Seyfarth Shaw, BakerHostetler, Hunton: Business of Law

Seyfarth Shaw LLP will open an office in Shanghai this summer, giving the firm its first office in Asia. China practitioner Wan Li, who recently joined the firm from DLA Piper LLP, will be the chief representative and managing partner of Seyfarth’s Shanghai office.

“In speaking with our clients during the last 12 months, there has been overwhelming feedback for us to open an office in Shanghai to support our clients in some of our core practice areas,” J. Stephen Poor, Seyfarth’s chairman and managing partner said in a statement.

Li’s practice focuses on foreign direct investment in China and representation of Chinese companies in multijurisdictional transactions, including acquisition of equity and assets of foreign energy and resources companies, according to his firm biography. The firm said it plans to build out the team around Li, especially in the employment and corporate practice areas.

Seyfarth Shaw has more than 800 attorneys with 12 offices in the U.S., London and Shanghai.


BakerHostetler Appoints Lateral Partner to head FDA practice

BakerHostetler LLP added Lance L. Shea as a partner in the Washington office, where he will be the national team leader of the firm’s Food and Drug Administration practice. He was previously at Fulbright & Jaworski LLP.

Shea has experience representing life-science companies in regulatory and litigation matters including clients regulated by the FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency, the firm said.

“We are excited to welcome Lance as the new chair of our national FDA practice,””Jeffrey H. Paravano, managing partner of BakerHostetler’s Washington office said in a statement. “Lance represents the rare combination of an attorney who can strategically navigate regulatory compliance and litigation while maintaining a highly technical understanding of the science behind our clients’ products.””

BakerHostetler has more than 800 attorneys at 11 U.S. offices.

Drinker Biddle Hires ERISA Litigator in Chicago

Theodore M. Becker, formerly of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, joins Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP in Chicago as a partner in the employee benefits and executive compensation practice group. He will be chairman of the firm’s national employee benefits and ERISA litigation team.

Becker focuses his practice on the representation of corporate plan sponsors and ERISA plan fiduciaries in litigation matters and regulatory agency investigations, the firm said.

“Ted is one of the country’s premier ESOP litigators and will be a terrific addition to both our growing ERISA litigation practice and our national commercial litigation practice,” Howard J. Levine, chairman of the firm’s national employee benefits and executive compensation practice group said in a statement.

Drinker Biddle has 650 lawyers in 11 U.S. offices and an office in London.

Day Pitney Real Estate Department Adds Partner Jeffrey Held

Day Pitney LLP announced that Jeffrey S. Held has joined the firm as partner in the real estate, environmental and land use department in New York. He was previously at O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where he was head of that firm’s New York real estate practice, the firm said in a statement. He was also a member of the transactions department and the mergers and acquisitions practice group.

“Real estate has always been one of our flagship practices and we are glad to add Jeff who brings tremendous value to our existing team,” Day Pitney managing partner Stanley A. Twardy said in the statement.

Held’s practice focuses on matters related to the purchase, sale, financing and development of improved and unimproved commercial real estate properties in the U.S. and in cross-border transactions, the firm said. Held has also represented landlords and tenants in office and retail leasing projects. He has also counseled private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies on transactions, the firm said.

Day Pitney has more than 300 attorneys in nine U.S. northeastern offices.

Hunton & Williams Adds Litigation Partner in Charlotte Office

Nash E. Long III rejoined Hunton & Williams LLP’s litigation practice as a partner in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was most recently at Winston & Strawn LLP.

Long focuses his practice on complex litigation, including arbitrations, jury trials, bench trials, and class actions related to environmental, business torts, commercial contract, intellectual property, construction, consumer law and product liability disputes, the firm said.

“Nash’s experience and proven abilities, especially in Clean Air Act actions, will be an advantage to clients in our established environmental practice,” Sam A. Danon, head of the litigation and intellectual property practice said in a statement.

Hunton & Williams LLP has more than 800 lawyers at 19 offices around the world.


