Venable, Troutman Sanders, Sidley: Business of Law

Michael J. Rivera, formerly chief investigative counsel for the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program has joined Venable LLP’s Securities and Exchange Commission and white-collar defense group as a partner in the Washington office.

Rivera, who worked at the oversight body created as part of the TARP bailouts from August 2010 until joining Venable, managed more than 150 investigations conducted by SIGTARP’s investigations division. He worked with prosecutors and senior officials at federal and state bank and securities regulatory agencies and law enforcement agencies, the firm said in a statement.

Rivera was responsible for criminal and civil investigations and prosecutions involving TARP fraud, accounting fraud, bank fraud, loan fraud, securities fraud, mortgage servicer misconduct, fraudulent advance-fee schemes, money laundering, obstruction of justice, perjury and tax fraud, the firm said. His responsibilities also included overseeing the TARP financial relief programs, which had $2.5 trillion in government and private funds.

Rivera, “led what was arguably one of the country’s most significant government investigative and prosecutorial initiatives in history in his role as Chief Investigative Counsel at SIGTARP,” Geoffrey Garinther, who chairs Venable’s litigation practice group, said in a statement. “He brings a rare combination of skills to our group, and a track record that will enhance our most important financial and corporate litigation matters.”

Rivera also served as SIGTARP’s representative to President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and its bank, mortgage and securities working groups, and he led SIGTARP’s establishment of working groups with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the firm said.

Prior to joining SIGTARP, Rivera was a partner at Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, where he practiced for 17 years. Before that he was a staff attorney in the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

“Venable’s SEC and white collar practice has a strong reputation for performing top-notch work,” Rivera said in a statement. “The firm’s stellar bench of former SEC enforcement staffers, bank regulators and assistant U.S. attorneys has substantial experience defending major financial fraud investigations,”

Venable has more than 500 lawyers at eight U.S. offices.

Bingham Enhances Antitrust Strength with Government Hires

Bingham McCutchen LLP bolstered its antitrust and white-collar practices with two federal government lawyer hires. The Federal Trade Commission senior competition adviser, Darren Tucker, and a former Justice Department prosecutor, Michael Whitlock, join the firm as litigation partners in the Washington office.

At the FTC, Tucker drafted the agency’s liability decision in a case that tested the power of doctors to exclude non-licensed providers offering competitive services, the firm said.

Whitlock joins Bingham from the National Criminal Enforcement Section of the Justice Department. He investigated auto-parts companies for price fixing, bid rigging and market allocation as well as prosecuted companies and people accused of collusion in the coastal-shipping and air-cargo industries, the firm said.

Both men will work in the antitrust, competition and trade regulation group, with Whitlock also joining Bingham’s white collar investigations and enforcement group.

“Darren’s background in FTC merger and conduct investigations, particularly in the health-care and technology sectors, and Michael’s prosecutorial experience in some of the largest and most significant criminal antitrust investigations in the DOJ’s history ensure that we will continue to deliver the agency knowledge and experience our clients expect and deserve,” Leiv Blad, co-chairman of Bingham’s antitrust group, said in a statement.

Bingham has approximately 1,000 lawyers in 14 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Troutman Sanders Hires Stoel Rives’ Renewable Energy Chairman

Energy lawyer Stephen C. Hall joined Troutman Sanders LLP as a partner in the Portland, Oregon, office. He was previously a partner at Stoel Rives LLP, where his practice focused on representing energy industry companies on regulatory and commercial issues. He’s the former chairman of Stoel Rives’ renewable energy initiative.

“His work representing independent power producers, renewable energy developers, investment banks, power marketers, and major utilities will complement and enhance both our energy regulatory and project development and finance practices,” Clifford S. Sikora, a partner and section chief of Troutman Sanders’ energy practice, said in a statement.

Troutman Sanders has more than 600 lawyers and 15 offices in the U.S. and Asia.

Jones Day Adds Food and Drug Partner Heisey in Washington

Jones Day announced that Colleen Heisey has joined the Washington office as a partner in the health-care practice. Formerly a partner at Hunton & Williams LLP, Heisey focuses on food and drug law with a particular emphasis on advertising, promotion and compliance counseling.

“Health-care and life sciences companies are under increasing scrutiny from the FDA, USDA and other federal and state regulatory agencies,” James Dutro, the San Francisco based co-leader of Jones Day’s health care practice, said in a statement. “Colleen’s deep understanding of the regulations and the regulators adds significantly to the formidable capabilities we have assembled to counsel clients worldwide on the evolving regulatory environment.”

Jones Day has more than 2,400 lawyers in 36 offices worldwide.

Withers Bergman Hires International Corporate Tax Partner

Withers Bergman LLP added partner Patrick M. Cox to its international corporate tax group in New York. Cox joins from Brown Rudnick LLP, where he was chairman of the tax group.

Cox works with domestic and international clients in developing tax strategies for cross-border and domestic business transactions. He represents businesses, investors and financial intermediaries on federal income tax issues related to capital market transactions as well as mergers and acquisitions, the firm said. He also advises corporations and consolidated groups on the tax consequences of debt offerings, exchanges and reorganizations.

