Boies Schiller hires litigator David Bernick
NEW YORK |
NEW YORK Aug 15 (Reuters) - David Bernick, who recently departed as general counsel of Philip Morris International Inc , has joined Boies, Schiller & Flexner, the David Boies-led law firm known for its involvement in prominent political and corporate battles.
Bernick, 58, resigned from Philip Morris in February after about two years on the job, and the company's CEO said he regretted the loss. Previously Bernick had been a partner at the international law firm Kirkland & Ellis.
Bernick will start immediately, working in Boies Schiller's New York office.
In an interview with Reuters last week, Bernick said he left Philip Morris because he missed implementing strategies for clients and also because he was anxious to get back into the courtroom. "Once a duck learns to swim, you never forget," Bernick said.
While at Kirkland & Ellis, Bernick gained widespread attention for his work defending tobacco companies, breast implant makers and corporations with asbestos liability.
In 2009, he won an acquittal for W.R. Grace & Co, which was accused by the U.S. Justice Department of knowingly endangering the lives residents in Libby, Montana, and concealing information about its asbestos mining operations.
The move represents a rare high-level partner acquisition for Boies Schiller. Bernick is only the fourth senior partner the firm has brought on since it was founded 15 years ago.
"It's a huge step for the firm," Boies said, jointly interviewed with Bernick at a midtown Manhattan restaurant.
Boies, 71, who represented former Vice President Al Gore at the Supreme Court over the disputed 2000 presidential election, is still the public face of his firm.
In the last two years, he has represented Oracle Corp in two high-profile trials and taken on the federal government in a case over the bailout of American International Group Inc on behalf of the insurer's former chief executive, Maurice "Hank" Greenberg. He has also been the lead lawyer, along with Theodore Olson, in a case challenging California's ban on gay marriage.
After starting off with eight lawyers in 1997, the law firm today has more than 250, mostly devoted to litigation and a growing corporate practice. It is among the top 100 U.S. law firms by gross revenue and among the top 15 measured by profits per partner, according to The American Lawyer magazine.
While the firm has seen its profits reduced during the financial crisis, Boies said it has not had to lay off attorneys, unlike some of its competitors, or rescind any job offers to new recruits.
The financial crisis has actually helped the firm pick up some new clients, he said. Before 2008, the firm had not represented many financial institutions and instead marketed its ability to sue banks, which other law firms with strong ties to Wall Street were unwilling to do.
But the firm began to break that pattern as the financial crisis spawned litigation against and among the banks. Barclays Plc, for instance, hired the firm to defend against a claim that it wrongly reaped an $11 billion windfall when it bought the U.S. investment banking brokerage operations of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc in 2008.
Since the court ruled in favor of Barclays, the bank has doled out more work to Boies Schiller, including a role as counsel in the scandal involving the alleged rigging of the of interest rate known as Libor.
Bank of New York Mellon Corp has also given the firm more work in recent years and HSBC Holdings has become a client, according to Boies.
"HSBC, Barclays and Bank of New York are now three of our largest clients," he said.
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