Arnold & Porter hires trio of lawyers to bolster US white collar and environmental teams

New partners include former government lawyer Lee Cortes and Preti Flaherty’s environmental chair Jeffrey Talbert

(l-r) Lee Cortes, Jeffrey Talbert, Ben Piper Photos courtesy of Arnold & Porter

Top 25 US firm Arnold & Porter has made a trio of hires across its white collar and environmental practice groups, including two partners and a counsel.

The two partners include Lee Cortes and Jeffrey Talbert. Cortes joins the firm’s white collar defence and investigations practice from the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, where he was an executive assistant US attorney. Talbert joins the environmental practice from Preti Flaherty, where he was chair of its environmental group. Ben Piper joins as a counsel, also from Preti Flaherty.

Cortes will split his time between the firm’s Newark and New York offices, while Talbert will split his time between Newark and Boston. Piper will also be based in Boston.

Paul Fishman, head of Arnold & Porter’s Newark office and himself a former US attorney, said: “Lee is a talented litigator with excellent judgement and a wonderful reputation with the bench and bar. His experience overseeing the full range of complex criminal, civil and appellate matters will be a great addition to our firm.”

Cortes spent close to 14 years at the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the past two as executive assistant. In that time he also spent more than two years as deputy chief of its special prosecutions unit and just over two years as chief of its healthcare fraud unit. Those experiences saw him lead investigations involving violations of the Anti-Kickback Statute, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the False Claims Act. Prior to his time in government, he was an associate at Kaye Scholer, which merged with Arnold & Porter in 2017.

He said: “I am excited to return to Arnold & Porter, where I began my legal career and have so many mentors and friends. The firm’s white collar defence and investigations practice has a sensational group of attorneys across the United States and worldwide, who understand how to problem solve for clients on the most complex issues.”

Meantime, Talbert arrives at Arnold & Porter after more than 15 years at Preti Flaherty. He was previously a trial attorney at the US Department of Justice, having started out as an associate at White & Case. Piper joins after more than 12 years at Preti Flaherty, which he joined as an associate back in 2011, becoming a partner in 2020.

Brian Israel, chair of Arnold & Porter’s environmental practice group, said: “Jeff is a highly regarded trial attorney and environmental lawyer, with a deep understanding of complex environmental issues and a background in handling matters related to contaminated sediment sites across the country. Similarly, Ben has a strong background in environmental cleanup litigation.”

He added: “Their additions will build upon our environmental practice’s reputation as leaders in the field, particularly in the areas of complex contaminated sites, natural resource damages and toxic tort litigation.”

Cortes is the latest in a recent spate of government lawyers moving to private practice. Earlier this month, Willkie Farr & Gallagher hired Richard Lepore in Washington DC from the DoJ, where he was a section chief in its antitrust division. Around the same time, Weil Gotshal & Manges hired Christopher Mulligan in Washington from the US Securities & Exchange Commission.  

Other firms have also been bolstering their white collar teams. Earlier this month, McDermott Will & Emery hired a seven-lawyer white collar and investigations team from Orrick. And in late February, Blank Rome added a four-strong group from Akerman in New York and Washington. 

Email your news and story ideas to: