The Churn: Lateral Moves in The Am Law 200

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The Churn

Am Law 200 firm Michael Best & Friedrich has acquired Salt Lake City–based business and litigation boutique Vantus Law Group, adding nine attorneys to the firm.

The new hires include BRAD JACOBSEN, RICK ENSOR, STUART FREDMAN, MELINDA MORGAN, EVAN STRASSBERG and JASON ROGERS, who all join Michael Best as partners, as well as ANDREW BUFFMIRE as of counsel and two associates.

Michael Best managing partner David Krutz says the firm has been looking to expand in Utah—and Salt Lake City in particular—for some time, drawn by what he says is the city's growing economy and high-tech industry. In July, Michael Best intellectual property partner Michael Langer moved to Salt Lake City to better serve the firm's clients there, and Krutz says firm leaders plan to tap other attorneys "to spend time there over a significant period to integrate the two firms."

In addition to shifting Michael Best attorneys to the new office, Krutz says the firm plans to make lateral hires. He anticipates the branch eventually having intellectual property, technology transfer, energy, employment, derivatives and venture capital practices.

In other Churn news …

Baker Botts has hired two special counsel in Washington, D.C., TERRY BESSEY and KAREN SHEFFLER. Bessey, previously with Patton Boggs, represents private equity funds and their portfolio companies in mergers and acquisitions, as well as in other financing transactions. Sheffler comes from Kirkland & Ellis and advises companies on mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, financings and corporate transactions in the energy, health care and hospitality industries, among others.

DELPHINE BROWN has left Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle to be a partner at Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider, which specializes in antitrust, intellectual property and litigation matters. Based in New York, Brown is a litigator who focuses on intellectual property and commercial cases involving pharmaceuticals, medical devices, computer software and hardware, and business methods and processes.

Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz has hired ROSS COHEN as of counsel in its tax department and corporate mergers and acquisitions group. Cohen, most recently at Haskell Slaughter Young & Gallion, joins his new firm in Birmingham.

NEIL MACBRIDE, who resigned in September as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, is set to join Davis Polk & Wardwell in Washington, D.C., as a partner in the firm's white-collar criminal defense and government investigations groups. As U.S. attorney, MacBride oversaw the grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks and the leak prosecutions of former CIA officials John Kiriakou and Jeffrey Sterling, sibling publication Blog of Legal Times reports. At Davis Polk, he will focus on criminal, civil, regulatory, administrative and congressional cases once he joins the firm early next year.

JILL VOROBIEV has moved from Jones Day to Dykema in Chicago. A member of her new firm's labor and employment practice, Vorobiev concentrates on discrimination claims, noncompetes and trade secrets, wage and hour, and class action litigation.

Much Shelist has expanded its Chicago office with J. ERIC GUTH as a principal. Guth, who arrives from Barnes & Thornburg, advises clients on secured, unsecured and mezzanine debt facilities, securitizations and other structured products.

PAMELA ROBERTSON has jumped from Edwards Wildman & Palmer to Patton Boggs in New York. A partner, Robertson represents public pension funds and other institutional investors on investment in private equity, venture capital, hedge and other alternative investments.

The Jackson, Miss., office of Phelps Dunbar recently gained new partners CALVIN WELLS, SUZANNA BAKER, and A.M. EDWARDS III, counsel RICHARD MONTAGUE JR. and an associate from the Mississippi law firm Young Wells Williams Simmons. Wells, Baker and Edwards practice business law, with Montague focusing on bankruptcy law and commercial litigation.

JOHN FRASER has rejoined Shook, Hardy & Bacon as a partner in London. Fraser, whose previous stint as a partner at the firm ended in 2003, was most recently a deputy general counsel at Philip Morris International. Fraser will focus his practice on litigation strategy, the management of investment treaty arbitrations, the defense of complex international litigation matters, and the development of risk management strategies.

QUENTIN PALFREY is now special counsel in Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr's intellectual property litigation practice, focusing on patent, copyright and trade secret matters. Palfrey, who is based in Boston, was previously senior counsel to the secretary of policy and operations at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

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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