Lawyers who leave Big Law amid personal legal troubles have a tendency to slip off the radar in the years that follow.
But a news report about a recent transaction between business process management companies in India and the U.S. suggests that at least one such lawyer—a former partner at Locke Lord and Katten Muchin Rosenman who faced insider trading allegations a decade ago—has managed to regain his footing.
Once the managing partner of Katten’s office in Washington, D.C., David Schwinger hasn’t returned to a large law firm since his 2009 dismissal from Locke Lord, which he had joined in 2007 after leaving Katten and settling an insider trading case brought against him by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Under the SEC agreement, Schwinger did not admit or deny the agency’s claims, but the lawyer was required to pay more than $41,000 in disgorgement, penalties and interest.
Since leaving Locke Lord, according to his profile on professional networking website LinkedIn, Schwinger spent three years as general counsel of Solena Fuels Corp., a now-defunct biofuel company, and had a one-year stint as a lawyer at the Washington, D.C.-based law firm Friedlander Misler.
Schwinger didn’t respond to requests for comment on Friday, nor did a firm leader at Friedlander Misler and a contact listed on Solena’s website.
In 2015, Schwinger moved to his own firm, The Law Offices of David Schwinger, which advertises corporate, real estate and tax practices. Schwinger’s current corporate clients include RuleTek LLC, an Idaho-based company focused on business process management architecture services that recently tapped Schwinger as legal counsel for a cross-border deal.
In the transaction, Incessant Technologies, a unit of India-based IT solutions company NIIT Technologies Ltd., acquired a 55 percent stake in RuleTek on undisclosed financial terms. NIIT counted Squire Patton Boggs as part of its legal team on the deal, while Schwinger represented RuleTek, according to a report in the Indian legal news publication Bar & Bench.
Schwinger’s involvement in the transaction shows that his past legal troubles haven’t kept him from continuing to run a legal business. Aside from the SEC settlement, Schwinger doesn’t appear to have faced other discipline, including with The District of Columbia Bar, which lists his disciplinary history as clean.
But prior to his re-emergence in the RuleTek deal, the end of Schwinger’s run in Big Law was cited as a cautionary tale documenting the risk that law firms sometimes take when they hire lateral partners. After leaving Katten amid the SEC insider trading probe, Schwinger landed at Locke Lord in 2007 within a few months of his SEC settlement.
That new start in Big Law didn’t last long. Schwinger lost his position at Locke Lord in 2009 as a result of an internal partnership dispute, the firm acknowledged at the time. After that departure, at least one former Katten colleague told The American Lawyer that lawyers at the firm were surprised to see Schwinger find a role at another firm so soon after the SEC case.