Kaye Scholer City MP takes aviation finance team to K&L Gates

Kaye Scholer City managing partner Philip Perrotta has exited the firm for K&L Gates with a team of lawyers including partner Sidanth Rajagopal and a group of associates.

Trump immigration ban drives lawyers to US airports

Legal professionals worked amid chanting protesters at airports around the country this weekend, trying to help people detained following President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting the entry into the U.S. of people from seven Muslim-dominated countries.

Images posted on social media Saturday and Sunday showed lawyers working on their laptops on the floor of airport terminals and holding up signs offering free legal help to those in need.

Both organized groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and individual lawyers volunteered to help people who were detained or told they could not enter the U.S. as a result of Trump’s executive order.

Atlanta attorney Sarah Collins said she went to the city’s airport at around 1 p.m. Saturday after getting a call from colleagues concerned about the response to the executive order. She said she was there late into the night filing petitions to get people released and went back this afternoon to help make sure people traveling to the U.S. had no problems.

Mirriam Masumi, a defense attorney from the Washington, D.C., area, said that three people came up to her asking for help at Dulles International Airport in a two-hour period on Sunday morning.

“We’re here all day to help whoever needs the help,” Masumi said. The group of attorneys at Dulles said that everyone detained was released but as many as 30 people were in “secondary inspection,” according to Customs and Border Protection. The CBP agents were not allowing the lawyers to speak with any of those people.

Volunteer attorney Stephen Rooke was working to help people detained at JFK, including a Ph.D. student from Stony Brook University.

“This is a true emergency response effort and I am overwhelmed with the quality of the legal support here and all the volunteers stepping in overnight to file emergency orders,” he said.

Some, like Harvard lecturer Ian Samuel, turned to social media to offer their help. Samuel tweeted Saturday that he would provide legal support for government officials who don’t want to enforce the order and said he got dozens of responses from other law professors and others offering their help. He called this “the most active weekend for lawyers in a while” and said it was wonderful to see how organizations like the ACLU had mobilized.

“Every immigration lawyer I know got up Sunday morning and drove to the nearest airport,” Samuel said on Sunday.

Samuel said it’s hard to tell what will happen next because information about how the order should be enforced is unclear, and said the recent court orders were more an emergency measure to help people detained at the time.

On Sunday, 16 attorneys general put out a statement condemning the order as unconstitutional.

“We are confident that the Executive Order will ultimately be struck down by the courts. In the meantime, we are committed to working to ensure that as few people as possible suffer from the chaotic situation that it has created,” said the statement, issued jointly by attorneys general of California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.

Key trade appointees and President Trump’s approach to international trade policy

Now that President Trump has appointed the senior members of his trade policy team, we can examine their backgrounds in the context of his statements during and since the campaign to obtain a more informed look at a possible Trump’s trade policy. During the campaign, Trump promised to change dramatically a variety of U.S. trade policies that have stood for decades. For example, he proposed imposing a border tax targeting specific companies, imposing across-the-board tariffs, terminating or renegotiating free trade agreements (FTAs) and labelling China a currency manipulator. Since his election he announced the creation of a new White House entity to advise on trade – the National Trade Council (NTC).

President Trump is poised to implement at least some of his campaign promises on trade. He has created an entity that he can use to control trade policy in the White House, and he has appointed to key trade posts the architects of his positions on the campaign trail. His appointees exhibit an outlook that is much tougher than previous U.S. policy towards major trading partners such as China and Mexico. The appointees, like the President himself, indicate a willingness to take more extreme measures to protect U.S. manufacturing jobs and industries, even though certain of these measures, as discussed below, create risks of potential trade retaliation and adverse multilateral rulings. In this regard, core elements of President Trump’s trade policy may more closely resemble the traditional Democratic, rather than Republican, orthodoxy on trade.

