Hunton & Williams, Latham, Venable, K&L: Business of Law

FBI senior cybersecurity adviser Paul M. Tiao joined Hunton & Williams LLP as a partner in its privacy and data security practice group in Washington. He was senior counselor to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III on cybersecurity, electronic surveillance, intellectual property crimes, digital forensics, and other national security and criminal issues, the firm said.

Tiao formulated cybersecurity policy positions, drafted legislative language, coordinated strategy and represented the FBI in discussions within the executive branch, with Congress, and with industry leaders, the firm said.

Tiao previously served on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee as counsel to Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard J. Durbin, the firm said.

“Cybercrime is a critical global problem,” Tiao said in a statement. “Hunton & Williams was among the first firms to recognize this issue and founded the practice more than 13 years ago. I think it has built the single best team of privacy and data security professionals that reaches across the United States, Europe and Asia.”

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

Investment Management Partner Joins Latham in Chicago

Latham & Watkins LLP announced that Nabil Sabki joined the firm’s Chicago office as a partner in the corporate department. He was previously at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Chicago.

Sabki represents financial services companies and private funds, including private equity and hedge fund clients. He also has experience advising clients in connection with complex financial services related transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and private securities offerings.

Latham & Watkins has approximately 2,000 attorneys in 31 offices worldwide.

Venable Adds Trial Lawyer Kurt Fischer to Baltimore Office

Venable LLP announced that Kurt J. Fischer, an attorney with experience in both trials and regulatory proceedings, has joined the firm as a partner in its Baltimore office. He was previously with DLA Piper LLP.

Fischer represents property owners, public utilities, commercial businesses and local governments in real estate and tax matters in both trials and regulatory proceedings.

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

Assistant District Attorney Joins Barket to Head Appellate Group

Donna Aldea, an assistant district attorney for almost 15 years, has become a member of New York-based Barket, Marion, Epstein & Kearon LLP in the Garden City office, where she will head the appellate and post-conviction group.

While she is working at Barket Marion, Aldea will continue to handle several significant cases from her former position for the district attorney’s office, where she spent five years as counsel for special litigation.

“Over these past fourteen years Donna has handled some of our most difficult and challenging appellate matters,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a statement. “She is among the best appellate lawyers in the state and we will very much miss her. Fortunately she has agreed to continue to handle pro bono some of the important appellate matters upon which she has been working on our behalf.”

Aldea has handled complex litigation in the U.S. Supreme Court, the New York Court of Appeals, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the Appellate Division and the New York state Supreme Court.

She briefed and argued several of the state’s key right-to-counsel cases in the New York Court of Appeals, the firm said. She’s also tackled constitutional issues stemming from “John Doe” DNA indictments, the admissibility of expert testimony regarding shaken baby syndrome, among other matters.

Barket Marion has two New York offices.

K&L Gates Adds Antitrust, Restructuring & Bankruptcy Partners

The Houston office of K&L Gates LLP added Bruce A. Blefeld as a partner in the antitrust practice and Trey A. Monsour as a partner in the restructuring and bankruptcy practice. Blefeld joins the firm from Jackson Walker LLP, while Monsour joins from Haynes and Boone LLP.

Blefeld advises health-care providers, pharmaceutical companies, energy companies and joint ventures on antitrust matters. He also represents clients in ERISA cases.

Monsour is national bankruptcy counsel as well as a court-appointed mediator in bankruptcy disputes.

K&L Gates has 48 offices in the U.S., Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and South America.

Holland & Knight Adds Patent Litigator John Gutkoski

Holland & Knight LLP added patent litigator John T. Gutkoski, previously of Lathrop & Gage LLP, as a partner in the Boston office.

Gutkoski’s national trial practice includes experience serving as lead trial counsel in life sciences and technology matters. He was previously the Boston office IP chairman at Foley & Lardner LLP.

Holland & Knight has 1,000 lawyers in 17 U.S. offices as well as Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Bogota, and Mexico City.


Ex-State Department Lawyer Charged With Recruiting Cuban Spies

A former U.S. State Department lawyer helped the Communist government of Cuba recruit a spy who was inserted into the Defense Intelligence Agency in a conspiracy that began 30 years ago, the Justice Department said.

Marta Rita Velazquez, named in a nine-year-old indictment unsealed April 25 in federal court in Washington, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit espionage. Velazquez, 55, fled the U.S. 11 years ago and is living in Stockholm, according to a Justice Department statement. The department didn’t say why it unsealed the case now.

Velazquez, who was born in Puerto Rico, introduced Ana Belen Montes to the Cuban Intelligence Service in 1984 and later helped Montes get a position as a Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, according to the indictment. Montes, who pleaded guilty of espionage conspiracy in 2002, is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

Velazquez assisted the Cuban spy agency by “spotting, assessing, and recruiting U.S. citizens who occupied sensitive national security positions or who had the potential of occupying such positions in the future,” according to the indictment.

Velazquez, who had top security clearance at the State Department’s U.S. Agency for International Development, began wooing Montes to spy while the two were students at John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

If convicted, Velazquez could face as long as life in prison.

Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, and Bill Miller, a spokesman for Washington U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, didn’t immediately respond last week to e-mail messages seeking comment on the timing of the case being unsealed.

The case is U.S. v. Velazquez, 04-cr-00044, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).


Commerzbank Bonus Appeal Fails as Dresdner Bankers Win Again

Commerzbank AG must pay about 50 million euros ($65 million) to 104 bankers at its now-defunct Dresdner unit after a U.K. appeals court refused to overturn a judge’s decision that the German lender should honor bonus promises.

A pledge by Dresdner’s then Chief Executive Officer, Stefan Jentzsch, to set aside 400 million euros for bonuses in 2008, before the investment bank was acquired by Commerzbank, was binding, the court said April 26. Commerzbank, which reduced Dresdner bonuses by 90 percent, argued a 6.5 billion-euro loss at the unit justified the move.

While banks try to combat or avoid European Union proposals for some of the world’s toughest pay curbs, Frankfurt-based Commerzbank has fought legal battles in Germany, Italy and Japan to defend its bonus cuts. At the 2012 trial in London, Chief Executive Officer Martin Blessing said he wanted bankers to be motivated by loyalty not money.

The ruling “is a triumph for common sense and for some very well-established principles of English contract law,” Clive Zietman, the lawyer for 83 of the bankers, said in a statement. “It is a great pity that the bank saw fit to contest so vigorously and for so long, a case that could so easily have been avoided.”

Commerzbank said in an e-mailed statement it hadn’t decided whether to appeal to the U.K. Supreme Court. The ruling is a “regrettable outcome in view of the ongoing regulatory, public and shareholder calls to establish a sound relationship between banks’ performance and variable remuneration.”

“This case is a salutary reminder to employers that it is not always good to talk,” said Sarah Henchoz, a lawyer at Allen & Overy LLP who wasn’t involved in the trial. “Employers need to be careful what they say to employees about bonus or potential bonus entitlements.”

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