Law Firm Insider: 3/29/11

Get the latest news on what's happening in the Best Law Firms.

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We'll start with some good news this week—partners from Sidley Austin and Hogan Lovells teamed up to secure the release of Cuban human rights activist Oscar Biscet from prison. Sidley's Andrew Strenio Jr. and Hogan Lovells' Jeremy Zucker worked pro bono, behind the scenes, for six years before securing his release.

And now for the bad—just weeks after Howrey's demise, another firm bites the dust. Yoss announced that it would be shuttering effective March 31. The Miami-based firm, formerly known as Adorno & Yoss, had more than 250 lawyers at one point.

Some more bad news for Yoss and Howrey—The Legal Intelligencer reports that WolfBlock, a Philadelphia-based firm that disbanded two years ago, is still undergoing legal disputes with past clients. These winding-down processes are rarely cheap or quick, and at least 40 staff members are still unemployed or underemployed.

Civil rights activist and lawyer Leonard Weinglass died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer. He worked some of the most infamous cases of the 20th century. He represented or helped represent Pentagon Papers defendant Daniel Ellsberg, Bill and Emily Harris in the kidnapping of Patty Hearst, and the Chicago Seven, a group of people who conspired to riot during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

There were some big comings-and-goings last week, including a big acquisition for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Michele Roberts, one of the country's most famous trial lawyers, joined the firm from Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld. A former Washington, D.C. public defender, Roberts has tried more than 100 civil and criminal cases. Another prominent trial lawyer is on the move. Former Howrey partner Billy Martin joined Dorsey & Whitney last week.

Latham & Watkins finally announced its new office in Boston. The office, which will start with six partners, will focus on mergers and acquisitions and other financial services law. Latham has hired John Chory, Susan Mazur, Peter Handrinos, and Phil Rossetti from WilmerHale, Hans Brigham from Bingham McCutchen, and Alex Temel from Proskauer Rose.

Mayer Brown hired Stuart McAlpine to be a partner in its London Banking & Finance branch. McAlpine was formerly a partner at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has hired a three-lawyer public law team, including Pascal Cuche, from Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker in Paris.

DLA Piper, which already has offices in 29 countries, is expanding its influence to Mongolia. It has signed Mongolian firm C&G Partners to become a "focus firm," meaning DLA Piper will advise the firm and provide resources when necessary.

Former U.S. attorney Daniel Stein has joined Richards, Kibbe & Orbe's New York Office. He was chief of the Public Corruption Unit at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the southern district of New York.

Former WilmerHale partner Anne Small has been named deputy general counsel at the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Jones Day has taken on more Howrey partners, including Dave Steuber, chair of Howrey's insurance recovery practice, and John Froemming, head of Howrey's trademark practice group. The firm also hired Tyrone Childress, David Meyer, Amy Fink, and Susan Kayser.

One more Howrey hire to report—Richard Beckler, who helped run Howrey's securities litigation group, has joined Bracewell & Giuliani, where former New York City mayor Rudi Giuliani practices.

Mayer Brown could be in for a big payday­—Afghanistan's government has retained the firm to help advise the country's development of its mining industry. Experts estimate more than $3 trillion worth of gold, copper, iron ore, and other metals could be found in potential Afghani mines.

Perkins Coie has added three lawyers in Denver, including partner Jason Day.

Alexander Woollcott joined Morris, Manning & Martin's Atlanta office. Formerly, Woollcott was chair of the global sourcing and procurement practice at Thompson Hine.

Former general counsel for the National Transportation Safety Board Gary Halbert has joined Holland & Knight's transportation practice.

Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough's Jessica Walbridge has joined EducationCounsel, an advocacy organization focusing on education reform, as a senior policy advisor.

John Redding has joined BuckleySandler's financial services practice.

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