The Churn: MoFo Lands Judge Peck, Plus More Lateral Moves

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The Churn

Morrison & Foerster said Wednesday that it has hired federal bankruptcy judge JAMES PECK, who oversaw the country's largest-ever Chapter 11 case when he presided over the legal proceedings related to fallen financial giant Lehman Brothers.

Peck, 68, announced in December that he planned to retire from his seat on the U.S. bankruptcy court in Manhattan at the end of January after eight years, more than five of which were spent overseeing the Lehman case. A former partner at Schulte Roth & Zabel and Duane Morris before moving onto the bench, Peck will become cochair of MoFo's global business restructuring and insolvency group as of March 3. He will work out of the firm's New York office.

In addition to overseeing the Lehman bankruptcy, Peck presided over Chapter 11 cases involving cable provider Charter Communications, satellite phone company Iridium Communications and hotel brand owner Extended Stay America. During his tenure as a judge, he also served as a mediator in a number of high-profile matters involving such companies such as American Airlines, MF Global and Residential Capital.

Gary Lee, the current chair of MoFo's business restructuring and insolvency group, said in a firm press release announcing the hire: "Judge Peck will offer expertise in a myriad of areas where he has helped advance bankruptcy law. This is especially true of his landmark rulings relating to derivatives and the bankruptcy safe harbors. We are excited to offer his insights to our clients and colleagues."

Peck says that helping to broker settlements as a mediator in bankruptcy cases taught him that he enjoys being "deeply involved in the elements of dealmaking." The experience was so rewarding, he says, that it heightened his interest in returning to private practice in a role that allows him to focus on mediation work in domestic and cross-border restructuring and insolvency cases.

Peck says his role as mediator also helped him develop a "comfort level" with MoFo attorneys, including Lee, who represented ResCap in its bankruptcy and also worked for MF Global's Chapter 11 trustee. Peck says he considered a number of firms as places he could pursue his postbench career. In the end, Peck says, MoFo attorneys won him over with their enthusiasm and eagerness to support his desire to build a mediation practice—a topic that arose once his work as a mediator on their cases had ended.

"As I thought more recently about what the right platform would be for someone like myself who is interested in further developing mediation, not only domestically but internationally, it occurred to me that Morrison & Foerster had a particularly robust practice in insolvency but also had resources in different parts of the world that would make this potentially feasible," Peck says.

Once Peck announced his retirement plans, he says his discussions with MoFo "took on greater intensity" even as other firms began to approach him. Ulimately, Peck decided that MoFo made for the best fit and "would be both congenial and supportive."

Peck is the latest lateral hire to join MoFo's growing restructuring practice, which added former Dentons partner Howard Morris as the head of the restructuring and insolvency group in the firm's London office in November. MoFo also added two restructuring partners—Jörg Meissner and Thomas Keul—when it launched a Berlin office with a group of Hogan Lovells laterals earlier in November.

Sibling publication The Recorder reported last month that MoFo's gross revenue was essentially flat last year, increasing 1 percent, to $1.01 billion. The firm's profits per partner, meanwhile, fell less than 1 percent, to $1.465 million.

MoFo also announced this week that it is welcoming back STEVEN KAUFMAN, the firm's former global litigation chair and former Denver office head. Kaufman, who will be a partner in the firm's Washington, D.C., and Denver offices, rejoins MoFo after spending the past four years as chief of staff of foreign aid agency Millennium Challenge Corporation—a position for which he was chosen by President Barack Obama.

In other Churn news …

A group of nine securitization and structured finance attorneys have left Jones Day to join Chapman and Cutler's Chicago office, where they will work in the firm's public finance department. Eight of the attorneys are joining as partners: DANIEL BACASTOW, JOHN BIBBY JR., ROBERT CAPIZZI, AMY COBB CURRAN, DAVID KATES, MICHAEL MITCHELL, MEGAN RUDD and RICHARD TOMEI. The ninth attorney is joining as an associate. The group specializes in representing health care and not-for-profit clients such as hospitals, senior living facilities and educational institutions, as well as investment banks.

Holland & Knight is growing its Atlanta office with the arrival of public finance partner WOODROW "WOODY" VAUGHAN III from King & Spalding. Joining with Vaughan is senior counsel ALLISON DYER, who was previously a senior associate at King & Spalding. Both attorneys handle a range of tax-exempt finance matters for a range of clients.

