In the News Commercial Dispute Resolution

NY federal prosecutor returns to Kirkland

A former acting US attorney has returned to Kirkland after 14 years away, stepping up to partner in the process.

Kirkland & Ellis has rehired former acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York Jacquelyn Kasulis, this time as partner, to its New York-based government, regulatory and internal investigations group.

Talking to CDR, Kasulis “spoke to many firms” after she left public service in October, “but it became clear Kirkland was the right move for me as it had been when I was first out of law school”. She describes the firm as “entrepreneurial and innovative” and praises its “creativity and skills” as “the qualities that attracted me to the firm ultimately”.

As a prosecutor, she brings experience of investigation and prosecution of alleged criminal and regulatory breaches such as money laundering, market misconduct, national security, cybercrime, and securities, healthcare and investment fraud matters. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the Bank Secrecy Act mandates are additional areas of strength.

Highlights for Kasulis include leading the prosecution of notorious pharmaceutical company and hedge fund director Martin Shkreli, dubbed by the media as ‘Pharma Bro’, on securities and wire fraud charges.

“That trial was very hard fought, there was a lot of media attention as it was one of the earliest instances of trials being covered from a minute-to-minute perspective with live tweeting as to what was transpiring in the courtroom. It was a challenging case, and white-collar securities cases are among most difficult to prosecute,” she says.

Kasulis honed her trial skills during her first four-year spell at Kirkland & Ellis: “I was fortunate to have participated on two trial teams as a civil litigator and took a number of depositions. That was the experience I wanted, to hit the ground running, and the firm gave me great opportunities.”

On entering public service, she found that “civil trial skills are transferable to criminal trials”. Initially handling general crime followed by three years in the organised crime section where she prosecuted members of the Genovese family, she later moved on to be deputy chief and later chief of the business and securities fraud section. As acting US attorney, she supervised 480 staff including 175 assistant US attorneys.

Kasulis speaks of her tenure as a prosecutor as rewarding and ultimately formative: “It was challenging but I love the work and find it really meaningful. [Criminal] prosecution pits you against the best of the best at the Bar, so it really ups your game as a litigator.”

In her new role she will focus on white-collar defence, an area which she predicts will grow more rapidly as the new US administration beds in. She had noted increased guidance directions from agencies such as the Department of Justice (DoJ) and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in her final months in public service, “which signal increased focus on white-collar enforcement, with tougher corporate enforcement standards and dedication of more resources towards white-collar investigations and ultimately prosecutions”.

Kasulis foresees more stringent oversight of financial markets and suspected corruption: “Wall Street and financial institutions should expect increased scrutiny of business practices and compliance programmes. The administration will continue to prioritise anti-corruption and FCPA work which involves a lot of cross-border investigation, [and] has also been forward looking in the cryptocurrency space.”

In a statement, chairman of Kirkland’s executive committee Jon Ballis highlighted Kasulis’ “outstanding reputation as a prosecutor in one of the country’s most prominent US Attorney’s offices”, while head of government, regulatory and internal investigations practice Mark Filip spoke of her “deep experience in Wall Street cases and cross-border financial cases”.

Kasulis’ return follows Kirkland’s hire of a number of former public service litigators of late, including  in October, and  in December, all in Washington, DC.

Last month two assistant US attorneys  at Dechert and Crowell & Moring in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, respectively.

The original article, authored by Robert Li, is available to subscribers here.

This article originally appeared on Commercial Dispute Resolution on Fenruary 4, 2022. Further reproduction without permission is prohibited.