  1. Economic and Trade Policy Appointments and the New National Trade Council

Before turning to specific appointments, one should note that Trump is likely to alter the lines of authority among the entities that historically control U.S. trade policy. In December 2016, a senior transition official indicated that the Department of Commerce (Commerce), and not the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), would “take the lead” on U.S. trade policy, which would be a significant departure from prior administrations. President Trump, however, may control the substance of U.S. trade policy from the White House and then use agency heads to implement his policy choices. This interpretation gained traction when the President announced a new White House entity – the NTC – headed by economics professor Peter Navarro. The NTC apparently will replicate in trade policy the roles that the National Economic Council and the National Security Council play in economic and security policy, respectively. According to President Trump, the NTC will “advise the President on innovative strategies in trade negotiations, coordinate with other agencies to assess U.S. manufacturing capabilities and the defense industrial base, … help match unemployed American workers with new opportunities in the skilled manufacturing sector, … lead the Buy America, Hire America program to ensure the President-elect’s promise is fulfilled in government procurement and projects ranging from infrastructure to national defense.”

The senior Trump trade appointees are:

  • Assistant to the President and Director of Trade and Industrial Policy, NTC: Peter Navarro. Mr. Navarro, 67, is currently a professor of economics and public policy at the Paul Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine. With Wilbur Ross, he developed Trump’s trade policy platform during the election campaign.

Critics have accused Navarro of “economic illiteracy,” asserting that he holds abandoned economic views, such as the belief that trade is a zero-sum game. According to Dan Ikenson of the Cato Institute, Mr. Navarro “fails to see trade as a mutually beneficial activity between willing parties, which reinforces the ties that bind.” Mr. Navarro is well-known, and assailed by some, for holding virulently anti-China views. For example, Forbes reports that Mr. Navarro has described China as an “imperialist power that reigns over the world’s leading cancer factory, its most prolific propaganda mill and the biggest police state and prison on the face of the earth.”

  • Secretary of Commerce: Wilbur Ross. Mr. Ross, 79, founded WL Ross & Co., after serving as executive managing director of Rothschild Inc. With Mr. Navarro, he developed Trump’s trade policy platform. Mr. Ross is known for acquiring and then restructuring companies in mature eco

nomic sectors like steel, coal and textiles. He is familiar with U.S. trade remedies, as his investments often were premised on newly acquired companies, e.g., LTV Steel, receiving trade relief in the form of high tariffs. Mr. Ross appears to have less experience with the high-tech, services and IP sectors that now drive much of U.S. economic growth.

Mr. Ross has supported the President’s plan to use tariffs and “all available means” to protect U.S. manufacturing jobs against unfair trade practices by foreign countries. On November 30, 2016, after his appointment was announced, he was widely quoted as referring to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as “a flawed agreement” that “is not going to happen.” According to Mr. Ross’s testimony before the U.S. Senate, the Trump administration will move swiftly to renegotiate or terminate NAFTA and the TPP.

  • U.S. Trade Representative: Robert Lighthizer. Mr. Lighthizer, 69, was an early Trump supporter who helped run the transition team focusing on trade. After a stint as chief of staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, he served as Deputy USTR during the Reagan administration. Since leaving USTR in the 1980s for private practice at a large New York-based law firm, Mr. Lighthizer has built a reputation representing U.S. Steel for decades in the company’s campaign to restrict dumped and subsidized steel imports from China, Japan, Korea and other major steel producing countries.

Some Democratic members of Congress have expressed satisfaction with Mr. Lighthizer’s appointment but are worried that Mr. Lighthizer’s authority could be undermined by some of President Trump’s other cabinet picks, whose positions they claim are at odds with the President’s campaign promises on trade. One Democrat described Lighthizer as he believes there is “some hope” in dealing with constructively to impose more protectionist measures. This reaction from a Democrat highlights just how far President Trump’s stated approach to trade policy has diverged from Republican Party free-trade orthodoxy.

