Quarles & Brady, Mayer Brown, Skadden: Business of Law

Kimberly Leach Johnson will take the helm of Quarles & Brady LLP on Oct. 1, becoming the firm’s first chairwoman.

“There are many outstanding partners at Quarles who could lead us forward, but Kim is a perfect reflection of the firm’s tradition of practice excellence and its progressive vision,” Chairman John W. Daniels Jr., who will become chairman emeritus, said in a statement. “She is an exceptional attorney and a collaborative, client-centric, business-minded leader whose commitment is unsurpassed.”

Johnson, a trusts-and-estates partner, was most recently head of the firm’s finance committee and managing partner of the firm’s Naples and Tampa, Florida, offices.

“We’re in the process of visiting our strategic plan now,” she said in a phone interview. “We’ll finish the plan at the end of January and we will roll it out to the partners in March.”

Daniels, who has been chairman since 2007, will focus on strategic counseling to business clients, with particular emphasis on financial services, health-care and mid-market growth entities. Under his leadership, the firm transformed from an individually responsible attorney model to a collaborative organization.

Fredrick G. Lautz, a mergers-and-acquisitions and corporate finance/securities partner, was re-appointed managing partner.

Johnson joins a handful of women at the top of the country’s wealthiest law firms, including long-standing Goodwin Procter LLP Chairman Regina Pisa and, more recently, Kim Koopersmith of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, who was named chairman last October. Other prominent women leading firms include Valerie Ford Jacob of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP and Candace K. Beinecke of Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.

Elizabeth Anne Tursi, a founder of the Women in Law Empowerment Forum, said that while the number of women at the top is hard to pinpoint because of turnover, it remains lower than it should be.

“We’re making progress but it’s a slow progress,” she said.

Johnson credited Quarles & Brady’s culture in part with her promotion, noting that it was previously led by Daniels, who is black. “The firm has a history of being very inclusive even before it was popular.”

Quarles & Brady has about 400 attorneys in eight U.S. offices in the South, Southwest, Midwest and Washington, as well as in Shanghai.

Kirkland Opens Beijing Office After Tripling Lawyers in China

Kirkland & Ellis LLP, the Chicago-based law firm that has more than tripled its lawyers in China since 2011, opened a Beijing office saying it expects more work with initial share sale and private equity clients.

“We’re committed to China long term and this complements our Hong Kong and Shanghai offices,” said partner Chuan Li, who heads Kirkland’s Shanghai office and will now spend at least half the week in Beijing.

Kirkland hired eight partners in Hong Kong including David Zhang from Latham & Watkins LLP two years ago, when the city was in the midst of a capital markets boom. Initial share sales, which tumbled from a record $58 billion in 2010 to $8 billion last year and $6.1 billion year-to-date according to data compiled by Bloomberg, should pick up by year-end, Zhang said.

“Next year will definitely be better than this year,” he said, citing improving valuations as concerns about investing in Chinese companies are overcome and the economy’s growth picks up. Zhang and Li also saw continued activity in mergers and acquisitions and private equity deals.

“Cross-border transactional activity between greater China and the rest of the world continues to grow,” Jeffrey C. Hammes, chairman of the firm’s global management executive committee, said in a statement.

Spokeswoman Kate Slaasted declined to comment on the financial performance of the Hong Kong office since its 2011 expansion. Kirkland won’t initially hire new lawyers for Beijing, and will move three of four lawyers there from its other China offices, Li said.

Kirkland now has 10 lawyers in Shanghai and 55 in Hong Kong, up from a total of 18 in both cities in 2011 when it hired Zhang and other partners including Nick Norris and Dominic Tsun from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Ashley Young from Allen and Overy LLP.

Kirkland’s clients since have included the independent committee of Focus Media Holding Ltd. in the Shanghai-based company’s $3.7 billion buyout by the Carlyle Group LP, and Tudou Holdings Ltd. in the online video company’s acquisition by Youku Inc. The law firm also represented the underwriters in the $1.8 billion IPO of Sinopec Engineering Group Co. in Hong Kong this year.

