The Churn
(Illustration by Paul Dilakian)

CORRECTION, 3/12/14, 11:00 a.m. EDT: The original version of this article incorrectly identified Meghan Majernik’s previous firm, which was Ice Miller. We regret the error.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett are boosting their respective energy practices with a pair of partner hires in Houston. Akin has added MICHAEL BYRD, who most recently chaired Baker & McKenzie’s North America oil and gas practice. Byrd advised clients on upstream M&A transactions, including exploration agreements and joint ventures. He has also represented clients in such oil and gas litigation matters as breach of contract disputes, operating agreements and royalty issues.

Akin has operated in Houston since 1988, focusing mainly on energy transactions, litigation and IP work. Like Baker & McKenzie, Akin has more than 50 attorneys in Houston.

Simpson is also bolstering its Houston operations with the hiring of corporate partner M. BREEN HAIRE from Baker Botts. Based in Houston, Haire handles M&A matters for energy companies in the exploration and production, midstream, oilfield services, contract drilling and petrochemical sectors. Haire worked on the Baker Botts team advising Waste Connections on last year’s $1.3 billion acquisition of R360, a company that specializes in waste disposal for oil and drilling fields. In 2010 he worked on the $11 billion acquisition of Smith International by oilfield services company Schlumberger, which was represented by Baker Botts.

Simpson’s Houston office opened in 2011 with the lateral hire of banking partner Robert Rabalais from Vinson & Elkins. The office now has about 20 attorneys, including four partners, one of whom, Andrew Calder, was named The Am Law Daily’s “Dealmaker of the Week” last November for his work advising GeoSouthern Energy on its $6 billion sale of shale assets to Devon Energy.

In other Churn news …

SEAGULL SONG has landed in the Los Angeles office of Blank Rome as of counsel in the firm’s intellectual property and technology group. Song, who will also be a member of the firm’s Asia practice, was previously a consultant at Covington & Burling, and she is also working as a visiting associate professor at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. Song specializes in U.S.–China IP law, including trademark, copyright, IP licensing and trade secrets matters.

Patton Boggs regulatory attorney AMY DAVINE KIM has left the firm to join the Washington, D.C., office of BuckleySander as counsel. Kim will focus on regulatory and compliance issues involving the Anti-Money Laundering and Bank Secrecy Act, economic sanctions, consumer protection and electronic payments.

Dublin-based finance attorney MARK BROWNE has joined Dechert as a partner in the firm’s financial services group. Previously with Mason Hayes & Curran, Browne has experience advising domestic and international clients on investment fund projects based in Ireland and the Cayman Islands.

SUMMER MARTIN is now a partner in the Atlanta office of Dentons, where she is a member of the firm’s health care practice, advising health care facilities and providers on health law and regulatory compliance. She arrives from McKenna Long & Aldridge.

Fisher & Phillips has announced the addition of VICTOR GERACI as a partner in the firm’s Cleveland office, where he will handle litigation related to such labor law matters as wage and hour disputes and noncompete covenants. Geraci arrives from McDonald Hopkins. The firm is also adding Cleveland-based MEGHAN MAJERNIK as of counsel from Ice Miller, where she specialized in workers’ compensation claims and employment law litigation.

Former BlackBerry vice president PRAVEEN GOYAL is now counsel in Hogan Lovells’ government regulatory practice and a member of the firm’s communications group. Based in Washington, D.C., Goyal previously served as BlackBerry’s vice president of public policy. He is expected to advise the firm’s telecommunications and information technology clients on regulatory matters.

M&A attorney ARTURO MEGLIO has left Bird & Bird to join the Milan office of K&L Gates as a corporate partner. Meglio advises corporate clients on domestic and cross-border transactions, and he also counsels family-owned businesses on reorganization issues. The firm is also welcoming IP attorney MICHAEL VERGA as a partner in Washington, D.C., where he joins the firm’s IP procurement and portfolio management practice. Verga arrives from Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton.

Two labor and employment attorneys are headed to LeClairRyan. VICKIE GRASU is joining the firm in Los Angeles as a partner and as a member of the firm’s products liability and transportation teams. The firm has also added DANA WITHERS as senior counsel in Richmond, where she will handle litigation matters related to wrongful discharge, retaliation, harassment, discrimination and other employment law matters. Grasu was previously at Vandeventer Black, while Withers most recently worked as an in-house counsel at hotel manager G6 Hospitality.

Littler Mendelson is expanding in New York by hiring shareholder RENATA NEESER, who previously worked in White & Case’s international labor and employment practice. Neeser, who is licensed in the U.S. and Brazil, counsels multinational employers with operations in Brazil and the rest of Latin America on a variety of cross-border labor and employment matters.

BRIAN MALKIN is joining the Washington, D.C., office of McGuire Woods as senior counsel to lead the firm’s Food and Drug Administration regulatory group. Malkin, who previously worked at Frommer Lawrence & Haug, focuses on food and drug law regulatory issues as well as patent law matters. He has advised clients on the development of new products regulated by the FDA, including pharmaceuticals, medical devices, foods, tobacco products and cosmetics. He has also worked on patent litigation involving generic drugs as well as licensing and commercial transactions.

Labor and employment attorney MICHAEL MARRA has left Cooley to join the New York office of Ogletree Deakins as a shareholder. A former associate general counsel at marketing holding company The Interpublic Group of Companies, Marra advises clients on such employment law matters as discrimination, compensation and worker classification as well as any related litigation.

Reed Smith recently announced the arrival of two new regulatory attorneys including MICHAEL O’NEIL, who has left DLA Piper to join Reed Smith’s Chicago office as a partner. O’Neil, who previously served as chair of DLA’s privacy litigation group and vice chair of the firm’s Chicago litigation practice, has experience defending clients against a range of class action claims brought under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. The firm also said DIVONNE SMOYER has left Dickstein Shapiro to become a partner in Reed Smith’s Washington, D.C., office, where she will be a part of the firm’s global regulatory enforcement group. Smoyer worked in Dickstein’s state attorneys general practice, handling consumer protection and business regulation issues faced by clients in connection with investigations and actions pursued by the offices of state-level attorneys general.

Snell & Wilmer has added energy and real estate attorney PAUL BETZER as counsel in the firm’s Denver office. Betzer most recently worked at energy holding company Phillips 66 as the director of property tax, real estate, right of way and claims for Central and Eastern U.S. and Europe. He regularly advised the company on real estate and pipeline-related transactions.

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr is welcoming TARA ELLIOTT to its Washington, D.C., office as a partner in the firm’s intellectual property litigation group. Elliott, who arrives from Fish & Richardson, represents technology clients in high-stakes litigation matters and advises on e-commerce, information security and trade secrets matters.

The Churn is compiled from law firm releases and announcements. Moves based on our own reporting will note this. Please send all announcements and news releases to