Wake Up Call: Dentons Lawyer to Join White House Counsel’s Office

Jan. 18, 2017, 1:13 PM

• The head of Dentons’ political law practice, Stefan Passantino, is said to be leaving his Republican Party posts in Georgia to take a job in the Office of White House Counsel in the Trump administration. ( Daily Report via America Lawyer )

• James Quinn is leaving Weil Gotshal & Manges after more than 40 years that saw him try some of the firm’s biggest cases, serve on its executive committee, and head its litigation department. But Quinn, who is 71, said he is joining a small plaintiff’s firm and plans to keep practicing law in New York. ( BLB )

• President Barack Obama on Tuesday commuted the 35-year sentence of Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who was convicted of leaking classified material, and pardoned Marine General James Cartwright. ( Bloomberg ) The Manning commutation in particular shows the path not taken by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, still living as a fugitive in Vladimir Putin’s Moscow. ( Bloomberg View )

• President-elect Donald Trump has called Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. a “dummy” and a “nightmare for conservatives.” Now Roberts has to swear Trump in as president. ( National Law Journal )

• LGBT advocacy groups around the country are bracing for trouble under Trump. BLB talked to Joseph Vardner, a Gibson Dunn & Crutcher associate recently elected vice president of the nonpartisan LGBT Bar Association of DC, about the community’s concerns. ( BLB )

Legal Market

• Facebook did not buy stolen technology when it acquired the virtual reality developer Oculus for $2 billion in 2014, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in a Dallas intellectual property case. ( Law.com )

• U.S. antitrust officials are said to be poised to sue Qualcomm Inc. for allegedly using unfair practices in the way it licenses its mobile technology. Qualcomm’s most profitable business already faces regulatory challenges in the European Union, South Korea, and Taiwan. ( Bloomberg via BLB )

• Though Trump has vowed to ease regulations on business, his unpredictability has convinced some companies to settle probes now rather than take a chance on what’s coming. U.S. prosecutors since Dec. 23 have announced almost $20 billion in corporate settlements and penalties, more than the Justice Department collected for all of fiscal 2016. ( Financial Times )

• The recent billion dollar U.S. criminal plea deals agreed by Takata Corp. and Volkswagen AG illustrate that companies’ attitudes and willingness to cooperate in dealing with probes are very important, says Peter Henning, professor of Law at Wayne State University in an interview. ( National Law Journal )

• Two former currency traders from Deutsche Bank AG and HSBC Holdings Plc were convicted in Singapore’s High Court of cheating the banks by making false trades. ( Bloomberg )

• Constitutional law attorney Alan Dershowitz has taken on a client who is arguing the Delaware Chancery Court violated shareholders’ rights by ordering the forced sale of translations services provider TransPerfect Global Inc. The case involves more than a dozen law firms in Delaware and has become one of the most contentious corporate divorces in the state. ( Bloomberg BNA via BLB )

• King & Wood Mallesons’ China branch tried to help the firm’s European branch but the feeling in China is that the Europeans’ failure “has nothing to do with the Chinese firm or Australian firm or the KWM verein,” a China-based partner said. ( The Lawyer )

• Despite plenty of talk about boosting diversity and inclusion in law firms, women and non-white lawyers continue to be under-represented in the Canadian legal profession, according to a report. ( Canadian Lawyer )

• A group of general counsel from the U.K.'s top FTSE 100 companies have teamed up in a “business network” to promote the rule of law in corporate transactions. ( The Lawyer )

More on the Transition to a Trump presidency

• Lawyers are planning to “ditch traditional celebrations” for Trump’s inauguration on Friday. ( The Independent )

• Mary Jo White, the outgoing head of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said Tuesday she has serious concerns that Donald Trump’s incoming administration could “weaken or even reverse” the SEC’s response to the 2008 financial crisis. ( Bloomberg BNA via BLB )

• Democrats calling for the head of FBI Director James Comey head should cut it out. Comey’s exit, among other things, could spell the end of a criminal inquiry into whether anyone associated with Trump or the Trump campaign was in contact with Russian sources about the hacking of Democrats’ e-mail accounts and the release of embarrassing contents during the presidential election. ( Bloomberg View )

