Microsoft Patent Chief to Join Shook: Business of Law

Former Microsoft Corp. chief patent counsel Bart Eppenauer is joining Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP as a partner and will be the managing partner of the firm’s new Seattle office, opening Dec. 1.

Eppenauer, who was chief patent counsel at Microsoft starting in 2003, led the patent group in the legal and corporate affairs department, where he developed Microsoft’s portfolio of more than 35,000 issued patents worldwide, the firm said. He also managed a team of more than 100 patent professionals and worked closely with government and judicial officials, academics and industry leaders on IP policy issues.

Eppenauer was an associate for three years in Shook’s intellectual property practice before leaving to join Microsoft’s legal team in 1997.

“We are extremely excited to be opening a Seattle office and to have Bart rejoining the firm,” Shook Chairman John Murphy said in a statement. “Bart’s legal and business experience is unparalleled and this was a truly unique opportunity for us to open an office in a region in which we already have a substantial footprint from a practice standpoint.”

Shook is among Microsoft’s “premier provider” firms for legal services, the firm said. The firm’s intellectual property group includes 58 attorneys, 42 of whom are registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“I have worked closely with Shook’s intellectual property group for more than a decade in my role at Microsoft and I am very pleased to be rejoining them,” Eppenauer said in a statement. “Shook is a standout, forward-looking firm in terms of delivering creative, efficient and highly effective legal services to their clients.”

The Seattle office will be Shook’s ninth in the U.S. and 11th worldwide. The firm has more than 440 attorneys.

“It will be a smaller office at the outset, but offer the highest quality in terms of experience and service to our clients,” Murphy said. “That has been a successful blueprint throughout the history of our firm.”

Latham Environmental Lawyer Nominated for Interior Post

President Obama will nominate Janice Schneider, a partner in law firm Latham & Watkins LLP, to be assistant secretary for land and minerals management in the Interior Department, Bloomberg BNA’s Alan Kovski reports, citing a White House statement.

If confirmed, Schneider will oversee the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement.

Schneider, a partner in Latham’s Washington office, is global co-chairman of the firm’s energy and infrastructure project siting and defense practice and local department chairman of the environment, land and resources department.

Before joining Latham in 2001, Schneider worked for the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Justice Department and was counselor to the Deputy Secretary of the Interior, according to her firm biography.


New York Lawyer Wells to Lead NFL’s Workplace Probe of Dolphins

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell said there’s no time limit for an independent probe into alleged harassment in the Miami Dolphins’ workplace, which will be led by New York attorney Ted Wells.

Wells, a senior partner in the law firm of Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison LLP, will direct “a thorough and objective” investigation and submit a report to Goodell, the NFL said in an e-mailed statement.

“Ted Wells will have full authority to investigate as he deems appropriate,” Goodell said. “Consistent with doing a thorough investigation, we have not imposed a specific timetable on him.”

The Dolphins asked the NFL to investigate allegations that harassment led Jonathan Martin to leave the team. Fellow offensive lineman Richie Incognito was indefinitely suspended.

“I am committed to creating a professional environment for all of the members of the Dolphins family,” Dolphins owner Stephen Ross said in an e-mailed statement. “Once the review is completed and I have all of the facts, we will respond accordingly.”

Ross said the Dolphins will be “fully cooperating with the review,” while Miami coach Joe Philbin said the team will take “all necessary steps” to correct anything that Wells finds amiss.

ESPN reported that Incognito, 30, asked Martin, 24, to contribute financially to an unofficial team trip to Las Vegas that Martin didn’t attend. The network also said the Dolphins and the NFL have a copy of a voice message from April in which Incognito used a racial slur and threatened Martin’s life.

David Dunn, Incognito’s agent, hasn’t responded to multiple e-mails and a message left at his office seeking comment on the ESPN reports.

Billy Hunter’s firing in February as head of the National Basketball Players Association came after an audit of the union overseen by Wells.

The review concluded that, while Hunter did nothing illegal, he failed to manage conflicts of interest, lacked proper corporate governance and didn’t disclose that his $3 million-a-year contract wasn’t properly ratified.

Wells also was involved in an internal investigation into the men’s basketball program at Syracuse University, where federal prosecutors in November 2012 dropped a yearlong probe into former assistant coach Bernie Fine, saying there wasn’t enough evidence against him to support allegations of sexual abuse.

“My task is to assemble the facts and present my findings to the commissioner,” said Wells, whose report for Goodell will be made public. “I will do so fairly and comprehensively so that Commissioner Goodell can address this matter properly. I will begin my work immediately and report my findings to the commissioner as soon as practical.”


