Jacoby & Meyers, Skadden, Day Pitney: Business of Law

Consumer law firm Jacoby & Meyers LLC is expanding to the U.K. through a joint venture with the London-based private equity and corporate law firm MJ Hudson.

The new office will be called Jacoby & Meyers Europe Ltd. and is the first outpost in the firm’s global expansion plan.

MJ Hudson is led by Matthew Hudson, a veteran of several big law firms who has a private equity background. He co-founded the private equity group at SJ Berwin LLP, reestablished O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s London office and chaired the firm’s European private equity and M&A practices, according to his firm biography. He also created the London office for Proskauer Rose LLP, according to his biography.

Both Jacoby & Meyers and MJ Hudson are private equity investing in the new venture in order to seek acquisitions within the U.K. and across Europe, the firm said in a statement. The new venture will seek Alternative Business Structure status in the U.K., which allows law firms to attract external non-lawyer equity ownership and funding.

“Matthew Hudson is the most knowledgeable attorney in Europe regarding the changing legal landscape and Alternative Business Structures under the new U.K. Legal Services Act,” Chase Givens, the J&M management committee member responsible for European mergers and acquisitions, said in a statement. “Matthew is the perfect mergers and acquisitions specialist to serve as the chief architect for J&M’s European and global expansion.”

In addition to its plans to grow in the U.K. and globally, the firm has been expanding in the U.S., including through nontraditional methods. Jacoby & Meyers acquired Macey Bankruptcy Law PC, the largest consumer bankruptcy firm in the U.S. as well as use of the consumer legal forms library and domain “LegalForms.com,” from USLegal Forms, Inc.

“With the introduction of the U.K. new ownership regulations for law firms, the U.K. has stolen a competitive march from the other key global legal jurisdictions, including the U.S.,” Hudson said in a statement. “Jacoby & Meyers is lobbying for similar external ownership changes in the U.S.; without those changes the practice of law in the U.S. is in danger of falling behind the rest of the world.”

Jacoby & Meyers was started in 1972 and has more than 130 offices.


Latham, Skadden on AR Capital $2.3 Billion Purchase From Inland

AR Capital LLC agreed to buy 294 commercial properties from Inland American Real Estate Trust Inc. for $2.3 billion including debt. Latham & Watkins LLP advised Inland while Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP acted as special counsel to the independent members of the Board of Directors of Inland American Real Estate Trust,

Latham’s deal team was led by Chicago corporate partners Cathy Birkeland and Michael Pucker, Chicago real estate partner Robert Buday and Los Angeles corporate partner Julian Kleindorfer. Advice was also provided on environmental matters by Chicago partner Karl Karg.

Leading the Skadden team were Chicago partners Rodd Schreiber, M&A; Chuck Smith, litigation; Nancy Olson, real estate; and David Levy, tax.

Fried Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP represented Goldman Sachs in its role as financial advisor to Inland American. The Fried Frank team was led by corporate partner Philip Richter.

AR Capital made the acquisition on behalf of certain affiliates, Inland American said in a statement Aug. 9. The transaction could generate net proceeds of about $1 billion for Inland American and will be paid over nine months, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based investor said.

AR Capital will assume about $795 million of debt as a result of the deal. The transaction’s value also includes repayment by Inland American of about $361 million of debt.

Inland American, owner of 45 million square feet (4.2 million square meters) of business properties, will use the capital raised to reduce debt and invest in stores, lodging and student housing. It may also buy back shares, according to the statement.

Firm News

Day Pitney to Fire Employees Including Attorneys

Day Pitney LLP announced in a memo to the firm last week that it was firing 30 employees including a group of attorneys.

The firm declined to say how many lawyers were fired, except that the number was fewer than 10. The firm also declined to identify the laid off attorneys by title, location or practice.