• As Justin Trudeau, Canada’s Liberal prime minister, prepares for Trump, members of his government are getting advice from Norton Rose Fulbright lawyer Derek Burney, a former diplomat who was also chief of staff to Brian Mulroney, Canada’s prime minister when the country signed the Nafta trade agreement. ( Bloomberg )

Happening in SCOTUS and Other Courts

• The U.S. Supreme Court offered a glimmer of hope for a New Jersey law that would legalize sports gambling at casinos and racetracks, seeking input from the federal government on Governor Chris Christie’s bid to revive the statute. ( Bloomberg )

• The court Tuesday began considering a case with atmospherics that are all about Donald Trump’s warnings of “bad hombres” illegally entering the U.S. ( Bloomberg View )

• Robert Hockett, a professor at Cornell University Law School, and Jennifer Rie, a senior litigation analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, discuss a Supreme Court decision to turn away an appeal by some of the world’s largest bank over Libor rigging lawsuits. ( Bloomberg Radio )

• A fan-made Star Trek series prequel, from Axanar Productions, cannot claim fair use as a defense in the Paramount and CBS copyright lawsuit. Erin Ranahan, a partner at Winston & Strawn and the attorney representing Axanar Productions, and Michael Risch, a professor at Villanova University Law School, discuss the ruling. ( Bloomberg Radio via BLB )

• China’s top judge formally admitted that the country’s court system is not independent from the Communist Party and he rejected attempts to make it so. An American lawyer called the statement an “enormous ideological setback” after decades of progress toward creation of a professional, impartial judiciary. ( Financial Times )


• The U.K.’s plan to join the proposed Europe-wide patent court could run into conflict with Prime Minister Theresa May’s desire to leave the jurisdiction of the European Union’s highest court, which she expressed in a speech Tuesday. ( Bloomberg BNA via BLB )

• May pledged to give both houses of Parliament a vote on the final Brexit deal she strikes with the European Union. But would the vote actually change anything? ( Bloomberg )

Laterals and Moves

• O’Melveny & Myers has hired a dealmaker away from DLA Piper in New York. Chuck Baker, a 56-year-old corporate partner who advises private equity investors on sports, media and entertainment deals, has joined the firm to head up a sports industry practice. ( BLB )

• Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, already Washington’s biggest government relations law firm, is getting Raphael Prober back from the U.S. Department of Justice. After making partner in 2013, Prober spent almost 18 months as an associate deputy attorney general and will return to Akin Gump as co-leader of the firm’s congressional investigations practice. ( National Law Journal )

• Labor and employment firm Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart is opening new offices in Oklahoma City and Sacramento, California. ( Daily Report via American Lawyer )


• Under Trump, the FTC is likely to be attuned to whether business conduct has tangibly harmed consumers. But expect the Republican-led FTC to also remain active and at the forefront of consumer privacy, says a Perkins Coie attorney who is a former legal adviser to the head of the FTC. ( Legaltech News )

• A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. research analyst is building a database of banking villainy based on the behaviors of hundreds of past miscreants such as UBS Group AG’s Tom Hayes and Societe Generale SA’s Jerome Kerviel. His startup Behavox LTD then grades employees on how likely they are to go bad before they do anything wrong. ( Bloomberg )

• There is still abundant confusion about what the 2015 amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure actually say and how they operate. A panel of “heavy-hitter” judges and lawyers is due to consider the subject at the upcoming Legalweek conference in February. ( Law.com )

• Law firm data breaches show that hackers are expanding their range for cyber attacks, write two lawyers from Cadwalader Wickersham & Taft. ( Lexology )


• An administrative assistant at a Canadian law firm who stole $67,000 from the firm to pay off her credit card and keep her house from being repossessed was sentenced to serve 90 days in jail, on weekends. ( Waterloo Region Record )

Compiled by Rick Mitchell and edited by Casey Sullivan.

To read more articles log in.

Learn more about a Bloomberg Law subscription.