The Talent

February 17, 2009 4:29 PM

Debevoise Snags Ex-AG Mukasey for Partnership

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: 5:15 p.m. This story has been updated with quotes from Michael Mukasey.

Michael_Mukasey,_official_AG_photo_portrait,_2007Debevoise & Plimpton landed another big name for its high-profile litigation department, announcing on Tuesday that former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey would join the firm as a partner later this month.

News of Mukasey's move to Debevoise was first reported by Above the Law.

The Mukasey move came on the heels of an announcement earlier in the day from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom that former New York State chief judge Judith Kaye would join the firm in an of-counsel capacity. (It wasn't quite the second septuagenarian move of the day: Kaye is 70; Mukasey is three years her junior.)

Prior to serving as AG, Mukasey spent nearly 20 years on the federal bench in the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, becoming chief judge in 2000.

At Debevoise, Mukasey joins a litigation department chaired by Mary Jo White, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The firm's London-based European chair of litigation is Lord Peter Goldsmith QC, who served for six years as the U.K.'s Attorney General.

"[Debevoise] has built a very strong practice through Mary Jo and others in corporate investigations, white-collar defense, and internal corporate reports to committees, all of which interest me," says Mukasey, explaining the rationale for his decision in a phone interview with The Am Law Daily. "The firm has many former assistant U.S. attorneys and other people who've served as officeholders in government at places like the SEC and FTC. So it helps to have the benefit of their experience."

Debevoise's White says she reached out to Mukasey on behalf of the firm several weeks ago. Mukasey, whose stature precluded the need for a recruiter, says he has known White for some time.

"While Mary Jo was U.S. Attorney, we had occasion to deal with one another quite a bit," says the former SDNY chief judge, adding that he had been approached by several other firms but declined to name them. Mukasey says he plans to start at Debevoise as soon as next Monday.

Mukasey was a partner at New York's Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler prior to joining the federal bench in 1987 and again after retiring from the bench in 2006. His son, Marc, is head of the white-collar criminal defense and special investigations practice at Bracewell & Giuliani in New York.

In September 2007, Mukasey was nominated by President Bush to succeed Alberto Gonzales as AG. In late November of last year, Mukasey collapsed during a speech to the Federalist Society, but was back at work the next day.

Mukasey says he is looking forward to joining Debevoise.

"The firm practices at a very high level of competence and ethics," Mukasey says. "And given its roster of people valuing public service and pro bono activities coupled with people who all get along with one another--when you put that all together it's a superb package."

Equity partners at Debevoise made $2.29 million in 2007. The firm has yet to file Am Law 100 financial data for 2008. Federal financial disclosure forms show that while at Patterson Belknap, Mukasey made roughly $1.2 million per year.

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