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December 22, 2008 3:24 PM

Pfizer Names Winston & Strawn Partner New Litigation Chief

Posted by Brian Baxter

Pfizer announced on Monday that it had hired Winston & Strawn partner Bradley Lerman to be its new litigation chief. The news was reported earlier today on The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog.

The 52-year-old litigator's name should be familiar--Lerman previously had represented Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in a federal probe into allegations of corruption by individuals close to the governor. Lerman and the firm billed over $2 million for the work--about $500,000 of which the The Journal reports went unpaid.

Lerman also worked alongside Winston & Strawn litigator Dan Webb on the 2006 trial team that defended former Illinois Gov. George Ryan on corruption charges.

In addition to representing politicians under investigation, Lerman has represented large corporations like Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's, where he was tapped to handle the wave of ultimately unsuccessful class action suits filed against the fast food giant. Lerman has also advised Richmond-based Phillip Morris USA, where the litigator worked on the landmark Engle class action that resulted in the Florida Supreme Court upholding a lower appellate court's ruling tossing a $145 billion punitive damages verdict.

That experience is likely what endeared him to the New York-based pharmaceutical giant. Lerman will join Pfizer's stable of talented, high-ranking litigators. The former federal prosecutor, who also was once a partner at Kirkland & Ellis, will report directly to Pfizer general counsel Amy Schulman. Schulman was a top rainmaker at DLA Piper before joining the company in May. (While at DLA, Schulman reportedly had a $60 million book-of-business, part of which included leading Pfizer's defense in the Celebrex and Bextra-related civil suits.)

Pfizer's chairman and CEO, Jeffrey Kindler, also came to the company as a trained litigator. A former general counsel of the company, Kindler served as GC for McDonald's after working at Williams & Connolly. Pfizer's previous head of litigation, Sandra Phillips, left to join the Houston office of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in September.

Lerman did not respond to a request for comment.

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