Former Qwest CEO Joseph Nacchio is hiring a new lawyer. The media seems to find his choice , Herbert Stern, curious, as Stern is not a white-collar defense lawyer. He is a former federal prosecutor and former federal judge. The government is expected to decide whether to indict Nacchio by the end of the year. Hiring Stern is a sign that he wants to put the bulk of his effort into avoiding an indictment, rather than defending one. If Stern’s efforts are unsuccessful, he’ll have plenty of time to assemble a trial team, if he hasn’t done so already. The case against Nacchio may have become stronger when Robin Szeliga pleaded guilty in a deal that allowed her to receive a sentencing concession in exchange for her cooperation against others, which likely includes Nacchio. Nacchio believes he has an explanation for why his sale of hundreds of millions of dollars of Qwest stock did not violate insider-trading laws: he was aware at the the time of the sale that Qwest had major contracts lined up that presumably would earn it big bucks. I suspect his and other executives’ e-mails and memos now in the hands of the Government will be more important than his declaration of innocent intent.