Kaye Scholer Loses California Partner: Business of Law

Kaye Scholer LLP lost two partners this week, including G. Thomas Stromberg, co-managing partner of the firm’s California offices in Los Angeles and Palo Alto.

Stromberg, a corporate attorney, joined Jenner & Block LLP as a partner in Los Angeles. At least four other partners left Kaye Scholer’s Los Angeles office last month. Changes in the office’s approach may account for some of the departures, Mike Solow, Kaye Scholer’s managing partner, said in an e-mail.

“We have recently made the strategic decision to have our Los Angeles office capabilities more closely mirror Kaye Scholer’s top-ranked national offerings: cutting-edge litigation, including antitrust, product liability, complex commercial litigation, IP and bankruptcy,” Solow said. “We also have a well-established real-estate finance practice in Los Angeles.”

Grace L. Pan also left the firm this week, joining Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP’s New York office. Her practice focuses on patent, trademark and copyright litigation, especially in the semiconductor, chemistry, biotechnology, electronic and mechanical fields.

Last month, a trio of media and entertainment lawyers from Kaye Scholer’s Los Angeles office moved to Hogan Lovells LLP. They included Los Angeles corporate and mergers and acquisitions partner Barry Dastin, media and entertainment partner Sheri Jeffrey and corporate and M&A partner Russ Cashdan, who have worked as a team for more than 15 years.

Timothy A. Spangler, the former chairman of Kaye Scholer’s investment funds group in Los Angeles, left last month for Sidley Austin LLP.

Stromberg has 25 years of transactional experience as well as experience in cross-border matters. At Jenner & Block, he will represent managed money that is invested in the acquisition and financing of private companies, the firm said.

“Tom Stromberg has contributed a great deal to the firm over the years,” Kaye Scholer’s Solow said. “Given our recent shift in strategy, we knew that some of our Los Angeles partners would have to make difficult decisions.”

Pan’s practice involves handling foreign patents in Taiwan and Japan and she has argued before the Japan Patent Office, the Tokyo High Court, the Taiwan Taipei District Court and the Beijing High People’s Court.

“Grace Pan has a niche IP practice primarily centered around Japanese clients,” Solow said. “This geographic focus doesn’t fully mesh with Kaye Scholer’s successful strategy to provide IP clients with high-value solutions based on our knowledge and experience advising in core industries such as life sciences and technology.”

Pan is the third addition to Orrick’s IP group this year. David Case, the former head of White & Case LLP’s Japan and Northern Asia IP and commercial litigation practices, joined Orrick’s Tokyo office in March.

Nick Setty, the former co-chairman of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton LLP’s IP group, joined the firm’s San Francisco and Silicon Valley offices in August.

“Orrick has everything I need to grow my practice -- stellar IP litigators, a solid international platform, particularly in Asia, and a great reputation for achieved successful outcomes in complex, high-stakes and high-profile litigation,” Pan said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited to join the firm.”


Womble, Kirkland on $1.65 Billion NCR Deal for Digital Insight

Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP’s Sharon Johnson advised NCR Corp., the 129-year-old maker of cash registers and other payment-processing systems, on its agreement to acquire Digital Insight Corp. for $1.65 billion to gain software for online and mobile banking.

The purchase of Digital Insight, controlled by private-equity firm Thoma Bravo LLC, is expected to be completed in the first quarter, NCR said yesterday in a statement. Kirkland & Ellis LLP represented Thoma Bravo.

The Kirkland team was led by corporate partners Gerald Nowak and Theodore Peto.

NCR is broadening its technology as customers seek new options for commerce via mobile phones and other devices. Along with the $84 million purchase of Alaric Systems Ltd., the Digital Insight acquisition will expand the software NCR offers banks, providing tools that span the Web, mobile devices, ATMs and local branches, the company said.

Thoma Bravo purchased Digital Insight for $1.03 billion from software maker Intuit Inc. on Aug. 1. Intuit, which makes the TurboTax and QuickBooks finance programs, bought Digital Insight for $1.22 billion in 2007.

