September 9, 2013 / 3:24 PM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. bailout watchdog Barofsky joins Chicago law firm

By Casey Sullivan

Sept 9 (Reuters) - Neil Barofsky, the former prosecutor who served as chief watchdog of fraud and corruption during the federal government’s 2008 bank bailout program, has joined Chicago law firm Jenner & Block as a partner, the firm announced on Monday.

Barofsky, 43, is expected to work on white collar defense and investigations, securities litigation and enforcement, government controversies and public policy litigation.

He will be based in New York and joins a growing list of government lawyers who have moved to private practice at a big law firm as their clients face heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Also on Monday, two other law firms announced appointments of lawyers leaving government positions.

Skadden Arps Meagher Slate & Flom said that Boris Bershteyn, who held a number of senior legal and regulatory positions at the White House and its Office of Management and Budget from 2009 to 2013, had rejoined the firm.

And Davis Polk and Wardwell announced it had hired Avi Gesser, who worked between 2011 and 2013 as deputy director of the Justice Department Criminal Division’s Deepwater Horizon Task Force. Gesser investigated and prosecuted BP, Transocean and Halliburton for their conduct in the Macondo oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Skadden said in a statement that Bershteyn, a native of Kiev, Ukraine, who reviewed regulations promulgated by executive branch agencies in 2012 and 2013, will be based in New York.

Skadden, known for its lucrative mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy and litigation practices, made a splash last year when it recruited Patrick Fitzgerald, the former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, whose cases included corruption convictions against two governors.

Barofsky, the lawyer joining Jenner & Block, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in late 2008 to be the special United States Treasury Department inspector general on civil and criminal fraud and abuse linked to the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. He resigned in March 2011 and became a professor at New York University School of law.

Barofsky said in an interview that Jenner, instead of rushing to represent many financial institutions during the financial crisis, “exposed bad practices on Wall Street” in its Valukas Report on the Lehman Brothers collapse of 2008.

“It just reflects not just the type of legal work that the firm does, but also where its stance is,” Barofsky said. “Jenner took the side of really getting to the truth of the matter.”

Jenner & Block, which has more than 450 lawyers, is known as a national litigation powerhouse and ranked among the top 50 firms in the country in profits per partner in 2012, according to the American Lawyer magazine.

Barofsky served as an assistant U.S. Attorney in Manhattan between 2000 and 2008 where his prosecutions included the conviction of former officers of the defunct brokerage Refco Inc in a $2.4 billion securities and accounting fraud.

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