Ropes & Gray Bolsters Enforcement and Antitrust Teams
Brian Blais of the Southern District of New York and Samer Musallam of the DOJ’s Antitrust Division Join the Firm in New York and D.C.
Brian Blais, co-chief of the General Crimes Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and Samer Musallam, a Senior Counsel in the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, have joined Ropes & Gray as partners in the firm’s global litigation & enforcement practice. Brian is based in New York and Samer in Washington, D.C.
“Brian and Samer are among the best lawyers at the Southern District and at the Antitrust Division. We are pleased to welcome them to Ropes & Gray at a time when the incoming Biden administration is expected to prioritize greater regulatory oversight and enforcement that will impact our clients and their business,” said the firm’s managing partner, David Djaha. “Brian and Samer strengthen our world-class enforcement and antitrust practices. The practices have a stellar track record of successfully advising private equity and other investment firms, financial institutions, technology companies, health care and life sciences players and other industry clients on a broad and complex range of enforcement issues. As they confront such issues, clients will benefit from Brian’s and Samer’s experience and deep institutional knowledge of the DOJ, and other key regulatory enforcement agencies.”
Brian Blais will advise our clients on white collar investigations; enforcement actions and investigations by civil regulators; internal investigations; and securities litigation. A preeminent litigator, he will draw on his ten years of experience as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where he investigated and prosecuted over 150 criminal cases and served as the lead or co-lead counsel in numerous jury trials. As a member of the Southern District’s Securities & Commodities Fraud Task Force, Brian won jury convictions of the Chief Financial Officer of a prominent publicly-traded real estate investment trust for non-GAAP accounting fraud, and the president of a publicly-traded reinsurance company for market manipulation and other securities fraud offenses. As Co-Chief of the General Crimes Unit, Brian supervised more than 500 investigations and over 40 jury trials.
“Brian comes out of SDNY with an impeccable reputation for integrity, courtroom advocacy and judgment. These skills, combined with his stellar government credentials, will be immediately beneficial to our clients,” said Michael McGovern, partner and co-chair of the firm’s government enforcement and white collar group.
Before joining the Southern District, Brian spent five years at Ropes & Gray in Boston and New York, where he worked on the defense side of white collar investigations, including as the lead associate on two joint civil and criminal resolutions for major pharmaceutical companies being investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for off-label marketing and various forms of pricing fraud. In addition, Brian worked on the team that defended three mutual funds in Jones v. Harris Associates, a landmark case that established the uniform national standard for evaluating excessive advisory fee claims under Section 36(b) of the Investment Company Act.
“Ropes & Gray is home to the very best white collar practice in the U.S. and globally. I am thrilled to return to the firm where I started my legal career. Ropes has a terrific team, and I’m excited to bring my experience from the Southern District back to the firm to add even more depth and firepower to the firm’s litigation & enforcement practice,” Brian said.
Samer Musallam served previously as a Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice Antitrust Division. He will work in collaboration with the firm’s transactions and litigation attorneys to guide our clients through the most thorny and complex regulatory approvals and challenging antitrust questions.
While at the Antitrust Division, Samer led major merger investigations across a range of industries and served as litigation and trial counsel in a number of the Antitrust Division’s most high-profile matters in the past decade. He recently served as lead counsel and first chair in the DOJ’s successful challenge to the merger of leading automotive aluminum autobody sheet suppliers in United States v. Novelis Inc. and Aleris Corp. That case was the first use of arbitration by the Antitrust Division to resolve a merger dispute.
Notably, Samer also served as trial counsel for the Department in opposing the proposed merger of two of the largest insurance companies in the United States in United States v. Aetna, Inc. and Humana Inc. The case resulted in verdict and judgment in the United States’ favor. In recognition of his achievements at the Antitrust Division, Samer was honored with numerous DOJ awards.
“Samer is a brilliant attorney who offers a one-two punch: he’s skilled in antitrust merger advocacy, and can also litigate challenges to transactions brought by U.S. antitrust agencies. Clients routinely seek out both skillsets, and he offers both,” said Mark Popofsky, partner and chair of Ropes & Gray’s antitrust group. “We’re thrilled to add another star performer to a team that has one of the industry’s best reads on the antitrust enforcement agencies.”
Prior to joining the Antitrust Division, Samer was in private practice as an antitrust lawyer in Washington, D.C., where he represented and counseled clients through all phases of litigation, merger review, and pricing and distribution practices before the DOJ and FTC.
“The antitrust team at Ropes & Gray is an elite, creative and highly intellectual group, known for steering the most complex mergers and antitrust issues that come in front of the Antitrust Division and the FTC,” Samer said. “It’s the ultimate compliment to join the team.”
The arrivals of both Brian and Samer strengthen an all-star, cross-office litigation & enforcement practice. “We welcome Brian to the team in New York, where our litigation & enforcement group has continued to expand with both internal partner promotions and strategic lateral hires over the past several years,” said Gregg Weiner, partner and co-chair of the global litigation & enforcement practice group. “Equally exciting is Samer’s arrival in Washington, D.C., which highlights the continuing growth of our award-winning trans-Atlantic antitrust practice. We are thrilled to have him on board.”