Beijing is Kirkland’s third office in Asia. The 1,600-lawyer firm has 11 offices including two in Europe in London and Munich.


Mayer Brown, Skadden on Packaging’s $1.27 Billion Boise Deal

Mayer Brown LLP is advising Packaging Corp. of America, the fourth-largest U.S. producer of corrugated shipping boxes, which agreed to buy Boise Inc. for about $1.27 billion to boost capacity. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is Boise’s legal adviser.

Mayer Brown’s legal team was led by corporate and securities partners Andrew Noreuil, Paul Crimmins and John Sagan. The Skadden team includes partners Margaret Brown, M&A, and Cliff Gross, tax.

Packaging Corp. will pay $12.55 for each Boise share, the companies said yesterday in a statement, 26 percent more than Boise’s Sept. 13 closing price. The deal includes $714 million of Boise’s debt and will close in the fourth quarter, they said.

The takeover will increase Lake Forest, Illinois-based Packaging Corp.’s containerboard production capacity 42 percent to 3.7 million tons a year and boost the company’s presence in the Pacific Northwest, the companies said.

The combined companies generated $5.5 billion in sales and $879 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization last year, according to the statement.

Boise, based in the Idaho city of the same name, also makes newsprint and office paper and owns mills, plants and distribution centers in North America and Europe.


Two Dentons Lawyers Join Crowell & Moring in New York

Crowell & Moring LLP added to its corporate group and commercial real estate practice with two new partners in New York from Dentons LLP.

Sahra Dalfen joins the firm’s corporate finance and securities practice, while Jody E. Saltzman joins the commercial real estate practice.

“Their broad and deep knowledge in their respective areas, coupled with their strong contacts in this market, will further support our clients and expand our client base, particularly in our real estate and corporate practices,” Joseph A. Adams, head of the firm’s New York office and a partner in the corporate group, said in a statement.

Dalfen’s corporate practice includes M&A and securities, with a focus on representing companies in domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, as well as issuers and investors in securities offerings and financings. She also advises domestic and foreign clients on U.S. corporate governance issues and securities-law compliance matters.

Saltzman has experience negotiating commercial leases nationwide on behalf of tenants. She also represents private clients and institutional clients on property acquisitions and transfers, financing transactions and title related matters. Saltzman also handles commercial finance matters dealing with trade finance, including factoring, receivables financing and other lending arrangements.

Crowell & Moring has about 500 lawyers at offices in the U.S., London and Brussels.

Stroock Hires Ex-SEC Private Funds Official Tram Nguyen

Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP announced that Tram N. Nguyen has joined the firm as a partner in the private funds practice group in Washington after leaving the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Nguyen, the former chief of the private-funds branch of the SEC’s division of investment management, will work with Robert E. Plaze in the firm’s private funds group. Plaze, before starting the practice group, was the deputy director of the SEC’s division of investment management.

While at the SEC, Nguyen led rulemaking and initiatives related to private fund advisers, the firm said.

“Tram was responsible for some of the most important rulemaking relating to private funds to come out of the SEC,” Stuart H. Coleman, Stroock’s co-managing partner and chairman of its investment-management practice group, said in a statement. “Her insight into the current regulatory climate and experience in both private practice and government makes her a tremendous addition to our firm overall, and particularly to our expanding presence in Washington.”

Stroock has more than 750 employees at offices in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Washington.

King & Spalding Brings in Ex-Justice Department Tax Litigator

King & Spalding LLP added Nathan E. Clukey as a partner in the tax practice in Washington. Clukey was a trial lawyer in the tax division of the U.S. Justice Department from 2008 until this month.

At the Justice Department, Clukey tried tax cases in federal district courts, serving as lead counsel in jury and bench trials, the firm said in a statement.

“Nathan’s litigation experience and technical knowledge of the tax law give him a unique ability to serve clients in complex and demanding tax controversy contexts,” Hap Shashy, leader of the firm’s tax practice, said in the statement.

King & Spalding has about 800 lawyers at 17 offices in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

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