Federal prosecutor Michael Zweiback decided to join Weston Benshoof Rochefort Rubalcava & MacCuish LLP in order to help the firm build a white collar criminal defense practice group.

He prosecuted intellectual property, complex business and white-collar fraud cases for 18 years at the U.S. attorney's office. At the end of his tenure there, he was head of the cyber and intellectual property crimes section. In that role, he led investigations into piracy of movies, games and software, plus attacks on corporations by cyber hackers.

Zweiback said that experience will help him develop a strong white collar criminal practice group for Weston Benshoof.

"Anti-piracy is a growing area," Zweiback said. "You are seeing more activity from law firms and their clients on the civil side, because the resources on the criminal side are limited."

Zweiback's addition to Weston Benshoof exemplifies a current trend in the local legal community: Larger firms are looking to beef up their white collar criminal defense capabilities.

In November 2007, Mayer Brown LLP added high-profile while collar litigators Bryan Daly, Charles Kreindler and Marc Harris to their Los Angeles office. And in January, the Los Angeles office of Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP added Mark Beck and Anthony De Coroso.

All five lawyers worked together at a Los Angeles boutique white collar criminal defense firm before joining the significantly larger firms.

Representing Kozinski

Alex Kozinski, chief judge of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has hired prominent criminal defense lawyer Mark Holscher in anticipation of a legal battle over disciplinary measures stemming from sexually explicit photos found on his Web site.

Holscher is a partner in the Los Angeles and San Francisco offices of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

Kozinski came under scrutiny after the Los Angeles Times reported about the photos on June 11. At the time, Kozinski was presiding over the obscenity trial of Los Angeles-based filmmaker Ira Isaacs.

Kozinski has since declared a mistrial in Isaac's case and recused himself from the proceedings. The chief judge also called for a judicial misconduct investigation of himself, and a five-judge panel was formed to evaluate Kozinski's behavior.

Holscher, who was out of the country and couldn't be reached for comment, practices commercial litigation and white collar criminal defense at Kirkland & Ellis. Prior to joining the 1,400-attorney firm, Holscher practiced at Los Angeles-based O'Melveny & Myers LLP.

While at O'Melveny, Holscher represented former Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham and was one of the trial lawyers for former Enron Corp. Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling.

Real Estate Boom

Litigator Joshua Wayser's practice hasn't been hit by the downturn in the real estate market. In fact, his practice is booming.

"I do real estate litigation, and with the market where it is, I have been very busy," Wayser said. "When the economy is good, I am busy doing deals that have gone astray and when the economy is bad, I am busy working on deals that fall apart."

As a result of the uptick in business, Wayser joined the Los Angeles office of Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP as partner. The Chicago-based firm houses 650 attorneys in seven U.S. offices.

"I needed a big real estate platform, and they have a tremendous national real estate platform," Wayser said.

Wayser previously practiced in the Los Angeles office of Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell LLP.

He had previously practiced with Katten Muchin real estate litigation partner Benzion J. Westreich.

"It was an easy connection," Wayser said.

At Katten Muchin, Wayser said he can also offer his clients a large group of lawyers who can help with their other legal needs. Wayser's clients include California National Bank, Park National Bank, Cathay Bank, BankFirst and Pacific Coast Capital.

Russian Visitor

Nikolay Balayan added some international flavor to the Los Angeles office of Bingham McCutchen LLP last week when the Russian lawyer visited the firm.

Balayan landed in Los Angeles last Wednesday as this summer's participant in the Russian Lawyer Project. The project is spearheaded by William Downes, chief judge of the federal court in Wyoming.

Carl McKinzie, a partner in the Los Angeles office of Bingham McCutchen and a longtime supporter of the project, had Balayan stay at his Santa Monica home this time. McKinzie and his wife have hosted Russian lawyers each summer for the past decade.

"One of the purposes of the project is for Russian lawyers to experience and get to know U.S. citizens in a cultural and business setting," McKinzie said.

While in Los Angeles, Balayan not only learned about the legal community from local lawyers, he also met retired federal judge Dickran Tevrizian.

"He is the first federal judge with Armenian ancestry, so it will be really interesting for me to get to know him and his experiences," said Balayan, who is also of Armenian descent.

Balayan also took cooking classes in West Hollywood with Bingham McCutchen summer associates, and toured Hollywood. He was scheduled to return to Russia on June 29.

Balayan isn't currently practicing law in Russia; he's studying to get his master's in international law. He's already received the equivalent of a U.S. law degree, but will be returning to the U.S. in August to finish his master's degree at Southern Methodist University.

"It will make me much more competitive in the employment market in Russia and the U.S.," Balayan said.

Staff reporter Alexa Hyland can be reached at ahyland@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235.

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