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Baker McKenzie grows Life Sciences practice in New York

The co-chairman of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius’ life sciences practice, Randall Sunberg, and partner Denis Segota are moving to Baker McKenzie in the Big Apple.

Sunberg and Segota will join Baker McKenzie as partners in its health care industry group and its North America corporate and securities practice, the firm announced Tuesday. Though they are officially members of the firm’s New York office, they will operate out of the life sciences corridor in Princeton, New Jersey.

“The international platform is just unbeatable [at Baker McKenzie],” said Sunberg, who will now serve as co-head of the firm’s North America life sciences practice.

Sunberg joined Morgan Lewis in 1999 from Shook, Hardy & Bacon and has worked with clients on M&A and private financing transactions for more than 35 years.

He works with life sciences clients from biotech startups to multinational pharmaceutical and medical device companies on complex collaborations, joint ventures and licensing transactions, as well as equity investments and alternative financing arrangements. He also works with clients on contractual arrangements for drug discovery, development and manufacturing.

It was the focus on health care and life sciences worldwide that drove the pair to make the jump to Baker McKenzie, Sunberg said. From the number of cross-border transactions to the firm’s role in M&A and emerging markets across the globe, Baker McKenzie offered “a compelling story for us and for our ability to serve our clients on an even larger platform,” he added.

And Baker McKenzie’s presence in these emerging markets provides a strategic advantage for some of the pair’s clients looking to access services in those locations.

“Our pharmaceutical clients are focusing on growth and they’re looking at emerging markets for [that] growth,” said Segota, who spent nearly 20 years at Morgan Lewis advising companies in the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors on joint ventures, strategic alliances, licensing and other arrangements promoting the research and development of new products.

Segota advises clients on M&A and private financing transactions, working with both financial institutions and companies in royalty monetizations, venture capital and other private equity financings.

“Randy and Denis are trusted advisers to companies across the life sciences sector, from biotech startups to global pharmaceutical companies,” Alan Zoccolillo, chairman of Baker McKenzie’s North America health care industry group, said in a statement.

“As health care companies look to grow in a hypercompetitive environment, they need pragmatic, business-focused solutions. Randy and Denis bring deep industry and technical knowledge that will immediately benefit our team and our clients.”

Sunberg said there is a lot of client overlap already between the firm and his and Segota’s practice, but the pair will now bring the licensing and collaboration expertise to representations on a more global scale.

“We are really looking forward to working with the rest of the health care team at Baker McKenzie to build [the practice] and make it even stronger and have a really purposeful approach toward adding elements where we think we need additional expertise to better serve our clients on their worldwide transactions,” he added.

The pair worked with Sabina Lippman and Vijay Luthra of global legal recruitment firm Lippman Jungers in their move.

The addition of Sunberg and Segota is one of the first major hires stateside for Baker McKenzie, which earlier this year added White & Case M&A attorney Peter Lu as a partner and head of the firm’s China group in London. The firm also added consultants Casey Flaherty and Jae Um as director of legal project management and director of pricing strategy, respectively, as the firm looks to re-engineer the delivery of its services.

INDIA PHOTO

India court ruling bars foreign law firms from practice

Foreign firms can only advise Indian clients on matters pertaining to foreign laws on temporary ‘fly in, fly out basis’.

New Delhi – India’s top court has refused to allow the entry of foreign law firms wanting to practise law in Indian courts.

Foreign lawyers can only advise their clients in India on matters pertaining to foreign laws on a temporary “fly in, fly out basis”.

“Fly in and fly out would cover a casual visit and not amount to practice,” Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel was quoted as saying by Indian news media on Tuesday.

The court has directed the Bar Council of India and the Indian government to frame rules for foreign lawyers advising Indian clients.

Joseph Pookkatt, partner at APJ-SLG Law firm in New Delhi, said the ruling “essentially means that foreign lawyers cannot set up shop in India”.

“The concept of ‘fly in and fly out’ means that in case foreign lawyers need to render legal advice to their clients in India, they can come to India, meet their client, render advice and then fly out without establishing any sort of permanent establishment in India,” he told Advisory Excellence.

“But only lawyers registered with the Bar Council of India and governed by the Advocates Act can practise law in India.”

No ‘carte blanche’

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has been averse to the idea of opening up the legal field to foreign players.

The BCI has said it does not want to give foreign arbitrators a free run in the country.

“They can’t have a carte blanche, do what they wish,” CU Singh, a senior lawyer appearing for the BCI, had argued.

In a special India report, global law firm White & Case had warned that foreign business companies should structure contracts in a way that disputes are resolved through offshore mediation, possibly through non-Indian courts.

“Even when Indian law is the basis of the contract, it is important to agree to settle disputes through arbitration seated outside India,” said the report titled Navigating India: Lessons for foreign investors.

The firm had also referred to judicial delays while resolving business disputes in Indian courts. Some take as long as a decade.

There are more than 30 million pending cases in Indian courts, according to recent government data.

“The Indian government and the Bar Council of India should work together to eke out rules and regulations that would frame work of foreign legal counsel in India, preferably on reciprocal basis. If an Indian lawyer appears in a foreign court, what are the rules governing his practice? It should be reciprocal,” Pinaki Mishra, a senior Indian Supreme Court lawyer and Member of Parliament, told Advisory Excellence.

Rules for foreign lawyers

The Indian government had earlier asked the Bar Council of India to frame rules for foreign lawyers in India.

“We want foreign lawyers to come so as to not deny the Indian advocates of the same privilege in other countries. If the BCI does not frame the rules, the Central government would take it upon itself to stipulate the rules,” Maninder Singh, India’s additional solicitor general, appearing for the government, had argued in the court earlier.

Dushyant Dave, a senior Indian Supreme Court lawyer, representing the London Court of International Arbitration, had argued for rejecting the plea that foreign lawyers cannot practise in India.

“Today the world is globalised. India can’t stay away from the rest of the world. Even a communist country like China has allowed foreign law firms into the country. India needs to let foreign lawyers practise here because of our commitment to the WTO that we would open up legal services in India,” Dave told Al Jazeera.

“India also really need FDI. Those who are going to invest their precious capital in technology would need it to be safeguarded. They would be more comfortable with their own lawyers working here.”

Orick PHOTO

Orrick hires six public finance lawyers in Texas

Six public finance lawyers have left Andrews Kurth Kenyon in Texas to join Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe—part of a larger group expected to leave Andrews Kurth for Orrick in the near future.

Texas Lawyer reported earlier this month that Andrews Kurth, which is shedding lawyers as it nears a merger with Virginia firm Hunton & Williams, was expected to lose a large public finance group to Orrick, which opened its first Texas office in January 2016 in Houston.

On Wednesday, Orrick confirmed that Robert Collie and Gene Locke recently joined the firm in Houston as senior counsel. The firm also confirmed that Jerry Turner joined as a senior counsel in Austin, along with of counsel Nathelie Ashby, Eric Johnson and Bill Medaille.

The firm is opening an office in Austin in connection with the lateral hires.

A spokeswoman for Orrick declined to comment on the extent of the lateral hires from Andrews Kurth in Texas. Locke and Collie, who list Orrick as their employer on their State Bar of Texas membership records, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Andrews Kurth currently lists 18 lawyers in its public finance practice and all are in Texas. Two sources with knowledge of the situation said that some lawyers in that public finance group plan to stay at Andrews Kurth and will not move to Orrick.

Andrews Kurth declined to comment on the departures, but dozens of the Houston-based firm’s Texas lawyers have changed firms in recent weeks. Beneficiaries of the lateral moves include White & Case, which opened an office in Houston this month, Katten Muchin & Rosenman, which opened an office in Dallas, and DLA Piper, which expanded in Dallas with Andrews Kurth laterals.