As it is every year, the task of selecting the top 10 lateral moves of 2012 was a difficult one that yielded a surplus of notable moves.
Unlike years past, however, none of the runners-up involved moves to or from government positions and only a handful involved moves either to or from in-house departments.
Instead, the vast majority of this year’s runners-up list comprises what could be considered "traditional" lateral moves: lawyers leaving one firm and heading to another.
PAUL LANCASTER ADAMS
Employment attorney Paul Lancaster Adams has made his way back to Philadelphia by way of Redmond, Wash., and Washington, D.C.
The former Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads partner spent more than three years in-house with Microsoft in various capacities before deciding he wanted to return to private practice and the town in which he spent most of his career. The opportunity to head up the relatively new Philadelphia office of labor and employment boutique Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart was the icing on the cake for Adams.
"I knew that, leaving Microsoft, I wanted to go to a place where I had at least a national platform," he said.
Ogletree Deakins has 40 offices in 23 states and represents employers of all sizes across the country, including more than half of the Fortune 50, he said. One of the firm’s largest practices right now, immigration work, is one in which Ogletree Deakins represents Microsoft, Adams said.
Another selling point for Adams was Ogletree Deakins’ collaborative approach to practicing across offices and a business model that encourages and rewards such collaboration.
As the head of the 10-lawyer Philadelphia office that opened in 2007, Adams and his fellow shareholders are charged with growing the firm’s presence in the city. He said he hopes to have 30 to 40 attorneys in Philadelphia within the next two years.
KEVIN P. ALLEN
Kevin P. Allen joined the litigation practice of Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott in Pittsburgh as a member from Thorp Reed & Armstrong, where he had been chair of the commercial and corporate litigation group.
Allen’s practice centers on litigation involving contractual disputes, shareholder and securities cases and business torts, as well as First Amendment and defamation cases.
In the 2007 case York Group v. Yorktowne Caskets, Allen obtained a preliminary injunction from the state Superior Court on behalf of a Pittsburgh-based manufacturer barring a competitor’s $58 million acquisition of the manufacturer’s distributor.
"The addition of Kevin Allen to our litigation group expands the firm’s ability to serve our clients in the full range of complex commercial litigation matters," Timothy P. Ryan, CEO of Eckert Seamans, said in a press release. "He is a seasoned trial lawyer with experience handling high-stakes matters for some of the world’s largest corporations. As we continue to deepen the firm’s national litigation bench, his reputation, capabilities and relationships fit naturally with our talented team in Pittsburgh."
Allen had been an attorney with Thorp Reed for more than 17 years when he left to join Eckert Seamans in November.
Rachel Allen left Jones Day in Pittsburgh, where she had been a partner in the firm’s corporate practice, to join ALung Technologies Inc., a Pittsburgh-based company that makes respiratory support devices.
Allen’s practice at Jones Day had centered largely on private equity, mergers and acquisitions and transactional and securities law for clients in the health care, medical device and energy industries, among others.
While at Jones Day, Allen worked on Ospraie Management’s $2.8 billion acquisition of Conagra Foods Group and Renal Solutions’ $210 million sale to Fresenius Medical Care Holdings.
Before joining Jones Day in 2001, Allen had served as vice president, general counsel and new business development officer for DQE Enterprises, a subsidiary of DQE Inc., which manufacturers equipment for first responders, emergency workers and health care professionals.
SCOTT A. COFFINA
Drinker Biddle & Reath continued the rebuilding of its white-collar criminal defense and corporate investigations team with the addition of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads partner Scott A. Coffina.
Coffina, a former assistant U.S. attorney and a former associate counsel to President George W. Bush, has offices in the firm’s Philadelphia and Washington locations.
Coffina was an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania between 1997 and 2001. He then joined Montgomery McCracken before taking a nearly two-year hiatus from the firm to serve in the White House.
Coffina was hired in May 2007 by White House counsel Fred Fielding, shortly after Fielding’s appointment. With the Democrats having just taken control of Congress in January 2007, Fielding was gearing up for increased oversight demands.
While some of the attorneys had a specific portfolio focused purely on things like ethics or security, Coffina had the political portfolio, which included, in large part, ensuring employees followed rules of the Hatch Act. He became rather busy answering questions about the act as 2008 came around and the election cycle really heated up.
