October 29, 2020

DealBook: Zuckerman Spaeder Builds Out Its New York Practice

Chang W. Lee/The New York TimesSteven M. Cohen, left, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s former top aide, joined Zuckerman Spaeder last month.

Over the last 35 years, the Washington law firm Zuckerman Spaeder has built a well-regarded litigation boutique, largely inside the Beltway. Now, with the hiring of three prominent lawyers in two weeks, the firm has moved to establish a formidable criminal defense practice in New York.

Steven M. Cohen, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, joined Zuckerman Spaeder last month. On Monday, the firm said that Paul Shechtman, a top criminal defense lawyer, had come on board. And the firm is expected to announce on Wednesday that it has lured Andrew E. Tomback away from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley McCloy.

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“Zuckerman has made a smart investment in an extremely talented trio of quintessential New York lawyers,” said Andrew Levander, a white-collar defense lawyer at Dechert L.L.P.

Zuckerman Spaeder, which has 92 lawyers, is not an unknown quantity in New York. The firm recently made headlines here when William W. Taylor III, a partner based in Washington, helped successfully defend Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, against charges that he had sexually assaulted a hotel maid.

Mr. Tomback, 51, spent 14 years at Milbank after serving in the Clinton administration. He represented a number of American International Group employees in the government’s investigation of the insurance giant, and served as Robert De Niro’s lawyer during the actor’s child custody and divorce dispute.

John Marshall Mantel for The New York TimesOn Monday, Zuckerman Spaeder said Paul Shechtman, a top criminal defense lawyer, had joined the firm.

Mr. Shechtman, 62, was a name partner at Stillman, Friedman Shechtman, a criminal defense boutique in New York, where he had worked since 1997. His representations include the rapper Lil’ Kim, who was convicted of lying to a grand jury about a shooting incident. A former law clerk to Warren Burger, a chief justice of the United States, Mr. Shechtman has also served in several top government posts in New York, including director of criminal justice under Gov. George Pataki.

In addition to building out a traditional criminal defense practice, Mr. Shechtman said Zuckerman Spaeder’s New York branch was expected to handle internal corporate investigations, regulatory work and complex commercial litigation.

Mr. Cohen, 48, is to oversee the growth of the office, which already has three lawyers. He is taking up his new post after nearly five years with Mr. Cuomo, first as chief of staff in the attorney general’s office and then as secretary to the governor.

Mr. Cohen said that after he had explored the idea of opening his own firm, Roger E. Zuckerman, the Zuckerman Spaeder founder, persuaded him to join the firm in New York, where he would effectively have a start-up firm without many of its hassles.

The new partners have deep professional ties. All are former federal prosecutors in Manhattan. Mr. Shechtman, who has been an adjunct professor for 20 years at Columbia Law School, taught Mr. Cohen evidence. And Mr. Tomback and Mr. Cohen both served as law clerks to Judge Stanley Sporkin in Washington.

In an interview in their offices on Monday, the three new partners exuded the bonhomie of old friends, trading war stories and banter.

When a reporter asked why he would leave a firm with his name on the door, Mr. Shechtman joked that “they’ve agreed to put my name on the door here in about a year.”

“Yeah, we’re going to put your name on the door,” said Mr. Cohen, motioning toward Mr. Shechtman’s new office down the hall. “On your door.”

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=65f1df576b963f7c71a9d2841e729460

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