Laura Posner, left, and Linda Singer (Courtesy photos)
Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, one of the nation’s top plaintiffs firms, made a rare lateral hire this week by bringing on New Jersey’s former top securities enforcer, Laura Posner, as a partner in New York. But Cohen Milstein also lost partners Linda Singer and Mimi Liu to rival plaintiffs firm Motley Rice.
Motley Rice’s hire of Singer and Liu, announced by that firm on Monday, are an effort to bolster its public client practice, which Singer headed at Cohen Milstein and will also lead at her new firm in Washington, D.C. The group focuses on partnering with state attorneys general and local governments to pursue complex consumer fraud, environmental and other types of litigation.
“The civil justice system has, over the years, become increasingly important in enforcing laws against even the biggest wrongdoers,” said a statement by Motley Rice co-founder Joseph Rice. “The clients Linda and Mimi have worked with have been at the forefront of battling and winning complex cases involving some of this country’s most egregious fraud. I applaud and respect these clients for their leadership and look forward to supporting them in future groundbreaking litigation.”
Singer, who spent about a year as attorney general of Washington, D.C., before resigning in 2007, has moved around a few times as a private lawyer, including a stint at Zuckerman Spaeder from 2008 to September 2009, when she joined Cohen Milstein and launched a state AG practice at the firm. In a statement released Monday, Singer said she is looking forward to moving her practice to Motley Rice.
“The support, resources and experience at Motley Rice can be used to enable government enforcers to level the playing field and take on large-scale, complex investigations and litigation that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to, protecting the best interests of their constituents,” Singer said.
Over the past few years, Singer has found herself in the news more than once as her partnerships with state and local governments have elicited scrutiny. In 2014, Singer featured prominently in a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of reports by The New York Times that focused on private plaintiffs firms’ efforts to convince states to pursue certain cases. More recently, Singer and Cohen Milstein faced criticism over their work for U.S. Virgin Islands AG Claude Walker in a sweeping climate change investigation of Exxon Mobil Corp.
Despite the departures of Singer and Liu, Cohen Milstein gained a partner in Posner, who joins the firm’s securities fraud and investor protection group after serving nearly three years as securities bureau chief in the New Jersey attorney general’s office. Prior to her stint in state government, Posner spent nearly eight years as an associate at the plaintiffs-side securities firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossmann. Before that, Posner was an associate at Milberg, according to her profile on the professional networking site LinkedIn.
In her government role, Posner was responsible for enforcing New Jersey’s securities laws and regulations, according to Cohen Milstein. Before that, Posner spent her time in private practice representing public pension funds and other institutional investors in securities fraud cases against the likes of Schering-Plough Corp., Merck & Co. Inc. and other large companies. Cohen Milstein said that will likely be a focus of her practice at the firm, which nearly a decade ago parted ways with prominent plaintiffs lawyer and former name partner Michael Hausfeld.
“I have spent my entire career seeking justice for those have seen their life’s savings stolen right from under them, and working with some of the most highly-respected attorneys around the country at Cohen Milstein is an ideal opportunity to continue that practice,” said Posner in a statement on Thursday.
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