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February 6, 2009 3:39 PM

Cleary and Jenner Lawyers Win Top SEC/Justice Spots

Posted by Rachel Breitman

It probably won't be a challenge for David Becker to slide into the top legal position at the Securities and Exchange Commission. After all, by taking over as the SEC's general counsel, the Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton partner will be returning to a job he held from 2000 to 2002. In his latest appointment, Becker will also serve as the SEC's senior policy director, coordinating the development and carrying out of agency policies.

At Cleary, Becker advised on capital markets matters, with a focus on SEC and internal corporate investigations, corporate governance issues, and SEC regulatory matters. Prior to his first stint as SEC general counsel--a job to which he was appointed by then-chairman Arthur Levitt--Becker was the deputy agency's general counsel.

Meanwhile, the Department of Justice under Barack Obama appears to have a hankering for lawyers from Jenner & Block. Justice snapped up its fourth top hire from the firm by bringing on Donald Verrilli, Jr.--cochair of the firm's appellate and Supreme Court litigation practice--as associate deputy attorney general. 

Verrilli has argued several major recent cases before the Supreme Court, representing everyone from big business to death row inmates. He won Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, the 2005 case in which the court ruled that illegal file-sharing services such as Grokster were infringing on copyrights.

In another high-profile copyright case, he represented the Recording Industry Association of America in its suit against a Minnesota woman accused of illicit file sharing (A federal jury found for the RIAA in district court, but the judge in the case overturned that verdict. The RIAA is appealing the judge's decision.)

On the pro bono front, Verrilli was on the losing side of Baze v. Rees last year, in which the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Kentucky's lethal injection process.

Verrilli's hiring comes on the heels of Thomas Perrelli, managing partner of Jenner's Washington, D.C., office, signing on as Obama's associate attorney general--the third-highest spot at Justice. Brian Hauck, a Jenner litigation partner, will be counsel to the new associate AG, and Ginger Anders, an associate who has done pro bono work challenging lethal injection procedures, has taken a position as an assistant to the solicitor general. (Perrelli and President Obama's solicitor general nominee, Elena Kagan, are awaiting confirmation.)

--Zach Lowe contributed to this report

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Obama's guys are simply picking their friends and colleagues. Many recycled Clintonites. It's very disappointing.

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