In what seems to be turning into an August tradition of government regulators moving to block billion-dollar megamergers, the U.S. Department of Justice and six states moved Tuesday to scuttle a tentative $11 billion tie-up between US Airways Group and bankrupt American Airlines.
The proposed deal, which has
pulled in nearly a dozen Am Law 100 firms
since US Airways and American agreed to join forces in February, would create the world's largest airline. The burden of making that merger happen now falls in large part on the antitrust lawyers advising the two airlines. For Jones Day, lead counsel to American parent AMR Corp., the assignment is all the more challenging because the firm will be without the services of aviation industry veteran
Steinberg died at age 53 on May 20, 2012, as the result of complications related to eye cancer,
according to an obituary in The Washington Post
. His death was one in a trio of cancer-related partner losses suffered in Jones Day's Washington, D.C., office over a two-year period. The other deceased were antitrust partner
and labor partner
Jones Day antitrust partner Joe Sims, who is working with regulatory partner J. Bruce McDonald and litigation partner John Majoras in advising AMR on the proposed merger, says he knew all three former partners well. But it's Steinberg's loss that is being felt the most this time around.
"Any time you do anything in the airline business, Andy [Steinberg] always crosses your mind," Sims says. "I knew Andy when he was [an in-house lawyer] at AMR, and I knew him a lot better when he was at Jones Day."
Jones Day managing partner Stephen Brogan, who once headed the firm's D.C. office, issued a
statement at the time of Steinberg's death mourning his loss
and calling the late Jones Day partner "an outstanding regulatory lawyer who knew aviation law inside and out" and who was as "generous, committed, unassuming, and selfless as he was proficient."
Steinberg joined Jones Day as a partner in May 2008,
according to sibling publication The National Law Journal
. His two prior stops were the Federal Aviation Administration, which he joined as chief counsel in 2003, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, where he arrived as an assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs in 2006.
"He wasn't religious, but Andy was Talmudic in his mastery of [aviation] law and all of its regulations, and there are a lot of them," says
, a former Hogan Lovells partner and onetime Transportation Department undersecretary—the latter job one that saw Steinberg report to him. "It wasn't unusual for him to come into my office and put on my desk a 10-page white paper he'd written on some creative way to address a particular issue. Andy had these totally original ideas all predicated on a statute."
"Andy spent about two to three months considering his options very carefully," says Shane, noting that the two used to meet regularly for coffee. "And once he joined Jones Day, he knew he had found the perfect place, especially in the quality of his colleagues."
Shane says he can't remember Steinberg taking any time off during his Transportation Department stint to receive treatment for uveal melanoma, a cancer of the eye, which was why he was so surprised to hear last year that his former colleague had only weeks to live.
Unfortunately, though Steinberg had received treatment that sent his eye tumor into remission, the cancer returned and spread to his vital organs. Steinberg's wife Roxann put together a memorial service at the
Sidwell Friends School
in Washington, D.C., says Shane, who was one of many in attendance. Among the others on hand were U.S. Supreme Court Justice
, a former classmate of Steinberg's at both Princeton University and Harvard Law School.
"We all knew Andy, but I don't think we really understood how well-known and regarded he was in the community," Shane says. "There was a ubiquity about him, and I have no doubt he'd be there in spades [for AMR] right now."
Now, Jones Day's antitrust and aviation lawyers will forge on in his absence, as
AMR will seek to overcome the objections
brought by the Justice Department and state attorneys general for Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia.
The same report shows that Paul Hastings,
which is serving as AMR's special labor and antitrust counsel
, was paid $353,000 in June, bringing its total haul since the beginning of the year to roughly $4.4 million. Weil, Gotshal & Manges, lead counsel to the debtor, has received $18.3 million from AMR during that same period.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, counsel to an official committee of unsecured AMR creditors, has been paid nearly $7.4 million since the beginning of this year, while cocounsel
Togut, Segal & Segal
has received almost $2 million. Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy has received another $1.7 million since January for its role advising a group of bondholders, and Jenner & Block has billed $2.7 million for its work as counsel to a committee of AMR retirees.
Other firms racking up fees as a result of their work for AMR this year include special aircraft counsel Debevoise & Plimpton ($9.9 million), special benefits counsel the
Groom Law Group
($2 million), special litigation counsel
($1.7 million), special labor and employment counsel Morgan, Lewis & Bockius ($1.1 million), and special IP counsel
Brinks Hofer Gilson & Lione