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Photograph via Wikimedia Commons.

District residents scheduled for jury duty this week can thank Pope Francis for a temporary repreive. With the many road closures and heavy traffic expected from the pope's three-day visit, DC Courts will operate on an emergency schedule through Thursday, spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz writes in an email.

The only hearings going on during the pope's stay will be arraignments, new juvenile referrals, and preventive detention hearings. "Jurors need not report," the email reads. "Grand jurors and those already empanelled on a jury in a particular trial should report the next scheduled day of service."

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Posted at 03:38 PM/ET, 09/22/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()

Carlyle Group founder David Rubenstein has called the taxation of "carried interest"--the hedge-fund fees that make up much of Washington's best known billionaire's income--"a bumper sticker issue," one that sounds good on the campaign stump but won't dent the national debt. But the sticker has been spotted on more bumpers of late, with Republican candidates Donald Trump and Jeb Bush both pledging in recent days that they'd end a key exception on how the US taxes carried interest.

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Posted at 11:18 AM/ET, 09/10/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
"You really think a string quartet is going to stop us?" By Harrison Smith
The Spread Love Band just wants to play. Skadden Arp says go away. Photo by Harrison Smith.

The Spread Love Band has been playing on DC streets for about nine months. They play McPherson Square, Gallery Place, Metro Center, Dupont Circle, and Georgetown. But the best spot of all—a "gold mine," as their drummer says—is just outside the Treasury building, at 15th and New York Avenue, NW, where tour buses park and many out-of-towners see street musicians for the first time.

On Friday afternoon, you could hear echoes of Lonnie Shepard, Stixxx, and Country, three members of the band's five-man lineup, from the North Lawn of the White House, two blocks away, and catch some of their words inside White House Gifts, right across the street:

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Posted at 01:36 PM/ET, 05/22/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Machen is joining the white-collar criminal defense practice at WilmerHale. By Benjamin Freed
After Jeffrey "Uncle Earl" Thompson pleaded guilty to influencing multiple elections, Ron Machen said it was "just the tip of the iceberg." Photograph by Benjamin Freed.

Fresh off his five-year tenure as the foil of crooked local politicians, former US Attorney Ron Machen is heading back to his previous gig as a partner at WilmerHale. Machen, according to a press release, will join WilmerHale's Investigations and Criminal Litigation practice, in which he'll represent the firm's white-collar clients.

"It was very tough to leave a job I loved, serving as United States Attorney, but I look forward to returning home to WilmerHale for the next phase of my career," Machen says in the press release.

Machen, 45, announced last month that he would be stepping down as the District's top federal prosecutor. While the notches on his belt include disgraced former DC Council members Harry Thomas, Jr., Kwame Brown, and Michael A. Brown, along with a slew of national-security convictions, his most famous case—the investigation into former Mayor Vince Gray's 2010 campaign—remains unresolved, a fact that has earned Machen several doses of criticism. Machen's biggest victory on the local front came March 10, 2014, when businessman Jeffrey “Uncle Earl” Thompson pleaded guilty to financing numerous "shadow campaigns" on behalf of local and federal candidates, including $668,800 in support of Gray. That day, which was just three weeks before the Democratic primary that ended Gray's re-election bid, is remembered to observers of DC politics as "Machen Monday."

Machen's former deputy, Vinnie Cohen, Jr., is now the acting US attorney for the District and will continue to supervise the "ongoing" Gray inquiry.

Machen worked at WilmerHale from 2001 to 2010, between his stints at the Justice Department. (He was an assistant US attorney for the District between 1997 and 2001.) But he'll find plenty of former federal colleagues in the firm's Investigations and Criminal Litigation section. The roughly 100 lawyers in that division include 20 former assistant US attorneys, deputy attorneys general, and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, who joined WilmerHale in 2014.

Here's WilmerHale's full press release about Machen:

WASHINGTON, DC (April 2, 2015) - WilmerHale is pleased to announce that former United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald C. Machen, Jr., is rejoining the firm as a partner in the Investigations and Criminal Litigation (ICL) Practice further enhancing the firm’s roster of trial and white-collar lawyers. As United States Attorney, Mr. Machen earned a reputation for investigating and prosecuting corruption and fraud involving financial institutions, government contractors, health care companies and public officials. He was the longest-serving US Attorney in nearly four decades while leading the nation’s largest US Attorney’s office.

