Henry Asbill moved to Buckley from Jones Day. Leading trial lawyer Henry “Hank” Asbill joined Buckley Sandler as a partner in its white-collar and complex civil litigation practices in Washington. “It’s a really great opportunity to work with a number of old friends,” Asbill said. “They are some of the best trial lawyers I know.” Buckley Sandler litigator David Krakoff called Asbill “one of the deans of the white-collar bar.” Asbill has conducted more than 100 trials and 30 appeals, including defending former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, whose convictions were vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. Solicitor General Noel Francisco worked alongside Asbill on McDonnell’s behalf while Francisco was at Jones Day.
Suzanne Bell moved to Covington & Burling from Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Covington & Burling hired Bell, a longtime Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati technology transactions partner, to further its expansion in California. Bell, who spent nearly three decades at Wilson Sonsini, left the storied Silicon Valley firm to join the Redwood Shores, California, office of Washington, D.C.-based Covington. Bell came to Wilson Sonsini in 1989 and was promoted to partner in 1995. For 29 years there, she handled technology and intellectual property transactions for a range of clients, including companies specializing in clean technology, cloud computing, digital media, electronics, internet, software and telecommunications.
Sheila Birnbaum and Mark Cheffo moved to Dechert from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Birnbaum and Cheffo, co-chairs of the products liability practice at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, left the firm with a third products liability partner to join Dechert in New York. Birnbaum, Cheffo and Douglas Fleming all joined Quinn Emanuel’s New York office in 2013 from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, along with 11 other products liability attorneys. Birnbaum, who has been dubbed the “queen of toxic torts” for her influence on the practice, had spent 33 years at Skadden, where she played a groundbreaking role in products liability cases involving oral contraceptives, breast implants and other litigation.
Dane Butswinkas moved to Tesla from Williams & Connolly. Dane Butswinkas, the Washington-based trial lawyer who was chairman of Williams & Connolly, became the next general counsel to Tesla Inc., arriving as the company attempted to climb out of a period of intense regulatory scrutiny. Butswinkas, who has practiced at Williams & Connolly for 30 years and was serving as co-chair of the firm’s commercial litigation and financial services and banking groups, replaced Todd Maron as the company’s top in-house lawyer in January. A spokesperson for Williams & Connolly said Butswinkas will remain a partner at the firm, adding that “his full-time job will be at Tesla, but he’ll continue to help with client relations and strategic and administrative matters.”
Leslie Corwin and Simon Miller moved to Eisner from Blank Rome. Eisner, a 35-attorney firm in Beverly Hills, recruited two Blank Rome partners, law firm partnership expert Leslie Corwin and litigator Simon Miller, to help launch its New York office. Corwin is managing partner of the New York office, and Miller helps run the office. Corwin and Miller have worked together 17 of the past 20 years at Greenberg Traurig and then Blank Rome, Corwin said, describing Miller as his “right-hand person.” Founding partner Michael Eisner said the New York office formally launched in November 2017 when it absorbed Manhattan fashion and arts boutique Marquart & Small. The arrival of Corwin and Miller gave the firm five attorneys in New York.

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Seamus Duffy, Michael McTigue, Meredith Slawe, Kathryn Deal and Michael Stortz moved to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld from Drinker Biddle & Reath. Five partners from Drinker Biddle & Reath took their national class action defense practice to Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. Seamus Duffy, Michael McTigue, Meredith Slawe and Kathryn Deal are now in Texas-based Akin Gump’s Philadelphia office, while Michael Stortz is based in San Francisco. All five have served in leadership roles at Drinker Biddle. Duffy is a former managing partner of the firm and was chair of the class actions team, and McTigue was chair of Drinker Biddle’s litigation group. Slawe previously chaired Drinker’s retail industry group. Slawe and Stortz were class action vice chairs, and Deal chaired the summer associate committee.
Sandra Goldstein moved to Kirkland & Ellis from Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Goldstein, long considered one of Cravath’s most powerful partners and a former head of litigation at the firm, moved to Kirkland’s New York office along with litigation associate Stefan Atkinson, who became an equity partner in Kirkland’s litigation group. Goldstein’s move to Kirkland came as Cravath and other traditionally lockstep New York firms grappled with challenges to their compensation model from outfits like Kirkland extending lucrative pay packages to recruit high-end laterals. Goldstein specializes in litigation related to M&A deals and led Cravath’s litigation group from 2010 until 2016.
