White-collar defense litigator Paul Monnin has joined Alston & Bird as a partner from Paul Hastings.
Monnin said he made the move to focus more on defending clients in securities enforcement actions and related civil litigation, such as shareholder suits.
“The nice thing about securities enforcement work is that it’s agnostic as to industry,” Monnin said. “It could be big health care or technology companies or manufacturers—they all need to raise capital and issue debt. It’s a nice way to be intimately involved in the most important enforcement matters they may be dealing with.”
Monnin said he’ll still be handling general white-collar defense matters, including government actions under the False Claims Act and anti-fraud statutes.
“Paul’s experience adds significant muscle to our ability to advise clients facing high-value securities disputes and to defend them in DOJ and SEC enforcement actions and parallel private suits,” said Robert Long, the head of Alston & Bird’s securities litigation group, in a statement.
Monnin, 48, came to Atlanta in 2002 from Chicago, where he’d been working at Winston & Strawn, to take a job as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. Monnin, who rose to deputy chief of the office’s economic crime section, said he handled a number of joint investigations with the SEC while a federal prosecutor.
He returned to private practice in 2008, joining DLA Piper. He moved to Paul Hastings three years ago to become the first white-collar defense partner in its Atlanta office. With his departure, the office has 26 lawyers—half the size it was four years ago.
Monnin said he was attracted to Alston & Bird’s large securities litigation practice, adding that he knew several of his new partners from his days as a federal prosecutor.
“When I was looking to make the move from Paul Hastings, John Latham was who I called,” Monnin said.
Monnin said he knew Latham, a longtime Alston & Bird partner who specializes in securities defense law, from joint SEC and DOJ investigations that he worked on at the U.S. Attorneys Office. Several Alston & Bird partners, he added, including Mitch Mitchelson, Mike Brown and Bill Jordan, used to work for the Department of Justice.
“I just had a lot of touches with Alston & Bird. It’s been a very comfortable transition,” he said, adding that he wanted to work for an Atlanta-based firm. “This is an opportunity to be in the mothership office with floors of colleagues. My practice tends to be derivative of their relationships.”
In one past high-profile SEC case, Monnin represented Mark Megalli, a former hedge fund manager in New York, whom the SEC charged with insider trading of Carter’s stock, using advance earnings information from two Carter’s executives. Megalli pleaded guilty in 2013 in exchange for a 366 day sentence plus a $50,000 fine.
While at DLA Piper, Monnin was part of a team that represented Heery International, the former construction manager for the DeKalb County Board of Education, in a civil dispute that became the Atlanta version of Charles Dickens’ Jarndyce v. Jarndyce. Heery sued after being fired by the school board and it countersued, alleging mismanagement and billing fraud. The DeKalb school board sought $150 million in damages from Heery, which settled the case at the end of 2013, after almost seven years of litigation, with a $7.5 million donation to the school board.
Monnin declined to name current clients, but he said he’s working on one large case under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act for a U.S. multinational that has taken him to Mexico five times, as well as Argentina and Brazil, since he started working on the matter just over a year ago. He said he’ll remain co-counsel on the case with Paul Hastings.