Coffina was also the liaison to the Department of Energy and fielded a lot of questions about drilling and the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Advising Bush on judicial selection fell under Coffina’s umbrella as well. He was in charge of looking at potential appointees from the D.C. and 11th Circuits.
When President Obama took office, Coffina moved back to Montgomery McCracken. Since that time, he has focused on leading internal investigations and defending major pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers against allegations of improper marketing and False Claims Act violations.
WILLIAM A. DESTEFANO
Reading, Pa.-based Stevens & Lee hired William A. DeStefano, a former Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney partner in Philadelphia, to bolster its white-collar defense and investigations practice.
DeStefano took over as chairman of the seven-lawyer practice.
DeStefano said he made the move not because he was unhappy at Buchanan Ingersoll, but because Stevens & Lee’s cost structure and overhead, along with profits per equity partner of more than $1 million, were impressive. He said the firm is able to grow PPP to that level because of its smart cost structure, which he said offers more flexibility on the rates he can charge his clients — something that is important to all clients in this competitive marketplace.
Stevens & Lee has fewer than 200 lawyers rather than the several hundred other firms have, DeStefano pointed out. All of the firm’s back-office services are housed in a building the firm owns in Reading, where it is much cheaper to staff those services than if they were done in Center City Philadelphia, he said. And the annual overhead per lawyer at Stevens & Lee is around $130,000 per attorney, which he said is just more than half the overhead-per-lawyer at Buchanan Ingersoll.
ROBERT T. HORST
Robert T. Horst, a founding partner of Blue Bell, Pa.-based insurance law firm Nelson Levine de Luca & Horst, left the firm to join Bucks County firm Curtin & Heefner.
Horst, who helped found Nelson Levine in 2000 and served as its managing partner from 2003 to 2008, joined the Morrisville, Pa.-based firm as a partner in its litigation section, focusing his practice on first-party property bad-faith work.
Horst now works out of the firm’s Doylestown, Pa., office.
Bonnie S. Stein, co-chair of Curtin & Heefner’s litigation section, said the firm first discussed hiring Horst years ago when he left the Law Offices of Jonathan Wheeler, a Philadelphia plaintiffs firm.
At the time, however, what Horst was looking for and what the firm had to offer didn’t mesh, Stein said.
"He had come out of a plaintiffs firm; he wanted to be in the city; we weren’t in the city," she said.
Horst eventually became a partner at Post & Schell, but he and the attorneys at Curtin & Heefner kept in touch, according to Stein.
Before Horst left Post & Schell to start Nelson Levine, he again met with Curtin & Heefner.
"I believe our conversation at the time was, ‘Do you want to be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in big pond?’" Stein recalled. "I believe his quote to us was that he wanted to be a big fish in a big pond, but the best way for him to do that was to stay in the city."
Fast-forward more than a decade, however, and circumstances finally were right for Horst and Curtin & Heefner to come together.
STEPHEN J. MCCONNELL
In the spring, Reed Smith hired former Dechert partner Stephen J. McConnell to the firm’s life sciences and health industry group in Philadelphia.
McConnell’s practice focuses on the representation of pharmaceutical and medical device companies, including involvement in recent mass tort litigations regarding antipsychotics and diet drugs. He has also handled matters relating to tobacco trials, sales and advertising liability, and shareholder derivative litigation.
"Steve is one of Philadelphia’s pre-eminent life science and health care attorneys," Mike Scott, a partner in Reed Smith’s LSHI group, said in a statement. "He has earned a reputation as a top litigator in the pharmaceutical world and elsewhere, and is often sought after to take over important cases for trial. We have admired his work and results for some time and share several common clients."
After graduating law school and finishing a clerkship, McConnell became an assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District of California in Los Angeles in 1992. During his tenure there, he investigated and prosecuted criminal cases in the major frauds section involving savings and loan frauds, violations of the securities laws, wire and mail frauds, and money laundering.
He also served as counsel to the Christopher Commission, an independent body that investigated the Los Angeles Police Department in 1991, and as deputy general counsel to the Kolts Commission, an independent body that investigated the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in 1992.
McConnell has worked extensively in the area of liability for marketing practices and he is a member of the advisory board of Villanova University’s Center for Marketing and Public Policy.
Some of his representative clients have included Philip Morris Inc. and Wyeth.
