Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

K&L Gates has bolstered its Newark office and its hospitality practice through the addition of Wyndham Worldwide Corp.’s former general counsel and three former LeClairRyan bankruptcy attorneys who all work on hospitality matters.

Partner Scott McLester spent 18 years at Wyndham Worldwide before the company completed a spinoff to become two publicly traded companies in late May. Partner Daniel Eliades and of counsels David Catuogno and William Waldman each have nearly three decades of experience in the world of restructuring.

“This was a perfect opportunity to go back into private practice,” McLester said, noting the conclusion of Wyndham’s separation into Wyndham Hotel Group and time-share-focused Wyndham Vacation Ownership.

As general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer for Wyndham, McLester led a global team of almost 75 lawyers that handled hotel, time-share, franchise, employment, intellectual property and information technology law. He was appointed general counsel in 2006 after having previously held multiple titles at Wyndham’s predecessor, Cendant Corp.

Previously in his career, McLester was at Merrill Lynch in New York and before that at Carpenter Bennett & Morrissey, which now operates as McElroy Deutsch Mulvaney & Carpenter after a 2004 merger.

McLester said that he’d known K&L Gates Newark managing partner Anthony La Rocco for years and that he was impressed by the skill sets of both the partners and associates in the Newark office.

“I’m thrilled to be practicing with a firm after 18 years in-house,” he said.

Eliades spent just over two years at LeClairRyan in Newark before making the move to K&L Gates. He represents franchisors in out-of-court workouts with distressed franchisees, as well as collection and enforcement litigation, and appears on behalf of franchisors in bankruptcy cases throughout the United States.

Eliades also works in the hospitality arena, representing time-share developers, resort owners, associations and exchange companies in a range of debtor and creditor issues. Additionally, he represents financial institutions, automobile lessors and real estate holding companies in loan restructurings and other bankruptcy matters.

He spent 19 years as a founding member of Forman Holt Eliades & Youngman, before joining seven other bankruptcy attorneys who jumped to LeClairRyan in 2016.

Catuogno and Waldman were also both part of that move. Catuogno advises creditors, particularly institutional lenders and franchisors in the hospitality industry, in a range of bankruptcy matters. Waldman also concentrates his practice on creditors’ rights, including representing financial institutions and players in the hospitality industry.

“We are pleased and excited to have Scott, Dan, Bill, and Dave join the K&L Gates global platform,” La Rocco said in a statement. “Combining Scott’s decades of experience leading major hospitality, franchise, and other global enterprises in and through various areas of law with the depth of knowledge and decades of experience that Dan’s team has serving franchise and hospitality clients, we greatly enhance our ability to service this industry segment and continue to grow the firm’s hospitality practice.”

La Rocco noted that he landed the four new attorneys via a recruiter he’s been working with since the firm opened the Newark office in 2000.

We’re always looking at strategic hires that make sense for the global platform on which we operate,” he said. “We don’t hire for the sake of hiring.”