  • Special Representative for International Negotiations: Jason Greenblatt. This is a newly created position. President Trump has said that Mr. Greenblatt’s responsibilities will include trade negotiations but has not indicated how Mr. Greenblatt will mesh with USTR, Commerce and other agencies. Mr. Greenblatt has worked for the President since 1997. He currently serves as executive vice president and chief legal officer to the Trump Organization. According Mr. Greenblatt’s appointment announcement, “for the past two decades, he has represented President-elect Trump and his family in diverse legal and business affairs, concentrating on all aspects of domestic and worldwide real estate development and other businesses … [and] served as one of the President-elect’s principal advisers on the U.S.-Israel relationship during the campaign.”
  • Lower-level trade appointments. Trump has floated several names for the positions that would answer to USTR Lighthizer and Secretary Ross. Without exception, they are senior members of international trade groups in law firms, including Lighthizer’s firm, that focus on using U.S. trade remedy laws to obtaining protection for their domestic clients.
  1. Trump Administration Trade Initiatives

President Trump has focused on a series of potential trade actions that revolve around his campaign’s central themes of restoring U.S. manufacturing jobs and targeting what he perceives as unfair trade practices by key U.S. trading partners, such as China and Mexico. The President pledged to terminate and/or renegotiate major trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); label China a currency manipulator; impose across-the-board tariffs against imports from China and Mexico; take action against unfair trade practices under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974; and self-initiate U.S. trade remedy proceedings and WTO disputes. In addition, Trump repeatedly has said that he will seek to impose import tariffs against U.S. companies that move production overseas. During his campaign he invoked the threat of a border tax as a means to encourage companies to maintain production in the United States and shift overseas production to the United States. House Republicans have introduced a GOP Tax Reform Blueprint that includes a border adjustment tax (BAT) that would eliminate the deduction for the cost of imported goods and exempt sales of exported goods. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has proposed the BAT (instead of across-the-board tariffs) as a means of accomplishing administration goals without starting a trade war. President Trump has recently expressed some skepticism of the House border tax plan, calling it “too complicated,” but negotiations between the Congress and the new President continue.

Our analysis suggests that President Trump intends to follow through on at least some of these promises. First, he has appointed the architects of his trade policy campaign platform to the most senior trade positions. Secondly, he has appointed to other trade positions experts who have built careers in Washington, DC using U.S. trade remedies laws to protect U.S. industries from foreign competition. Third, he has created a new entity – the NTC – which he can use to control trade policy from the White House. Finally, at least some of Trump’s senior advisers appear to hold virulently anti-China views and to reject majority economic theory holding that international trade is beneficial.

Some actions, particularly those for which the Executive Branch has authority independent of Congressional authorization (e.g., naming China a currency manipulator), will be easier for the President to implement. Each of the proposed actions will face obstacles, whether from opposing domestic interests (e.g., industrial or individual consumers who would face higher prices), potential inconsistency with U.S. law or trade agreement provisions, or foreign government retaliation.

As President Trump and his advisers begin to weigh the benefits and costs of his trade proposals, the new administration may ultimately decide that a less extreme approach is more effective. The administration may decide to pursue new bilateral trade deals with longstanding allies such as the United Kingdom and Japan, increase pressure on China but preserve other trade relationships, aggressively pursue new trade remedy petitions and WTO actions – while avoiding measures that are of questionable legality under existing multilateral trade agreements and which would invite severe retaliatory actions by U.S. trading partners to the detriment of U.S. companies.

AUTHORS: David S Christy Jr, Perkins Coie, US Michael P House, Perkins Coie, US

Washington handover cycles top trade talent back into firms

Akin Gump is the latest firm to capitalise on the small army of top-tier legal talent re-entering private practice as new US President Donald Trump takes office.

CMS wraps up Slovakian alliance ahead of Bratislava launch

CMS’ UK and Austrian member firms have called time on their alliance with Slovakian law firm Ruzicka Csekes, with plans to open a Bratislava office later this year.

The Slovakian firm of 40 lawyers had been in association with CMS Cameron McKenna and Austrian member firm CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz for five years, but now CMS is planning to launch its own fully integrated office in the country.

The alliance will end on 31 May 2017 and Camerons and Reich-Rohrwig Hainz aim to have an office in place by the summer with a newly created Slovak team of lawyers.

The firms have not decided whether the new office will be a joint venture, similar to the offices run by CMS in Russia or Istanbul, or a standalone office managed under the Camerons LLP or by Reich-Rohrwig Hainz.

A new office in Bratislava would bring the CMS group total to 66 worldwide. CMS operates as a European Economic Interest Group of firms, which includes 10 European members.

