Kirkland, Morgan Lewis, Manatt, Dentons: Business of Law

Robert Khuzami, the former head of enforcement at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, is joining Kirkland & Ellis LLP, the law firm said.

Mark Filip, a partner in charge of Kirkland’s government enforcement defense and internal investigations, said Khuzami will help immediately in securities enforcement defense, advising boards and companies and counseling financial institutions on securities regulations. He will complement the firm’s general white-collar, internal investigations, and private class-action securities practices, Filip said yesterday in an interview.

Khuzami, 56, a former federal prosecutor and top lawyer at Deutsche Bank AG, took over the SEC’s enforcement division in 2009 under Mary Schapiro, who was hired as chairman to help restore the agency’s image after it was battered for missing Bernard L. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Khuzami carried out the biggest shakeup in the enforcement unit’s history, eliminating management layers, expanding investigators’ powers and creating five specialized units to police Wall Street.

He held the position for about four years before stepping down and was replaced in February by his deputy, George Canellos. Mary Jo White, who became the agency’s chairman in April, named a co-chief of enforcement, Andrew Ceresney, to serve alongside Canellos.

Under Khuzami, the SEC filed more than 150 cases related to the financial meltdown, including 65 actions against senior corporate officers, the agency said in January. His investigators took aim at lenders who generated subprime mortgages as well as Wall Street traders and investment banks that bundled the home loans for investors.

He oversaw some of the biggest settlements in SEC history. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. agreed in July 2010 to pay $550 million over claims it misled investors about a mortgage-linked investment; Citigroup reached a $285 million settlement and JPMorgan Chase & Co. forfeited $154 million for their roles in similar deals.

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Skadden Advises Spartan Stores in Nash Finch Acquisition

Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP is legal counsel to Spartan Stores Inc., which agreed to buy Nash Finch Co. in an all-stock transaction valued at $1.3 billion including debt to add grocery distribution serving U.S. military commissaries as well as wholesale operations. Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP is legal adviser to Nash Finch.

The Skadden team was led by Chicago-based mergers and acquisitions partners Peter Krupp and Richard Witzel.

The Morgan Lewis mergers and acquisitions team was led by business and finance partner David Pollak and included business and finance partner Jonathan Morris. The finance team included business and finance partner Patricia Brennan. Also assisting on the transaction were employee benefits and executive compensation partner Gary Rothstein; antitrust partner Harry Robins; and tax partner Kenneth Kail.

Nash Finch investors will receive 1.2 shares in Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Spartan Stores for every share of common stock they own, the companies said yesterday in a statement. Spartan Stores shareholders will own about 58 percent of the combined company and investors in Minneapolis-based Nash Finch will own the remaining 42 percent, they said.

The combined company, with annual sales of about $7.5 billion, will operate 22 distribution centers covering 37 states as well as 177 retail outlets, they said. Earnings will be boosted starting in the first full year of operations, and annual cost savings of $50 million will be achieved by the third year, the retailers said.


California Litigator Joins Manatt from BuckleySandler

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips LLP announced that Donna L. Wilson, formerly the head of BuckleySandler LLP’s West Coast litigation and privacy/data security practices, has joined the firm’s Los Angeles office as a partner in the litigation division.

Wilson has experience bringing and defending cases on in highly regulated industries and activities. Her practice is focused on consumer class and individual actions and counseling, with an emphasis on financial services, data security and privacy matters, as well as government enforcement actions and other complex business litigation, the firm said.

Manatt Phelps has 400 lawyers and professionals at nine offices in the U.S. and Mexico.

Morrison & Foerster Hires Donald Lampe in Washington

Morrison & Foerster LLP hired Donald Lampe as a partner in its Washington office. He joins the financial services group. He was previously at Dykema Gossett PLLC.

Lampe advises banks, non-bank creditors, collection agencies, loan servicers and other financial services providers in regulatory, compliance and administrative matters. He has experience representing industry respondents in investigations, examinations and enforcement matters.

Morrison & Foerster has more than 1,000 lawyers at 16 offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Carlton Fields Hires Business Litigation Partner in Atlanta

David J. Forestner joined Carlton Fields as a shareholder in the Atlanta office in the firm’s business litigation and trade regulation practice group. He was previously a partner at McGuire Woods LLP in Atlanta.

Forestner, who represents clients in complex commercial disputes and in arbitration proceedings, has experience in litigating fiduciary duty claims.

He has represented corporations and business owners in contractual disputes and business tort claims, construction companies in building and contract disputes, financial institutions in disputes with borrowers and insurers and insureds in litigation over coverage and bad-faith claims, the firm said.

Carlton Fields has more than 300 attorneys and government consultants at eight U.S. offices.

Dentons Hires Corporate Partner in Chicago

Dentons LLP announced that Erik W. Chalut has joined its corporate practice as a partner in the firm’s Chicago office. He was previously at Loeb & Loeb LLP.

Chalut focuses on the general representation of business entities, particularly in cross-border transactions and in corporate transactions involving distress, including in restructuring situations, the firm said.

