The Churn

December 9, 2008 6:51 PM

THE CHURN: Lateral Moves and Promotions in The Am Law 200

Posted by Rachel Breitman

UPDATE: Information has been added to clarify Kevin Townsend's IP work at Johnson & Johnson.

Even as firms limp sluggishly towards the winter vacation, with diminishing partner profits, lawyer layoffs, weakened M&A activity, and all-but-dead IPO action dampening holiday cheer, there still are a few bright spots to be gleaned from lateral moves. With a  in the news again this week, Firms are bolstering their restructuring practices as fresh bankruptcy filings are reported on a nearly daily basis. And it seems firms are preparing for expected growth in securities, antitrust, and white collar enforcement litigation.

Arent Fox
added Mette Kurth as a bankruptcy and financial restructuring partner in the firm's Los Angeles office. Kurth represents creditors committees, debtors, unsecured creditors, and acquirors of distressed assets. She previously was special counsel at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton.

Bingham McCutchen's latest New York securities counsel is Joseph McLaughlin, a former Heller Ehrman New York office chair. Since his 2007 departure from Heller, McLaughlin worked as a mediator and arbitrator with JAMS. He's also worked as general counsel and executive vice president of legal and regulatory affairs at Credit Suisse First Boston and as head of litigation at Shearman & Sterling.

Choate, Hall & Stewart has hired Anne Marie Cook as a partner in the firm's business and technology group. Cook, previously a principal at Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone, will continue to focus her practice on advising life science companies. She also has corporate experience in the life sciences sector, as both senior vice president and general counsel at ViaCell, Inc. and vice president and chief corporate counsel at Biogen Idec.

Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle is preparing for potential growth in federal securities fraud enforcement by bring on white collar litigator David Seide. A former assistant U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, Seide previously was counsel at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Washington, D.C. He'll handle criminal cases, civil enforcement proceedings, and civil litigation. 

Davis Wright Tremaine added Andrew Abramowitz, a former shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, as a partner in the New York office. He represents issuers, investors, placement agents, and underwriters in public and private offerings of equity and debt securities.

DLA Piper's litigation practice has grown with the addition of partner Sharie Brown in Washington, D.C. Brown assists in internal investigations, audits, and transactional due diligence. She previously was a partner and chair of Foley & Lardner's white collar practice, where she also handled transactional and securities and automotive industry matters.

Drinker Biddle & Reath sees a growing need on the IP front, one that new partner Thomas McWilliams will help to address. McWilliams, formerly a director at Gibbons in Philadelphia, will be joining the IP group's 80-plus lawyers, handling computer technology and complex business transactions. He has an engineering background and experience in nanotechnology, semiconductors, and integrated circuits. 

Foley & Lardner is growing its Washington office with the addition of partner Richard Wallace. Wallace, who was vice president and chief counsel in the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's market regulation department, joins the firm's securities enforcement and litigation practice. He has overseen litigation and disciplinary actions for companies violating federal securities laws and municipal securities board rules.

Kilpatrick Stockton has hired partner G. William Joyner III, who joins the firm's Winston-Salem office. The former Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice partner will handle private equity fund formation, venture capital, mezzanine financings, mergers and acquisitions and securities regulation. 

King & Spalding will be adding three energy lawyers to the Washington, D.C. office to handle regulatory, transactional and litigation matters. Neil Levy, will co-chair the energy group. He'll be joined by David Tewksbury and Bruce Richardson, all from Kirkland & Ellis, where Levy had also been co-chair of the energy practice. They'll handle legal matters for independent power producers, electric power and natural gas marketers, interstate pipelines and local distribution companies.

Lovells has added Kevin Townsend, senior in-house counsel in the patent department of Johnson & Johnson, as a partner in the international IP media and technology practice. He's handled biotechnology and pharmaceutical patent disputes for billion dollar products at Johnson & Johnson, a Lovells client. 

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius is amping up its product liabilities defense practice with new litigation partner John Lavelle, Jr. to the Philadelphia office. He had been the partner-in- charge of the product liability and mass tort group at Ballard, Spahr, Andrews & Ingersoll. With a background in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation, he has handled product liability and class action matters including a Pennsylvania appellate decision limiting strict liability for prescription medical devices.

Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal nabbed in-house talent from the corporate sector  with the addition of Gary Cohen, vice president and chief counsel of Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., which is a Sonnesnschein client. He’ll join the  San Francisco office as a partner in the insurance regulatory practice. Cohen was chief legal adviser to the CEO of the Novato, Ca.-based Fireman’s Fund, handling all state government affairs. His experience in the industry extends back to his previous work as former deputy commissioner and general counsel for the California Department of Insurance

White & Case added Ernest Patrikis from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, where he was in charge of the financial services regulatory practice. He also has three decades of experience at the New York Federal Reserve Bank and deputy general of the Federal Open Market Committee. After leaving the Fed, he was general counsel at American International Group, Inc.

The churn is constant. Our reports are twice weekly. Send your news to

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It is always so nice to see another Heller Ehrman partner find dry land after the capsizing of the S.S. Heller Ehrman. The 300+ employees who still have not found work yet during this crappy holiday season always like to hear good news like this.

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