Christina Guerola Sarchio (Gittings Photography)
Christina Guerola Sarchio, a member of the board of directors at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and chair of the firm’s class action strike team, has joined Dechert as a partner in Washington, D.C.
She brings with her several key clients, including energy giant Exxon Mobil Corp., French homeopathic products manufacturer Boiron, which she scored a key court win for last year, and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), the labor union representing players in the National Basketball Association, whose 2017-18 season will begin on Oct. 17.
Sarchio, a first-generation American, comes to Dechert after roughly five years at Orrick, a firm she joined in August 2012 from Patton Boggs. Sarchio began her career as an assistant district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, where she spent three years prosecuting criminal cases in the mid-to-late 1990s. She joined Howrey in 2000 and spent eight years at the now-defunct firmbefore decamping for Patton Boggs in 2008.
Dechert has been busy on the lateral hiring front in 2017 and Sarchio is the latest notable litigator to join the firm’s partnership ranks. In January, the firm brought back former white-collar practice co-chair Benjamin Rosenberg, who had left Dechert in 2014 to serve as general counsel to New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. That same month Dechert recruited former Cahill Gordon & Reindel commercial litigator and executive committee member David Kelley, now co-leader of his new firm’s white-collar and securities litigation practice.
Sarchio, who declined to discuss whether she used the services of a legal recruiter in making her move to Dechert, said she was drawn to the firm by Vincent Cohen Jr., a former colleague from her time in the New York DA’s office and a one-time acting U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia who joined Dechert in January 2016.
As the NBA season gets ready to begin, Sarchio is bracing for a big trial on her docket involving the union’s deposed executive director, former federal prosecutor G. William “Billy” Hunter. Orrick was retained by the NBPA in early 2013 after Hunter was ousted as leader following an internal investigation by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, an inquiry that cost the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit some $5 million in legal fees.
Sarchio worked with high-profile Orrick labor and employment litigation partner Lynne Hermle in advising the NBPA in the aftermath of Hunter’s exit, which saw him cycle through several lawyers for a suit against the organization and its former president Derek Fisher. (Sidley Austin and Morrison & Foerster are now representing Hunter in the litigation, which will see a bifurcated trial start on March 5, 2018, before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Huey Cotton Jr., as the former NBPA leader seeks to recoup some $10.5 million in compensation.)
Asked whether Dechert would handle the Hunter case solely for the NBPA, Sarchio declined to comment on the matter, although she noted that her departure from Orrick was amicable and that she and her former firm would do whatever is best for the client.
The Hunter litigation has been lucrative for Orrick, which received more than $3.7 million from the NBPA during the one-year period between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2017, according to an annual financial statement made by the union on Sept. 28 with the U.S. Department of Labor.
The NBPA is led by Michele Roberts, a former litigation partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Washington, D.C., who took over as executive director in late 2014. Roberts received nearly $1.32 million in compensation from the NBPA during its most recent fiscal year, according to Labor Department records.
Other top in-house lawyers on the union’s payroll are general counsel W. Gary Kohlman ($562,570); senior counsel for collective bargaining Ronald Klempner ($391,866); deputy general counsel David Foster ($220,074) and Ramya Ravindran ($218,849) and associate general counsel Kirk Berger ($129,505).
Orrick’s $3.7 million topped the NBPA’s list of outside legal advisers, beating out fellow Am Law 100 firms Winston & Strawn ($998,280); Weil, Gotshal & Manges ($143,079); Squire Patton Boggs ($82,881); Kirkland & Ellis ($60,809); and Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman ($9,516). Winston & Strawn has enjoyed a longtime relationship with the union through firm co-executive chairman Jeffrey Kessler, a noted antitrust litigator in the sports arena.
Other firms receiving payments from the NBPA during fiscal 2016-17 were Syracuse, New York-based Blitman & King ($103,962); Washington, D.C.’s Groom Law Group ($92,213); Boston-based Hemenway & Barnes ($90,476); New York’s Davis & Gilbert ($56,606); New York’s Anderson Kill ($18,000); Los Angeles-based Ziffren Brittenham ($13,500); and San Francisco-based Altshuler Berzon ($7,988).