The Churn
(Illustration by Paul Dilakian)

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom litigation partner MICHELE ROBERTS is poised to depart the firm she joined three years ago in a high-profile lateral move from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld for the bright lights of pro basketball.

Roberts, who is based in Washington, D.C., was elected this week as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, the embattled labor union that represents players in the National Basketball Association, a longtime Skadden client. For the past 18 months, the New York-based NBPA has been without a leader following the ouster in early 2013 of longtime executive director G. William Hunter, a former federal prosecutor who has sued the nonprofit for wrongful termination.

While Hunter’s litigation continues, Roberts prevailed over former Morrison & Foerster associate-turned-Dallas Mavericks CEO Terdema Ussery in a vote this week of player representatives to elect a new executive director, according to various news reports. Roberts told The Am Law Daily in an email that she’s still working out the terms of her departure from Skadden and start date with the NBPA, which The Am Law Daily reported last year paid nearly $3.6 million to Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison for an internal investigation into Hunter’s conduct as head of the union.

As it happens, Paul Weiss made a big litigation hire of its own this week by bringing on former Citigroup deputy general counsel and global head of litigation and regulatory investigations ELIZABETH SACKSTEDER as a partner in New York. Sibling publication Corporate Counsel reports that Sacksteder, a former Sidley Austin partner, will focus on complex litigation and regulatory matters at Paul Weiss. At Citigroup, which has been a Paul Weiss client, Sacksteder helped supervise the New York-based financial services giant’s 1,800-person legal department.

In other Churn news …

Arnold & Porter has added litigation partner ALEXANDER SHAKNES in New York from Winston & Strawn, a firm he joined as a partner from DLA Piper in 2009. Shaknes specializes in advising clients in complex commercial disputes.

Baker & Hostetler has expanded its IP group in Los Angeles by bringing on trademark and copyright partner MIRIAM BEEZY from Foley & Lardner, where she served as cochair of the firm’s entertainment and media practice. Beezy joined Foley & Lardner in 2004 from her role as chair of the IP and technology practice at Greenberg Glusker, a Los Angeles-based firm that this week hired Alston & Bird environmental litigation partner PETER NYQUIST.

Texas firm Gardere Wynne Sewell became the latest Am Law 200 shop to head to Mexico this week by formalizing its joint venture deal with Mexico City’s Arena y Asociados S.C. The new arrangement calls for the latter to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Gardere Wynne and for managing partner ROBERTO ARENA to become executive partner of Gardere Wynne’s office in Mexico City and a member of the U.S. firm’s board of directors.

Florida’s Holland & Knight, which in June opened in Alaska after adding a group of lawyers from Patton Boggs, has bolstered its outpost in the state capital of Anchorage by bringing on litigation partners HOWARD TRICKEY and MATTHEW SINGER from local firm Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens. The two litigators specialize in commercial, environmental, labor and employment and appellate work.

National labor and employment firm Jackson Lewis has picked up partner MICHAEL DRENAN in San Diego from local firm Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo, which he joined as a partner in 2008 from Southern California’s Epstein Grinnell & Howell.

Kaye Scholer has added aviation finance partner SIDANTH RAJAGOPAL in London from the Dubai office of British firm Clyde & Co, which he joined as an equity partner last year from India’s Clasis Law to advise clients on the financing, leasing and purchase of aircraft and engines for commercial and private jet markets.

JASON SCHUMACHER, an energy and infrastructure partner with Dentons in Dallas, who, like many Lone Star State lawyers, is in favor of hydraulic fracturing, has left the firm for Locke Lord’s corporate group in the same city. Last year Schumacher was one of nine Dentons lawyers tapped to open the firm’s new Houston office.

Chicago’s Neal Gerber & Eisenberg has hired Winston & Strawn litigation partner RONALD BETMAN to become a member of its general and commercial litigation practice in the Windy City. Betman is a veteran trial lawyer with nearly three decades of experience handling class action and complex litigation matters.

Perkins Coie has poached partner ARMAN PAHLAVAN from Squire Patton Boggs for its emerging companies and venture capital group in Palo Alto. Besides being a Silicon Valley lawyer, the Tehran-born Pahlavan is also an owner of Starlite Vineyards, which he founded in Geyserville, Calif., back in 2003.

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton has snagged land use and environmental partner JENNIFER RENK in San Francisco from McKenna Long & Aldridge, where she was a member of the firm’s board of directors. Last year McKenna Long partners voted down a proposed merger with Dentons.

The Churn is compiled from law firm releases, announcements and reporting. Please send all announcements and news releases to