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April 26, 2010 4:04 PM

O'Melveny, Gibson Dunn, "Master of Disaster" Join Goldman Sachs Fracas

Posted by Brian Baxter

More details about the legal team assembled by the SEC--including former Debevoise & Plimpton partner Lorin Reisner--to bring its case against Goldman Sachs emerged early Monday. Meanwhile the global financial services firm continues to bolster its own defense team. 

Goldman's team currently consists of Sullivan & Cromwell's Richard Klapper and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom's Gregory Craig. According to e-mail messages by Goldman executives released on Saturday by the Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations, which were obtained by The New York Times, Goldman has recruited more high-priced legal talent to defend itself against the charges.

LeeBlalack

The Times reports that O'Melveny & Myers litigation bigwig K. Lee Blalack II (pictured right) and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher public policy cochair Michael Bopp are advising seven current and former Goldman executives that will testify before a congressional hearing on Tuesday probing the bank's conduct as the U.S. housing market collapsed.

O'Melveny has a longtime client relationship with Goldman, having advised the financial services firm on various legislative, regulatory, litigation, and corporate matters. The former executive director of Goldman's Asian legal unit, James Wood, is currently counsel with O'Melveny in Hong Kong.

Blalack, one of The American Lawyer's Fab Fifty Young Litigators, is a former chief counsel to the Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations. Current Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein, CFO David Viniar, and others are scheduled to go before the committee on Tuesday. They'll join a list of several other high-profile clients represented by Blalack in recent years.

The former Marine--Blalack fought in the first Gulf War in 1991--represented former Hewlett-Packard general counsel Ann Baskins in the company's pretexting scandal, former Senate majority leader William Frist on questions surrounding his sale of stock in a blind trust, former senator Pete Domenici in a probe into the firing of several U.S. attorneys, and disgraced ex-congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham in a corruption probe. (Blalack, who did not respond to a request for comment, previously spoke with The American Lawyer about what it's like to brief a client for a congressional hearing.)

Gibson Dunn's Bopp, who also chairs the firm's financial services crisis team, has handled several special investigations by both the House and Senate. Bopp helped write legislation creating the U.S. Department of Homeland Security while serving as staff director and chief counsel to the Senate's committee of homeland security and governmental affairs between 2003 and 2006--the parent of the Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations. (Bopp did not respond to a request for comment.)

Goldman has turned to Gibson Dunn in the past to handle corporate and litigation work for the company. K. Susan Grafton, a former vice president and associate general counsel in Goldman's legal department, joined Gibson Dunn in 2007.

Mark Fabiani

Politico.com's Mark Allen reported over the weekend that San Diego lawyer Mark Fabiani (pictured left) also has joined S&C's Klapper and ex-White House counsel Craig on Team Goldman. According to Allen, Fabiani will assist Skadden's Craig and other lawyers preparing Goldman employees slated to testify on Tuesday.

Known as "The Master of Disaster," Fabiani earned his nickname after helping the Clinton administration navigate a thicket of congressional investigations as special counsel to the White House during the 1990s. He later served as Al Gore's deputy campaign manager for communications during the 2000 presidential campaign. Fabiani left the political arena and joined with Democratic political consultant Chris Lehane in 2001 to found Fabiani & Lehane, a boutique public relations firm advising corporate clients on matters stemming from legal and government inquiries.

Over the past decade Fabiani handled public relations work for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers on the 2007-08 strike by the Writers Guild of America, advised Qualcomm in its IP dispute with Nokia, and served as special counsel to the NFL's San Diego Chargers on the team's ongoing effort to secure community support for a new stadium. Fabiani does the bulk of his work from his base in the seaside resort community of La Jolla, Calif.

Fabiani, who was stuck in meetings on Monday, confirmed to The Am Law Daily via e-mail that Goldman retained him in early April. He declined to comment further.

Sources tell The Am Law Daily that Fabiani's background in legal and government affairs and crisis communications will come in handy when managing the public relations and public affairs aspects of the SEC's case against Goldman, not to mention the legal components at play as well.

Previous news reports have put the rate for Fabiani's services at anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000 per month. For Goldman, whose reputation took a serious hit with the SEC's fraud charges, it will be money well spent.


Contact Brian Baxter at [email protected].


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