Blank Rome, Fish, Nixon Peabody, Sidley: Business of Law

Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Mike Krancer will step down April 15 to rejoin his former law firm, Blank Rome LLP in Philadelphia, where he will head the firm’s energy, petrochemical and natural resources practice.

Krancer will advise U.S. and global energy clients on legal, public policy, government relations, state and federal regulatory, financial, corporate, and labor matters.

“Michael’s practical experience at the highest levels of strategic state and federal government policy making and government relations will significantly enhance our capabilities, particularly regarding the Marcellus and Utica Shale Plays and, accordingly, we expect he will be spending a lot of time in western Pennsylvania,” Alan J. Hoffman, Blank Rome co-chairman and managing partner, said in a statement.

Krancer was a partner at Blank Rome from 1992 to 1999. He left the firm to become judge and chief judge of Pennsylvania’s Environmental Hearing Board, the statewide trial/appellate court for environmental matters involving appeals from actions of the DEP. He returned to the board in 2009 after a run for justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and a position as associate general counsel of Exelon Corp., the firm said. Krancer was appointed secretary of the DEP in January 2011.

“Secretary Krancer has been an invaluable member of our team and I am grateful for his service,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett said in a statement. “His impressive efforts at DEP have taken the agency back to basics, protecting the environment and making the permitting process more efficient.

Among the initiatives that Krancer oversaw were the reorganization of the agency, which created an oil and gas division and improved statewide enforcement of that industry’s regulations, the firm said. Krancer also oversaw the permit review process and permit decision guarantee.

Blank Rome has more than 500 attorneys at 12 offices in the U.S. and Asia.


Fish & Richardson Adds Litigator Thomas C. Frongillo

Thomas C. Frongillo, most recently head of the litigation practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP’s Boston office and co-chairman of the firm’s national white-collar defense and investigations practice group, joined Fish & Richardson PC as a principal in its commercial litigation group.

Frongillo is a former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts with more than 30 years of litigation experience. He will represent clients in white-collar criminal prosecutions, corporate and regulatory investigations, and complex commercial litigation, the firm said.

“We are very excited to welcome Tom into our growing commercial litigation group. While Fish is well known for doing more patent litigation than any other firm, we also have a top-notch business litigation practice that handles high profile, make-or-break your company litigation,” Ann Cathcart Chaplin, litigation practice group leader at Fish, said in a statement. “Bringing on a significant lateral hire like Tom, who is so highly regarded, will be tremendously valuable to our clients and our team.”

Fish & Richardson has more than 400 attorneys and technology specialists practicing IP strategy and counseling, IP litigation, and commercial litigation in 12 offices in the U.S. and Munich.

Middlesex, Massachusetts, D.A. Leone to Join Nixon Peabody

Gerry Leone, District Attorney of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, will join Nixon Peabody LLP as partner in the firm’s government investigations and white-collar defense practice in Boston.

As district attorney, Leone prosecutions include Richard Reid, convicted of trying to detonate a shoe bomb aboard a passenger jet in 2001, and British nanny Louise Woodward, who was accused of killing eight-month-old Matthew Eappen, as well as members of the Massachusetts state treasury who stole $9.7 million in taxpayer monies, the firm said.

“In addition to Gerry’s stellar credentials as a prosecutor and trial attorney, his energy, innovative spirit, and collaborative approach is an excellent fit with our firm’s culture and priorities,” Andrew I. Glincher, chief executive officer and managing partner of Nixon Peabody, said in a statement.

Prior to his election as district attorney, Leone was first assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Massachusetts, managing the office and conducting federal and international investigations and including public corruption, health-care fraud and cybercrime, the firm said. Before joining the U.S. attorney’s office, Leone was the chief of the criminal bureau for the Massachusetts attorney general’s office where he oversaw the investigation and prosecution of statewide cases ranging from economic crime and corruption to environmental enforcement, according to the firm.

Nixon Peabody has approximately 700 attorneys throughout the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Haynes & Boone Expands New York Financial Services Platform

Todd Ransom rejoins Haynes & Boone LLP as a partner in the firm’s prime brokerage and equity lending practice group, a specialized practice focused on leveraged and derivative products and brokerage transactions used by financial institutions and private and public funds. He was previously an in-house counsel for Bank of America Corp.

“Not only does he bring strong experience in prime brokerage and margin transactions, Todd is also well-versed in an array of financial products and structures that are integral in the businesses of our buy- and sell-side clients,” Craig Unterberg, head of the prime brokerage and equity lending practice group, said in a statement.

Ransom concentrates his practice in the areas of finance and energy, including representation of hedge funds, private equity firms, investment banks and other financial institutions. He also represents private equity firms, financial institutions, and energy companies in connection with energy asset acquisitions, divestitures and financing arrangements, the firm said.

Haynes and Boone LLP has more than 525 attorneys at 12 offices in the Americas.


Dead Hermitage Lawyer’s Court-Named Attorney Asks to Quit Trial

A court-appointed lawyer criticized the tax-evasion trial of Hermitage Capital Management tax and legal adviser Sergei Magnitsky, who died in prison in 2009, and asked to be removed from the case.

Tverskoi District Court Judge Igor Alisov rejected attorney Nikolai Gerasimov’s request March 22 to step down on the basis that Magnitsky’s mother didn’t want to mount a defense.

“There’s no justification for pursuing the prosecution of Magnitsky,” Gerasimov told the court in Moscow, adding that he wanted the judge to reconsider “my presence in this case.”

Magnitsky was in pretrial detention after alleging the biggest-known tax fraud in Russia, a theft of $230 million from the national treasury. The case sparked a diplomatic row, with the U.S. imposing sanctions on Russian officials accused of playing a role in his death and Moscow retaliating by barring American citizens from adopting Russian orphans.

Alisov also rejected two other demands by Gerasimov and the court-appointed lawyer for Hermitage founder William Browder, who’s on trial in absentia. They asked him to replace the chief prosecutor because he refused to give them enough time to study the case and for the Constitutional Court to review the case.

Browder has denied any wrongdoing by either himself or Magnitsky. He has lobbied for U.S. and European legislation targeting 60 Russian officials who he says are responsible for Magnitsky’s death with visa bans and asset freezes. Hermitage was once Russia’s biggest foreign-equity investor.

Russia ended its investigation last week into Magnitsky’s November 2009 death at age 37 in a Moscow jail, saying it found no sign he had suffered physical abuse while he was detained.

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Firm News

Sidley’s Thayer Named West Coast IP Litigation Head

M. Patricia Thayer has been appointed head of Sidley Austin LLP’s intellectual property litigation practice on the West Coast. Thayer, a patent trial lawyer, will lead the firm’s West Coast practice of approximately 25 lawyers, the firm said. She will also continue in her role as a coordinator of Sidley’s global IP litigation practice, which has more than 95 lawyers.

“With more than three decades of practice, Patty is known for leading trial teams in difficult, high-stakes patent litigation matters, which makes her a natural for this position,” Anne E. Rea, partner and the member of the firm’s management committee with primary responsibility for Sidley’s West Coast offices, said in a statement.

Thayer succeeds Ed Poplawski, who previously led the practice in Los Angeles and is leaving the firm, Sidley said. The firm didn’t reply to an e-mail request for further information about Poplawski’s departure.

Sidley has approximately 1,700 lawyers in 18 offices worldwide.