“Building the strength of our Investigations and Criminal Litigation Practice is a high priority for the firm and we are accomplishing this goal by bringing in top-level talent,” said Robert Novick, co-managing partner of WilmerHale. “The ICL Practice is a leader in the market due to the deep experience and comprehensive knowledge our attorneys are known to provide clients. Ron’s experience and reputation will greatly enhance our expanding white-collar practice and we are honored to welcome him back to the firm.”

The firm’s ICL Practice consists of more than 100 lawyers, including 20 former Assistant United States Attorneys, throughout its New York, Washington DC, Boston, California and London offices. Clients rely on WilmerHale for clear understanding of diverse industries and business goals, including in-depth knowledge of the regulatory and political environments in which they operate.

Mr. Machen is the most recent addition to the ICL Practice following the firm’s hiring last month of Anjan Sahni, the outgoing Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. Mr. Machen will be joining an all-star team of white-collar and securities enforcement lawyers, augmented in recent years by the addition of former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Bob Mueller and former Deputy United States Attorney Boyd Johnson, among others.

“I am thrilled to return to a firm with a top-notch global practice and a great culture. It was very tough to leave a job I loved, serving as United States Attorney, but I look forward to returning home to WilmerHale for the next phase of my career. I am excited about working with a dynamic group of white-collar lawyers at the firm to serve clients on the most difficult matters,” said Mr. Machen.

“Ron’s accomplishments as a highly-skilled trial lawyer, a compelling advocate, and a trusted counselor are widely recognized,” said Howard Shapiro, chair of WilmerHale’s Litigation/Controversy Department. “We’re looking forward to his return to WilmerHale to strengthen our powerhouse criminal investigations and trial practices.”

Prior to his appointment as US Attorney, Mr. Machen was a partner at WilmerHale and a member of the firm’s ICL Practice. Before entering into private practice, Mr. Machen served from 1997 to 2001 as an Assistant US Attorney in the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia where he represented the United States within a wide range of criminal matters in both the local and federal court systems of the District of Columbia.

Mr. Machen graduated from Stanford University in 1991 and Harvard Law School in 1994. He served as a law clerk to the Honorable Damon J. Keith, US Court of Appeals Judge for the Sixth Circuit.

Posted at 11:54 AM/ET, 04/02/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Personal-injury lawyers netted some big paydays for plaintiffs this year. Here's a look at the top 25 in our area. By Marisa M. Kashino, Caroline Cunningham, Emma Foehringer Merchant
Photo-illustration by Miles Donovan.

No. 1 — $9.5 million

Court: Prince George’s County

Case: Derrick and Yalonda Gregg v. Wang K. Koon, MD, et al.

Plaintiff’s lawyers: Giles Manley and Jason Penn of Janet, Jenner & Suggs (Pikesville, Maryland).

Defense lawyer: John Penhallegon of Cornblatt, Bennett, Penhallegon & Roberson (Towson, Maryland).

This medical-malpractice case reads like every parent’s worst nightmare. In December 2005, the plaintiffs brought their two-week-old daughter, Desirae, to Laurel Regional Hospital. The baby hadn’t been eating and seemed short of breath. The hospital ran blood tests, then discharged her and directed the parents to follow up with their pediatrician. Desirae subsequently developed meningitis and suffered permanent brain damage, resulting in cerebral palsy. The parents sued Maryland Provo-I Medical Services, the employer of Laurel’s emergency-room doctor, and the ER nurse. They argued that the hospital had delayed sharing Desirae’s bloodwork results, which showed a bacterial infection requiring immediate treatment, and that the delay caused her cerebral palsy. A jury awarded the family $9.5 million, ultimately reduced to $7.15 million because of a statutory limit on damages.

No. 2 — $5.75 million

Court: Fairfax County

Case: Bruce McLaughlin v. Shevlin Smith

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Thomas Plofchan Jr. of Westlake Legal Group (Potomac Falls).

Defense lawyers: David Hudgins and Reese Pearson of Hudgins Law Firm (Alexandria) and Joshua Hoffman of Franklin & Prokopik (Herndon).