“As the legal industry changes, we continually evaluate and reshape our staff to better align with industry norms and client expectations for excellence. This reduction, which brings us more in line with industrywide attorney/staff ratios, affects about 30 employees,” according to the memo provided to Bloomberg by the firm.

The affected attorneys have until the fall before they will be forced to leave the firm, the memo said.

The firm, which has 300 attorneys in nine offices in the U.S. Northeast, is among several that have laid off attorneys and staff.

New Jersey-based law firm Archer & Greiner PC dismissed 14 attorneys, including seven nonequity partners across a mix of practices in March. In June Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, a 1,200-lawyer firm, fired 60 salaried attorneys and 110 staff. Patton Boggs LLP fired 65 staff members in March, including 22 associates.

Other firms have been stealthier about lawyer firings, law firm consultant Peter Zeughauser said at the time of Weil’s layoffs.


Holland & Knight Adds Real Estate Partner in New York

Victor E. Salerno joined Holland & Knight LLP’s real estate practice as a partner in the firm’s New York office. He was most recently a partner at Mayer Brown LLP.

Salerno focuses his practice on commercial real estate and real estate finance. He has experience in complex restructurings and recapitalizations from both the lender/creditor and borrower/debtor perspective, the firm said.

“He brings extensive experience in representing domestic and international owners, lenders, investors, developers and tenants,” Stuart Saft, chair of the New York real estate practice group said of Salerno’s hire. “The breadth of the types of transactions he has handled is broad and will greatly enhance the scope of our real estate transactional work.”

Holland & Knight’s real estate practice has more than 200 lawyers, the firm said. The firm has 1,000 lawyers in 18 U.S. offices as well as Abu Dhabi, Beijing and Bogota.

Gowlings Adds Aboriginal Law Practitioners Merle Alexander

Gowlings Lafleur Henderson LLP added partner Merle Alexander and another lawyer specializing in Aboriginal law to the firm’s Vancouver office. Alexander was previously at Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP, where he was co-leader of the Aboriginal law group, the firm said.

Alexander has experience in negotiations and business transactions related to resource law areas, including forestry, oil and gas, mining, energy, and pipeline projects. He is also a member of the Kitasoo Xai’xais First Nation.

Gowlings has more than 750 professionals in offices in Canada, London, Moscow and Beijing.

Real Estate Attorney James Sullivan Joins Gardere in Dallas

Gardere Wynne Sewell LLP hired Dallas attorney James J. Sullivan as a partner in the real-estate practice group. He joins the firm from Haynes and Boone LLP.

Sullivan’s practice focuses on the representation of developers, property owners, commercial landlords and tenants, and borrowers and lenders in real estate and mortgage transactions. He will concentrate on the preparation and negotiation of complex commercial leases for offices and retail establishments.

Gardere has 230 lawyers at three Texas offices and one Mexican partnership office.

Health Care Benefits Attorney Joins McCarter & English

McCarter & English, LLP said Eleanor D. Thompson joined as special counsel in the Philadelphia office. She spent 16 years at Independence Blue Cross, where she led the litigation practice group and rose to vice president and deputy general counsel, the firm said.

Thompson has experience in managing health care litigation and advising on related risk and crisis matters.

McCarter & English has more than 400 attorneys in Boston, Hartford, Connecticut, New York, Newark, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Stamford, Connecticut, and Wilmington, Delaware.


Lawyer Lynne Stewart Denied Bid for Early Release From Prison

Lynne F. Stewart, the lawyer imprisoned for helping an incarcerated Egyptian cleric pass messages to his terrorist followers, lost her bid for early release from prison.

She was found guilty by a jury in 2005 of helping her former client, the blind sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, smuggle messages out of a high-security prison after he was convicted in 1995 of plotting to blow up the United Nations, an FBI building, two tunnels and a bridge in New York.

Stewart, sentenced to a 10-year term, has cancer, according to an article by the Associated Press, and sought compassionate release.

The appeals case is U.S. v. Stewart, 10-3185, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan).