By Lawdragon News | April 13, 2023 | Press Releases
April 13, 2023, New York, NY: Christopher J. Clark, a former federal prosecutor and former Global Chairman of the Securities Litigation and Financial Institutions groups at an international law firm, Patrick J. Smith and Rodney Villazor, co-founders of Smith Villazor LLP, announced today the formation of Clark Smith Villazor LLP.
Clark, an accomplished litigator with a track record of successfully leading securities law, foreign and domestic anti-corruption law, and reputational matters, brings wide-ranging expertise to the firm. He has represented public companies, alternative investment entities, and individuals in criminal and civil investigations.
Throughout his nearly 30-year long legal career, Clark has represented hedge fund clients in precedent setting matters involving Section 5 of the Securities Act, Rule 105 of Regulation M and the rules regarding insider trading. He successfully defended Mark Cuban at his insider trading trial in SEC v. Mark Cuban and represented Elon Musk in SEC v. Elon Musk, an investigation and resolution of selective disclosure allegations. Clark also currently represents Hunter Biden in an investigation regarding tax issues.
Smith is an experienced trial lawyer and strategist who focuses on white collar criminal defense, securities enforcement matters, and financial services sector civil disputes. In his government enforcement practice, Smith has substantial experience with matters involving allegations of securities fraud, insider trading, market manipulation, accounting fraud, money laundering, sanctions violations, antitrust violations, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Smith has led representation of clients in the cryptocurrency industry, including the successful representation of Ben Delo, a founder of BitMEX, in federal criminal and CFTC cases. Other high-profile criminal cases include: United States v. Gordon Caplan (“Varsity Blues”) and United States v. Jesse Litvak. Among current civil litigation engagements, Smith is lead counsel for plaintiff in HControl Holdings v. OTI Parent and Antin S.A.S., an action pending in Chancery Court in Delaware to enforce a merger agreement, which will be tried on an expedited basis next month.
Villazor is a highly regarded trial lawyer with a practice representing companies, executives, and other professionals in white collar criminal cases and high-stakes complex civil litigation disputes. Villazor served as an Assistant US Attorney from 2008 to 2015 in the District of New Jersey and in the Northern District of California where he prosecuted a range of offenses, including wire and mail fraud, honest services fraud, export control violations, and public corruption. Villazor presently represents cryptocurrency entrepreneur, Matthew Goettsche, in a cutting-edge $722 million criminal fraud case in the District of New Jersey, as well as a former public company CFO in a criminal insider trading prosecution. He also represents prominent NBA agent Aaron Goodwin in a civil fraud action against a national law firm.
“There is a very high demand for world-class litigators who have successfully navigated the kinds of situations that we and our colleagues have seen, and we are excited about all that is to come in our firm’s next chapter,” added Patrick J. Smith, partner,Clark Smith Villazor LLP. “On a personal level, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with Chris and Rodney for this next era. Their deep expertise and track record of success representing global institutions, their leaders, and high-profile individuals is invaluable as we build this new generation law firm.”
“Our clients look to us to advise on bet-the-company issues at the most pivotal times, and I am very excited to build a firm that is designed to meet those needs. The team of accomplished lawyers that Pat, Rodney and I have assembled brings an incredible diversity of expertise and experience, and I am thrilled to work alongside all of them,” said Clark.
“We are seeing heightened interest from clients for litigators with a deep background in white collar and corruption cases who can bring with them a strong background in multiple jurisdictions to meet their needs. I am honored to team up with Chris and Pat to build an elite white collar litigation firm to assist global institutions, their leaders, and high-profile individuals navigate their most complex and high-stakes legal matters,” said Villazor.
Christopher J. Clark
Clark joins the firm from Latham & Watkins LLP, where he served as Deputy Office Managing Partner of the firm’s New York office. He previously served as Global Co-Chair of the firm’s Financial Institutions Industry Group and as Global Co-Chair of the Securities Litigation Practice. His expertise has included representing financial institutions corporations, and individuals in complex civil and criminal litigation, regulatory inquiries, and investigations, in addition to representing alternative investment firms in large-scale civil disputes involving distressed or defaulted securities.
Prior to Latham & Watkins, Clark served as an Assistant US Attorney in the Southern District of New York and a member of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force. During his tenure there, he conducted nine federal criminal trials as lead counsel (including the conviction of the men who looted Adelphia Communications Corp.) and argued more than 20 appeals in the Second Circuit. Clark earned his B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and graduated from the Columbia University School of Law.
Patrick J. Smith
Smith co-founded Smith Villazor LLP in 2016 after years running the white-collar practice at a large international firm. An innovative problem solver, a skilled negotiator, and a leading courtroom advocate, he has defended clients ranging from investment banks and hedge funds to individual bankers, traders, lawyers, and corporate officers, in high profile federal and state investigations, internal investigations, and civil disputes.
Prior to re-entering private practice in 2005, Smith served as an Assistant United States Attorney, first in in the Southern District of New York then in the District of the Northern Mariana Islands. Smith previously served as associate independent counsel in the Whitewater Investigation under Independent Counsel Robert B. Fiske, Jr. He is a recipient of the Department of Justice’s Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service and is a two-time recipient of the Director’s Award for Superior Performance as an Assistant United States Attorney.
Villazor co-founded Smith Villazor LLP in 2016 after working as a federal prosecutor for eight years. Villazor is a trial lawyer representing companies, executives, and other professionals in white collar criminal cases and high-stakes complex civil litigation disputes. Villazor has extensive courtroom experience, having tried 17 jury trials to verdict as a federal prosecutor and in private practice.
Villazor served as an Assistant US Attorney from 2008 to 2015 in the District of New Jersey and in the Northern District of California where he prosecuted a range of offenses, including wire and mail fraud, honest services fraud, export control violations, and public corruption. In the Special Prosecutions and National Security Unit in San Francisco, he led long-term complex investigations involving a number of international and national security matters. Villazor has tried to jury verdict numerous high-profile federal trials and has been recognized for exceptional work by several federal law enforcement agencies. He also received the Special Achievement Award from the US Attorney for the District of New Jersey.