Talk about a messy—and tragic—breakup. In 1996, plaintiff Bruce McLaughlin and his wife began divorce proceedings and a contentious custody battle. One son alleged he’d been sexually molested by McLaughlin, who was later charged with molesting all four of his kids and sentenced to 13 years in prison. McLaughlin’s case was reexamined in 2000, and an investigator determined that at least one child was coached by his mother and that none of the children had any actual memories of abuse. McLaughlin was exonerated and hired the firm Shevlin Smith to sue his trial attorneys for failing to defend him adequately. But Shevlin Smith made a critical oversight, so McLaughlin filed this legal-malpractice suit against the firm—and this time the jury was on McLaughlin’s side.

No. 3 — $3.3 million

Court: Prince George’s County

Case: Colleen Bowen et al. v. Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission et al.

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Timothy Maloney of Joseph Greenwald & Laake (Greenbelt).

Defense lawyers: Kenneth Thompson and Todd James Horn of Venable (Baltimore).

The plaintiffs sued their former employer for age discrimination after their positions in the IT department were terminated.

No. 4 — $2.475 million

Court: Arlington County

Case: Barbara Decker, personal representative of the estate of Jill T. Decker, deceased, v. Virginia Hospital Center

Plaintiff’s lawyers: William Artz and Andrew Waghorn of William E. Artz (Arlington).

Defense lawyers: Richard Nagle and Heather E. Zaug of Hancock, Daniel, Johnson & Nagle (Fairfax).

After Jill Decker died following wrist surgery at Virginia Hospital Center, her estate sued for medical malpractice and wrongful death.

No. 5 — $1.5 million

Court: Loudoun County

Case: David Brandon v. Michael Cummings

Plaintiff’s lawyers: Steven M. Frei and Matthew Perushek of Sickels Frei Mims (Fairfax).

Defense lawyer: Alicia Lehnes Summers of Michael L. Davis & Associates (Alexandria).

The defendant rear-ended the plaintiff, who said he sustained injuries that caused memory loss and fatigue.

No. 6 — $963,504

Court: Prince George’s County

Case: Melissa Satterfield v. Sara Coe

Plaintiff’s lawyers: Laura Zois and Ronald Miller Jr. of Miller & Zois (Glen Burnie).

Defense lawyer: Thomas McManus of Sasscer, Clagett & Bucher (Upper Marlboro).

The plaintiff fractured her ankle after the defendant’s car collided with her SUV. Satterfield argued that the injury ended her career as a hairdresser. Because of a statutory cap, the award was eventually reduced to $776,504.09.

No. 7 — $749,250

Court: Howard County

Case: Jane Doe v. Joseph Caudill

Plaintiff’s lawyers: Jane Santoni and Victoria Chihos of Williams & Santoni (Towson).

Defense lawyer: Steven Shemenski of James E. Crawford Jr. & Associates (Baltimore).

The defendant was found guilty of kidnapping and assaulting the plaintiff in a criminal trial, but the jury deadlocked on a second-degree rape charge. The plaintiff then brought this civil action, alleging he raped her and caused her to suffer PTSD.

$550,000 (settlement)

Court: Montgomery County

Case: Jorge Mendez and Roxana Osorio, as parents of Tania Mendez, v. China Buffet Linco

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Afshin Pishevar of Pishevar & Associates (Rockville).

Defense lawyer: Eric Hitzel of Greenspan, Hitzel & Schrader (Silver Spring).

Seven-year-old Tania Mendez was dining with her parents at China Buffet in College Park in 2012. As the girl headed toward the ice-cream machine, a server carrying a vat of soup knocked into her, dumping the steaming liquid down her side. The accident caused severe burns, and Mendez had to get skin grafts. Her parents sued for medical bills totaling $30,000, plus future expenses, as well as compensation for their daughter’s pain and suffering. After months of negotiations, China Buffet agreed to settle.

No. 9 — $514,110

Court: DC Superior Court

Case: William H. Armstrong v. Karen Thompson, David Sutkus, and United States of America

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Kevin Byrnes of the Law Office of Kevin E. Byrnes (Falls Church).

Defense lawyers: Earl N. Mayfield of the Lewis Firm (Fairfax), George Elfter of Wolk & Neuman (DC), Michael Steadman Jr. of Council Baradel (Annapolis), and Robin Meriweather of the US Attorney’s Office (DC).

Ever wonder what could happen if you gave a negative review of a colleague to his potential future employer? This lawsuit shows the worst-case scenario. Armstrong, the plaintiff, was a special agent with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) when he was offered a job at the US Department of Agriculture. But before he could start the new gig, Thompson, the defendant, who was also employed at TIGTA, sent letters to USDA alleging that Armstrong was a liability and was being investigated by their agency. USDA subsequently rescinded Armstrong’s job offer, and he sued for defamation, emotional distress, and other claims. Thompson was unable to argue successfully that she was just doing her job by sending the letters, and the jury sided with Armstrong. (The case against the other two defendants was dismissed.)

No. 10 — $463,725

Court: DC Superior Court

Case: Vicie Burgess v. Ronald L. Anderson, MD

Plaintiff’s lawyer: John Sellinger of Greenberg & Bederman (Silver Spring).

Defense lawyer: Shadonna Hale of Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker (DC).

The plaintiff sued her ophthalmologist for medical malpractice after she lost vision in her right eye following surgery.


Court: US District Court for DC

Case: Frazier Caudle, Nikeith Goins, William James, et al. v. Metropolitan Police Department, Cathy L. Lanier, and the District of Columbia

Plaintiff’s lawyers: John Relman, Jennifer Klar, Megan Cacace, and Jia Cobb of Relman, Dane & Colfax (DC).

Defense lawyers: Kerslyn Featherstone, Stephanie Litos, and Charles Coughlin of the DC Office of the Attorney General.

This case made headlines for years as it wound its way through court. The five plaintiffs, all African-American, were undercover DC police officers when, in 2005, a white lieutenant was put in charge of their unit. The plaintiffs said he treated them differently than their white counterparts, and they sent an anonymous complaint to their commander. Soon after, the department announced that everyone in the unit would have to reapply for his or her job. The white lieutenant was ultimately allowed to keep his position while the plaintiffs were removed from the unit. They sued over discrimination and retaliation. Though claims against the department and the chief were tossed out, the suit against the city continued, and a jury awarded back pay plus attorneys’ fees.

No. 12 — $306,100

Court: Calvert County

Case: Abel Bennett and Mildred Bennett v. Gorman Wink, Brandon Wink, and GEICO

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Deborah Potter of the Jaklitsch Law Group (Upper Marlboro).

Defense lawyers: Marcia Harman of John Dahut & Associates (Silver Spring) and Rotrica Neal of Allstate Staff Counsel (Greenbelt).

The 87-year-old plaintiff tore his rotator cuff during a car crash with the defendant and, because of his age, was unable to have surgery, rendering his injury permanent, he says.

No. 13 — $275,000

Court: Prince George’s County

Case: Catherine Jones v. Marlo Furniture

Plaintiff’s lawyer: John T. Everett of Chasen Boscolo (Greenbelt).

Defense lawyer: Kimberly Limbrick of Crosswhite, Limbrick & Sinclair (Baltimore).

The plaintiff sued after falling down three stairs while shopping at Marlo Furniture, hitting her face on a dresser and sustaining black eyes as well as back and knee injuries. The award was ultimately deemed excessive, and the parties reached a confidential settlement.

No. 14 — $200,000

Court: Prince William County

Case: Caroleanne Phillips v. John Doe

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Thomas Morrison, solo practitioner (Fairfax). Defense lawyer: Lewis Morris Jr. of Michael L. Davis & Associates (Alexandria).

After getting rear-ended in a hit-and-run, the plaintiff sued State Farm for damages under her uninsured-motorist policy, which allows a policyholder to be reimbursed when the offending driver is unknown. (Her award was later capped at $100,000.)

No. 15 — $120,000

Court: DC Superior Court

Case: Elizabeth Whitlock v. Kamaljit Sethi, MD, and Washington Nephrology Associates

Plaintiff’s lawyer: John Sellinger of Greenberg & Bederman (Silver Spring).

Defense lawyers: Crystal Deese, Benjamin Salsbury, and Larry McAfee of Gleason, Flynn, Emig, Fogleman (Rockville).