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Firm News

Baker Botts Names New Heads in Houston, New York and Middle East

New partners are taking over as heads of the New York, Houston and Middle Eastern offices of law firm Baker Botts LLP on the first day of the new year.

John Porter will become partner in charge for the Houston office, Rob Scheinfeld will become the partner in charge in the New York office, and John Lonsberg will be the partner in charge of the Middle East offices.

Maria Boyce, the top administrator of the Houston office since 2007, and Lee Charles, who manages the New York office, will return to the full-time practice of law. Bob Jordan, partner in charge of the Middle East offices, will return to Dallas next year after a transition period, the firm said.

“Maria, Lee and Bob have each provided invaluable service to our firm,” Andrew Baker, Baker Botts managing partner, said in a statement. “They each have made outstanding contributions to the success of the firm over the years.”

Porter has spent the past 27 years with the firm in Houston, representing clients on wealth-management issues and tax litigation. He is a senior partner in the tax department, handling federal gift, estate and income tax litigation and controversy work.

In New York, Scheinfeld is the New York IP section chairman. He has practiced intellectual property law and litigation for about 30 years in patent, copyright and trade-secret matters, the firm said.

Lonsberg’s practice concentrates on international transactions, including the negotiation of strategic alliances in the aerospace, petrochemical and high-technology industries in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, the firm said. He also advises clients on regulations, including foreign investment and fiscal requirements.

Baker Botts has about 700 lawyers at 15 offices worldwide.

Marilea Lewis Named Managing Shareholder of Godwin Lewis

Godwin Lewis PC, the Texas-based trial and appellate law firm, said Marilea Lewis became managing shareholder and chief operating officer on Dec. 1.

Lewis joined Godwin Lewis in 2011 after working as judge of the 330th District Court in Dallas from 2002 to 2010. She previously was the master/referee of the 305th District Court from 1986 until 1992, and an associate judge of the 330th District Court from 1992 to 2002. She will continue to serve as the chairwoman of Godwin Lewis’s family law litigation and arbitration/mediation practice groups.

“As demonstrated in her years on the bench, Marilea is a natural leader,” Godwin Lewis Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Donald E. Godwin said in a statement.

Lewis succeeds Robert C. Wiegand, the firm’s managing shareholder since 2012, who will continue as executive committee vice president and commercial litigation section co-chairman.

Founded in 1980, Godwin Lewis has lawyers at offices in Dallas, Houston and Plano, Texas.


Crude Oil Lawsuit Firm Defends Conduct in Lead-Counsel Fight

A law firm seeking to lead the litigation over alleged manipulation of Brent crude oil prices challenged claims by a rival firm that it broke court rules and its lawyers are too inexperienced for the job.

Kirby McInerney LLP, a New York law firm, is seeking to be named lead counsel for the claimants in at least a dozen suits alleging some of the world’s biggest oil companies, including BP Plc, Statoil ASA and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, conspired with Morgan Stanley and energy traders including Vitol Group to manipulate spot prices for Brent crude for more than a decade.

The firm denied claims by another firm seeking the lead counsel position, New York’s Lovell Stewart Halebian Jacobson LLP, that it broke court rules in filing a sworn declaration with the court under seal. Kirby McInerney also claimed it had Lovell Stewart’s support as lead counsel in litigation over manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.

“The only thing that has changed between that case and this one is competing counsel’s self-interest,” Kirby McInerney said in a court filing it’s seeking to have considered by U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter, who’s overseeing the suits.

Lead counsel in class actions control the direction of the litigation, assign tasks to other law firms, decide whether to settle or go to trial, and eventually reap the largest fees.

In their complaint, a group of traders represented by Kirby McInerney alleged they paid “artificial and anticompetitive prices” for Brent futures. They claim the defendants artificially drove the Dated Brent spot price up or down to allow them to profit on swaps.

The traders said the oil company and energy-trading house defendants, which include Trafigura Beheer BV and Phibro Trading LLC, submitted false and misleading information to Platts, an energy news and price publisher whose quotes are used by traders worldwide.

The case is McDonnell v. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, 13-cv-07089, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan). The multidistrict litigation is In Re North Sea Brent Crude Oil Futures Litigation, 13-md-02475, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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