60 Seconds with Jim Walden of Walden Macht & Haran

Capital New York

60 SECONDS WITH… Jim Walden of Walden Macht & Haran After spending nine years at Gibson Dunn, where he received a host of accolades for his pro bono and white collar defense work, Walden departed with a couple of colleagues from his days at the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn, to start his own firm. Capital talked with him about leaving Gibson Dunn, his work with Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the news about some old colleagues from the Eastern District. The interview was edited for length and clarity. CAPITAL: Leaving Gibson Dunn must have been a difficult decision—what tipped the scales for you to found your own firm? WALDEN: I couldn’t have asked for more from a law firm than I got from Gibson Dunn. It is a special place, and I owe a special debt of gratitude to Randy Mastro, who has always been a tremendously supportive friend and colleague. But I also believed that I could build a unique firm, combining my experience in white collar investigations, anti-fraud litigation, and good government work, which are perfect complements in my view. CAPITAL: What are you goals with the new firm? WALDEN: My goal is to have a firm with a warm internal culture but a laser-like focus on client service. We are hand-picking our team, including only lawyers with whom we previously worked. We will make them even better, and create a clear path to partnership. We now have complete flexibility regarding client and case selection, and rates. We will continue our civil and criminal defense practice, but will also handle certain select plaintiff’s-side cases in a few specific industries where we think fraud is rampant (and obviously where there is no conflict with our defense-side work). We will also continue my good government work. CAPITAL: Let’s talk about Mayor Bill de Blasio. You’ve been a supporter of his campaign for mayor, and represented him during his public advocate days even before Long Island College Hospital. How did that relationship come about? WALDEN: My first experience with Mayor de Blasio came when Randy Mastro and I represented him—when he was a Member of City Council —in his fight against Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to override voter-approved term limits. It was a righteous fight, especially because Mayor Bloomberg was on record as opposing any side-stepping of term limits. When Mayor de Blasio became Public Advocate, I worked on a number of matters for his Office, although LICH was the first filed lawsuit. CAPITAL: On LICH, were you pleased with the results there? Obviously there’s lasting community resentment in some quarters—do you think the best result was achieved on the legal front? WALDEN: When I came into the case, SUNY had already issued an R.F.P. for the hospital campus. The community wanted the original R.F.P. overturned and redone. Those were my marching orders, and we got that done with the court-approved settlement. Obviously, the community was hoping the new R.F.P. would have identified a bidder interested in a full-service hospital. I still believe that would have been possible had S.U.N.Y., the City, and the unions come together with that result as their primary goal. It wasn’t. The community lost out, and a venerable, 150-year-old teaching hospital died. I feel good about securing the new R.F.P., and I am glad the community kept a functioning E.R. with limited ambulance service. But I am disappointed the community lost its full-service hospital. CAPITAL: How excited are you to see U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch—your former boss—on the cusp of becoming the next U.S. Attorney General? WALDEN: The entire E.D.N.Y. family is incredibly proud of our next Attorney General. She exemplifies what is most special about our Office. She has integrity, guts, and deep experience from her many years serving the public. And, she is not alone: Leslie Caldwell, Marshall Miller, Sung-Hee Suh, Andrew Weissman, Jack Smith, and Carolyn Pokorny—all former E.D.N.Y.-er—have significant leadership positions at Main Justice. We are proud of them all. We know they will fight for justice, and will fight fairly. See the full article

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