Mark Itri (pictured) and Jeffrey Gargano moved to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius from McDermott Will & Emery.Morgan, Lewis & Bockius recruited a group of more than 50 IP lawyers and staff from McDermott Will & Emery, led by Orange County, California, partner Itri and Chicago partner Gargano. After the firm added seven partners in late July, including Gargano and four others in Chicago, one in Washington, D.C., and one in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, Itri led an even larger team from McDermott in August, resulting in 16 partners, 14 other lawyers and about 30 nonlawyer patent professionals switching firms in total.
Joon Kim moved to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Joon Kim returned to Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton after serving as acting U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Kim, 46, rejoined Cleary as a partner in its enforcement and litigation group. He has spent close to a decade of his career at the firm, including as a summer associate, associate and partner, with stints in government in between. He left the Southern District office in January 2018. With Kim as acting U.S. attorney in the aftermath of Preet Bharara’s firing, the office took on trials of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who was convicted of conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions; sports gambler Billy Walters, who was found guilty of insider trading; and “Chelsea bomber” Ahmad Rahimi, who was sentenced to life in prison.
Colin Law and Peter Chen moved to Fangda Partners from Shearman & Sterling. The Chinese firm Fangda Partners hired Shearman & Sterling’s Hong Kong capital markets team, led by Asia capital markets team leader Colin Law. The four-lawyer team also included Hong Kong partner Peter Chen, one counsel and one associate. Law and Chen, both Hong Kong-qualified, advise on listings and transactions related to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Law represented the underwriters, including Goldman Sachs and UBS, on Shanghai-based drugmaker Hua Medicine Ltd.’s $110 million initial public offering in Hong Kong in 2018. In 2016, both Law and Chen represented the underwriters on power generator maker VPower Group International Holdings Ltd.’s $208 million Hong Kong listing.

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Kenneth Lebrun moved to Davis Polk from Shearman & Sterling. Davis Polk & Wardwell made a rare partner addition in Tokyo, hiring mergers and acquisitions partner Lebrun from Shearman & Sterling. Lebrun’s practice focuses on cross-border mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and private equity transactions. He advised Japanese insurance firm SOMPO Holdings Inc. on its $6.3 billion acquisition of New York Stock Exchange-listed insurer Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd., which was completed in March 2017. Lebrun, who speaks fluent Japanese, joined Shearman in 2000 after stints at White & Case and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. He made partner at Shearman in 2007 and was appointed head of the Asia M&A practice in 2017.
Abbe Lowell moved to Winston & Strawn from Norton Rose Fulbright. Winston & Strawn added Abbe Lowell, who represents President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner in connection with the ongoing probes into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, as a partner based in Washington, D.C., and New York. Lowell was co-head of Norton Rose Fulbright’s U.S. regulations, investigations, securities and compliance practice. Asked about his representation of Kushner, Lowell said he expects all of his clients will remain with him at his new firm. His roster of prominent past representations includes lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, and Sean “Diddy” Combs.
John Martini, Leonard Bernstein, Kerry Halpern and David Pardys moved to Holland & Knight from Reed Smith. Martini became executive partner of Holland & Knight’s Philadelphia office when the firm recruited him from Reed Smith in July along with employee benefits and executive compensation partners Halpern and Pardys. Bernstein, who was Reed Smith’s Philadelphia office managing partner, made the move as well and leads Holland & Knight’s financial services regulatory group. Holland & Knight now has well over 30 lawyers in its Philadelphia office, most of whom came from Reed Smith.
Paul Mourning and Stephanie Marcantonio moved to Crowell & Moring from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft. All of the lawyers in the health care group at Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft departed to launch a New York-based practice at Crowell & Moring. Paul Mourning and Stephanie Marcantonio lead the nine-attorney group in New York, which includes transactional lawyers and litigators. Mourning served as co-chair of Cadwalader’s health care industry team and chair of its health care and nonprofit practices. He previously led Cadwalader’s law school recruitment efforts as chair of its hiring committee. Mourning, who had been at Cadwalader for 35 years, and Marcantonio, who was there for about 14 years, focus on transactional work for health care providers and nonprofit institutions. The team represents assisted living, hospice, nursing home and home care organizations.
