The Churn

January 9, 2009 5:30 PM

THE CHURN: Heavy Hitters Edition

Posted by Jonathan Thrope

Cadwalader's Bankruptcy Cochief Moving to Greenberg Traurig
Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft on Thursday confirmed the cochair of its bankruptcy practice was leaving the firm for Greenberg Traurig, with another partner in tow.

Bruce Zirinsky, who headed up the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Northwest Airlines in 2007, will join Greenberg along with restructuring litigation partner John Bae, Legal Week reports. The departure is among the highest profile since a mass layoff of associates in July.

Zirinsky joined Cadwalader in 1998 along with corporate partner Dennis Block from Weil, Gotshal & Manges. The bankruptcy specialist was poised to join Cadwalader's management committee this year, following a decision in November to oust former managing partner Robert Link from the body.

The move is not expected to affect Cadwalader's newest bankruptcy assignment, a gig as counsel to Lyondell Chemical, which filed for Chapter 11 on Monday. Cadwalader partner Deryck Palmer is leading that job.

Obama Nominates Paul, Weiss's Jeh Johnson for Defense GC
Given his track record, it should come as no surprise that Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison partner Jeh Charles Johnson is returning to public service. Thursday, President-elect Barack Obama announced that he intends to nominate Johnson to become general counsel at the Department of Defense. With previous stints as a federal prosecutor and general counsel of the Department of the Air Force, Johnson is more than familiar with life outside of private law.

At Paul, Weiss, Johnson was a member of the litigation practice and, in 1994, became the first black lawyer to be named partner at the firm. In January 2007 Mr. Johnson was nominated by the New York State Commission on Judicial Nomination to be Chief Judge of New York, though Governor Spitzer ended up reappointing the incumbent. This past year, the National Law Journal named Johnson one of the 50 most influential minority lawyers in America. For the past few years, Johnson served the Obama campaign as a member of the national finance committee, as an adviser on national security and international law issues, as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, and as New York State counsel to the campaign.

Citigroup's Edward Greene Returns to Cleary
In a shift from banking to private law, Edward Greene will return to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton as a partner, after a five-year stint at Citigroup. Greene was a partner at Cleary until 2004, when he signed on with Citi. Now he is leaving his position as general counsel of the financial services giant’s Institutional Clients Group to head back to the law firm. Greene will be based in the firm's New York office and will focus on securities, corporate governance, regulatory, financial-services reform, and other corporate law matters. Prior to joining Cleary for the first time in 1982, Greene held two jobs at the Securities and Exchange Commission--director of the Division of Corporation Finance and general counsel.

Goldman's Chief IP Counsel to Cochair Chadbourne's IP Practice
Goldman Sachs' chief IP counsel has departed for what may well be the greener pastures of private law. John A. Squires, who founded Goldman’s patent practice nine years ago, has joined Chadbourne & Parke as a partner. At Chadbourne, Squires will cochair the firm’s IP practice and, in a nod to his current job, will continue to represent the intellectual property interests of Goldman Sachs. Prior to joining Goldman, Squires was general counsel and chief intellectual property counsel at Honeywell, Inc. Previously, he was an associate at Rogers & Wells and at Morgan & Finnegan.

Kirkland Welcome Former AG William Barr
Finally, Kirkland & Ellis has announced that former attorney general William P. Barr is joining the firm as counsel in its Washington, D.C., office. Barr served as attorney general from 1991-93 under President George H. W. Bush and recently retired from Verizon Communications, after serving as executive vice president since the company’s formation in 2000.

--Additional reporting by Nate Raymond

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