DOUGLAS STONE has landed in the Kansas City, Mo., office of Husch Blackwell as a partner in the firm's real estate, development and construction group. Formerly with Polsinelli, Stone specializes in public-private partnerships and has previously advised such local development projects as the relocation of H&R Block's corporate headquarters to downtown Kansas City.

Austin-based labor and employment boutique firm Hutcheson Bowers has added AMY BECKSTEAD as a parter. A former DLA Piper partner, Beckstead is licensed to practice in California as well as Texas, and her new firm expects her to advise employers with operations in Silicon Valley on a range of workplace management matters.

ROBERT PEABODY is now of counsel in the New York office of Jackson Lewis. Most recently with Boston-based firm Collora, Peabody represents employers in white-collar criminal and civil cases related to securities, health care, tax and bank fraud matters.

Latham & Watkins is welcoming its third private equity partner lateral from Clifford Chance in the past year. KEM IHENACHO, who follows in the footsteps of recent Clifford Chance–to–Latham lateral movers Tom Evans and David Walker, is headed to Latham's London office. His practice finds him advising private equity clients and their portfolio companies on a range of transactional work.

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips has added litigation partner ANDREW ZIMMITTI to its Washington, D.C., office, where he will advise financial services clients on a variety of civil and white-collar matters. Zimmitti, who arrives from Patton Boggs, is reuniting with former colleague Carol Van Cleef, a payment systems and virtual currencies expert who joined Manatt earlier this month.

Former CVS Caremark vice president and senior counsel KAREN OWEN GIBBS has left that role to become a partner in McDermott Will & Emery's health industry advisory practice. Based in Chicago, Gibbs handled legal and regulatory compliance matters for CVS, including advising the company on implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Gibbs was a partner at Sidley Austin before going in-house for CVS.

SUZANNE LONG has rejoined the Richmond office of McGuire Woods as a corporate partner after finishing a two-year term as executive director of the Virginia Resources Authority. Long, who handles financings and M&A work, advised the commonwealth of Virginia on financing for public works projects including government buildings, public school facilities and water and sewer projects.

Morris, Manning & Martin is bolstering its energy and infrastructure group by hiring three former Williams Mullen attorneys in Washington, D.C. STUART BROOM and BRADLEY NOWAK join the firm as partners, while WARREN NOWLIN comes on board as senior counsel. The attorneys focus on the development of energy, environmental and infrastructure projects such as renewable energy, wastewater treatment and solid waste management facility projects.

JEFFREY LOKEY and SHAWN HANSEN have left Manatt and Greenberg Traurig, respectively, to join Nixon Peabody as partners in the firm's Palo Alto office. Lokey and Hansen, who are both IP litigation attorneys, worked together at Manatt for nearly a decade before Lokey went to Greenberg in 2010.

Banking attorney KATHLEEN SCOTT has left Arnold & Porter to join the New York office of Norton Rose Fulbright as senior counsel. Scott advises clients on financial regulatory matters such as compliance, financial privacy and anti–money laundering issues.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe has added partners WILLIAM "BUTCH" CULLEN and JANET BARBIERE to its New York office, where they will join the firm's structured finance practice group. Previously with Kaye Scholer, Cullen and Barbiere advise investment banks such as Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America Merrill Lynch on commercial real estate securitization matters.

Corporate attorney LAURA HOLM is now a partner in Naples, Fla., office of Quarles & Brady, having left her previous role as a partner at Akerman. Holm will be a part of the firm's corporate services practice group and advise clients on a range of transactional matters.

Sibling publication The Connecticut Law Tribune reported last week that eight Drinker Biddle & Reath insurance attorneys, including three partners and one counsel, have left that firm to join the Washington, D.C., office of Shipman & Goodwin. The group—which handles complex insurance coverage matters such as issues with directors and officers as well as professional liability policies—is led by partners JOHN HOCKENBURY and DOUGLAS MANGEL. Partner JOSEPH BAILEY II is also joining along with counsel JANET MCFADDEN.

Squire Sanders is expanding its Los Angeles office with the hire of former Dykema attorney JIE "JULIA" ZHU as of counsel in the firm's global corporate practice. Zhu represents domestic and international clients in such corporate matters as corporate finance, cross-border transactions, joint ventures and general M&A.

Former Kirkland & Ellis litigation attorney LEE ANN STEVENSON is now a partner in the New York office of Zuckerman Spaeder, where she will focus on commercial litigation matters involving contract and business torts, securities, labor and employment and IP issues.

The Churn is compiled from law firm releases and announcements. Moves based on our own reporting will note this. Please send all announcements and news releases to thechurn@alm.com.

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