Steven Napolitano and Brendan Head moved to Kirkland & Ellis from DLA Piper. DLA Piper’s Chicago office lost a pair of rainmakers in May when Napolitano, co-chair of the global legal giant’s U.S. private equity practice, and Head, the co-managing partner of its Chicago office, joined Kirkland & Ellis as partners in the firm’s vaunted private equity practice. Both lawyers had a large book of business at DLA Piper, mostly representing private equity clients, worth up to $30 million, according to sources familiar with the move. The move to Kirkland marked the second time that Napolitano and Head made partnership transitions together. The pair left Winston & Strawn to join DLA Piper’s Chicago office in 2007.

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In Fenwick & West's biggest move of the year, Jeffrey Oelke, Kevin McGann, James Trainor, Adam Gahtan, Robert Counihan and Ryan Johnson joined the Silicon Valley firm from White & Case. Six intellectual property litigation partners from White & Case in New York joined Fenwick & West, marking the first addition of litigators to the Silicon Valley firm’s Manhattan office since it launched in 2016.Jeffrey Oelke, Kevin McGann, James Trainor, Adam Gahtan, Robert Counihan and Ryan Johnson practiced together for at least a decade, representing life sciences, pharmaceutical, biotech and tech companies in patent litigation. Oelke has represented Pfizer Inc., UCB and Novo Nordisk. McGann’s clients have included Google, Verizon Wireless, Panasonic, Marvell Semiconductor and Keyscan.
Maureen Ohlhausen moved to Baker Botts from the Federal Trade Commission. Ohlhausen, who was until recently the acting chair of the Federal Trade Commission, joined Baker Botts as partner and co-chair of the firm’s antitrust practice. In January 2018, President Donald Trump nominated Ohlhausen for a seat on the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Ohlhausen said that she privately withdrew her nomination in October, having already begun her search for a law firm home at the end of the summer. She served as an FTC commissioner for five years before she was tapped to oversee the agency as acting chair from January 2017 to May 2018. She first joined the FTC in the general counsel’s office in 1997.
Joseph Pari moved to Weil, Gotshal & Manges from KPMG. Pari, who ran KPMG’s national tax practice for five years, joined the growing trend of attorneys returning to Big Law after a stint with the Big Four, joining Weil, Gotshal & Manges to co-chair the firm’s global tax department. Pari spent most of his time at KPMG as the national principal-in-charge of the organization’s Washington-based tax practice. Before joining KPMG, he was briefly a Linklaters partner, following a lengthy stint at Dewey & LeBoeuf. Pari said he wasn’t looking to leave his role at KPMG, describing the tax practice as “the crown jewel” of a Big Four accounting firm, but he was drawn to Weil Gotshal by personal relationships.
Greg Roussel moved to Latham & Watkins from Fenwick & West. Latham & Watkins hired Fenwick & West’s veteran dealmaker Greg Roussel to boost its technology transaction capabilities in the Silicon Valley. Roussel, who is known for advising Facebook on a number of major deals, including its $1 billion acquisition of Instagram and its roughly $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR, joined Latham’s corporate department and mergers and acquisitions group as a partner in the firm’s Menlo Park, California, office. Prior to his move, he spent nearly two decades at Fenwick, where he concentrated his practice on mergers, acquisitions and other strategic transactions involving technology companies.
Eric Schiele moved to Kirkland & Ellis from Cravath, Swaine & Moore. Kirkland & Ellis hired yet another partner out of Cravath, Swaine & Moore’s once-untouchable M&A practice when it made 43-year-old Eric Schiele its latest star lateral recruit in January 2018. Schiele advised on several major deals while at Cravath, a firm where he spent nearly 18 years, having made partner in 2008. Schiele’s work at Cravath included advising The Walt Disney Co. on its purchase of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.; Time Warner Inc. on its $85 billion sale to AT&T Inc.; and AB InBev’s acquisition of SABMiller.
