Blank Rome, Jackson Lewis, K&L Gates: Business of Law

Blank Rome LLP closed its Hong Kong office July 27 and will consolidate its Asia practice in Shanghai, the firm said in a statement.

Former Blank Rome Hong Kong office managing partner Kristi Swartz and lawyer Nigel Binnersley joined Bryan Cave LLP as partners in Hong Kong, according to a July 30 statement by Bryan Cave. Swartz will practice with the transactions client service group, while Binnersley will practice with Bryan Cave’s commercial litigation client service group.

Two additional attorneys who were associates in Blank Rome’s Hong Kong office have also found employment, according to the firm.

Blank Rome’s Shanghai office opened in 2011 and has three lawyers along with support staff. The office focuses mainly on corporate, litigation, and intellectual property practices, in particular, on biotech and life science patent work, the firm said. The firm said the office is also important to its international maritime law practice.

“After just over two full years of operation, our Shanghai office has quickly emerged to play a vital role in our ability to service clients globally, and continues to have a positive impact on the Firm’s revenues,” Alan J. Hoffman, Blank Rome’s co-chairman and managing partner, said in a statement.

Asia practice chairman Barry H. Genkin also is resident in the Philadelphia office.

Blank Rome has nearly 500 lawyers and professionals at 11 offices in the U.S. and Asia.

Dickinson Wright’s Leslee Lewis to Head Grand Rapids Office

Dickinson Wright PLLC named Leslee M. Lewis, the practice department manager of the firm’s real estate, environmental, and energy and sustainability practices, as managing partner of the Grand Rapids, Michigan, office.

Lewis focuses on real estate, banking and financial services, energy and sustainability, construction, corporate, emerging business, estate planning and administration, and mergers & acquisitions, the firm said in a statement.

She is also general corporate counsel to national, regional and emergent businesses and nonprofits in daily contracts and affairs, financing and governance.

Dickinson Wright has more than 350 lawyers in the U.S. and Canada.


Senate Confirms Five to U.S. Labor Board, Averting Shutdown

The Senate confirmed five nominees to the U.S. labor board, bringing to an end a stalemate that had threatened to shut down the board as soon as this month.

In separate 54-44 votes July 30, the Senate confirmed Democrats Nancy Schiffer, a former AFL-CIO associate general counsel, and Kent Hirozawa, chief lawyer for the board’s Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce. Nominees Phil Miscimarra and Harry Johnson, lawyers who represent management in labor disputes, were confirmed by voice vote to fill two Republican seats vacant since December. Pearce was confirmed 59-38 to a second term.

All five of the panel’s seats will be filled for first time since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

“I applaud the Senate for putting in place a full board and look forward to working together on other steps we can take to grow our economy,” Obama said in an e-mailed statement.

Obama agreed last month to drop the two Democrats he appointed without Senate confirmation in 2012, substituting Hirozawa and Schiffer. The swap helped end a stalemate and allowed confirmation of stalled nominees to other administration posts.

Schiffer from 2000 to 2012 was general counsel for the AFL-CIO, the federation led by Richard Trumka that represents 57 labor unions with 12 million members. Schiffer also worked for the United Auto Workers Union.

Hirozawa worked at the labor board from 1984 to 1986 as an attorney in the region that includes New York City. Hirozawa then was a partner in the New York law firm Gladstein, Reif and Meginniss LLP, which “is organized around the principal that workers and their organizations deserve top-quality legal representation just as much as corporations,” according to its website. He returned to the board in 2010 a counsel to Pearce.

Johnson is a lawyer with Arent Fox LLP in Los Angeles who practices management-side labor and employment law. Miscimarra is a partner in the labor and employment group of Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP, in Chicago.

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U.K. Police Say Law Firms, Insurers Used Convicted Private Eyes

British police said 22 law firms were among the clients of four private investigators who were jailed last year for using illegal methods to get information.

The Serious and Organised Crime Agency compiled the list of clients ahead of the successful prosecution of the private detectives. It also includes 10 insurance companies, an oil company and eight companies in financial services.

SOCA passed the list to Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, asking it not to publish the names because it could prejudice future investigations, and because it wasn’t saying any of the companies on its list had broken the law. The committee published the categories of companies today as a compromise. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the government will publish plans later today to regulate private investigators.

“I am very concerned about the role of rogue private investigators who work at the margins of what is acceptable,” Clegg told reporters in London. “It is not right to have guns for hire out of and beyond the usual rules.

Wendi Murdoch Said to Hire New Lawyer in Divorce From Rupert

Wendi Deng Murdoch hired a new attorney, New York lawyer William D. Zabel, to negotiate her divorce from News Corp. billionaire Rupert Murdoch, a person familiar with the matter said.

Zabel, of Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP, has represented women in high-profile divorces including that of former General Electric Co. Chief Executive Officer Jack Welch. Zabel didn’t respond to phone and e-mail messages after regular business hours seeking comment on the Murdoch case.

Rupert Murdoch, 82, who is ranked 90th on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index with a net worth of $11.7 billion, in June filed for divorce from his third wife in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, saying their relationship ‘‘has broken down irretrievably.’’

The hiring of Zabel to replace Pamela M. Sloan of Aronson Mayefsky & Sloan LLP, who helped Wendi Murdoch negotiate a prenuptial agreement for her 1999 wedding, was first reported by the New York Times. Sloan didn’t respond to a voice-mail message yesterday after regular business hours seeking comment.

Wendi Murdoch, 37 years younger than her husband, made headlines in 2011 for physically defending him when he gave testimony at a Parliament hearing over a hacking scandal at his U.K. newspapers. She leapt up and lunged at a man who had tried to throw a pie in Murdoch’s face.

The Murdochs, who have two daughters, were married in 1999, weeks after Rupert Murdoch’s divorce from his previous wife, Anna. His first marriage, to Patricia Booker, ended in 1965. Two years later, he married a reporter at one of his newspapers, Anna Torv, and had three children, Elisabeth, Lachlan and James, all of whom have figured prominently at some point in the workings of his company.

Wendi Murdoch, 44, came to the U.S. when she was 12 years old, later attended California State University at Northridge and graduated from Yale University’s graduate business program before joining News Corp. She met the News Corp. chairman when she was a junior executive at his Star TV division in Hong Kong.

The case is Murdoch v. Murdoch, 307226/2013, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan.)


Fraud Task Force Director Bresnick Leaving for Stein Mitchell

Michael Bresnick, executive director of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force, is joining Stein Mitchell Muse & Cipollone LLP as a partner in Washington today, the Justice Department said.

‘‘Under Mike’s leadership, the department’s approach in identifying -- and combating -- financial fraud has never been smarter, more systematic, or more effective,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

Bresnick, who has been executive director since October 2011, oversaw efforts to educate consumers about fraud and prosecute it. Investigations included probes into the packaging and sale of residential mortgage-backed securities offerings, according to the government.

Stein Mitchell is a litigation boutique with a focus on antitrust and trade regulation, commercial litigation, congressional investigations, white-collar criminal defense, False Claims Act and whistle-blower suits, and medical malpractice and serious personal injury.

Epstein Becker Lawyer Joins Jackson Lewis in Atlanta

Jackson Lewis LLP announced that Evan Rosen joined the firm’s Atlanta office as partner. Rosen comes to Jackson Lewis from Epstein Becker Green PC, where he was a partner and practiced in the labor and employment and litigation groups.

“Evan’s expertise in both employment law counseling and litigation, as well as in labor relations, will fit right in with our talented group of attorneys in Atlanta,” David Gordon, managing partner in the Atlanta office, said in a statement.

Rosen has more than 10 years of employment law experience, including litigating and advising clients on discrimination and harassment matters, wage and hour issues, internal investigations, affirmative action regulations, independent contractor classifications, and other matters.

Jackson Lewis has 750 attorneys practicing in 54 locations nationwide.

K&L Gates Adds Seattle Partners in Energy, Tax Partners

Three partners joined the Seattle office of K&L Gates LLP, David L. Benson and David P. Hattery in energy, and Michael S. Kelley in tax. Benson and Hattery join from Stoel Rives LLP. Kelley, a former member of the firm from 2001 to 2010, rejoins from PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP.

Benson had experience in debt and equity finance, including tax equity and international transactions, mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and other strategic alliances.

Hattery advises clients, including energy project developers, contractors, owners, and operators, on the development, design, construction, and operation of energy infrastructure projects. He has experience in drafting and negotiating project development agreements.

Kelley focuses on state and local tax law, advising clients on matters involving tax planning, credit and incentive recoveries, audit defense, tax restructurings, and an emphasis on Internet sales. He also represents public and private entities in administrative appeals, superior court, and court of appeals tax controversies, the firm said.

“Our new partners deliver top-notch legal service in the energy sector informed by years of experience with many types of projects and transactions. They are a welcome addition to our regional, national, and global energy practice,” Philip M. Guess, administrative partner of K&L Gates’ Seattle office, said in a statement.

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

Richard Dreitzer Joins Wilson Elser’s Las Vegas Office

Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker LLP said Richard Dreitzer joined the firm’s Las Vegas office as a partner. He was previously at Watt, Tieder, Hoffar & Fitzgerald LLP.

Dreitzer works primarily on labor and employment matters, but also has handled general civil litigation and construction practices, representing general contractors, subcontractors and materials suppliers.

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


Stealth Lawyer: Matt Faustman, UpCounsel Co-Founder

Matthew Faustman, co-founder and chief executive officer of UpCounsel, talks with Bloomberg Law’s Spencer Mazyck about his transition from practicing law at Latham & Watkins LLP to creating an online platform where small companies can buy a la carte legal services from top lawyers.

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