How General Counsels Use Social Media to Hire Law Firms

A new survey from public relations firm Greentarget finds that in-house counsel are frequently using LinkedIn and lawyer blogs to determine who they will hire, John Corey, founding partner at Greentarget, tells Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia. But you won’t find those in-house lawyers in the comment sections of blogs or blogging themselves -- they prefer to just listen, rather than engage, the survey says. More information about the survey, which is co-sponsored by Inside Counsel magazine and law firm consulting company Zeughauser Group, is available here:

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Humana Fires Law Firm Tied to Alleged Leak of Medicare Decision

Humana Inc., the second-biggest private provider of Medicare coverage, fired a law firm tied to an alleged leak of government information that sent the company’s stock soaring this month.

The insurer fired Greenberg Traurig LLP after learning it worked for an investor-services company also linked to the alleged leak, said Tom Noland, a spokesman for Louisville, Kentucky-based Humana. The insurance carrier also has begun an internal investigation, Noland said yesterday in a phone interview.

U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, is probing whether the investor company, Height Analytics LLC, received inside information before telling clients the afternoon of April 1 that officials would change plans and reduce a proposed rate cut for Medicare Advantage plans sold by private insurers. Shares of Humana and other insurers jumped in the last 20 minutes of the trading day after Height sent an e-mail to clients predicting the rate cut would be reduced. Medicare officially announced the decision about 45 minutes later.

Grassley has also requested information from New York-based Greenberg Traurig after learning that one of its lobbyists, Mark Hayes, had sent an e-mail to a Height analyst earlier on April 1 saying Medicare would change its decision. Hayes is a former aide to Grassley.

Noland said Humana had no advance notice of Medicare’s decision. The internal probe is meant to determine if Greenberg Traurig “in any way hurt Humana’s interests,” he said. It was unclear how long the investigation may take or if its results would be shared with Grassley, he said.

A spokeswoman for Greenberg Traurig, Jill Perry, said April 17 that Hayes didn’t receive or share any “material non-public” information. Hayes didn’t return telephone messages or e-mails seeking comment on his alleged actions.

Height did nothing wrong, its managing partner, Andrew Parmentier, said in a statement on April 17 to the firm’s clients. Its report was based on “careful and close analysis” and not inside information, he said.

Feinberg Will Oversee Boston Fund Set Up to Aid Bombing Victims

Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer who ran the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, will play the same role for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing, said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

More than $7 million has been committed to The One Fund Boston by individuals and companies, including $500,000 from more than 8,500 people contributing through, the two Democrats said in a statement.

Feinberg, a native of Brockton, a Massachusetts city south of Boston, will provide the service without charge, according to the statement. The founder of Washington-based law firm Feinberg Rozen LLP, he is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and serves on the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation’s board of directors.

“I will do my best to justify their confidence in me as we move forward to design and administer an effective program following the terrible tragedy in Boston,” Feinberg said in the statement. He will design the fund and oversee its operations, starting April 19, when he is set to arrive in Boston.

Feinberg, 67, oversaw compensation limits for executives at seven companies bailed out by the U.S. Treasury, including insurer American International Group. He also supervised Gulf Coast Claims Facilities, set up to compensate victims of the 2010 BP Plc oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, he ran compensation funds for victims of mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado, and at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, the school known as Virginia Tech.

Australia Litigation Funders Spur Record Settlements in 2012

The value of securities class action settlements in Australia in 2012 was a record A$480 million ($495 million), almost as much as the total since group lawsuits were introduced, law firm King & Wood Mallesons said.

Total settlements since the country allowed class actions 20 years ago now stand at just over A$1 billion, the firm said in a report yesterday, citing a growth in litigation funders as a key reason.

Although the U.S. is seen as the birth place of class actions, Australia has taken the lead in a number of areas. That includes the first class action lawsuit examining the conduct of an investment bank in relation to the sale of collateralized debt obligations when a Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. unit was found liable for losses incurred by three towns from buying failed securities, King & Wood Mallesons said.

