Shearman & Sterling, Latham, Kilpatrick: Business of Law

Shearman & Sterling LLP is closing its Dusseldorf and Munich offices, leaving the firm with one German outpost, in Frankfurt. The firm’s German corporate/mergers and acquisitions, finance/tax and disputes/arbitration work will be consolidated there, the firm said in a statement.

“This concentration in Frankfurt will enable us to respond to a significantly altered market in Germany while providing our clients with the same level of exceptional service that they have always expected from Shearman & Sterling,” senior partner Creighton Condon said in a statement.

The Dusseldorf office, which opened in 1991, has six partners and 23 additional lawyers, according to the firm’s website. The office’s attorneys have worked on the mergers of Daimler-Benz AG with Chrysler and VEBA and VIAG with E.ON, according to the website.

The Munich office, opened in 2001, has two partners and seven more lawyers listed on the website. Those attorneys practice in the areas of tax, mergers-and-acquisitions, corporate and finance law.

Ron Brandsdorfer, the firm’s spokesman, when asked whether the lawyers will be fired or relocated, said in an e-mail, “The firm is planning to consolidate its three offices, with lawyers working out of the Frankfurt office.”

The Frankfurt office, also opened in 1991, has nine partners and 23 additional lawyers, according to its website.

The firm lost Dusseldorf partner Hans Diekmann to Allen & Overy LLP this week.

Shearman also has offices in London, Paris, Brussels and Italy, where lawyers have worked on high profile transactions recently, including for Societe Generale SA in the sale of its Greek unit, Geniki Bank, to Piraeus Bank; and advised Liberty Global Inc. on its $23.3 billion acquisition of Virgin Media Inc.

“We operate as a highly integrated European operation,” Nicholas Buckworth, managing partner of the firm’s European, Middle East and African operations and head of the firm’s London office, said in a statement. “We see our concentration in Frankfurt as an important step in ensuring that we are able to provide the right resources to our clients in Germany, throughout Europe and globally.”


Koch’s Georgia-Pacific to Purchase Buckeye for $1.45 Billion

Latham & Watkins LLP advised Georgia-Pacific LLC, the U.S. paper and pulp producer controlled by the Koch brothers, which agreed to buy Buckeye Technologies Inc. for about $1.45 billion to add cellulose products used in baby wipes and tires. Dechert LLP represents Buckeye Technologies.

Latham & Watkins’s corporate deal team is led by Chicago and New York partner Mark Gerstein, and Chicago partners Bradley Faris and Timothy FitzSimons.

Dechert corporate partners on the deal included Daniel O’Donnell, William Tuttle and Derek Winokur. Additional partners included: Abbi Cohen, environment; Joshua Milgrim, tax; Andrew Oringer, employee benefits; and Jeremy Zucker, international trade.

Closely held Georgia-Pacific will pay $37.50 a share, the companies said in a statement. That’s 25 percent more than Memphis, Tennessee-based Buckeye’s closing price April 24. The shares rose to $37.59 at 12:50 p.m. in New York, the biggest intraday gain in more than three years.

Buckeye plants in the U.S. and Germany make specialty fibers and materials from wood and cotton, used in products including diapers and cords that strengthen tires. Established in the 1900s as a cottonseed crushing division of Procter & Gamble Co., the company was bought out by management and Madison Dearborn Partners LLC in 1993 and had an initial public offering in 1995, according to its website.

The acquisition is the largest since Georgia-Pacific was acquired by Koch Industries in 2005, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Georgia-Pacific, which makes paper, pulp and related chemicals, agreed to pay $750 million to buy International Paper Co.’s Temple Inland Building Products division in December.

For more, click here.


Kilpatrick Townsend Adds Melanie Sabo to Washington Office

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP hired Melanie Sabo in the firm’s Washington office as a partner on the antitrust team. Sabo has almost 25 years of antitrust experience, most recently as the Federal Trade Commission’s assistant director of the Anticompetitive Practices Division.

“Melanie’s knowledge gained from handling numerous ‘front-page’ antitrust FTC matters will be absolutely invaluable. I don’t think there is a key issue she hasn’t encountered, particularly in the high-tech area,” Connie Robinson, co-chairwoman of Kilpatrick Townsend’s antitrust team said in a statement.

Sabo spent six years as assistant director in the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition, where she was in charge of the Anticompetitive Practices Section, which had a staff of 32 lawyers.

Kilpatrick Townsend has 620 lawyers at 17 offices in the U.S. and internationally.

Paul Hastings Hires Securities and Capital Markets Partner

Gislar Donnenberg has joined Paul Hastings LLP as a partner with the securities and capital markets practice in Houston. Donnenberg joins from Andrews Kurth LLP, where he was a partner.

His practice focuses on master limited partnerships, a limited partnership or limited liability company that is publicly traded on a U.S. stock exchange, the firm said in a statement.

“MLPs have become the dominant capital markets vehicle in the energy industry and Gislar’s addition will allow us to help our clients take advantage of the growth opportunities in the market,” Greg Nelson, chairman of the Houston office said in a statement.

Donnenberg’s corporate/securities transactions experience includes issuer and underwriter representation in public offerings of equity and debt, mergers, business combinations and acquisitions, among other matters, the firm said.

Paul Hastings has lawyers at 20 offices in Asia, Europe, and the U.S.

Ropes & Gray Hires Massachusetts Fair Labor Chief

Jeffrey Webb, the chief of the Fair Labor Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, is joining Ropes & Gray LLP as a partner in Boston.

Webb has led Massachusetts’ enforcement of wage and hours laws through criminal prosecutions, civil suits, and administrative proceedings since 2010, the firm said in a statement.

