Correction, 3/6/13, 12:00 p.m. EST: In the February print edition of The American Lawyer, George Terwilliger III was described as leading a group of four partners from White & Case to Morgan Lewis & Bockius. The group included three partners. The information has been corrected in the twelfth paragraph below. We regret the error.

 

Gregory Puff, Andrew Abernethy
AKIN GUMP STRAUSS HAUER & FELD

It was a busy year for Asian-based M&A lawyers. Akin Gump called on two heavyweights to anchor its new Hong Kong office in February: Shearman & Sterling’s Gregory Puff (left) and Norton Rose’s Andrew Abernethy. Puff, who will lead the Hong Kong office as well as the firm’s Asia practice, dove right into his new job. He represented Roth Capital Partners in its capacity as financial adviser to Yucheng Technologies Limited, a Chinese company that announced plans to go private in August, and the special committee for Chinese food processor Zhongpin Inc., which announced plans to go private in November. Together, the pair advised Trinity Opportunities Limited, which agreed to provide $275 million in financing to Village Roadshow Entertainment Group, in June.

Antony Dutton
DECHERT

Dutton moved his practice, which focuses on cross-border litigation and arbitration matters as well as government investigations, from Norton Rose to the London office of Dechert in January 2012. During 22 years at Norton Rose, Dutton held several leadership positions, including head of the global dispute resolution practice. His practice currently includes representing the former directors of the Royal Bank of Scotland plc and the former chief executive of MF Global UK Ltd. in connection with Financial Services Authority investigations.

Diane Sullivan
WEIL, GOTSHAL & MANGES

A former Litigator of the Year finalist ["The Natural," January 2012], Sullivan made her reputation in the product liability field during a stellar career at Dechert defending clients ranging from Philip Morris International Inc. to Astra Zeneca Group. When she left for Weil in February, alongside Dechert partner Kathleen O’Connor, she expressed a desire to try cases in other areas. Looks like she’ll get her wish. Sullivan will be defending ESPN Inc. in a breach of contract suit filed by DISH Network Corporation that is scheduled to go to trial in February 2013.

Leora Ben-Ami
KIRKLAND & ELLIS

The patent litigator and former cochair of Kaye Scholer’s IP practice has won plenty of verdicts for the likes of Pfizer Inc., ARIAD Pharmaceuticals Inc., and Gilead Sciences Inc. However, her tenure at Kirkland got off to a rough start. Her client E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company was hit with a $1 billion verdict in a patent dispute with Monsanto Company over genetically modified soybeans in August, three months after Ben-Ami joined the firm. (Ben-Ami and cocounsel Donald Flexner of Boies, Schiller & Flexner filed a motion for a new trial in September.) Ben-Ami’s departure helped make it a tumultuous year for Kaye Scholer’s IP department, as another cochair, Alan Fisch, departed in September to start his own firm.

Graham Robinson
SKADDEN, ARPS, SLATE, MEAGHER & FLOM

In a year when Skadden hired prominent prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald [see page 50], as well as a former antitrust head of the U.S. Department of Justice and a top capital markets partner in Asia, it was Robinson’s hiring that made history. The M&A lawyer is the first health care transactional attorney Skadden has brought on as a lateral. (Previously, Robinson led Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr’s corporate practice.) A month after joining Skadden in September, Robinson was the lead lawyer for Rhythmia Medical Inc. when it was acquired by Boston Scientific Corporation for $265 million.

David Bernick
BOIES, SCHILLER & FLEXNER

Bernick’s professional credentials include a somewhat rare mix of high-profile trial work (during his 31 years at Kirkland & Ellis)—such as representing W.R. Grace & Co. in federal criminal proceedings—and experience as a chief corporate legal executive. Equally rare: a lateral partner addition to Boies Schiller. In August 2012, after two years as general counsel of Philip Morris International Inc., Bernick returned to Big Law as only the fourth senior partner lateral addition in Boies Schiller’s 15-year existence.

Jonathan Streeter
DECHERT

Even in a year that was rife with high-profile government exits and white-collar lateral moves, Streeter stands out. As a deputy chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, he was lead trial counsel in the successful insider trading prosecution of Galleon Group’s Raj Rajaratnam. In February 2012 Streeter joined Dechert, where he currently represents individuals and companies facing antitrust, insider trading, and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act investigations.

Simon Witty
DAVIS POLK & WARDWELL

Davis Polk has had a London office since 1973, but the 2012 addition of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate partner Witty marked the firm’s first effort to launch an English law practice in England’s capital city. (Davis Polk already had English law capabilities in China and Brazil.) Witty’s experience includes handling public offerings by AZ Electronic Materials plc and secondary offerings for the Royal Bank of Scotland plc. Since joining Davis Polk in February 2012, Witty has provided English law counsel to Jefferies & Company Inc. and other underwriters in connection with the initial public offering of Manchester United plc as well as AstraZeneca plc for its diabetes products alliance with Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

 

Ling Huang
CLEARY GOTTLIEB

Cleary snagged Huang, a former Shearman & Sterling M&A partner, for its Beijing office in May. She has previously represented networking equipment giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. on its $530 million buyout of Huawei Symantec Technologies Co. Ltd., a joint venture it launched with Symantec Corp. Since moving to Cleary, Huang advised Chinese biotech company 3SBio Inc. last September on a $330 million deal to go private.

Christopher Betts
SKADDEN

After Kirkland & Ellis poached some of the firm’s Asia stars in 2011, Skadden went after Betts, recruiting him from Paul Hastings last May. Two months later, Betts represented Warburg Pincus Asia in its $200 million equity investment in China Auto Rental Holdings Inc., the largest car rental company in China, and has worked on several other deals representing the likes of Chengwei Capital and SCOR S.E., a reinsurance company in France.

Richard Climan, Morton Pierce, Martin Bienenstock, Jeffrey Kessler, Brian Zimbler
WEIL; WHITE & CASE; PROSKAUER ROSE; WINSTON & STRAWN; MORGAN LEWIS

Dewey & LeBoeuf had been hemorrhaging partners since March, but the biggest names waited until May to move on. Proskauer Rose brought in Dewey’s cochairman Martin Bienenstock (right), a bankruptcy attorney who had advised Enron Corporation and Texaco Inc. and recently helped restructure General Motors Company. M&A partner Richard Climan (left) headed to Weil, Gotshal & Manges, taking his high-profile practice, which included the March sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers for $2 billion. Another top M&A partner, Morton Pierce (center), was steering his client, Fougera Pharmaceuticals Inc., through a $1.5 billion acquisition by Novartis AG, within days of announcing his move to White & Case. Morgan, Lewis & Bockius beefed up its European platform, acquiring Dewey partners in the United Kingdom, Russia, and Kazakhstan led by Moscow-based M&A partner Brian Zimbler. Finally, sports law heavyweight Jeffrey Kessler took his practice, which includes representing the players unions in the National Football League and National Basketball Association, to Winston & Strawn.

George Terwilliger III
MORGAN, LEWIS & BOCKIUS

Terwilliger ranks among the deans of Washington, D.C.’s white-collar criminal defense bar. Over the course of his long career, he has seamlessly transitioned between stints in private practice, where he represented Attorney General Alberto Gonzales during a congressional investigation into the dismissal of several federal prosecutors, and government, where he’s been U.S. deputy attorney general and acting U.S. attorney general. Terwilliger’s most recent transition occurred in November, when he led a group of three white-collar partners from White & Case to Morgan Lewis.

Illustrations by William Rieser.