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Booty Call Odyssey Marine Exploration went to the depths of the seas to salvage a centuries-old shipwreck from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean last month. Now the Tampa, Fla.-based company — which counts presidential candidate John Edwards as an investor — will have to climb a legal mountain to determine who gets the bounty. The biggest shareholder in Odyssey is New York-based Fortress Investment Group, a private equity and hedge fund manager. The group’s major investor is Edwards. Last year, Edwards received a salary of $479,000, according to financial disclosure forms, while acting as a senior consultant. But if Edwards wants the bullion, he may have to put some lawyering skills to work. James Goold, of counsel at Covington & Burling, filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida last week on behalf of his client, the kingdom of Spain. The suit lays Spanish claim to what may be the richest shipwreck treasure in history. The ship, code-named Black Swan, has an assortment of silver coins thought to be worth $500 million. Goold says that Odyssey’s refusal to identify the ship, its cargo, or its location has prevented Spain from determining whether it owned the vessel. “When you conduct salvage without consent you are acting entirely at your own risk,” Goold says. “But all of the information thus far suggests the bullion was Spanish.” Goold says the government of Spain thinks that the ship may be the British-owned Merchant Royal, a 17th-century vessel which was chartered by the King of Spain before it sank in 1641. “Odyssey is saying that the ship was located in international waters,” Goold says. “That hasn’t been proven and is being actively investigated by Spanish authorities. It also doesn’t matter. All that matters is who owned the ship.” Goold likened Odyssey’s find to someone coming upon a lost wallet — though this wallet was submerged and lost for hundreds of years. Goold pointed to a past effort Spain made in 2001 as precedent for the country’s legal claims. That year, Spain told the State Department that the government would consider any shipwreck lost while in service to the kingdom of Spain or carrying Spanish cargo Spanish property. It also said that anyone wishing to salvage those ships must first obtain permission. And there’s legal precedent to back up Goold. In 2000, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit sided with Goold and the Spanish government, halting an effort by Sea Hunt, a U.S. company, to lay claim to two Spanish shipwrecks off the Virginia coast. Which means Edwards might also need to start flexing some foreign policy muscles. Allen von Spiegelfeld, a partner at Tampa-based Fowler White Boggs Banker, representing Odyssey, did not return calls.
Fulbright’s Plunder Richard Smith, Alexandre Rene, and Guy Singer have walked away from Florida-based Akerman Senterfitt to join Fulbright & Jaworski’s Washington office. The trio, which starts work this week at Fulbright, represents the entirety of Akerman’s white-collar practice in the District. Smith is the former acting chief of the fraud section at the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. And he was one of the first hand-picked additions to Akerman’s D.C. office in fall 2005 after it opened the previous year. Singer is also a Justice Department alum. He was part of the team of prosecutors that won convictions or guilty pleas from superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, former public relations executive Michael Scanlon, former General Services Administration procurement official David Safavian, former Rep. Robert Ney (R-Ohio), and former Republican congressional staffers-turned-lobbyists Neil Volz and Tony Rudy. The lawyers’ exit from Akerman comes on the heels of Republican lobbyist Jose Fuentes’ recent departure from the firm. The trio arrives at Fulbright two months after Michael Battle joined. Battle headed until earlier this year the Justice Department’s Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, where he served as the messenger to several fired U.S. attorneys.
Movin’ On Up The newly merged Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis expanded its energy practice, snagging Andrew Young from White & Case. Young, who joins as a partner, does transactional and litigation work for energy companies and specializes in cases before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, and the federal courts. “He’s an extremely capable lawyer, and somebody that we already knew,” says R. Charles Miller, head partner of the firm’s D.C. office. “He fits in very well with our work at FERC.” K&L Gates also broke out the moving vans over Memorial Day weekend, and the firms formerly known as Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham and Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds moved into the same office building. Since the merger went public in January, the D.C. office of K&L Gates had yet to take that final step into wedded bliss, but now all 210 lawyers and lobbyists are under the same roof. “It’s nice to finally all be together,” Miller says of the transition. “There were a couple of missing chairs here and there, but otherwise it went really well.”
REIT On Another week, another mega-deal involving a real estate investment trust. This time real estate investor Tishman Speyer Properties and Lehman Brothers Holdings announced that they had agreed to buy Archstone-Smith, a major apartment developer, in a deal valued at about $22.2 billion. Hogan & Hartson, which has a bustling practice representing REITs in mergers and acquisitions and other corporate transactions, advised Archstone on its acquisition by the pair of companies. Firm Chairman J. Warren Gorrell Jr., along with D.C.-based partners Bruce Gilchrist and David Slotkin, led the 30-lawyer Hogan team. Archstone isn’t a longtime firm client, but the Englewood, Colo., company was familiar with Hogan’s work from a 2001 deal when the firm represented a company Archstone bought, local real estate company Charles E. Smith Residential, Gorrell says. Archstone, the second-largest U.S. apartment REIT, owns or controls more than 86,000 apartment units worldwide, many in major metropolitan areas such as New York, Washington, D.C., Southern California, and San Francisco. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, DLA Piper, and Schulte, Roth & Zabel represented New York-based Tishman Speyer, which counts Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Building among its holdings. Weil Gotshal & Manges and Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft advised Lehman Brothers and Kirkland & Ellis represented Bank of America, which provided financial advice to the buyers.
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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