Philippe Selendy and Faith Gay moved to Selendy & Gay from Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Top litigators Philippe Selendy and Faith Gay formally launched Selendy & Gay last February, nearly a month after Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan announced their departure. The duo was joined by eight other partners from Quinn Emanuel at the time. Selendy & Gay will focus on litigation and investigations work and do a mix of plaintiff- and defense-side matters. “Our goal is to have a firm that’s capable of doing everything [within the realm of] litigations and investigations,” Selendy said. The well-known litigator said he and others decided to make the move because they wanted “complete autonomy” to rethink the traditional law firm model, including how clients are served and how best to develop a new generation of talented lawyers.
George Stamas, Mark Director, Andrew Herman and Alexander Fine moved to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher from Kirkland & Ellis. Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher hired four corporate and private equity partners from Kirkland & Ellis—notable exits from a law firm frequently raiding others for top talent. George Stamas joined the firm in New York and Washington, D.C., and Mark Director, Andrew Herman and Alexander Fine joined in Washington. All four were longtime partners of Kirkland. The group brings a large portfolio of recent M&A and buyout experience. In the past two years, the partners have represented Morgan Stanley as a financial adviser in a $14.6 billion merger of energy and utility companies and advised on the $5.3 billion acquisition of Avista by Hydro One Ltd., another utility company combination. The partners have also advised CEB Inc. on a $2.6 billion sale to Gartner and represented New York private equity firm Crestview Partners in acquiring Accuride Corp., a supplier of vehicle partners, for $124.5 million.
Jeffrey Steiner, Michael Poulos and team moved to McDermott Will & Emery from DLA Piper. McDermott Will & Emery recruited more than 20 partners from DLA Piper last spring, including a real estate finance team led by Steiner, the former New York-based global co-chair of DLA Piper’s finance practice, and Poulos, former co-managing partner of the Americas at DLA Piper. An internal McDermott memo said the firm expected a $100 million boost to its revenue as a result of the new additions, which were expected to include up to 50 lawyers. Steiner leads McDermott’s global real estate finance practice and serves as a nonvoting member of the firm’s management committee. He joined DLA Piper in 2008 as co-chair of the firm’s U.S. finance practice. Poulos, who was named DLA Piper's Americas co-chair in 2013, has a long-running litigation practice defending professional service firms against malpractice claims.
Sean Wheeler moved to Kirkland & Ellis from Latham & Watkins. Kirkland & Ellis hired Wheeler, a rainmaking corporate partner from Latham & Watkins’ Houston office, where he served as the office managing partner and co-chair of its oil and gas industry team. The Texas Lawbook reported that Wheeler was lead or co-lead counsel on 24 deals worth $11.2 billion since 2017, with clients including Breitburn Energy Partners LP, Ensco plc, Rice Energy Inc., Rowan Cos. Inc. and Weatherford International Ltd.
Sally Yates moved to King & Spalding from the Department of Justice. Former Deputy Attorney General Yates joined King & Spalding as a partner, returning to the Atlanta-based firm where she started her legal career almost 30 years ago. Yates, who catapulted to national prominence when she was fired by President Donald Trump in January 2017, said she will be spearheading independent investigations for corporations, universities and other organizations with “particularly challenging or vexing issues.” That could involve #MeToo workplace allegations, high-level corporate misconduct or sports controversies like pro-football’s Deflategate, Yates said, particularly in situations where “the allegations are egregious and the public and press are involved.” Yates’ tenure as acting attorney general in the Trump administration lasted only 10 days. The president fired her on Jan. 30, 2017, hours after she refused to defend his travel ban on immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries, calling it unenforceable.

The past year saw major moves involving the world’s biggest firms, defections from the Big Four accounting firms, headline-grabbing spinoffs and transitions from powerful government positions back to the private sector. Here, we reflect on the moves that made waves in 2018.


To follow a conversation on this subject between Nicholas Bruch, director of ALM Intelligence, and Ben Seal, executive editor of The American Lawyer, beginning Tuesday, Feb. 5, register here: