After an unusually high-profile career as the top federal prosecutor in Chicago, Former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is joining Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom’s Chicago office as a partner, the firm announced Monday. He starts with the firm October 29.
Fitzgerald oversaw many closely watched cases, including the successful prosecutions of former Illinois governors George Ryan (R) and Rod Blagojevich (D) on corruption charges. He also prosecuted newspaper publisher Conrad Black, who was convicted of defrauding Hollinger International Inc., the company Black controlled. Hollinger is the former parent company of numerous newspapers including the Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph and Jerusalem Post.
Fitzgerald, appointed to be the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in 2001 by President George W. Bush, also served as special prosecutor in the perjury and obstruction of justice case against Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Prior to his tenure as U.S. attorney, Fitzgerald spent 13 years as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. During that time, he was lead prosecutor in the trial of defendants convicted in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. He also was part of the trial of Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind Sheikh convicted of seditious conspiracy in connection with the 1993 World Trade Center bombings.
In June, Fitzgerald stepped down from his most recent post and has been actively pursued by firms since. He was one of a dozen government attorneys who were among the most sought after by law firms, according to a report earlier this month by The National Law Journal.
In an interview, Fitzgerald said that Skadden’s global platform, strength in the corporate investigations arena and commitment to pro bono efforts attracted him to the firm. He said his practice at Skadden would not be too different from the work he was doing as U.S. Attorney.
“Taking what I learned from the government experience and using that to do something parallel will be something I’m very comfortable with,” Fitzgerald said.
According to Skadden spokeswoman Melissa Porter, the firm has about 170 attorneys in its Chicago office.
“Pat Fitzgerald is a nationally known lawyer who is respected all over the country and is an obvious choice for our corporate clients when they are considering hiring a lawyer for a sensitive and complicated matter,” David Zornow, the global head of Skadden’s litigation and controversy practices, said in an interview.
New incentives and programs designed to encourage whistleblowers to come forward with potential wrongdoing has allowed an “avalanche of [corporate] information” to flow to the government, which in turn can spark an investigation, Zornow said. “Enforcement authorities, both at the federal level and the state level, are very aggressive about investigating corporate wrongdoing. We think that in situations where you want somebody who is a terrific lawyer and has an indisputable reputation for integrity and independence, Pat Fitzgerald is going to be someone turned to frequently.”
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