He was previously in private practice as a partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP in Boston, where he focused on employment class action litigation defense. He also was vice president at Fox Entertainment Group in Los Angeles, where he managed the employment litigation and compliance functions of the company, the firm said.

“Jeffrey Webb is one of the most seasoned, versatile employment law litigators in the country, who has successfully litigated high-stakes matters with tens of millions of dollars at stake,” Peter Ebb, head of the labor and employment practice at Ropes & Gray said in a statement. “And his particular experience with the hot-button issues of employment law -- including Erisa litigation, executive compensation disputes, wage-and-hour and employment discrimination class actions, and non-competition and trade secret matters -- will be of great value to clients across multiple industries.”

Ropes & Gray has more than 1,100 lawyers at 11 offices in the U.S., London and Asia.

Barnes & Thornburg Adds Private Wealth Attorney in Atlanta

Barnes & Thornburg LLP announced that James R. Robinson has joined the firm’s Atlanta office as a partner in the corporate department and private wealth services practice group. Robinson was most recently a partner in Schiff Hardin LLP’s private clients, trust and estates practice group.

Robinson concentrates his practice on estate and corporate planning, working with families and closely held businesses on succession planning, estate and gift planning, sophisticated tax planning, wealth preservation and charitable giving, among other matters. He also provides fiduciary counseling and dispute resolution for tax-exempt organizations.

Barnes & Thornburg has more than 600 attorneys and other legal professionals at 12 U.S. offices.


China’s Export Policy Changes After U.S. Antitrust Case

William Isaacson, partner at Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP, talks with Bloomberg Law’s Spencer Mazyck about his eight-year antitrust crusade against several Chinese Vitamin C makers, which resulted in a federal jury verdict on March 14, 2013, ordering the manufacturers to pay $162.3 million to U.S. customers for fixing export prices. This case marks the first time Chinese companies faced a trial on U.S. antitrust claims.

Isaacson, in this “Rainmakers” episode, also discusses the implications of the historic ruling for Chinese companies doing business in the U.S.

This is a Bloomberg podcast. To download, watch or listen to this report now, click here.


Former Howrey Partners Settle ‘Jewel’ Claims Cheaply

A controversy roiling the legal community enables lawyers from failed firms to settle with their former firms at affordable prices, Bloomberg News’ Bill Rochelle reports.

The issue revolves around a California case called Jewel in which an appellate court ruled that the profit a lawyer makes completing existing business at a new firm belongs to the old firm if it goes bankrupt.

Not all courts agree that Jewel is good law. Two federal district judges in Manhattan reached opposite results, one saying Jewel is good law and the other saying it’s not.

In San Francisco, the bankruptcy trustee for Howrey LLP is making claims against former partners who took business with them to new firms. This week the bankruptcy court approved settlements at fractions of the potential liabilities.

One settlement involved a lawyer who went to Holland & Knight LLP and generated $238,000 in collections on unfinished business. The Howrey trustee claimed $67,000, representing the profit at the firm’s 28 percent reported profit margin. The trustee settled for about $26,000, or about 40 percent of the trustee’s potential recovery.

Another partner went to Fenwick & West LLP and brought in $59,000 on unfinished work. At the firm’s published 41 percent profit margin, the trustee could have recovered about $24,000. Instead, the trustee settled for $15,000, or about 62 percent of the possible recovery.

The settlements are good news for partners at financially weak law firms. Were the Howrey trustee getting 100 percent, partners might have difficulty finding new firms to take them.

Settlements make sense for former Howrey partners because the same bankruptcy judge wrote an opinion in March in the liquidation of Heller Ehrman in which he concluded that Jewel remains good law. For a discussion of the opinion, by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali, click here for the March 14 Bloomberg bankruptcy report. Montali is supervising the liquidation of both Howrey and Heller Ehrman.

Once known for expertise in antitrust and intellectual property law, Howrey filed under Chapter 11 in June 2011 following an involuntary filing in April 2011. Howrey partners lost control of the liquidation when the bankruptcy court authorized appointment of a Chapter 11 trustee in September 2011.

The bankruptcy is in San Francisco, where the firm had one of its 19 offices. The firm closed in March 2011. Howrey’s main office had been in Washington. It previously was known as Howrey & Simon and Howrey Simon Arnold & White LLP. At one time, the firm had more than 700 lawyers.

The case is In re Howrey LLP, 11-bk-31376, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).


Ex-Attorney Matthew Kluger Appeals Insider-Trading Sentence

Matthew Kluger, the former lawyer who last year received the longest prison sentence imposed in an insider-trading case, didn’t deserve the 12-year term, his lawyer told the U.S. Appeals Court in Philadelphia.

Kluger, formerly with Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati PC, was sentenced for his role a scheme that generated $37 million in illegal profit. Kluger, who stole corporate merger tips from four law firms during a 17-year period, got more time than Garrett Bauer, a New York stock trader who made more than $30 million on the scheme, Harvey Weissbard, an attorney for Kluger, told the three-judge appeals panel yesterday.

The sentencing judge “never mentioned how much money Kluger got out of this,” Weissbard said at a hearing. “Doesn’t the amount that he got, that he profited in comparison to someone like Bauer, have any meaning?”

Both Bauer and Kluger pleaded guilty to securities fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and obstruction of justice. Bauer got nine years in prison. At Kluger’s sentencing in June, U.S. District Judge Katharine Hayden said she judged him more harshly because he abused his position of trust as a lawyer.

Caroline Sadlowski, an attorney for the government, argued yesterday that Kluger’s character influenced Hayden’s decision. Kluger took part in an illegal scheme for 17 years, she said.

“That sets him apart from other defendants,” Sadlowski said. “The amount of money shouldn’t control the sentencing guidelines.”

The case is U.S. v. Kluger, 12-02701, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (Philadelphia)

For more, click here.