Law Firm Insider: 1/11/12

Find out what's happening at the Best Law Firms.

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After a couple down weeks around the holidays, it was a busy week for law firms as they began to set their 2012 plans into action.

December brought good news for the economy as a whole, but it was terrible for the legal industry. Slight job gains in October and November were erased, as the sector lost 1,800 jobs during the month.

Between 2010 and 2011, law firm mergers were up 65 percent, according to a report by the Hildebrandt Institute. The organization predicts that trend will continue during 2012.

James Lehman will take over for David Dukes as Nelson Mullins' managing partner. He will oversee more than 430 attorneys in 12 offices. The firm also hired former Republican Congressman Gresham Barrett, who represented South Carolina's 3rd District from 2003 until last January.

DLA Piper had a busy week. They hired five Hogan Lovells energy lawyers in Washington, D.C. In Baltimore, the firm hired Earl Adams, Jr., former chief of staff to Maryland's Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown. In Berlin, the firm hired Irene Schmid.

Monica Derbes Gibson, former general counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency, has joined Venable's environmental group.

She wasn't the only former EPA employee to be on the move—Adam Kushner, former head of the office of civil enforcement at the EPA, has joined Hogan Lovell's Washington, D.C. office. The firm also promoted 35 attorneys to partner and 46 attorneys to counsel. The firm hired David Levin, a corporate finance attorney, in London. Finally, the firm announced plans to expand to Israel with the formation of an "Israel Regional Practice Development Team."

Barnes & Thornburg announced that Alan Levin, who has headed the firm's management committee for 14 years, will continue to do so in 2012. He's joined on the committee by 11 other lawyers. The firm hired entertainment attorney Howard Fabrick to work in its quickly-expanding Los Angeles office, which has snapped up 16 attorneys since opening in Feb. 2011. The firm also hired Ken Vermeulen, a real estate and environmental attorney.

Paul McCurdy will take over Kelley Drye & Warren, succeeding John Callagy, who has served as the firm's chair since 1992.

Davis Polk & Wardwell hired Simon Witty in London, according to The American Lawyer. Not coincidentally, the firm will launch an English law practice in April when Witty officially joins the firm.

Jones Day hired Hank Bond Walther, former assistant chief of the Department of Justice's Foreign Corrupt Practices Act Unit, where he worked in the fraud section. In Chicago, the firm hired environmental lawyer Tom Skinner.

Oblon, Spivak, McClelland, Maier & Neustadt promoted three lawyers to partner.

Dewey & LeBoeuf hired 12 lawyers in South Africa from Werkmans Attorneys. They will join Dewey's existing seven lawyers in Johannesburg.

Hinshaw & Culbertson attorney Raylene DeWitte Grischow will serve as a member of Illinois' Supreme Court Committee on Professional Responsibility. She will serve until the end of 2014.

Steptoe & Johnson hired former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission head Marc Spitzer. He will work in the firm's Washington, D.C. office.

Schulte Roth & Zabel promoted four attorneys to partner and seven attorneys to special counsel.

Perkins Coie promoted 12 attorneys to partner. The firm also hired Gary Eisenberg in New York and Jose Lopez in Chicago.

Fragomen promoted 14 attorneys to partner.

Arnstein & Lehr opened an office in Milwaukee with the hiring of three Jackson Lewis attorneys.

Proskauer has moved into a new office in Hong Kong. The firm also hired Helene Jaffe, who will co-head the firm's antitrust group in New York City.

Paul Hastings hired antitrust lawyer Thomas Brown in San Francisco.

David Klein joined SNR Denton's hotels and leisure practice, Edward Hickman joined the firm's London banking practice, and Kelvin Simmons joined the firm's public policy and regulation practice.

Lowenstein Sandler promoted four attorneys to members of the firm.

Kilpatrick Townsend hired commercial real estate attorney Susan Tarnower to work in the firm's Charlotte office.

K&L Gates hired an arbitration partner in Frankfurt, Germany.

MorrisonCohen promoted two attorneys to partner and two attorneys to council. The firm also hired Bruce Levine to work in its New York City office.

Does your firm have a recent notable achievement, new hires, or an upcoming special event? E-mail us at lawfirminsider@usnews.com.

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  • Jason Koebler

    Jason Koebler is a freelance writer based in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter.