As insider trading and securities fraud cases continue to make headlines, the latest firm to ramp up its white-collar defense practice is McDermott Will & Emery. The firm has added two partners to its white-collar and securities defense group, one in New York City and one in Houston.
Todd Harrison, a former federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of New York, comes to McDermott's Manhattan offices from Patton Boggs. He worked at the latter firm as a white-collar defense attorney from 2008 to 2011, and then took a respite from private practice to become Chief Counsel for Oversight and Investigations at the Energy and Commerce Committee of the United States House of Representatives. In the latter role, Harrison oversaw investigations in the energy, power, telecommunications, trade, manufacturing, health care, and other industries. He also reviewed the work of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Department of Energy, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Commerce, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and other federal agencies. Harrison rejoined Patton Boggs in October 2012 and remained there until his move to McDermott.
As a white-collar defense lawyer, Harrisons clients have included global banks, hedge funds, financial services companies, trade associations, and individuals. He represented an international bank in asset forfeiture proceedings in New Yorks Southern District and other jurisdictions, advised a hedge fund facing a fraud and kickbacks investigation by the New York State Attorney Generals Office, and represented a former executive of an investment bank in a FINRA investigation, among many other matters.
Harrison characterized McDermott as a congenial place for people who like to be in a courtroom, noting that the firm has numerous personnel with actual trial experience. McDermotts strength in this area can be valuable for clients caught up in civil litigations or government investigations, he noted. Harrison went on to describe some of the current trends driving work for lawyers in the enforcement field in his jurisdiction.
In New York over the last several years, there have been a number of big insider trading investigations. The push by the Department of Justice as well as the Southern District U.S. Attorneys office to handle more tax-related matters has also led to a lot of internal investigations and prosecutions. Those are two areas, among others, that Ive been involved in, Harrison said. There is also a large-scale investigation of the construction industry going on in New York, and thats been driving work here, he added.
Harrison anticipates opportunities to apply his expertise in the area of tax investigations, though those often take a different course from other types of white-collar proceedings. The large-scale tax investigations havent led to as many trials, but there are a lot of high-net-worth individuals in those cases. A couple of them have gone to trial, but most of them have settled. Whether its a bank, its executives or high net-worth individuals, they all need top-notch counsel, he said.
Michael Wynne comes to McDermott following 11 years as an assistant United States attorney based in Houston. In that role, Wynne handled RICO public corruption cases in which the defendants sometimes included judges, lawyers, or fellow prosecutors, and he oversaw fraud investigations and counterterrorism initiatives. Wynne acted as lead counsel for the government in the RICO trial and conviction, on extortion and kickbacks charges, of a district attorney who was running for Congress; led the prosecution of a former automotive dealership owner for stealing over $400 million; and spearheaded the prosecution of Houston-area mortgage brokers who had operated fraudulent schemes in the area.
Like Harrison, Wynne identified the number of people with trial experience, particularly former federal prosecutors, as a factor luring him to McDermott.
Once an individual or company is charged, your options are somewhat defined, so our task is to advise and help clients every single step of the way in fraud, public corruption, RICO, or any other type of actual or potential white collar investigation or prosecution. Having that kind of experience, and knowing what the government or the state may be thinking, helps when it comes to representing or defending an individual or company, Wynne said.
Wynne made some observations on a few of the macro trends that are driving and are likely to continue to drive work for lawyers in his jurisdiction.
Health care is a driving force in this economy locally, and energy is only going to get larger. We have our share of identity theft cases, but I see the growth in energy-related matters and disputes, whether FCPA matters or otherwise, arising out of that, he said. Houston, and Texas in general, is a growing economy, and wed like to take advantage of that, have a presence, and provide resources to people and companies facing white-collar challenges in Texas, Wynne added.