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Louis Freeh to chair U.S. law firm Pepper Hamilton

By Casey Sullivan

(Reuters) - Louis Freeh, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the trustee overseeing the bankruptcy of MF Global, has become chair of the law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP, the firm's leaders said on Tuesday.

The move, which follows the acquisition of Freeh and his eight-member investigations law firm in August 2012, underscores Pepper Hamilton's efforts to bolster its investigations practice, an increasingly lucrative area for law firms.

Freeh, 63, said that he intends to continue recruiting lawyers in New York, Washington and California to investigate possible wrongdoing at companies, and that he also plans to build on the firm's more general practices.

"I think it's much more than government investigations," Freeh said in an interview. "Beyond (that) there's civil litigation and bankruptcy matters."

Freeh will continue to serve as the trustee liquidating bankrupt MF Global , He said in a court filing last week former customers of Jon Corzine's collapsed brokerage would recover most, and probably all, of their money.

At Pepper Hamilton, Freeh succeeds Nina Gussack, who served two three-year terms as chair before stepping down this month. Gussack will continue to practice with the firm as the chair of Pepper Hamilton's health effects litigation practice, the firm said.

Other law firms, too, have been recruiting government lawyers to work on investigations.

Last year, the New York law firm Skadden, Arps, Meagher, Slate & Flom hired Patrick Fitzgerald, the former U.S. Attorney in Chicago whose prosecutions included corruption cases against two Illinois governors, as well as a case against an aide to then-Vice President Dick Cheney. With Skadden, Fitzgerald focuses on government investigations and enforcement matters.

Last month, the Los Angeles law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher recruited Reed Brodsky, the former U.S. Attorney in Manhattan whose prosecutions led to insider trading convictions of former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta and hedge fund titan Raj Rajaratnam. Brodsky will focus on white collar defense and general litigation.

Pepper Hamilton has more than 500 lawyers in seven states and the District of Columbia specializing in a range of practices including corporation, litigation and regulatory legal services.

(Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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