According to the firm’s latest LLP accounts, the share of joint venture turnover attributable to Camerons UK business was around £4m for the financial year ending 2016, up from £3.7m the previous year.

The UK business also operates further Central and Eastern European offices. Expansion in the region was originally led by executive partner Duncan Weston, prior to his appointment as managing partner in 2008. Camerons currently has offices in the region in Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.

CMS recently added three new member firms from Chile, Peru and Columbia to its international group – increasing the total number of member firms in CMS to 13 earlier this month.

Brexit: Supreme Court says UK Parliament must give Article 50 go-ahead

Parliament must vote on whether the government can start the Brexit process, the Supreme Court has ruled.

The judgement means Theresa May cannot begin talks with the EU until MPs and peers give their backing – although this is expected to happen in time for the government’s 31 March deadline.

But the court ruled the Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies did not need a say.

Brexit Secretary David Davis will make a statement to MPs at 12:30 GMT.

During the Supreme Court hearing, campaigners argued that denying the UK Parliament a vote was undemocratic.

But the government said it already had the powers to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – getting talks under way – without the need for consulting MPs and peers. It wants to do this by the end of March.

Reading out the judgement, Supreme Court President Lord Neuberger said: “By a majority of eight to three, the Supreme Court today rules that the government cannot trigger Article 50 without an act of Parliament authorising it to do so.”

The court also rejected arguments that the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly should get to vote on Article 50 before it is triggered.

Lord Neuberger said: “Relations with the EU are a matter for the UK government.”

Outside the court, Attorney General Jeremy Wright said the government was “disappointed” but would “comply” and do “all that is necessary” to implement the court’s judgement.

 

NRB expands South African presence with takeover of boutique firm

Keller Snyman Schelhase’s four lawyers join Norton Rose Fulbright in Cape Town.

Norton Rose Fulbright has acquired four-lawyer commercial law boutique Keller Snyman Schelhase (KSS) in Cape Town, a move that comes six years after the global legal giant launched in South Africa via a merger with one of the country’s largest firms.

KSS partners Andrea Keller, Anton Schelhase and Lauren Fine are joining the firm’s South African partnership as directors. The Cape Town firm, which was formed in 2012, advises clients in the energy, infrastructure, real estate, retail, transportation and financial services sectors.

KWM China speaks out on Europe demise “there’s nothing we could have done differently”

King & Wood Mallesons’ new European partnership – which consists of 32 partners – has been invited to a partner conference in China in February where they will be told about the new strategy for the global firm following the LLP going into administration this week.

The news comes as KWM Shanghai M&A partner Mark Schaub has become the first Chinese partner to speak out about the European administration.

Speaking to The Lawyer he said: “We’ve reached out to clients whose matters are continued to be worked up on. Some Chinese clients have raised concerns, but we’ve been able to deal with their concerns.”

He added there was a “sense of sadness” in the Shanghai office today about what has happened with the European firm. “People here are thinking about their former colleagues in Europe today,” he said.

“At the heart of it, all of us would have preferred a different outcome, but it was unfortunate that the legacy SJ Berwin partners couldn’t commit to the rescue offer made by the Chinese and Australian firms a few months ago.

“We’re doing our best to minimise the impact on clients and we are more looking forward to see what we need to do to make it work.

“There was a feeling that the failure in Europe has nothing to do with the Chinese firm or Australian firm or the verein. Many people said the legacy SJ Berwin had issues prior to the merger and those issues percolated to the top a few years after.

“We’ve tried to support Europe and refer matters to our European colleagues as well as the rescue offer last year. There is a sense that nothing we could have done differently that could have changed the outcome.”

Schaub was the first foreign partner to join Chinese legacy firm King & Wood in 2000.

The lawyers who are remaining with KWM in London following the administration will move to a small serviced office in St. Paul’s in the next few days.

The Lawyer has learned EUME managing partner Tim Bednall, a legacy Mallesons partner, is likely to return to the Australian partnership following the European collapse.

It has not yet emerged who will run the European arm of KWM.

The partners remaining with KWM in London are: disputes partners Andrei Yakovlev, Dorothy Murray and Darren Rosier, corporate finance partner Greg Stonefield, M&A partner Joseph Newitt, corporate partner Mike Wang and structured finance partner Vanessa Docherty.

