David Kelley of Dechert
David Kelley of Dechert ()

Dechert has added David Kelley to its white-collar and securities litigation group in New York, hiring the former top Manhattan federal prosecutor away from Cahill Gordon & Reindel, where he served on the firm’s executive committee.

Kelley, who had been with Cahill since 2005, joined Dechert as a partner on Monday, the firm said. He will co-chair the white-collar defense and securities litigation group alongside Dechert partner David Kistenbroker.

He’ll join a number of other Dechert partners, including policy committee chairman Andrew Levander and partners Jonathan Streeter and Hector Gonzalez, who passed through the office of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York earlier in their careers. Kelley helmed the office as U.S. attorney from 2003 to 2005. He served as deputy U.S. attorney from 2002 to 2003 and, before that, as a federal prosecutor since the late 1980s.  

“David and I and a number of other partners here have been friends and colleagues and co-admirers for a long time,” Levander said in an interview. “The firm generally tries to be opportunistic when it comes to bringing in truly spectacular talents like David Kelley.”

As U.S. attorney, Kelley secured fraud convictions against the Rigas family that owned the now-defunct cable operator Adelphia Communications Corp. Under Kelley’s watch, the office also secured the 2005 guilty verdict of charges against former WorldCom Inc. CEO Bernard Ebbers over his role in an accounting fraud that helped spur the telecommunications company’s collapse.

Kelley said he was thrilled to be rejoining some of his former colleagues from that era at Dechert.

“There’s just a very deep bench of people who do a lot of what I do. The opportunity to work together with them was something that I couldn’t resist,” he said.

Among his noteworthy assignments at Cahill, Kelley was appointed independent monitor for Toyota Motor Corp. following a $1.2 billion settlement over unintended acceleration claims. He also represented Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s audit committee as the retailer faced a sweeping U.S. government probe of alleged bribes in Mexico.

Kelley joined Cahill in 2005 as one of that firm’s rare lateral partner hires. In 2015, Kelley helped recruit another splashy lateral hire to Cahill: securities enforcement and regulatory partner Bradley Bondi, who joined from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

Kelley said he’ll continue the Toyota and Wal-Mart work while at Dechert, and plans to bring a number of other representations over in the energy, retail and other industries. A team from Cahill, however, will retain other work related to Kelley’s role as a Toyota monitor, he said.

William Hartnett, Cahill’s executive committee chairman, said the firm wished Kelley well in the move. ”Cahill is coming off one of its most successful years, with our litigation and investigations practice groups contributing to double digit bottom line growth,” Hartnett said. “We have a deep bench, including three recently elected partners who are focused in these areas, and will continue to provide our clients with the exceptional service to which they are accustomed.”

Contact Scott Flaherty at sflaherty@alm.com. On Twitter: @sflaherty18.

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