a statement. “We are delighted that Clifford Chance has won the first of a number of major legal advisory mandates that will be tendered over the coming months.”

Clifford Chance has advised in Qatar on projects including The Pearl in Qatar, Doha Festival City and Ras Laffan II. The firm has also advised QNB on the acquisition of Société Générale’s stake in National Société Générale Bank Egypt, the largest cross-border financial services mergers and acquisitions deal in the MENA region in 2012, the firm said.

Clifford Chance has 3,400 legal advisers at 35 offices in 25 countries. The firm operates a co-operation agreement with Al-Jadaan & Partners Law Firm in Saudi Arabia.

Citi Private Bank Survey Finds Firm Manager’s Confidence Rises

Managing law firm partners’ confidence increased during the fourth quarter of last year, according to a report by Citi Private Bank.

The survey, based on feedback from 76 law firms, found that managing partner confidence “sits comfortably above the neutral level.”

Managing partners’ expectations were raised by renewed confidence in the economy and business conditions though the managing partners expressed concern about pressure from discounting and expense growth.

The confidence is driving an uptick in demand and is reflected in 34 percent of those surveyed saying business is “somewhat better.”


BP Loses Motion to Dismiss Gross Negligence in Spill Trial

BP Plc lost a motion to dismiss the issue of a potential finding of gross negligence, which could trigger fines of as much as $17.6 billion, in the trial over its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BP lawyer Andrew Langan, a partner at  Kirkland & Ellis LLP, asked for a partial ruling yesterday as the lawyers for the plaintiffs suing the company rested their case.

“We don’t think there has been a finding of gross negligence” against BP, Langan told U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans, who is conducting the nonjury trial.

“Frankly, I’m not going to grant that motion,” Barbier said. “I don’t see any point in arguing it.”

The blowout and explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon killed 11 workers and spilled more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The accident sparked hundreds of lawsuits against London-based BP, owner of the well, Vernier, Switzerland-based Transocean and Houston-based Halliburton Co., which provided cement services.

The nonjury trial over liability for the disaster began Feb. 25 before Barbier, who will determine responsibility for the disaster and whether one or more of the companies acted with willful or wanton misconduct or reckless indifference -- the legal requirement for establishing gross negligence.

For BP, a finding of gross negligence would mean the company might be liable to the U.S. for as much as $17.6 billion in Clean Water Act fines, as well as unspecified punitive damages to claimants who weren’t part of the $8.5 billion settlement the company reached with most private party plaintiffs last year.

For Transocean and Halliburton, findings of gross negligence would mean the companies could be held liable for punitive damages for all plaintiffs.

Lawyers for Halliburton and two other defendants, Cameron International Corp., and M-I Swaco, a unit of Schlumberger Ltd., told Barbier yesterday they would file motions to erase the gross negligence claim.

Houston-based Cameron, maker of the blowout preventer on the project, agreed to pay BP $250 million in December 2011 in exchange for the oil company’s indemnifying it from damage claims. The settlement didn’t cover fines or penalties or punitive damages.

M-I Swaco, which provided drilling fluid, settled with BP last year without disclosing the terms. Swaco’s lawyers filed a motion yesterday asking Barbier to find that that there is no evidence that the company engaged in willful or wanton misconduct, the requirement for gross negligence. M-I Swaco also asked the judge to find that no acts or omissions by the company caused the disaster, according to court papers.

The case is In re Oil Spill by the Oil Rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, 10-md-02179, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

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