More Federal Prosecutors Go to Private Practice: Business of Law

The march of federal prosecutors from the U.S. Justice Department continues.

The department announced Monday that Ronald Machen Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, is stepping down April 1. In the statement, the agency said that Machen, who served for more than five years, intended to return to private practice. He joined the U.S. Attorney’s office in 1997, when Eric Holder was the U.S. Attorney for Washington.

Holder said Machen “distinguished himself as a skilled leader, a devoted public servant and a forceful champion of justice on behalf of the American people.” Holder cited Machen’s “unassailable integrity, relentless determination and a passion for law and justice.”

Machen, 45, said in the statement that it “is time for me to step down,” adding that the position has been “the highest honor of my professional career.” Machen hasn’t said whether he will join a firm after leaving his position.

Additionally, Anjan Sahni, the chief of the securities and commodities fraud task force in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, is joining Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP as a partner in its white-collar and securities enforcement practices.

Sahni has overseen white-collar and securities-fraud prosecutions in recent years.

“I have enormous respect for WilmerHale and its lawyers, and I look forward to returning to the place where my legal career began as an associate in 2002,” he said in a statement.

Sahni joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office more than 10 years ago as an assistant U.S. attorney. Most recently, he supervised investigations and prosecutions involving insider trading, accounting fraud, corporate fraud, market manipulation, investment fraud, and violations of the Bank Secrecy and Foreign Corrupt Practices Acts.

Finally, two former U.S. attorneys far from New York and Washington are also heading to private practice.

Brendan Johnson, who was U.S. attorney for South Dakota, and Tim Purdon, of North Dakota, stepped down from their posts last week and both will join Robins Kaplan LLP. They will open and head the firm’s newest offices in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and Bismarck, North Dakota.

Johnson and Purdon join as partners in the government and internal investigations group, and will also focus on further developing the firm’s work with American Indians. They both join the firm’s personal-injury group as well, and Johnson will also focus his practice on commercial litigation.

As South Dakota’s top federal prosecutor for five and a half years, Johnson managed cases including financial and health-care fraud, public corruption, violent crime, narcotics, and human trafficking.

Johnson also was “heavily involved in the state’s Indian Country, developing a community prosecution strategy that helped increase prosecutions by more than 90 percent on South Dakota’s largest reservations,” the firm said in a statement.

Purdon, appointed U.S. attorney in August 2010, managed a range of cases, also focusing much of his work on combating sex trafficking and violent crime. He designed an anti-violence strategy for North Dakota reservations, as well.

Both Johnson and Purdon were nominated by President Barack Obama and each spent time in private practice before joining the Justice Department.

Morgan Lewis to Combine with Singapore Law Firm

Was Bingham McCutchen LLP just the beginning?

On Monday, Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP and Singapore’s Stamford Law Corp., with approximately 80 lawyers, announced they are joining forces. The combination, which becomes effective April 1, was established to advise clients on matters in Singapore and across Asia.

In Singapore, the firm will be known as Morgan Lewis Stamford.

In November, Morgan Lewis hired more than 500 attorneys from Bingham McCutchen LLP. When asked whether the combination with the Singapore firm was initiated after talks with the Bingham lawyers began, Morgan Lewis spokesman Elliott Frieder said, in an e-mail, only that the Stamford talks began “in the fall.”

Former Delaware Supreme Court Justice Heads to DLA Piper

Henry duPont Ridgely, who retired on Jan. 31 from the Delaware Supreme Court, has joined DLA Piper LLP as a member of the firm’s corporate and litigation practices, based in the Wilmington, Delaware office.

Ridgely served more than 30 years on the Delaware bench, including more than 10 on the state Supreme Court. At DLA, Ridgely will focus on advising corporations, boards, special committees and individual directors and officers on transaction structure, fiduciary duties, and managing and defending litigation. He will also act as a mediator and arbitrator, the firm said in a statement.

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