The Work

May 4, 2010 12:19 PM

Goldman Continues Building All-Star Legal Defense Team

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE #1: May 5, 10:31 a.m. The Financial Times reports that Ted Wells is expected to take charge of the Goldman Sachs assignment for Paul Weiss.

UPDATE #2: May 19, 9:28 a.m. Bloomberg reports that Goldman has ended talks with Paul Weiss about the firm joining its defense team, as the SEC bolsters its own legal team for its case against the financial services giant.

Perhaps heartened by a recent study that found the high-spending New York Yankees were not the most hated team in baseball--vehemently disputed by one of our Boston Red Sox-loving editors--Goldman Sachs continues to shell out the big bucks to add to its team of legal all-stars.

According to The Am Law Litigation Daily, citing a report by Bloomberg, Goldman is negotiating to supplement its already formidable defense team with lawyers from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.

As previously noted in this space, Goldman has already tapped Sullivan & Cromwell's Richard Klapper, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom's Gregory Craig, O'Melveny & Myers's K. Lee Blalack II, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Michael Bopp for legal advice on matters ranging from the SEC's civil charges to contentious congressional hearings. And that's not to mention a criminal inquiry reportedly in the works.

Some have reported that Goldman's legal bills could exceed $100 million, but given all the talent already on board, we think that might be a bit of a conservative estimate, especially when one considers the fact that litigation could drag on for years without a settlement. Sticking with the baseball metaphor for a moment, here's a quick look at the "Murderer's Row" legal and consulting lineup Goldman has put together so far:

1. Skadden's Greg Craig: The face of Team Goldman, his government connections work well as a table-setter.

2. S&C's Rich Klapper: His name sounds like it could belong to a scrappy second baseman, and his team has done a good job of moving the runners along in securities class actions against Goldman.

3. O'Melveny's Lee Blalack: When the congressional hearings got ugly, the ex-Marine helped execs weather the storm, even Fabrice "Fabulous Fab" Tourre.

4. Paul Weiss's Ted Wells: If the firm does end up joining Team Goldman, its mustachioed heavy hitter must occupy the cleanup spot.

5. Gibson Dunn's Mike Bopp: His expertise in litigation and public policy makes this big "Bopper" a natural fit in the heart of lineup.

6. Goldman's Greg Palm: As Goldman's general counsel, he's the classic player/manager--ready to massage big egos, strategize, and even lend a hand on the field from time to time.

7. Mark Fabiani: The former White House special counsel may not be a seasoned litigator, but the San Diego Chargers backer is a gifted crisis communications adviser familiar with the halls of power.

8. Stephen Labaton: A lawyer and former New York Times reporter whose father, Edward, is a senior partner at plaintiffs firm Labaton Sucharow, the younger Labaton will lend a hand on lobbying work and lend ballast to the bottom of the lineup.

9. TBD.

So there's one spot left. Forget about tryouts and don't call Goldman. They'll call you.

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Can't wait to see the outcome of this one. It's staggering how much money is involved in sports these days. Only 50 years ago most of the players would have had a second job.

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