Covington, Latham on Salix $2.6 Billion Deal for Santarus

Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a maker of drugs for gastrointestinal diseases, said it will acquire Santarus Inc. for about $2.6 billion to gain treatments for diabetes and heartburn.

Salix’s legal adviser was Covington & Burling LLP. Latham & Watkins LLP was legal adviser for Santarus.

The Covington acquisition team is led by corporate partners Ed Britton and Catherine Dargan. Also advising on the transaction are partners Amy Toro, life sciences commercial; David Martin and Keir Gumbs, securities; Mike Francese, employee benefits; Peter Safir and Scott Cunningham, food and drug regulatory; James Dean, antitrust; and Rob Heller, tax.

The Covington acquisition finance team is led by finance and capital markets partners Michael Lefever and Kerry Burke.

Latham & Watkins is advising Santarus with a corporate team led from the firm’s San Diego office by partner Scott Wolfe. Advice also has been provided by the following partners: on benefits and compensation matters, Jim Barrall; on intellectual-property matters, John Wehrli; on tax matters, Laurence Stein; on antitrust matters, Tad Lipsky; on regulatory matters, Ben Haas; and on finance matters, Christopher Plaut.

Salix, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, will pay $32 a share in cash for San Diego-based Santarus, the companies said in a statement. The combined company will have revenue of $1.3 billion and benefit from merging two sales forces and increasing its slate of experimental drugs, Salix Chief Executive Officer Carolyn Logan said in the statement.

Salix’s top-selling drug is Xifaxan, for travelers’ diarrhea, which drew $514.5 million in 2012 sales. Santarus sells Glumetza for Type 2 diabetes, which analysts estimate will generate $221.6 million in 2015 revenue, and Zegerid for heartburn, forecast for $106.3 million in sales.

For more, click here.

Cravath Represents Toll Brothers on Shapell Acquisition

Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP represented Toll Brothers Inc. on its agreement to buy Shapell Industries Inc.’s homebuilding business for about $1.6 billion, gaining 5,200 lots in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas as buyer demand for housing rises. Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP advised Shapell.

The Cravath team included partners Eric L. Schiele, mergers and acquisitions; Stephen L. Gordon, tax; and Kevin J. Grehan, real estate.

Gibson Dunn’s team is co-led by Los Angeles real estate partners Michael Sfregola and Dhiya El-Saden and includes the following partners: Paul Issler, tax; Patrick Dennis, co-chairman of the environmental litigation and mass tort practice group; Maurice Suh, litigation; and Sean Feller, benefits.

Toll, the largest U.S. luxury-home builder, will pay for Beverly Hills, California-based Shapell with debt and a share offering, the companies said yesterday in a statement. The deal will more than double the number of California lots controlled by Toll to about 9,200, with most in coastal markets where vacant land is hard to come by, Chief Executive Officer Douglas Yearley Jr. said.

Developers are stocking up on land as U.S. home values climb at their fastest pace in seven years. Earlier this week, Barry Sternlicht’s Irvine, California-based Tri Pointe Homes Inc. agreed to buy the homebuilding division of Weyerhaeuser Co. for $2.7 billion.

In the Shapell deal, 10 percent to 15 percent of the purchase price will be covered by issuing new Toll shares, and Toll plans to sell about $500 million of land from the Shapell portfolio. The Horsham, Pennsylvania-based builder also stands to make money immediately by selling homes in Shapell’s backlog.

Toll will keep about 150 Shapell employees. Others with the company will continue to work for the family’s commercial real estate division, which wasn’t sold to Toll.

For more, click here.


Katten Hires Hedge Fund and Private-Equity Specialist

Katten Muchin Rosenman UK LLP said Barry Breen will join the London office as a partner in the financial-services practice. He was previously at Sidley Austin LLP.

Breen will continue his focus on advising investment management and fund clients on hedge fund, infrastructure and private-equity matters, the firm said in a statement.

“Barry’s proven diversity of know-how in the field of hedge fund investments, operations and regulation broadens and deepens the already wide array of services we offer our growing list of clients in this area,” Katten Chairman Vince A.F. Sergi said in the statement.

Katten Muchin Rosenman UK is the London affiliate of Katten Muchin Rosenman, which has 600 attorneys in the U.S. and in Asia. The London team acts for clients in the financial services, real estate and corporate sectors.

Pryor Cashman Adds Trusts and Estates With New York Partner

Pryor Cashman LLP said Daniel J. Scott joined the firm as a partner in the trust and estates group in New York. He previously was with Chadbourne & Parke LLP.

In addition to trusts and estates matters, Scott’s work includes planning for celebrities, athletes, artists, entrepreneurs and high net-worth individuals, their families and businesses. He also advises clients on the structuring, administration and transfer of closely held businesses.

“He brings energy, enthusiasm and a comprehensive skill set in the area of wealth planning and preservation to our esteemed client base,” Ronald H. Shechtman, Pryor Cashman’s managing partner, said in a statement.

Pryor Cashman has more than 130 attorneys in its main office in New York and a site in Los Angeles.

Davis Wright Adds Health-Care Partner in Seattle

Health-care lawyer Emily Studebaker joined Davis Wright Tremaine LLP as a partner in Seattle. She was previously at Garvey Schubert Barer, where she focused on counseling ambulatory surgery centers and physician practices. She currently is general counsel and executive director of the Washington Ambulatory Surgery Center Association.

“We are very pleased to add to the firm her deep understanding of the continued evolution of health care regulation in general, and of the ambulatory surgery industry in particular,” Rick Ellingsen, chairman of the health-care practice at Davis Wright, said in a statement.

Studebaker’s regulatory work has included counseling ambulatory surgery centers and physicians on fraud and abuse laws, as well as assisting with licensing, accreditation, and certification. In the transaction area, she has represented clients in acquisitions, divestitures and joint ventures.

Davis Wright has about 500 lawyers at nine offices in the U.S. and Shanghai.

Freeborn Expands Private-Equity Team With New Partner Jungels

The Chicago-based law firm Freeborn & Peters LLP hired Gary A. Jungels as a partner in both the private equity and venture capital industry team and the corporate practice group. He was formerly a partner at Mayer Brown LLP.

Jungels has experience in private equity and venture capital as well as fund formations and joint ventures. He has represented fund sponsors and management teams in structuring, negotiating and closing funds, the firm said.

“His experience with fund formations will provide a valuable service to our private equity and venture capital clients,” Jeff Mattson, co-leader of the firm’s corporate practice group and its private equity and venture capital industry team, said in a statement.

Freeborn & Peters has more than 200 professionals at two Illinois offices.


Police Found Blunkett Voice Mails in News Corp. Lawyer’s Safe

Recordings of voice mails left by former Home Secretary David Blunkett on the phone of a woman he was having an affair with were discovered in the safe of News Corp.’s U.K. lawyer.

Police found the tapes and a draft News of the World article about Blunkett’s three-year relationship with Kimberly Quinn in Tom Crone’s safe at News Corp.’s U.K. unit, Andrew Edis, a prosecution lawyer, told the jury yesterday. The prosecution said the story, which was published in 2004, was the result of phone hacking.

Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive officer of News Corp.’s U.K. unit and Andy Coulson, a 45-year-old former editor of the now defunct News of the World, are among eight people standing trial for offenses stemming from wrongdoing at News Corp. U.K. tabloids. Crone, the company’s former lawyer, isn’t accused of wrongdoing.

Rupert Murdoch, the company’s chairman, closed the News of the World tabloid in July 2011 in a bid to defuse a scandal over revelations journalists had hacked the phone of a missing teenager, Milly Dowler, who was later found murdered.

The messages related to Blunkett were “deeply personal and intrusive,” Detective Constable Tim Hargreaves told the court.

Edis played a recording of a conversation in which Coulson confronted the lawmaker before the story was published. Coulson refused to reveal his sources and said he was “sure it was right.”

“I wouldn’t be exposing myself in this way unless I believed the story to be true,” Coulson, who later became a media adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, said to Blunkett. “I am confident.”

The other defendants include Stuart Kuttner, the 73-year-old former managing editor of the News of the World, and Ian Edmondson, a 44-year-old former news editor, who are both accused of phone hacking. The newspaper’s one-time royal reporter, Clive Goodman, 56, is charged with conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.

Brooks’s husband, her former assistant Cheryl Carter, and the U.K. unit’s former head of security, Mark Hanna, face charges of conspiring to pervert the course of justice.


Stop-And-Frisk Judge Removed, Fights Back

Last month, a federal appeals court panel put a hold on changes to the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk practices and created a controversy by removing Judge Shira Scheindlin, who had ordered the changes.

The panel said Scheindlin ran afoul of judicial ethics rules by encouraging lawyers to bring the stop-and-frisk case, which she would hear as “related” to others on her docket, and by speaking to reporters while the case was under way.

Many lawyers have come to the judge’s defense. Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge says that the panel, not Scheindlin, violated the rules since no party had moved to disqualify her.

For video link, click here.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.