The Chinese-Australian firm will also maintain “core practices” in Frankfurt, Dubai and Riyadh, plus affiliated offices in Madrid, Milan and Brussels. It has closed the office in Luxembourg, while the Paris office has moved en masse to Goodwin Procter and Willkie Farr.

The Madrid office will keep 10 partners; Milan will keep five; Brussels one; Dubai four; Riyadh two and Frankfurt three.

The new European platform will continue to operate under the Swiss verein structure. KWM China established a new LLP in Germany, KWM Deutschland LLP, late last year.

Each office has received financial support from China this week. The Europe offices will operate as single entities and report their financial results individually, in accordance with local regulations.

KWM’s reduced London office will consist of 12 associates and 12 staff, including consultants, plus the seven partners.

Around 30 partners from the EUME operation, which is now in administration, will join KWM China. The Dubai office has been led by SJ Berwin lifer and former litigation head Tim Taylor QC.

KWM global chairman Wang Junfeng said in a statement: “I am proud and excited by the determination of our partners who have worked so hard with us to realise this practice in deeply challenging circumstances. This is a very good outcome for international clients and for the continued development of our firm.”

On Tuesday restructuring specialists Quantuma confirmed it had been appointed administrators to KWM LLP.

All of the firm’s remaining assets and control of the business will now transfer to Quantuma administrator Andrew Hosking.

Hosking has appointed a number of advisers to the administration process which have been approved by KWM lender Barclays. The advisers are CMS Cameron McKenna partner Rita Lowe, who famously advised on the Dewey & LaBoeuf administration, Pinsent Masons partner Steve Cottee, and Ashfords, which is providing regulatory advice. Ashfords head of financial risk Sam Palmer has been appointed solicitor manager to the administration.

Hosking will attempt to repay some of KWM’s substantial debts in the UK and Europe, including its £35m loan from Barclays.

KWM first filed its notice of intention to appoint administrators on 22 December, and renewed it last week to buy itself more time to sell off parts of the business.

A number of teams, including trainees, associates and support staff, have been sold off by KWM managing partner Tim Bednall to other firms in recent weeks.

Goodwin Procter took a 26-strong team last week. Other groups have moved to DLA Piper and Reed Smith, with more set to move to Macfarlanes, Covington & Burling and Keystone Law.

Last week Bednall broke the news to all remaining employees that it would not be able to pay salaries owed for January after Barclays rejected a call for extra funds from the firm.

On the same day KWM’s former administrators AlixPartners pulled out of the administration, with the firm instead turning to Hosking.

In total, more than 40 partners left KWM across the UK, Europe and Middle East in the last two months of 2016 as the LLP’s finances reached crisis point and an administration became inevitable. Around 90 partners left the firm in total over 2016.

Trump transition leaves DC legal market “saturated”

The inauguration of president elect Donald Trump is a topic that reaches pretty much every aspect of life, something that is apparent in this comment from one Washington legal market specialist: “I was talking to my therapist last Friday and she told me that every one of her patients was obsessing with Trump. Nothing is in equilibrium. It’s like Brexit, you simply cannot think of anything else.”

Baker & Mckenzie predict plunge in M&A activity as Brexit uncertainty continues

Corporate deals in the UK will continue to drop on last year in the wake of Brexit uncertainty, according to one law firm.

Baker McKenzie’s medium-term forecast report on M&A activity predicts that in the event of an “amicable separation Brexit will have only a modest impact on transactions in most of Europe”.

However, the immediate outlook is less positive, with the report arguing that the value of deals this year would plunge by more than 60 per cent compared to last year, resulting in a total of about £102.5 billion.

In the rest of the EU, however, the forecasters expect the value of deals to soar by almost 44 per cent to £376bn.

Tim Gee, a partner at the firm, said: “Given Brexit’s impact on business confidence, we expect M&A values to fall by two thirds in 2017 after numerous large deals in the first half of last year boosted 2016.”

He added M&A activity should stabilise next year “as greater certainty emerges about the UK’s new relationship with the EU and the rest of the world”.