Former White House Advisor And Sen. Leahy Chief Of Staff Ed Pagano Joins Akin Gump

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - 11:54

Akin Gump has announced that Ed Pagano, former White House deputy assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs and chief of staff for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), has joined the firm as a partner in its public law and policy practice in Washington.

Mr. Pagano, who has had a long and distinguished career in public service, spent the past two years in the Obama administration, where he served as the president’s liaison to the Senate. In this role, Mr. Pagano was responsible for managing the White House Senate Legislative Affairs Office and charged with advancing the president’s legislative agenda. He coordinated the administration’s legislative strategy on Senate action concerning issues that included patent reform, immigration reform, the Violence Against Women Act, reforms to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, gun violence prevention, the Affordable Care Act and judicial nominations.

Before joining the White House in 2012, Mr. Pagano worked for nearly two decades with Sen. Leahy, both for the senator’s office and for the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Leahy. This included serving as Sen. Leahy’s chief of staff, managing the senator’s offices in Washington and Vermont and overseeing the senator’s work on the Judiciary, Agriculture and Appropriations committees. During that time, Mr. Pagano advised Sen. Leahy on legislation -- such as the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act, the first major reform of the patent system in 60 years -- and Supreme Court hearings and confirmations, including those of Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Prior to becoming Sen. Leahy’s chief of staff, Mr. Pagano served as his senior counsel on the Judiciary Committee, focusing on economic and criminal justice legislation, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the USA PATRIOT Act and the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, as well as antitrust issues and data breach legislation. Mr. Pagano earlier worked as a legislative counsel for Sen. Leahy, monitoring legislative developments and implementing plans on tax and commerce legislation as well as coordinating economic development outreach in Vermont.

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Akin Gump has announced the addition of Michael J. Byrd as a partner in the firm’s energy practice in Houston. Mr. Byrd is an experienced and recognized attorney in the oil and gas industry, whose practice emphasizes upstream M&A transactions. He comes to Akin Gump from Baker & McKenzie, where he served as chair of that firm’s North America oil and gas practice group.

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The Utah House of Representatives on March 12 released its final report on its investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by former Utah Attorney General John Swallow.

Litigation partner Steven Reich led the Akin Gump team that conducted an exhaustive probe on behalf of the House Special Investigative Committee into Swallow’s conduct while in office. Reich served as the committee’s special counsel and, along with public law and policy partner Steven Ross and a team of lawyers and investigators, began his work last August.

Shortly after Swallow’s tenure as attorney general began, allegations surfaced that he had engaged in inappropriate and potentially unlawful conduct while serving as the state’s chief deputy attorney general. He resigned as attorney general in December in the middle of the committee’s investigation. The report concluded he had “hung a veritable ‘for sale’ sign on the Office door that invited moneyed interests to seek special treatment and favors.”

Other Akin Gump attorneys working on the matter included litigation partner Samidh Guha, counsel Christopher Egleson and James Tysse and associate Patrick Mott, and public law and policy counsel Megan Greer. The Utah House committee cited all the Akin Gump team members for their “experience, judgment, mental acuity, objectivity, and fierce commitment to pursuing the facts,” and for being “consummate professionals who performed the difficult tasks that drove the investigation.”

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Akin Gump has obtained a jury verdict of more than $25 million in the Eastern District of Texas in favor of LBDS Holding Company against ISOL Technology, Inc. The jury found that ISOL breached the parties’ contract, misappropriated trade secrets and committed unfair competition in connection with an agreement to develop cardiac MRI systems. The jury also rejected ISOL’s counterclaim that LBDS had breached the contract by failing to pay certain invoices.

The Akin Gump trial team was led by intellectual property partner Sanford Warren. It included partners Chad Everingham, a former magistrate judge in the Eastern District, and Lisa Gallerano; senior counsel Scott Rhoades; and counsel Jamie Duncan. They were assisted by counsel Josh Hedrick and associates Steve Udick and Brennan Meier.

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An Akin Gump team led by labor partner Greg Knopp successfully represented Starbucks in a suit brought by baristas who alleged that the coffee giant had not paid employees for the minutes spent closing the stores after clocking out.

Judge Gary A. Feess for the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted Starbucks’ motion for summary judgment and dismissed the putative class action, noting that “The brief moments that Plaintiff spent in and around the store after clocking out are an inevitable and incidental part of closing up any store at the end of business hours.”  The judge granted judgment based on Starbucks’ de minimis defense, stating that “the de minimis defense applies here and prevents Plaintiff from surviving Defendant’s motion for summary judgment with respect to his first claim for unpaid wages” and that his remaining claims, derivative of his first claim, also failed as a matter of law.

The Akin Gump team comprised Mr. Knopp, senior counsel Mark Curiel and associates Galit Knotz and Jonathan Slowik of the firm’s Century City, Los Angeles office.