Eversheds’ Smith to Take Chairman Post: Business of Law

Paul Smith, an environmental lawyer and litigator, was elected chairman of Eversheds LLP for a four-year term beginning May 1. He succeeds John Heaps, who didn’t stand for re-election.

Smith, the firm’s client partner for DuPont Co., has defended multinational companies in relation to criminal investigations in the U.K., Europe and North America. He also has experience with law firm partnering and convergence.

“The combination of his intimate knowledge of the firm, wide international experience and client-relationship expertise makes him an ideal person to take on the role of chairman as the firm continues its global development,” Chief Executive Officer Bryan Hughes said in a statement.

Smith has consulted with global corporate law departments on their structures, processes and practices to help them get greater value from outside counsel. He leads the team involved in the Tyco International Ltd. convergence project, consolidating most of its outside legal services from more than 250 law firms across 37 jurisdictions to one, Eversheds, according to his law firm biography.

Eversheds has more than 4,500 lawyers and staff at 50 international offices in 29 jurisdictions.


New York Corporation Counsel Cardozo Rejoins Proskauer Rose

Michael A. Cardozo, New York City’s longest-serving corporation counsel, will rejoin Proskauer Rose LLP as a partner Jan. 1.

“For the past 12 years, Michael has distinguished himself as the finest and most innovative corporation counsel in New York City’s history,” Proskauer Chairman Joseph M. Leccese said in a statement.

As head of the city’s Law Department, Cardozo reduced payouts in settlements and judgments by 14 percent and advised on and argued key cases, the firm said. During his tenure, the Law Department defended the fire department against a discrimination class action; addressed challenges to the administration’s health-care and real estate development initiatives; and resolved cases related to public safety and fighting terrorism, the firm said.

“The city gets sued about 200 times a week,” Cardozo said in a phone interview. “One thing I learned a great deal about was the ability to assess risk.”

Cardozo, 72, was a litigator at Proskauer from 1967 to 2002 and co-chairman of the litigation department. He counseled sports leagues including the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer.

The corporation counsel serves at the pleasure of the mayor. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, is leaving office at the end of this year after serving three terms.

Proskauer has offices in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Debevoise Hires Herbert Smith’s Tony Dymond in London

Tony Dymond, formerly co-head of Herbert Smith Freehills LLP’s Seoul office, will join Debevoise & Plimpton LLP’s London branch.

Dymond has spent the past 20 years in London, Hong Kong and Seoul advising international clients, with a focus on construction and engineering disputes in the energy and infrastructure sectors.

His hire is the latest expansion of Debevoise’s litigation practice in London, which grew by 12 lawyers in 2013.

“The arrival of a lawyer of Tony’s caliber is testament to the litigation strength we have in London,” Lord Goldsmith QC, chairman of European and Asian litigation, said in a statement.

Debevoise has offices in the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Tax Partner Jeffrey Sion Joins Dechert in New York

Dechert LLP said Jeffrey Sion joined the firm’s financial services tax practice as a partner in New York. He was most recently a partner in KPMG’s investment-management practice.

Sion, a certified public accountant, counsels registered and unregistered funds and investment advisers on domestic and international tax matters. He also assists them on the tax implications of structuring investments as well as financial products held and transacted by these entities, the firm said.

“His deep knowledge of the financial services sector and the tax issues impacting that industry will be of tremendous value to our clients,” Dechert Chief Executive Officer Daniel O’Donnell said in a statement.

Dechert has 900 lawyers in 26 offices in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.


Simpson Thacher, Cravath on $2.6 Billion KKR Deal for KFN

KKR & Co., the private-equity firm run by Henry Kravis and George Roberts, agreed to buy the publicly traded credit business KKR Financial Holdings LLC in a $2.6 billion transaction.

KKR was advised by Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, and its independent directors were advised by Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz advised KKR Financial, which is known commonly as KFN.

Simpson Thacher’s Gary Horowitz led the firm’s team for KKR. Additional partners from the firm include Steve Todrys, tax; Joe Kaufman, capital markets; and Andrea Wahlquist, executive compensation and employee benefits.

The Cravath team was led by partner Faiza J. Saeed on corporate matters and included partner Sandra C. Goldstein on litigation.

Wachtell Lipton’s team is led by corporate partners Edward D. Herlihy and David E. Shapiro and includes partners Nelson O. Fitts, antitrust; Jeannemarie O’Brien, executive compensation and benefits; and Joshua M. Holmes, tax.

Merging with KFN will add $2.9 billion in assets to KKR, bringing the book value of the firm’s balance sheet to about $9.3 billion, according to a firm statement. That balance sheet is highly liquid and the firm expects to reinvest its capital in higher-returning investment strategies, Chief Financial Officer Bill Janetschek said on a call.

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Ex-Penn State Officials Can’t Quiz School Lawyer on Sandusky

Ex-Pennsylvania State University President Graham Spanier and two other school officials charged with conspiring to cover up the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal can’t question a former university lawyer, a judge ruled.

Judge Todd A. Hoover in state court in Harrisburg yesterday voided defense subpoenas seeking testimony from Cynthia Baldwin, the university’s former general counsel, and prosecutors who worked on the case. The ruling cut short what was to be a four-day pretrial hearing on defense motions to dismiss the charges.

Hoover “believed he could decide the issues he perceived being before him now without witnesses,” Elizabeth Ainslie, an attorney for Spanier, said at press conference after the 15-minute session. “I’m disappointed.”

Baldwin, a former state Supreme Court justice, has become a focal point in a case that has stalled more than two years. Defense attorneys have argued that a grand jury report, the basis for perjury and conspiracy charges against the officials, should be thrown out because of Baldwin’s actions as the school’s chief legal officer.

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BP Asks Court to Suspend Seafood Payments for Fraud Probe

BP Plc asked a U.S. judge to stop payments in the $2.3 billion seafood-industry portion of its settlement over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and sued lawyer Mikal Watts, alleging that he fraudulently claimed to represent more than 40,000 spill victims in the seafood industry, primarily crew members of fishing boats.

“Watts’s representations caused BP to offer $2.3 billion to establish the seafood compensation program,” the company said in a complaint in federal court in New Orleans. “But we now know that over half of Watts’s alleged clients were phantoms; individuals never represented by Watts, in a number of cases not even commercial fishermen, and in some instances individuals who are deceased.”

“BP’s attack is unfair and unwarranted,” Watts’s attorney, Robert McDuff, said yesterday in a statement. “Mr. Watts never committed identity theft and did not defraud BP or anyone else.”

The BP claims against Watts, of Watts Guerra LLP in San Antonio, are “another in a series of efforts to walk away from the settlement to which it agreed,” McDuff said.

The new lawsuit is BP Exploration & Production Inc. v. Watts, 13-cv-06674, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans).

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First-Year Law School Enrollment Declines to Lowest in 36 Years

Enrollment of first-year students at U.S. law schools this academic year fell 11 percent to 39,675, the lowest since 1977, according to a report released by the American Bar Association.

The drop from 44,481 last year largely reflects concerns about the job market, even amid signs that legal employment conditions are beginning to turn around, said James R. Silkenat, president of the association, which was founded in 1878. Prospective law students are also concerned about the cost and growing levels of debt associated with three years of graduate school, he said.

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