He has represented clients in distressed situations with respect to distressed mergers and acquisitions, negotiating asset purchase agreements, structuring out-of-court workouts and negotiating, drafting and implementing Chapter 11 plans of reorganization.

Among his previous clients, Chalut represented United Airlines Inc. and Tropicana Casinos in their Chapter 11 proceedings, the firm said.

Dentons was formed in March 2013 by the combination of the international law firm Salans LLP, the Canadian law firm Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP and international law firm SNR Denton. The firm has more than 2,500 lawyers and professionals in 79 locations in 52 countries in Africa, Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East.

Wilson Elser Adds Patrick to the National Construction Team

Ben Patrick, a lawyer with experience in intellectual-property rights in the construction industry, joined Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP as a partner. He was previously a partner at Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald LLP Patrick will base his practice out of the Miami and San Francisco offices, the firm said.

He advises on construction industry and transactional matters. He also counsels clients on insurance issues, including coverage questions, risk management and contracts.

Wilson Elser has almost 800 attorneys in 24 offices in the U.S.


Morgan Drexen Says U.S. Consumer Agency Is Unconstitutional

Morgan Drexen Inc., a provider of legal support services to lawyers, sued to block a probe by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, arguing that the agency established by the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 is unconstitutional.

The CFPB lacks the accountability required for a government office by the Constitution and has the unlawful authority to take enforcement actions involving unfair, deceptive or abusive practices without properly defining the terms, according to the lawsuit.

Morgan Drexen said yesterday in a federal court complaint in Washington, that the CFPB has claimed attorneys working with the company are in violation of a telemarketing sales rule because of the way they’re paid in bankruptcy cases.

The CFPB doesn’t have jurisdiction “over the law practices of the attorneys supported by Morgan Drexen” and fees charged by attorneys working with the company “are not collected in connection with debt settlement and are thus not ‘upfront fees’ prohibited” by the telemarketing sales rule, Anaheim, California-based Morgan Drexen and co-plaintiff Kimberly Pisinski, an attorney, said in the complaint.

The case is Morgan Drexen v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 13-cv-01112, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).


Lawyer Tecce Says Case Against SAC’s Cohen a ‘Spitball’

Frederick Tecce, a former federal prosecutor now a partner at Panitch, Schwarzer, Belisario & Nadel LLP, said an administrative action against billionaire hedge fund manager Steven Cohen, the founder of SAC Capital Advisors LP, signals that any criminal case “has been sidetracked.” Tecce talks with Bloomberg’s Tom Keene and Sara Eisen on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

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Attorney James Spiotto Says Detroit Is Targeting Pensions

James E. Spiotto, a partner with Chapman & Cutler LLP in Chicago, said Detroit’s Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing is an attempt to cut pension benefits. Spiotto talks with Bloomberg’s Tom Keene and Michael McKee on Bloomberg Radio’s “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

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Rutgers Needs More Athletic Oversight, Independent Review Says

Rutgers University’s board and administration has insufficiently overseen the school’s athletics department, according to a review by law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP of the firing of basketball coach Mike Rice.

An eight-week study found “concerns regarding the insularity and autonomy” of the school’s athletics department, Skadden said in its report, released yesterday.

The New York-based law firm was commissioned in May to make recommendations to help the school deal with sensitive circumstances in the future, as the university adds two medical schools and moves into the Big Ten conference starting in 2014. The review was prompted by the firing of Rice for verbally and physically abusing players, actions that school officials had known about for months.

The firm interviewed 37 current and former Rutgers employees and board members, reviewed existing school policies and surveyed thousands of e-mails, handwritten notes and reports pertaining to Rice’s firing, which led to the resignation of Athletic Director Tim Pernetti and calls for the resignation of President Robert Barchi. The report concludes with a series of recommendations for the New Brunswick, New Jersey-based state university.

Skadden’s findings call for the school’s athletics director and athletics chief finance officer to report to officials in the state university’s administration.

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Harvard E-Mail Searches Done in ‘Good Faith,’ Report Says

Harvard University’s searches of its resident deans’ e-mail accounts to find the source of leaks to the media were conducted in “good faith,” according to a report by an outside lawyer at the law firm Foley Hoag LLP.

Harvard officials who performed and authorized the searches were trying to protect student confidentiality and were “faced with inadequate university policies” for electronic privacy, according to a report released yesterday from Michael Keating, a partner and former chairman of the litigation department.

Harvard officials were concerned that confidential information had leaked to the student newspaper from the university’s Administrative Board, a disciplinary body, related to a cheating scandal that involved about 125 students. Evelynn Hammonds, the former dean of the undergraduate college, who authorized the e-mail searches, stepped down after an outcry.

The report confirms that “that the individuals involved in the searches were acting in good faith, in a manner they believed to be consistent with applicable policy and with a guiding responsibility for safeguarding student confidentiality” and the disciplinary process, Harvard President Drew Faust said yesterday in a statement on the university website.