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Out of This World When XM Satellite Radio Holdings and Sirius Satellite Radio announced plans last week to merge, they did it on the perceived strength of their legal case. And on those who would be making it. The companies must get approval for the merger from the Federal Communications Commission, which will only green-light the deal if it is convinced there is sufficient competition from the nonsatellite radio market, and also pass an antitrust review from the Justice Department. Industry-watchers say the two companies are undoubtedly worth more as a single entity. A merger would enable the firms to combine programming and compete against iPods, Internet radios, and other technologies that have cut into the companies’ profits. The biggest potential roadblock for the merger is a 1997 FCC pronouncement that a single owner could not control the subscriber-only satellite radio business. But Sirius chief executive Mel Karmazin said the merger wouldn’t have been announced if both sides didn’t feel there was better than a 50-50 chance of getting FCC approval. Kevin Martin, the FCC’s chairman, was recently quoted as saying about a potential merger: “The companies would need to demonstrate that consumers would clearly be better off with both more choice and affordable prices.” And that’s where the heavy hitters come in. Richard Wiley, a name partner of Wiley Rein who has been dubbed the sixth member of the FCC, was hired by Sirius to grease the wheels. Martin, coincidentally, is also a former Wiley partner, having worked there before joining the Bush-Cheney election campaign in 2000, meaning introductions won’t be necessary. Gary Epstein, a partner at Latham & Watkins’ D.C. office, will join Wiley and represent XM radio before the FCC. On the antitrust end, Kevin Arquit, a partner based in Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s New York office, will be the point man for Sirius. “We will be filing papers within the next couple weeks and theoretically it could go to the [Federal Trade Commission],” says Arquit, who’s been working on the merger for several months. “But it is far more likely to go to the [Justice Department's] Antitrust Division.” Joe Sims, a partner in Jones Day’s D.C. office, will handle questions from Justice for XM radio. Several groups have promised to mount a challenge to the proposed merger, including the National Association of Broadcasters, the Consumer Federation of America, and Common Cause. Revolving Door Keeps Spinning With bonus checks cut and cashed, the ever-revolving legal business door is picking up velocity. Crowell & Moring’s New York office is the latest benefactor, adding eight Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney financial-services and debt-restructuring lawyers, including Buchanan’s former New York managing partner and former board of directors member William O’Connor. O’Connor, who will head Crowell’s New York office, says his team was attracted to Crowell because of its international capacity and deep litigation bench. The group’s clients — including Wachovia, Lehman Brothers, UBS, and Silver Point Capital — are expected to buoy the firm’s office, which opened just five months ago. Partners Robert Frucht and Evelyn Seeler along with four counsel and an associate round out the group. . . . Hogan & Hartson’s Washington office also brought on talent in the last month, adding former U.S. Ambassador to the World Trade Organization Rita Hayes, who will split her time between Washington and Geneva, as a senior trade adviser and Gwen Mellor, formerly of Podesta Group Inc., as counsel. Mellor’s lobbying clients have included Lockheed Martin, Google, and General Electric. Recently minted Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Thomas Dupree is following in the footsteps of other prominent partners in the firm’s appellate and constitutional practice, moving to the Justice Department. Dupree, 36, who made partner at Gibson Dunn last year, started at Justice last week as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Division. “It was one of those opportunities that you can’t turn down,” says Dupree, who will focus on appellate litigation dealing with immigration, deportation and war-on-terrorism cases. Dupree is no stranger to high-profile work, having helped senior Gibson, Dunn partner Theodore Olson represent George W. Bush before the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore following the contested 2000 presidential election. Olson headed to Justice to serve as solicitor general from 2001 before returning to Gibson in 2004. Dupree also represented Time magazine and its reporter Matthew Cooper before the Supreme Court in relation to Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation into the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame’s identity. Most recently, Dupree scored a victory for client DaimlerChrysler, getting a nearly $100 million punitive damage award against the car maker in a products liability case in Tennessee vacated. . . . And as one attorney enters the Civil Division, another leaves for Covington & Burling. Christopher Simkins joined the firm’s D.C. office as of counsel. Simkins had been senior counsel to the assistant attorney general, where he oversaw the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. He also served as the Justice Department’s liaison to intelligence agencies for criminal matters and was involved in several national-security cases. Prior to that, Simkins was a trial attorney in the counter-espionage section.
WilmerHale is closing down another one of its smaller outposts across the pond. The firm is shutting down its five-person Oxford, England, office after losing its seven-person Munich, Germany, shop at the end of last year. Oxford partner Joe Pillman, one of the two European members of the firm’s management committee, is transferring to WilmerHale’s London office. Both offices were products of Hale & Dorr’s joint venture in Europe with now-defunct California firm Brobeck Phleger & Harrison, before its 2004 merger with Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering. “We want to have depth in everything we do,” says WilmerHale co-managing partner Bill Perlstein, explaining that the firm is focusing on its sizable London, Berlin, and Brussels offices. Meanwhile, the firm’s London office lost three corporate partners earlier this month. Richard Eaton, Christopher Grew, and Struan Penwarden jumped ship to launch San Francisco’s Heller Ehrman’s London shop.
Keeping Score is Legal Times ‘ weekly column devoted to the legal business scene. Got a tip? Contact Business Editor Anna Palmer at [email protected].

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