Skadden, Simpson Advise on Devon Deal: Business of Law

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP advised Devon Energy Corp., which will buy closely held GeoSouthern Energy Corp.’s Eagle Ford assets for $6 billion in cash, expanding its shale holdings in one of the most prolific oil basins in the U.S.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP advised GeoSouthern.

The Skadden team includes partners Frank Bayouth, mergers and acquisitions; Sal Guerrera and Lynn McGovern, banking; Neil Leff, executive compensation and benefits; John H. Lyons, antitrust; Jose Esteves, intellectual property and technology; Sally Thurston, tax; and Richard Aftanas, corporate finance.

The Simpson Thacher team is led by Houston mergers and acquisitions partner Andy Calder, as well as partners Nancy Mehlman on tax and Andrea Wahlquist on ECEB.

The acquisition includes current production equivalent to 53,000 barrels a day and an estimated 400 million barrels of reserves, Oklahoma City-based Devon said yesterday in a statement. The purchase from The Woodlands, Texas-based GeoSouthern covers 82,000 net acres of drilling leases in the Eagle Ford in Texas.

The deal is the largest acquisition of exploration and production assets announced this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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Firm News

IP Law Firm Finnegan Opens London Office With Two Partners

Washington-based intellectual-property law firm Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner LLP opened an office in London with the relocation of two partners. The firm will close its Brussels office next year.

Anthony C. Tridico will be the London managing partner and is joined by Martin D. Hyden, also a partner. The firm said another partner will join in January and it plans to recruit about 20 patent lawyers for the office.

“We are thrilled to announce the opening of our London office,” Tridico said in a statement. “We are focused on the expansion of our European patent practice and having a strong presence in London is a definitive sign of our commitment to the market.”

The firm said its major clients in Europe include Schlumberger Ltd., ConocoPhilips, BTG Plc, Pronova BioPharma Norge AS, Grünenthal GmbH, Swiss Post and Tetra Pak.

Tradico rejoined Finnegan in 2009 as managing partner of the Brussels office. His practice involves biotechnology, chemical and pharmaceutical sciences as well as medical devices, diagnostic tools and instrumentation.

Hyden joined Finnegan in the Brussels office in 2010.

Finnegan has more than 350 lawyers at offices in London, Shanghai, Tokyo and Taipei. The firm also has five U.S. offices.


Ex-Merrill’s Tabar Joins Schulte Roth to Advise Hedge Funds

Sam Tabar, former head of capital introductions for the Asia-Pacific region at Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch & Co. unit, joined Schulte Roth & Zabel LLP as an attorney catering to hedge funds.

Tabar joined mid-October as a senior lawyer and is currently based in New York, he said in an e-mailed reply to questions. He will be working with the New York-based law firm’s existing clients as well as expanding relationships with Asia-based managers and investors, he said.

Schulte Roth, which has almost 100 lawyers focused on representing alternative investment funds and their managers, has seen increased interest from clients in Asia on issues such as U.S. regulatory developments, Tabar said. Capital invested in Asian hedge funds surged to $103.8 billion, the most in five years, according to Chicago-based researcher Hedge Fund Research Inc.

“The firm has no current plans or timetable for opening an Asian office,” Tabar said.

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Patent and IP Litigator Jeremy Elman Joins DLA Piper in Miami

DLA Piper LLP announced that Jeremy Elman joined the intellectual property and technology practice and patent litigation group as a partner in the Miami office. He was previously at McDermott Will & Emery LLP.

Elman has experience litigating cases as well as representing companies in the technology, consumer electronics, gaming and media sectors on trade secret, trademark and copyright matters.

“South Florida has become one of the nation’s top 10 jurisdictions for patent litigation in the U.S., and we look forward to having Jeremy play an influential role as the industry continues to grow in this region,” Craig Rasile, managing partner of DLA Piper’s Miami office, said in a statement.

DLA Piper has 4,200 lawyers in more than 30 countries in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.


Samsung Urges Mistrial Alleging Racism in Apple Lawyer’s Remark

Samsung Electronics Co. accused Apple Inc.’s lawyer of making a prejudiced remark during closing arguments in a retrial over how much the South Korean company owes the iPhone maker for patent infringement and asked the judge to halt the proceedings.

Harold McElhinny, Apple’s attorney and a partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP, spoke Nov. 19 of his memory as a child of watching television on American-made sets, and how because the manufacturers didn’t protect their intellectual property their products no longer exist. “We all know what happened,” he said at the conclusion of a damages retrial in San Jose, California, that started last week.

Bill Price, Samsung’s lawyer and a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, then asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to invalidate the trial just after she had sent the jury to a separate room to begin deliberations in the case. Price said McElhinny presented “absolutely no evidence” for his claim that U.S. companies were driven out of business. Koh rejected Samsung’s request for a mistrial, and Price told her he would file another request under a different rule.

McElhinny was “appealing to race,” Price told the judge. “I thought we were past that.”

The Apple lawyer told Koh that he used the same argument in her courtroom previously when he argued for a court order to block the sale of Samsung products.

“I did not say a word about race, and I did not say Asian,” McElhinny told Koh.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, won a $1.05 billion verdict against Samsung last year in the same court. Koh cut $410.5 million, or 39 percent, of the award in March, citing a miscalculation by the jury. The jury in the current case is deciding how much of the trimmed amount should be reinstated.

During the discussion over Samsung’s request for a mistrial, Price referred back to McElhinny’s remark.

“We all know what happened,” Price said, adding, “We all thought the same thing.”

Bill Lee, another lawyer for Apple who is a partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP, defended McElhinny.

“Actually, I’m Asian and I didn’t think the same thing,” Lee told Koh, adding that he understood McElhinny to be illustrating the importance of protecting intellectual property.

Koh concluded the dispute by bringing the jury back so she should could re-read an instruction advising that the panel “must not be influenced by any personal likes or dislikes, opinions, prejudices, or sympathy.”

The case is Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., 11-cv-01846, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose).

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Stealth Lawyer: Kirath Miller, Legal Recruiter

Kirath Miller, founder of JD Profiles, talks with Bloomberg Law’s Spencer Mazyck about her transition from practicing law at Shearman & Sterling LLP and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP to creating a legal job site that connects employers and job candidates.

This is a Bloomberg podcast. To download, watch or listen to this report, click here.


Obama Appeals Court Picks Shut Out by Senate Republicans

Senate Republicans blocked the last of President Barack Obama’s three nominees to a federal appeals court that oversees some of the nation’s biggest business cases.

The 53-38 roll call Nov. 19 was shy of the 60 votes needed to advance the nomination of U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, often regarded as the nation’s second-highest after the Supreme Court.

Republicans have accused Obama of trying to fill the court -- which often rules on challenges to government regulations -- with nominees sympathetic to his regulatory agenda. Democrats argue that Republicans are trying to deny Obama the confirmation votes they routinely gave to President George W. Bush.

“This obstruction is completely unprecedented,” Obama said in a statement Nov. 19, saying he’s “deeply disappointed that Senate Republicans have once again refused to do their job.” He urged the Senate again to take a yes-or-no vote on his judicial nominees.

At stake is the future of a tribunal that has acted as a steppingstone to the Supreme Court. Chief Justice John Roberts served on the D.C. Circuit as did Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Two other chief justices, Warren Burger and Fred Vinson, served there as well.

Republicans argued Nov. 19 that the 11-member court’s caseload is insufficient to justify filling three vacancies. In a floor speech, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Democrats were trying to “concoct a crisis” over the court so they can “distract Americans from the failings of Obamacare.”

On Oct. 31, the Senate blocked consideration of Washington lawyer Patricia Millett, a partner at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld LLP, for another vacancy on the court. On Nov. 12, Republicans blocked Georgetown University law professor Nina Pillard’s nomination to a vacancy on the same court.

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