Australia was also the first jurisdiction in which proceedings were successfully brought against a rating company, when Standard & Poor’s was found liable in November for misleading Australian towns with its investment ratings, the law firm said.

Last year also saw more settlements than any other year in Australia, with 13 class actions settled, the firm said. King & Wood Mallesons, with 2,200 legal professionals, was formed last year by the merger of Sydney-based and Beijing-based firms.

The record settlement value was led by the highest ever reached in the Australia in May when Centro Retail Australia and PricewaterhouseCoopers agreed to pay A$200 million to shareholders who claimed they were misled by company statements in 2007 that failed to disclose its debt levels.

U.K.-based Argentum Investment Management Ltd. entered the country last year, bringing the number of active litigation funders to at least eight, King & Wood Mallesons said.

“More funders will inevitably drive more class action litigation as they compete for market share,” it said.

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Ex-Judicial Official Charged in Slaying of Texas Prosecutors

A former justice of the peace in Kaufman County, Texas, and his wife were charged in the slaying of the county’s top prosecutor, his wife and an assistant district attorney who had won a conviction against him for stealing computers from his employer.

Eric Williams, 46, was charged with capital murder, the county sheriff, David Byrnes, said yesterday at a press conference in Kaufman County. His wife, Kim, was arrested yesterday and charged with capital murder in connection with the killings of District Attorney Mike McLelland, his wife, Cynthia, and Assistant District Attorney Mark Hasse.

Eric Williams has been in custody since April 13, charged with making a threat to law enforcement officials who were investigating the slaying of the McLellands at their home on March 30. Hasse was shot and killed in his car near the county courthouse on January 31.

The sheriff’s office said in an affidavit for the arrest of Kim Williams, 46, that she confessed to her involvement in the killings and told an investigator that her husband shot the three.

Eric Williams, while working as a justice of the peace, was convicted last year of stealing county computers in a case prosecuted by McLelland and Hasse, according to the affidavit. He subsequently lost his peace officer’s license and his law license was revoked.

Officers and county employees told investigators that Hasse and McLelland both believed that Eric Williams blamed them for his removal from office, according to the affidavit. The two prosecutors regularly carried handguns after Eric Williams’s jury trial because they believed Williams “to be a threat to their personal safety,” according to the affidavit.

The sheriff’s office said it traced an electronic communication that Eric Williams sent from his personal computer to law enforcement officers the day after the McLellands were killed.

“The threat implied unless law enforcement responded to the demands of the writer, another attack would occur,” according to an April 12 affidavit for a warrant to arrest Eric Williams.

Government Lawyers

Top Lawyers Leave CFTC as Agency Tries to Finish Dodd-Frank Act

The main U.S. derivatives regulator is losing three of its top lawyers as it tries to finish Dodd-Frank Act rules designed to curb risk in the $639 trillion global swaps market.

Terry Arbit, a Commodity Futures Trading Commission lawyer since 1996 and deputy general counsel, and Harold Hardman, also a deputy general counsel who spent more than 30 years at the agency, are leaving, according to Steve Adamske, the commission’s spokesman. Dan Berkovitz stepped down as general counsel last month.

“You’re looking at very serious lawyers with decades of experience,” Dan Waldman, a Washington-based partner at Arnold & Porter LLP and former CFTC general counsel, said in a telephone interview. “They’re obviously going to be missed.”

Dodd-Frank was enacted as lawmakers sought to reduce risk and increase transparency in the swaps market after unregulated trades helped fuel the 2008 credit crisis. The law calls for most swaps to be guaranteed at clearinghouses and traded on exchanges or other platforms.

The regulations will govern trades guaranteed at clearinghouses including those operated by CME Group Inc. and conducted by companies such as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The CFTC has finalized rules governing which companies must register as swaps dealers, how clearinghouses manage risk and how customer money must be segregated. The agency several times has delayed a final vote on rules for trading of swaps on new execution facilities, while the five-member commission has also failed to finish guidance on the cross-border reach of its regulations.

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