GERALD J. PAPPERT
More than a year after Cephalon Inc. merged into Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the former’s general counsel returned to private law firm life.
Gerald J. Pappert, former Pennsylvania attorney general and current chairman of the Pennsylvania Banking and Securities Commission, joined Cozen O’Connor’s commercial litigation group as a shareholder in Philadelphia. The former Cephalon general counsel also works closely with Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies, the firm’s government relations arm, Cozen O’Connor said.
At Cozen O’Connor, Pappert focuses on assisting clients with government investigations, white-collar criminal matters, corporate compliance, government relations and commercial litigation, the firm said.
Pappert isn’t unfamiliar with his new firm. He served as a summer associate at Cozen O’Connor in 1987.
Pappert stayed on at Teva through the end of 2011 and spent the first half of 2012 finishing out his six-year term on the Commonwealth Financing Authority. Pappert said he took the summer to figure out what his next step would be and had conversations with a number of firms.
Pappert said he maintained several relationships with Cozen O’Connor attorneys from his days as a summer associate and was impressed many of those lawyers were still at the firm.
"I’ve always respected how they built this firm up into the diverse and broad firm it is," Pappert said. "This firm, from a business perspective, offered me the best opportunity to use a number of different skills and experiences I’ve had."
JAMES M. SINGER
Intellectual property attorney James M. Singer joined Fox Rothschild in Pittsburgh as a partner from Pepper Hamilton.
Singer’s practice focuses on patent, trademark, copyright and technology licensing.
"Jim has an excellent practice and has extensive experience guiding clients through the process of identifying, acquiring, licensing and protecting their intellectual property assets," Jay D. Marinstein, managing partner of Fox Rothschild’s Pittsburgh office, said in a press release.
Singer is a registered patent attorney whose practice includes patent prosecution, infringement studies, design-around analyses, technology licensing and transfer and intellectual property diligence and strategy for clients in industries such as electronics, energy and robotics.
Singer also performs IP audits and due diligence for venture capital firms, private equity funds and IP holding companies and negotiates technology transfer and license agreements.
Before entering private practice, Singer was a law clerk for a Fortune 500 company and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Singer has also worked as an electrical engineer and has managed oil pipeline and electric utility construction projects.
MIN S. SUH
Min Suh joined labor and employment firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart’s Philadelphia office as a shareholder from Fox Rothschild, where she had been a partner.
Suh’s practice involves representing corporations in business immigration matters before the U.S. State Department, the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security.
Suh counsels employers on employment verification compliance, hiring practices and employment policies. She also assists with internal audits and ensures clients are in compliance with I-9, H-1B Labor Condition Applications, E-Verify and Social Security.
Suh’s practice also involves training clients on issues regarding harassment, discrimination, hiring and firing, interviewing, performance evaluations, leave laws, handling independent contractors and wage-and-hour matters.
Suh joined Ogletree Deakins’ Philadelphia office a few months after Paul Lancaster Adams took over as managing shareholder.
"Min is an excellent, client-focused lawyer with an outstanding reputation in Philadelphia’s legal community," Adams said. "As we continue to build our Philadelphia office, Min is uniquely positioned to assist clients throughout the region and U.S. with respect to the intersection of immigration and employment law. Her substantial knowledge and experience will be a valuable asset to clients and the firm."
SEAN P. WAJERT
As part of its plan to open a Philadelphia office, Kansas City, Mo.-based Shook Hardy & Bacon hired Dechert partner Sean Wajert to its litigation group in the spring.
Wajert worked in Shook Hardy’s Washington office at first but is now based in Philadelphia.
Wajert has experience in complex commercial litigation that includes national products liability, class action and toxic tort defense for pharmaceutical, chemical and consumer product manufacturers. He had previously served as chairman of Dechert’s products liability and mass torts practice group for a decade. He has represented clients in diet drug jury trials, consumer product class action proceedings and chemical exposure litigation, and he has been retained as an adviser on commercial issues, including the potential impact of tort issues on mergers and acquisitions.
"Sean is an industry leader in defense litigation, and his expertise will add significantly to our firm’s deep bench of talent," Shook Hardy Chairman John Murphy said in a statement. "He has valuable business savvy, and his approach to serving clients aligns very well with the culture of our firm."