George A. Stamboulidis

Building the New York Practice

Editors’ Note

In addition to his current post, George Stamboulidis serves as a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and as Co-Leader of the national White Collar Defense and Corporate Investigations practice, which has become one of the preeminent of such practices in the industry. Stamboulidis joined the firm with the opening of the New York office after an illustrious 13-year career as a federal prosecutor in New York and New Jersey. He has received numerous awards and commendations for his work as a prosecutor and has three times received the Justice Department’s coveted Director’s Award for Superior Performance. Stamboulidis serves as a member of the American Bar Association’s Advisory Panel, and also has received the highest peer review rating in Martindale-Hubbell.

Company Brief

Baker Hostetler (www.bakerlaw.com) celebrated its 90th anniversary in 2006. Their clients include businesses and individuals considered leaders globally, nationally, regionally, and locally in such diverse industries as hospitality, health care, financial services, media, energy, sports, and technology. The firm offers the strength of more than 600 lawyers in a broad range of practices at 11 offices across the U.S., including their newest office in Chicago, which opened in November 2009.

Baker Hostetler’s New York office, which Stamboulidis helped open in 2001, serves a diverse client base, including international corporations, domestic market leaders, municipalities, trade organizations, emerging businesses, and entrepreneurs. Today, the office features almost 100 attorneys, making it one of the largest offices in the firm. The office provides a broad spectrum of legal services, with particular emphasis on litigation, corporate, white collar defense and corporate investigations, intellectual property, securities litigation and regulatory enforcement, bankruptcy, tax, and real estate.

After opening the New York office in July 2001, how did the practice develop?

Initially, there was a fair amount of white collar work, both from existing clients and work that we were developing as we established the profile of the New York office. Then you had 9/11, and all white collar work came to a halt because, initially, all law enforcement resources were reallocated to running down counter-terrorism leads. At the time, we took in another law firm that had lost its office when the World Trade Center collapsed. We gave them a home until they could rebuild.

By the end of 2001, white collar prosecutions came back with a vengeance – things like WorldCom, Tyco, and Enron – and our practice again flourished. We were selected to handle the monitorship of Merrill Lynch out of the Justice Department’s criminal probe of Enron, and that led to similar monitoring engagements in later years, for the Bank of New York and Mellon Bank. That ultimately positioned us well to be appointed in the liquidation of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC, where we serve as trustee and counsel to the trustee with the responsibility to recover assets for distribution to the investors.

The New York office started with litigators, and quickly added corporate, intellectual property, bankruptcy, and tax attorneys. It continues to grow, one lawyer at a time, bringing us up to over 90 lawyers now, with others in the pipeline.

What are the primary practice areas that you handle today?

We have five primary practice groups: business, employment and labor, intellectual property, litigation, and tax. The New York office has people practicing law in each of those practice groups. My own practice is still focused on white collar defense, corporate and internal investigations, monitorship work, and securities and commercial litigation. Our intellectual property practice has grown in leaps and bounds, both in New York and elsewhere in the firm, and includes patent work, trademark work, and litigation.

With nine other offices, do you strive for close coordination from office to office in order to provide seamless service to your clients?

We do. Often the clients don’t know, and don’t care, which of our offices the professionals comes from – they just want to know them and that they’re working on the team. There are economic benefits for our clients as well, because while rates for most law firms in New York may be high, having lawyers from other markets working on their matters can reduce the cost for the client. The Madoff matter, for example, includes lawyers from most of the offices across the firm.

Have the issues and cases become more complex today, and has the type of work you’re doing changed over the years?

It depends on the field. Anytime there is increased regulation or economic uncertainty, the unpredictability of the market makes business decision-making and risk mitigation more difficult. That impacts deal work, restructurings, and litigation in many ways, so the issues can become more nuanced and more complex, and it becomes more important for lawyers to have specialized expertise to handle significant matters for our clients. That’s why, in large part, this firm has succeeded; it has areas for which it is the go-to firm, and our clients recognize that.

How have you been able to continue to grow in the New York market against the current trends of layoffs and downsizing?

It’s a combination of factors. This is a firm that has no debt and that has always run itself in a way that is fiscally sound. In the boom times, we may not be at the peak of the wave, but in the harsh economic times, we’re still in the upper portion of the wave. We never hit the low, which makes it very attractive for people like me to come to a firm with a lot of stability; where you know you can practice law with a bright, talented, and diverse team of attorneys; and where you can help clients without having to worry about the firm’s future.

Has being the managing partner for the firm’s New York office made it more challenging for you to balance your time?

Yes, it has made it more challenging, but life is a balancing act. I love the practice of law, and continue to actively handle client matters. In many ways, my role as a firm administrator brings more value to my clients because I better understand how to run a business. This has made me a better lawyer for our business clients.