Whitlock sued her doctor and his practice for prescribing a high dose of prednisone that she said resulted in infection and kidney failure.

No. 16 — $106,739

Court: Prince George’s County

Case: Alan Harrison v. Jaime Esposito, Dominique Powell, and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Michael Robinett of Simeone & Miller (DC).

Defense lawyer: William Flood III of Council Baradel (Annapolis).

The plaintiff sued after he was rear-ended and suffered permanent lower-back injuries.


Court: DC Superior Court

Case: Jacqueline Wright v. Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Michael Robinett of Simeone & Miller (DC).

Defense lawyer: Michael Guss of WMATA in-house counsel (DC).

A metro station that was allegedly too messy led to this verdict against WMATA. Wright, the plaintiff, went into the Fort Totten stop in February 2010 and stepped onto some netting that was meant to keep out birds but had fallen down eight days earlier. She claimed the netting made her slip and fall, resulting in a meniscus tear in her knee and a shoulder injury. Wright sued WMATA for putting passengers at risk by not picking up the netting and by failing to warn pedestrians. The agency argued that Wright simply neglected to watch her step, but the jury disagreed.

No. 18 — $75,000 (settlement)

Court: Fairfax County

Case: Shahnaz Khan v. Brian Hennessy

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Justin Beall of Koonz McKenney Johnson Depaolis & Lightfoot (Fairfax).

Defense lawyer: Jay Richard Goldman of Allstate Insurance (Chantilly).

Khan was driving on the Dulles Toll Road in heavy traffic when she was rear-ended by Hennessy. She sued for damages related to a rotator-cuff tear caused by the accident.

No. 19 — $68,380

Court: Howard County

Case: Gerard Butler, Shawna Fleming, and Tyler Butler v. Taylor Anne Cummings

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Nicholas Parr of the Law Office of Steven H. Heisler (Baltimore).

Defense lawyers: Linda Ham and Laverne Largie of the Law Offices of Jonathan P. Stebenne (Baltimore).

Plaintiffs were broadsided by the defendant’s vehicle. All of them claimed the collision caused neck and back injuries, and Gerard Butler said he suffered a mild traumatic brain injury.

No. 20 — $50,000 (settlement)

Court: US District Court for Maryland

Case: Amit Sharma v. Howard County; Ken Ulman, Howard County executive; et al.

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Morris Fischer, Morris E. Fischer Labor & Employment Law Firm (Silver Spring).

Defense lawyers: Gary Kuc and David Reid Moore of Howard County Office of Law (Ellicott City).

The plaintiff was a civil engineer for Howard County who claimed he was terminated for taking approved leave for a medical condition.

No. 21 — $35,150

Court: Howard County

Case: Patrick Snell v. Pradip Purushottam Amin

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Michael Silverman, solo practitioner (Columbia).

Defense lawyer: Thomas Basham of H. Barritt Peterson, Jr. & Associates (Towson).

Snell was rear-ended by the defendant’s vehicle and said he sustained neck and back injuries.

No. 22 — $30,169

Court: Howard County

Case: Peter Asaad v. Shelly Ann Schaal

Plaintiff’s lawyers: John Hermina and George Hermina of the Hermina Law Group (Laurel).

Defense lawyer: Clifford Robinson of H. Barritt Peterson, Jr. & Associates (Towson).

Asaad claimed his knee was injured after a car accident with the defendant.

No. 23 — $30,000

Court: US District Court of Maryland

Case: Aieda McCallum v. Archstone Communities

Plaintiff’s lawyers: Richard Salzman and Susan Huhta of Heller, Huron, Chertkof & Salzman (DC) and Matthew Handley of the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (DC).

Defense lawyers: Nancy Delogu and Jennifer Thomas of Littler (DC).

Archstone, a property-management company, fired McCallum, a leasing agent, after she revealed she was pregnant, and she sued for discrimination.

No. 24 — $29,761

Court: Montgomery County

Case: Getachew Demissie v. John Franklin Ghee and Carlos Pompilio Sibrian

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Timothy Capurso of Gordon Feinblatt (Baltimore).

