Latham & Watkins, Kirkland, Weil Gotshal: Business of Law

Latham & Watkins LLP’s Zachary Fardon was nominated by President Obama to be U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. He would replace Patrick Fitzgerald, who left last June and joined Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP.

Before joining Latham in 2007, Fardon was a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Illinois where he was part of the team that tried former Illinois Governor George Ryan on corruption charges. He also worked as a U.S. Attorney in the Middle District of Tennessee, where he supervised about 30 assistant U.S. attorneys in all federal criminal and civil matters, his firm bio said. He attended Vanderbilt University for his undergraduate education and for law school.

“Zachary Fardon will be an exceptional U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois,” U.S. Senator Dick Durbin said in a statement. He said he expects him to focus on daily gang and gun violence “plaguing the streets of Chicago.”

Fardon, who is Latham’s Chicago litigation chair, was picked from a group of four finalists sent to the president. They included Jonathan Bunge, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Lori Lightfoot, a partner at Mayer Brown LLP; and Gil Soffer, a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and the co-chairman of that firm’s white collar practice.

The screening committee included co-chairmen David Coar, a retired U.S. district judge and Kirkland & Ellis partner, and Mark Filip, a former U.S. deputy attorney general.

At Latham, Fardon’s practice focuses on internal investigations, government investigations, white collar defense, and complex business litigation.

Latham spokeswoman Colleen Strasser said Fardon wouldn’t make any public statements.

“Zach has outstanding experience as a public servant and as a litigator in private practice,” the firm said in a statement. “He is an exceptionally talented attorney who practices with the highest level of integrity and ethical standards.”

Fardon’s nomination will be voted on by the Senate Judiciary Committee. If his nomination is approved, it will be sent to the full Senate for consideration. Until a nominee is confirmed, Gary Shapiro will continue as Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Lawyer Castor Proves White House Bane as Investigative Pit Bull

No one in the White House looks forward to a call from Steve Castor.

The lawyer in charge of the Republicans’ numerous probes of the Obama administration -- the Internal Revenue Service targeting of Tea Party groups, the handling of the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi -- is known for inundating officials with demands for answers and documents.

His boss, U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California, frequently goes on television to accuse the administration of stonewalling.

Behind the scenes, Castor and his staff of 35 assemble details, line up witnesses for the committee to question, and write voluminous, minutely footnoted reports that boil down shades-of-gray situations into black-and-white narratives with heroes and villains.

“We’re in the storytelling business, the business of putting the pieces together,” Castor says.

Coaxing whistle-blowers to come forward is one of an investigator’s most important skills, says Castor, who’s been with the committee for eight years.

Issa’s hearings “lack credibility,” says Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who once led the committee.

“The purpose of an oversight investigation is not to simply try and make the president look bad,” Waxman says.

Castor rejects the notion that he’s pushing an anti-Obama story line.

“We follow the facts,” he says. “This administration is uncomfortable with oversight.”

Castor, who became the committee’s general counsel this year, obtained his law degree from George Washington University in 2001, joining Philadelphia-based Blank Rome LLP that year. In 1998, the Pennsylvania State University graduate earned a master of business administration from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

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Six Firms Advise on Rue21 Agreement to Be Acquired by Apax

Kirkland & Ellis LLP, Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP and Ropes & Gray LLP advised Rue21 Inc., the operator of more than 900 teen apparel shops, on its agreement to be bought by private-equity firm Apax Partners in a $1.1 billion deal. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP and Richards Layton & Finger PA advised Apax.

Kirkland advised the special committee of the board of directors of Rue21. The Kirkland team includes corporate partners David Fox and David Feirstein, debt finance partner Ashley Gregory. Potter Anderson’s team was led by partner Michael B. Tumas. Ropes & Gray partners included Daniel Evans and Christopher Green.

Simpson Thacher corporate mergers and acquisitions partner Ryerson Symons is leading his firm’s team advising Apax. Additional Simpson Thacher partners on the team include Ken Wallach, capital markets; Gary Mandel, tax; Brian Robbins, executive compensation and employee benefits; and Lori Lesser, IP. Richards Layton didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking partner names.

Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP New York mergers and acquisitions partners Michael Aiello and Jackie Cohen are representing Perella Weinberg, financial adviser to the Rue 21 special committee.

The purchase price of $42 a share will be paid in cash, the companies said yesterday in a statement. That represents a 23 percent premium to Rue21’s closing price in New York yesterday. The deal has been approved by Rue21’s board and the company has 40 days to find a superior offer.

Rue21 has been expanding, with plans to open its 1,000th store by January and eventually boost its presence to more than 1,700 locations. The chain, based in Warrendale, Pennsylvania, is projected to more than triple its free cash flow this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“That price is pretty fair,” said Amy Hu Sunderland, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Grandeur Peak Global Advisors LLC, which oversees $950 million and owns shares of Rue21. “They can get a lot of cash flow out of it. These guys are not levered at all, they should be able to get much higher return because they can lever it up.”

