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Law firm recruits federal judge who presided over Ebbers case

By Casey Sullivan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Barbara Jones, the federal judge who presided over the criminal trial of former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers, will join the law firm of Zuckerman Spaeder later this month, according to a partner at the firm.

Jones, 65, will begin work on January 15 at the New York office of the Washington-based firm, where she will focus on advising clients on internal investigations, corporate compliance and monitorships, said Zuckerman partner Paul Shechtman, who helped recruit her. She will join the firm as a partner, he said.

During 17 years on the bench, Jones presided over a wide range of cases, including the Ebbers trial and the 1997 trial of Autumn Jackson, the woman convicted of trying to extort $40 million from Bill Cosby. Ebbers was sentenced in 2005 to 25 years in prison for orchestrating an $11 billion fraud that led to WorldCom's bankruptcy.

Jones's move to Zuckerman, which was first reported by The New York Times, marks the first time she will practice law in a private setting and bolsters the law firm's New York presence.

In September 2011, it brought on board Steven Cohen, the former top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Other influential hires have included the September 2011 addition of Shechtman, a criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, and Andrew Tomback, a civil and criminal litigator who joined from Milbank, Tweed, Hadley& McCloy.

Zuckerman Spaeder has more than 90 lawyers in four offices on the East Coast. The firm came into the spotlight when one of its partners, William Taylor III, helped defend former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn against charges that he sexually assaulted hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo.

The criminal charges were dropped in August 2011. A civil lawsuit brought by the maid settled for an undisclosed amount last month.

Jones did not immediately return a request for comment on Friday.

(Reporting by Casey Sullivan, Editing by Noeleen Walder, Gary Hill)

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