Defense lawyers: Matthew Goodman of Simmons, Fields & Fanshaw (Timonium, Maryland) and Tracy D. Scott of Leftwich & Ludaway (DC).

The plaintiff sued over injuries brought on by a collision with the defendants’ cars.

No. 25 — $28,816

Court: Prince George’s County

Case: Shirley Williams v. Garry Savoy

Plaintiff’s lawyer: Norman Schneider of Kamerow Law Firm (Alexandria).

Defense lawyer: Alexander Williams III of Timothy Smith & Associates (Greenbelt).

Williams claimed back, head, and knee pain after the BMW she was riding in was rear-ended by the defendant’s minivan.

Posted at 01:54 PM/ET, 12/08/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
It was only a matter of time, and Reed Smith is leading the pack. By Marisa M. Kashino

And so it begins.

International law firm Reed Smith, which has offices in DC and Northern Virginia, rolled out its Global Ebola Task Force on Tuesday, making it the first of what we fear could be many firms to capitalize on the outbreak. In a press release, Sandy Thomas, Reed Smith's global (are you noticing a trend here?) managing partner, declared: "The virus has the potential to affect international commerce and trade, not just on the African continent, but worldwide. Our Global Ebola Task Force will put Reed Smith in front of the legal challenges our clients face.”

The new task force is billed as "cross-practice," which in law firm-speak means there's nothing really new about it. Lawyers already working at the firm within a variety of existing practices are now simply branded as members of the Ebola group, ready to answer client questions stemming from the disease. (It's the kind of marketing play that firms love—in the build-up to the new millennium, for instance, several started Y2K groups.)

So what kind of Ebola questions are cropping up? Lorraine Campos, a task force member and a partner in the firm's DC office, says she's received calls from pharmaceutical companies interested in the potential liabilities of attempting to develop a vaccine. She says other attorneys have gotten questions from companies wanting to know if they are legally obligated to hold an employee's job open if the worker gets quarantined, or if they're liable for employees who get infected while on business travel. So far, Campos says these have just been theoretical questions; the firm has not yet handled any actual cases or conflicts arising from Ebola.

Campos stresses: "We don't want to sensationalize the threat of the virus, but we do want to help prepare our clients."

(And mass-distribute a press release about it.)

Posted at 03:16 PM/ET, 10/21/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Will he return to Covington & Burling? By Marisa M. Kashino

Eric Holder. Photograph via Wikimedia Commons.

After six tumultuous years as US Attorney General, it looks as though Eric Holder will announce plans to leave the post today. That raises two big questions: Which law firm will he land at? And how much will it pay him?

Covington & Burling is the safe bet for where Holder will end up. Holder spent eight years as a partner there before President Barack Obama tapped him to head the Justice Department. The firm's partners tend to be a loyal bunch, plus Covington has done well in luring back other folks who left for Obama's DOJ. Lanny Breuer, assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division, returned last year to become vice chair of Covington. Daniel Suleiman, deputy chief of staff to Breuer while he was at Justice, also rejoined in 2013.

There's also the not-so-subtle hint that came in the form of the $1.5 million condo that Holder bought at CityCenterDC in April. At the time, it was noted that the pad was only a few blocks from the Justice Department. But soon, it'll be even closer to Covington & Burling, which plans to move into 400,000 square feet of CityCenter's trophy office space.

And what about that paycheck? Other officials as high-ranking as Holder have commanded $3, $4, and even $5 million upon their return to private practice. One of Washington's top legal recruiters notes that although Holder's tenure as AG wasn't without controversy, that probably won't impact his payday—which he predicts will be an annual take-home of between $4 and $5 million.

UPDATE, 1:45 PM: Covington & Burling declined to comment. 

Find Marisa M. Kashino on Twitter at @MarisaKashino.

Posted at 11:43 AM/ET, 09/25/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The longtime Washington influencer died of a heart attack, his family says. By Benjamin Freed

Photograph courtesy of Squire Patton Boggs.

Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., the chairman emeritus of the big-time lobbying firm Squire Patton Boggs, is dead from a heart attack at age 73, his sister, the journalist Cokie Roberts, tells the Washington Post.