Apax is paying about 9.2 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with the median of 8.4 in a survey of about 30 comparable deals, the data show.

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Firm News

King & Wood Names Kench New Australian Managing Partner

King & Wood Mallesons appointed Sue Kench as managing partner in Australia, the firm said in a statement.

She replaces Tony O’Malley, who agreed to resign immediately, Bloomberg News reported May 20. He will retire as a partner at the end of 2013. O’Malley had been with the firm for 13 years. The firm didn’t give a reason for the management change.

Kench is a partner in the Sidney office and the managing partner for the firm’s real estate, construction and infrastructure sector and real estate, construction and environmental law practice. She has been with the firm for 20 years and was a member of the board that oversaw the firm’s combination with Chinese firm King & Wood. Australia’s Stephen Jaques combined last year with King & Wood to form Asia’s biggest law firm, which now has about 2,200 legal professionals.

“Sue has a firm grasp of the key challenges and opportunities facing our clients and the right combination of expertise, experience and energy to lead the business in what is an increasingly dynamic market,” Stephen Minns, Australian chairman of King & Wood Mallesons, said in a statement.


Privacy and Data Security Partner Joins McDermott in Boston

McDermott Will & Emery LLP said Julia B. Jacobson joined the firm’s Boston office as a partner in the global privacy and data protection affinity group. She was previously with Bingham McCutchen LLP.

Jacobson focuses her practice on the legal and regulatory issues surrounding data and privacy security, including online privacy policies and terms of use. She advises clients on advertising law, including consumer and trade promotions, digital and e-mail marketing and the promotion and sale of goods across mediums, the firm said. Her practice also includes software, trademark and merchandise licensing.

“Businesses in every sector are faced with privacy and data security concerns that continue to grow in complexity and scope,” Heather Egan Sussman, co-chairwoman of the firm’s global privacy and data protection affinity group said in a statement. “These issues carry particular weight for healthcare and financial services, industries that are highly regulated. Julia brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in these fields.”

McDermott’s global data privacy practice includes more than 50 attorneys worldwide who help clients manage that risk. The firm has more than 1,100 lawyers at offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Drinker Biddle’s Employee Benefits Practice Gains a Partner

Frances P. LaFleur joined Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP as a partner in the firm’s employee benefits and executive compensation practice group in Chicago.

LaFleur has been an in-house counsel for 10 years, most recently as senior legal counsel for Schneider Electric. Immediately before that, she was senior counsel for Hillshire Brands and its predecessor firm, Sara Lee Corp. She was an associate at Drinker Biddle’s predecessor firm in Chicago, Gardner Carton & Douglas.

LaFleur will focus her practice on advising clients on retirement, executive compensation and health and welfare plan issues, as well as ERISA fiduciary governance matters, the firm said. She will also be a leader of the firm’s employee benefits practice for health systems and other tax exempt entities.

Drinker Biddle has 650 lawyers in offices in the U.S. and London.

Michael Duffy Rejoins Baker & McKenzie in Chicago

Michael Duffy rejoined Baker & McKenzie LLP’s dispute resolution practice as a partner in Chicago. He was previously a partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Duffy has been involved in international arbitrations, represented auditing firms on large malpractice claims and securities class actions, manufacturers against claims brought by their dealers and franchisees, the firm said. Duffy, a fluent Spanish speaker, has represented Latin American and Spanish clients in U.S. courts and arbitration proceedings.

“Michael’s fluency in Spanish and deep experience advising Latin American and Spanish clients in litigation matters are great additions to our growing practice,” Richard Franklin, chairman of Baker & McKenzie’s North American litigation practice, said in a statement.

Baker & McKenzie’s dispute resolution practice has more than 700 lawyers globally and more than 125 attorneys in the U.S. The firm has more than 4,000 lawyers in 72 offices in 45 countries.

Terrence O’Donnell Joins Dickinson Wright’s Columbus Office

Dickinson Wright PLLC announced that Terrence O’Donnell has joined the firm’s Columbus, Ohio, office as a member. He was previously at Bricker & Eckler LLP.

O’Donnell focuses his practice on public policy advocacy at the statehouse and regulatory compliance. He also has election law experience.

Dickinson Wright has more than 350 lawyers at 12 offices in the U.S. and Toronto.


Dewey’s Bankruptcy Lawyer: More Big Law Firms Will Fail

While failed law firms make for notoriously difficult bankruptcy cases, Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP’s time in bankruptcy court was quicker and easier than other notable law firms. Joe Samet, head of restructuring at Baker & McKenzie LLP, and Al Togut, founding partner at Togut, Segal & Segal LLP, talk with Bloomberg Law’s Lee Pacchia about why Dewey’s case went so smoothly compared with others, the prospects for other large law firm failures and how managing partners can keep their firms out of bankruptcy. Both Togut and Samet agree that creating a culture of transparency goes a long way to avoiding a law firm failure. “Except for a select group of people at the very top, the rest of the people at the firm have no idea, none, of what’s going on,” Togut says.

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