Withers Bergman has more than 100 partners and more than 270 other lawyers, with 10 offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the British Virgin Islands.


Rutgers General Counsel Resigns After Coaching Scandal

Rutgers University’s general counsel, John Wolf, resigned after criticism of his role in the investigation of Mike Rice, who was fired as men’s basketball coach last week for physically and verbally abusing players.

Wolf and Rutgers President Robert Barchi “agreed that it is in the best interests of the university that Mr. Wolf resign from the university effective immediately,” the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based school said on its website.

Rice was suspended for three games and fined $50,000 in December following an investigation of his actions by Wolf, Rutgers Athletic Director Tim Pernetti and an outside law firm.

The coach was fired on April 3, a day after video was aired on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” showing Rice shoving players and throwing basketballs at them while uttering gay slurs and vulgarities during practices from 2010 to 2012.

Barchi said April 5 at a news conference to announce Pernetti’s resignation that Wolf had “resigned his leadership position.”

New Jersey State Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver, a Democrat from East Orange, yesterday questioned the decision to reassign Wolf to another post at the school rather than fire him.

“The decision-making process that has gone on at Rutgers is simply baffling,” Oliver said in an e-mailed statement. “If Mr. Wolf’s questionable judgment played a role in the suspension, rather than the firing, of Mike Rice, he needed to be held accountable, not reassigned to another sizeable taxpayer-funded position.”

Wolf will work with the school’s next general counsel to assure a smooth transition as Rutgers works toward a July 1, 2013, merger with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, according to the school statement.

“While I regret the circumstances surrounding my departure from Rutgers, I always will have very fond memories of the challenges and achievements that I have been a part of and the many colleagues and friends, both inside and outside the university, with whom I have worked at Rutgers since 1984,” Wolf said in a statement. “I wish Rutgers well.”

Senate Republicans Erect Few Roadblocks to Srinivasan Nomination

A recent White House push to build Republican support for judicial nominees showed signs of headway, as senators signaled little opposition to a candidate for a seat on a powerful appellate court in Washington.

The nomination of Sri Srinivasan, a deputy solicitor general at the U.S. Justice Department, to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit went before the Senate Judiciary Committee April 10. The appellate panel is considered the nation’s second-most-influential court because its jurisdiction over federal rulemaking means it often hears major environmental, labor and national-security cases.

The White House has tried to bolster Srinivasan’s nomination by releasing a letter of support from former officials, including six Republicans. They include Kenneth Starr, who was solicitor general under President George H.W. Bush and investigated President Bill Clinton in the 1990s, and Ted Olson, solicitor general under President George W. Bush.

“I intend to support you based on what we’re talking about here,” Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, said at the April 10 hearing. “You’re a very impressive person as far as I’m concerned. I don’t believe judges should be filibustered.”

Last month, President Barack Obama withdrew his nomination of former New York state solicitor general Caitlin Halligan for a seat on the D.C. appellate bench after Republicans used a procedural maneuver known as a filibuster to block her nomination. Halligan, whom Obama nominated three times -- in 2011, 2012 and 2013 -- and who asked to have her name withdrawn, was to fill one of four vacancies among 11 seats on the court.

No nominee to the panel has been confirmed since 2006. Judges on its bench regularly move up to the U.S. Supreme Court, where four of the nine current justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, previously served on the lower court. Democrats blame politics for the impasse.

Confirmation of appellate and district-court nominees took an average of 227 days in Obama’s first term, compared with 176 days in George W. Bush’s first four years and 98 days during Clinton’s first term, according to an analysis by Russell Wheeler, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit research organization in Washington.

The number of appeals-court vacancies rose to 17 during Obama’s first term from 14 when he took office in January 2009, according to Wheeler’s analysis. During Bush’s initial four years, appellate vacancies declined to 18 on his second inauguration from 27 when he entered the White House.

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Firm News

Larry Barden Named Vice Chair of Sidley’s Management Committee

Sidley Austin LLP elected Chicago corporate partner Larry Barden vice chairman of the firm’s management committee. He will succeed Charles W. Douglas in April 2014.

“Chuck has spent the last 15 years guiding the firm through the changing legal landscape and helping to establish it as a global leader,” Carter G. Phillips, co-chairman of Sidley’s executive committee, said in a statement. “I look forward to collaborating with Larry in leading the firm.”

Barden is one of the global coordinators of the firm’s securities practice. He was elected to the executive committee in 1999 and to its management committee in 2011. His principal areas of practice, which he will continue to pursue, are mergers and acquisitions, securities/corporate finance, strategic counseling/corporate governance and private equity/venture capital, the firm said.

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


Survey Says Law Firms Must Change, But Don’t Know How

A survey of the readers of the Adam Smith, Esq. law-firm management blog found widespread agreement that law firms have to change their fundamental business models, consultant Bruce MacEwen told Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia.

Still, lawyers have real doubts that firms will be willing to invest the money necessary to compete with legal process outsourcers or even know how to compete in a changing legal profession, MacEwen said.

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