Correction, 10/26/12, 5:35 p.m. EDT: The original version of this story incorrectly characterized Geoge J. Terwilliger III’s clients in a case the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider in May. The clients had been held as hostages in the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. The 16th paragraph of this article has been revised to include the correct information. We regret the error.
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius is giving its white-collar defense practice a big jolt come November 1 when former acting U.S. attorney general and current White & Case white-collar practice group leader George J. Terwilliger III joins the firm.
Terwilliger will join Morgan Lewis’ Washington office next month along with three partners and a group of associates, the firm has announced.
Terwilliger served as deputy U.S. attorney general and acting U.S. attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration.
While he has focused his private practice on litigation, internal investigations and enforcement proceedings, Terwilliger has kept his hand in the public sector. As Legal affiliate The American Lawyer recently reported, Terwilliger serves on Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s law enforcement advisory group.
Since joining private practice, Terwilliger has represented energy, financial services, telecommunication, health care and industrial companies in government investigations and in civil and criminal litigation. He has tried cases and conducted corporate internal investigations and legal compliance reviews, including for boards and board committees, involving work in more than 60 countries in all regions of the world.
Terwilliger has served as special outside counsel for a Senate committee investigation, counsel to an executive commission, and adviser to government officials involved in enforcement and other proceedings involving political affairs. His individual clients have included prominent business executives, media personalities, numerous lawyers and elected and appointed public officials.
Joining Morgan Lewis along with Terwilliger are partners Daniel Levin, Matthew Miner and Robert J. Bittman, all of whom focus on white-collar defense and litigation and have prior government experience. Morgan Lewis could not yet confirm how many associates would make the move from White & Case.
This isn’t the first time Morgan Lewis has looked to grab a former GOP heavyweight for its Washington office. Fred F. Fielding, the former White House chief counsel under President George W. Bush, joined Morgan Lewis in 2009 and heads up its government relations practice.
Eric Sitarchuk, head of Morgan Lewis’ white-collar practice, said Terwilliger and Fielding know each other well and it was that relationship that began talks between Terwilliger’s group and the firm.
Sitarchuk said Morgan Lewis already had a strong white-collar practice, but was looking to beef it up in Washington. “[The group's addition] allows us to provide to our clients top-of-the-line white-collar defense work across the board,” Sitarchuk said. “Internal investigations, crisis management, compliance assessments, FCPA, False Claims Act, you name it.”
While Morgan Lewis focused in all of those areas, Terwilliger and his team add depth in practice and geographical reach, particularly in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act arena, Sitarchuk said.
Sitarchuk said the expectation is that Terwilliger’s team will bring a “very large practice” with it.
“Coming on the heels of our extensive international expansion in 2012, the arrival of this team — led by one of the world’s foremost Washington-based white-collar and government investigations lawyers — offers our clients a unique and valuable combination of capabilities,” Morgan Lewis Chairman Francis M. Milone said in a statement.
Morgan Lewis added more than 65 attorneys this year from disbanding Dewey & LeBoeuf, including several litigators in London.
White & Case declined to comment on Terwilliger’s pending departure other than to confirm the group was leaving for Morgan Lewis. Terwilliger did not comment on his move.
Terwilliger has been involved in a number of high-profile engagements since leaving public service. He was part of George W. Bush’s legal team in Bush v. Gore and represented former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in a DOJ investigation into how Gonzales ran the department. Most recently Terwilliger suffered a loss at the U.S. Supreme Court in May when the high court denied a request by his clients, hostages held in the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979, to review Iran’s liability in the matter.
While serving as a prosecutor, Terwilliger was involved in the BCCI case, an international banking scandal, where he led investigations resulting in criminal and civil resolutions involving more than 25 parties in the United States and abroad. Terwilliger also had leadership responsibility in several domestic and international crises, including managing the federal response to massive civil unrest in Los Angeles, the rescue of federal officers held hostage in a prison takeover and addressing, through the National Security Council, massive Haitian migration to the United States.
Terwilliger was the senior Justice Department official on counterterrorism during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and the DOJ’s representative to the National Security Council during the crisis and subsequent conflict. While a front-line prosecutor, he had lead responsibility in white-collar crime and terrorism matters.
Levin has worked on internal investigations involving allegations of accounting irregularities, options backdating, FCPA violations and other issues. He also has represented clients in securities fraud class actions, intellectual property litigation, advertising disputes and products liability litigation and arbitrations.
Levin has held numerous government positions, including: senior associate counsel to the president and legal adviser to the National Security Council; chief of staff to Attorney General William Barr; chief of staff to FBI Director Robert Mueller; and counselor to Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Miner focuses his practice on white-collar enforcement and compliance matters, as well as congressional inquiries and committee investigations. Prior to private practice, Miner served with the U.S. Senate in a number of senior roles, including as minority staff director to the Senate Judiciary Committee and, at an earlier point, majority chief counsel for crime, terrorism and oversight to the same committee.
Bittman regularly represents Fortune 100 companies and individuals in connection with criminal and regulatory investigations before the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice, State, Commerce and Treasury departments, as well as in parallel civil and administrative proceedings. His areas of focus include the FCPA, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, international data privacy laws and corporate governance. Bittman served as deputy independent counsel for the Office of Independent Counsel’s Ken Starr and was previously an assistant state’s attorney in Maryland.