The Churn: Dechert and MoFo's Revolving Door, Plus More Lateral Moves

, The Am Law Daily


The Churn

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: 1/29/14, 12:30 p.m. EST. Additional compensation information on the UJA's top executive has been added to the 11th, 12th and 13th paragraphs of this story.

The year’s busiest month for lateral moves draws to a close this week with two prominent lawyers passing one another in the ever-popular revolving door.

Morrison & Foerster announced Monday its hire of CHARLES DUROSS, who last Friday stepped down from his position as the U.S. Department of Justice’s top Foreign Corrupt Practices Act enforcer.

A former Kirkland & Ellis associate, Duross told sibling publication The Litigation Daily that he spoke with a half-dozen firms about possibilities in the private sector before reaching his decision to join MoFo in Washington, D.C. Duross will officially take over the firm’s global anticorruption practice on Feb. 17.

Also switching sides next month is BENJAMIN ROSENBERG, Dechert’s white-collar and securities litigation cochair in New York, who, according to a press release issued Monday by the New York County District Attorney’s Office, will become its new general counsel on Feb. 17.

Rosenberg will replace outgoing general counsel Caitlin Halligan, a former Weil, Gotshal & Manges appellate practice leader who left the office earlier this month to return to the private sector, according to sibling publication the New York Law Journal. (Daniel Alonso, a former Kaye Scholer litigation partner and chief assistant district attorney, is poised to step down on Feb. 1.)

Rosenberg did not immediately respond to a request for comment about his decision to leave Dechert—where he has been a partner since 1994, save for an 18-month stint as chief trial counsel to former New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo—for the public sector. An adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, he began his career as an associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Of course, it’s not only large firms and government agencies that are picking up top lawyers this week. The New York Law Journal reported Monday that ERIC GOLDSTEIN, a litigation partner with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in New York, will leave the firm this summer to head one of the nation’s largest Jewish charities.

The UJA–Federation of of New York announced late last week its hire of Goldstein to become its new CEO on July 1. Goldstein, 54, was praised by JPMorgan Chase general counsel Stephen Cutler in a story in The American Lawyer this month honoring Paul Weiss as its Securities Litigation Department of the Year.

In a statement on Goldstein’s transition to the UJA, Paul Weiss chair Brad Karp said Goldstein’s “commitment to helping those in need has been a hallmark of his successful career at Paul Weiss, where he served our clients with distinction and chaired our pro bono committee.”

Unlike a move to the public sector that would likely have resulted in a sizable pay cut, by heading to the New York–based UJA, a charitable organization with a $220 million annual budget, Goldstein has the potential to at least match his Paul Weiss earnings if he sticks around long enough.

The nonprofit’s most recent tax filing for 2011 shows that it paid outgoing CEO John Ruskay nearly $3.3 million in compensation, roughly equivalent to the profits per partner at Paul Weiss, according to Am Law 100 financial data. But the UJA says that Ruskay's pay package that year represents the culmination of his 15-year career with the organization, a figure that includes direct salary, deferred compensation and other non-taxable retirement benefits. (Ruskay turned 65 in 2011.)

The UJA's tax filings for 2010 and 2009 show Ruskay's total annual compensation being a much more modest $582,000 and $551,000, respectively. Ruskay's base salary in both years was $462,000. So what will Goldstein earn at the UJA? That remains unclear, but initially it will almost certainly be much less than he earned at Paul Weiss.

"UJA-Federation's compensation committee worked with our independent consultant, [PricewaterhouseCoopers], which surveyed and analyzed data of CEOs with similar responsibilities in comparable not-for-profit organizations," said a UJA spokeswoman. "Using that measure, PwC has provided its opinion that the compensation package is appropriate and reasonable in accordance with IRS standards."

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