Akin Gump has announced that Patricia A. Millett, co-head of the firm’s Supreme Court practice and of its national appellate practice, has been confirmed by the United States Senate to serve as a federal appeals court judge for the DC Circuit. Ms. Millett’s confirmation follows her nomination by President Obama in June of this year.
“We are incredibly proud of Pattie for this significant achievement, which speaks both to her tremendous knowledge and experience, as well as to her unquestionable work ethic and integrity,” stated Akin Gump chairperson Kim Koopersmith. “While she will be missed, our Supreme Court practice is in excellent hands with Pratik Shah, who will continue to lead the practice and provide the kind of top-tier advocacy our clients have come to expect from Akin Gump.”
Mr. Shah joined the firm in August from the solicitor general’s office. He has argued more than a dozen cases before the Supreme Court while authoring merits briefs in 10 others. The firm’s national appellate practice will continue to be led by Los Angeles partner Rex Heinke.
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On December 4, members of Akin Gump’s global energy and transactions group provided a briefing for members of the media that included a look forward to U.S. and global trends in energy production in 2014.
The panel comprised energy regulation, markets and enforcement practice co-head Suedeen Kelly, energy partner Stephen Davis, London partner and Moscow partner in charge Sebastian Rice, global project finance practice co-head Adam Umanoff and financial restructuring partner Ira Dizengoff. The briefing was moderated by Rick Burdick, chair of the firm’s global energy and transactions group.
Ms. Kelly discussed distributed generation (DG) – “electric generation that’s connected to the distribution system as opposed to the transmission system,” in her definition, based in small generators typically but not exclusively owned by electric customers rather than utilities.
Mr. Davis spoke about the growth of the United States as an energy exporter, mentioning the exportation of natural gas by pipeline, compressed natural gas, coal and gas-to-liquids and spotlighting trends in the exporting of LNG, petroleum products, liquefied petroleum gases and crude oil.
Mr. Rice discussed the increase in opportunities in West Africa, especially Nigeria, Gabon and Ghana, which produce roughly one third of Africa’s output. While the years ahead are expected to be a transformative period for its oil and gas market, major international oil companies face many risks and challenges.
Mr. Umanoff outlined prospects for domestic renewable energy (primarily wind and solar) over the medium term. The growth of the wind market has been substantial, but uncertainty on a policy level has diminished growth in 2013. Solar has seen steady growth; however, low power prices and cheap natural gas threaten the continued growth of renewable energy.
Mr. Dizengoff noted the number of energy sector chapter 11 filings in 2013 and identified among the contributing factors cheap and abundant natural gas, environmental compliance costs and government promotion of renewable technologies.
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A federal judge in California has ruled in favor of Akin Gump client 24 Hour Fitness USA, saying the company’s mandatory arbitration policy barring class actions is valid.
Exercise instructors at 24 Hour Fitness had sued the company, claiming they were not paid overtime and missed meal and rest compensation, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Citing its own policy, which mandates employment-related disputes be resolved through arbitration and bars class actions, 24 Hour Fitness filed a motion to compel arbitration. Judge Edward Davila ruled that the Supreme Court’s decision in AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion held that the Federal Arbitration Act prevented states from invalidating arbitration agreements based on the availability of class action procedures.
The Akin Gump team representing 24 Hour Fitness included labor and employment partner Gregory Knopp and counsel Jeremy Bollinger.
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Akin Gump advised Monongahela Power Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., in a Rule 144A/Reg. S offering of $1 billion of first mortgage bonds. The bonds were issued in two tranches: $400 million of 4.10 percent bonds due 2024 and $600 million of 5.40 percent bonds due 2043. Monongahela Power is using the proceeds primarily to repay existing debt, including debt incurred in connection with its recent acquisition of sole ownership of the coal-fired Harrison Power Station (1,984 MW) in an asset swap with affiliate Allegheny Energy Supply Company LLC.
Akin Gump corporate partners Lucas Torres and Alice Hsu led the team advising Monongahela Power Company in the offering, along with counsel Jeremy Smith and associates Alyssa Dossick and Sophia Dwosh. Corporate partners Dan Fisher and Jeremy Schwer and associate Rik Gadhia advised FirstEnergy on the related asset swap.
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Six Akin Gump attorneys have been selected to receive a 2013 MVP award from Law360. The awards, now in their third year, recognize “the elite law firm partners whose exemplary work on critical litigation, mammoth deals and first-of-their-kind global matters earned them a spot on this year's list.”
The honorees are John Goodgame (Energy); Patricia Millett (Appellate); Daniel Nash (Employment); Ed Rubinoff (International Trade); Adam Umanoff (Project Finance) and Stephanie Webster (Health Care).
This is the second year in a row that Patricia Millett has been recognized by Law360. By having six partners so honored, Akin Gump ties for third place among the 58 law firms represented in these ranks.