Washington Wrap is a weekly look at the biggest legal industry news and Big Law moves shaping the legal business in Washington, D.C. Send tips and lateral moves to Ryan Lovelace at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Closing in on a year since Norton Rose Fulbright’s merger with Chadbourne & Parke became official, there has been a trickle of notable departures from the firm’s project finance and energy practice ranks in Washington, D.C.
The two firms’ combined strength in energy, infrastructure and project finance was billed as a big argument in favor of the combination, and Norton Rose Fulbright still boasts a deep bench in those areas. But so far this year at least five partners with key expertise have left the D.C. office, including Rohit Chaudhry, who was global head of projects and project finance at Norton Rose and who led the project finance practice at Chadbourne.
Chaudhry’s move to Kirkland & Ellis in mid-February came just two weeks after D.C. energy and infrastructure partners Patrick Groomes, Michael Loesch and Michael Yuffee jumped from Norton Rose Fulbright to Winston & Strawn along with counsel Terry Arbit. And now another D.C. lawyer, legacy Chadbourne partner Brian Greene, has followed Chaudhry from Norton Rose to Kirkland’s debt finance group.
Greene, who made the move this week, said rejoining Chaudhry at Kirkland was “an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
He said he wasn’t thinking of leaving Norton Rose at the end of January, but decided to make the switch after learning more about Kirkland and the project finance group that Chaudhry plans to build up there.
Chaudhry told The National law Journal last month that he wouldn’t be taking others from Norton Rose with him to Kirkland, because he wanted his exit to be as “minimally disruptive” as possible. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Greene’s move.
Norton Rose Fulbright declined to comment on Greene’s departure.
Law Firm Moves, News and Notes:
• Speaking of Chadbourne project finance partners, Covington & Burling last year added four of them to help it open offices in the United Arab Emirates and South Africa—part of a boost in head count that helped Covington boost its revenue by $100 million in 2017.
According to preliminary ALM data, gross revenue at Covington rose nearly 13 percent in 2017, reaching $945.5 million, and profits per partner increased 4.5 percent to more than $1.5 million. Meanwhile, Covington chairman Timothy Hester said the firm’s white-collar practice is at the “top of its game.”
• Crowell & Moring’s white-collar and regulatory enforcement practice added a key member this week who looks to be at the top of his game, too: Chuck Rosenberg, the former acting head of the Drug Enforcement Agency.
Rosenberg told the NLJ he had considered joining Crowell before becoming a partner at Hogan Lovells from 2008 to 2013. “I knew some folks at Crowell, liked them, and knew they had a good reputation,” Rosenberg said in an email. “I sort of felt like I knew these folks from the last time around.” From 2002 to 2003 Rosenberg was counsel to then-FBI director Robert Mueller, who is now the special counsel investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and he later served as chief of staff to FBI director James Comey from 2013 to 2015.
Rosenberg is the only person to have served on the staffs of both Mueller and Comey at the FBI, and he said he considers both men to be mentors.
“I always tell folks, stay in government as long as you possibly can,” Rosenberg said via email, when asked if he was aware of any other government alums looking to join him at Crowell. “There’s no better or more interesting work. If you want to come out, I’m happy to talk to you about it, but no, I’m not trying to recruit anybody.”
• Lucy Lee joined Greenberg Traurig as shareholder from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, where she was as a partner. She is joining Greenberg Traurig’s tax practice, where she’ll work on international tax and estate planning for clients and high-net-worth individuals and families. “Greenberg Traurig’s U.S. footprint and global platform are important to my practice and my clients,” she said.
• Martin Menski joined Baker Botts in Washington, D.C., as special counsel after 11 years at Clifford Chance. An international projects and finance lawyer, Menski is joining Baker Botts’ global projects group after having helped develop Clifford Chance’s projects practice in Africa and Latin America.
Before practicing law in Washington, D.C., Menski worked in his previous firm’s London, Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid offices and as legal counsel at Standard Chartered Bank in London.
• An attorney representing Stephanie Clifford, the porn star whose silence was reportedly purchased before the 2016 election by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, says to expect much more information about the his client’s relationship with the president to become public.
Michael Avenatti represents Clifford, aka “Stormy Daniels,” and told ALM’s Miriam Rozen this week that he’s preparing for a “street fight” in court against President Trump.
“There is a considerable amount of information that has not been disclosed,” Avenatti told Rozen. “The American people are going to find her credible and they are going to be interested in it. Let them decide who is telling the truth.”
Avenatti told NBC News in a report published Friday afternoon that he just discovered Cohen used his Trump organization email in 2016 negotiations with Clifford.
He said the email was uncovered in the previous 24 hours and that it, “seriously calls into question the prior representation of Mr. Cohen and the White House relating to the source of the monies paid to Ms. Clifford in an effort to silence her.”
“We smell smoke,” Avenatti told NBC.