Boggs reportedly died at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, on Monday morning, leaving behind a legacy of being one of Washington's biggest political dealmakers and fundraisers, but one whose clout had declined in the last year. A quick glance of Senate lobbying disclosures on which his name appears reads like a Fortune 500 list, including companies such as Amazon, Citgo, and AIG.

Boggs's influence on K Street was diminishing earlier this year in the wake of declining revenues and a long-running, costly case against Chevron. Patton Boggs was rescued in early June by merging with the law firm Squire Sanders, though as Washingtonian reported earlier this year, one of the longstanding problems at the old Patton Boggs was that there was no apparent successor to its founder.

Boggs was the son of two former members of Congress: Thomas Hale Boggs Sr., a Democratic leader from Louisiana until his death in 1972, and Lindy Boggs, who took over her late husband's seat and later served as the US ambassador to the Holy See.

Find Benjamin Freed on Twitter at @brfreed.

See also: Business Hall of Fame—Thomas Boggs Jr.

Posted at 12:42 PM/ET, 09/15/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Republican lawyer scored in Monday’s Supreme Court decision. By Marisa M. Kashino

Today’s long-anticipated Hobby Lobby decision at the Supreme Court marks a win for the bench’s conservative members, but the victory is likely sweetest for Republican super-lawyer Paul Clement.

Clement—solicitor general during the George W. Bush administration, now a partner at Bancroft—has argued many of the highest-profile conservative causes at the high court in recent years. But he has frequently come up short, as we first detailed in December 2012. Last term, he advocated for the Defense of Marriage Act, losing in a historic ruling that gave same-sex couples in states that allow gay marriage equal access to federal benefits. The year prior, he challenged the Affordable Care Act before the justices, who ultimately upheld the law in a 5-4 victory for the Obama administration.

This morning’s ruling was also split 5-4, but this time in Clement’s favor. In the case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Clement represented the craft-store chain, as well as Conestoga Wood Specialties. Both companies asserted that for religious reasons, they should not have to comply with a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that they cover contraception for women employees. Justice Samuel Alito wrote the opinion siding with the business owners.

In her dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the decision one of “startling breadth.” Echoing the concerns of women’s rights advocates nationwide, she wrote: “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

As for Clement, he’s finally just ventured into the winner’s circle. 

Posted at 02:38 PM/ET, 06/30/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
After years as the law and lobbying industry’s first runner-up, Patton Boggs’s recent crash means the perennial also-ran has come out on top—for now. By Marisa M. Kashino
Illustration by Chris Philpot.

The first Monday in June began a new era for DC’s power peddlers. Over the weekend, the legendary law and lobbying firm Patton Boggs had finalized its merger with the Cleveland outfit Squire Sanders to create Squire Patton Boggs.

Both firms posted glowing marriage announcements on their websites—Squire Sanders celebrating its acquisition of not only a bigger base in the capital but also the town’s most storied lobbyist, Thomas Hale Boggs Jr. For its part, Patton Boggs gained new worldwide reach—the combined firm has offices in 21 countries—but everyone in the industry knew that Patton Boggs, in a tailspin for the past year and mired in fallout from a long-running, controversial case against Chevron, had been thrown a lifeline.

Far more interesting is what Akin Gump, for years the District’s second-place lobby shop, gets from the Squire Patton Boggs deal.

Akin had its own big announcements to make. The previous Thursday, it had made public a “significant expansion” of its health-care-policy team, with a group of seven led by veteran lobbyist John Jonas. That Monday brought news of four additions, led by telecommunications-policy partner Jennifer Richter. By week’s end, it had snagged five more health-care experts. All 16 recruits came from Patton Boggs. Anyone who knows anyone in the law/lobby trade could read between the lines: Akin Gump is poised to be the new king of K Street.

“Akin Gump is growing and taking work from Patton Boggs,” says a lobbyist from another high-ranking firm. “They’re positioned to be number one.”

Akin has run second to Patton Boggs in annual lobbying revenue since 2007, and Patton Boggs maintained its lead last year, posting $39.8 million to Akin’s $33.7 million. Compared with 2012, however, the totals represent a 13-percent drop for Patton and an 8-percent increase for Akin.

As Patton Boggs faltered, it faced frequent criticism that it relied too heavily on Boggs himself and had failed to institute a succession plan. (At the combined firm, Boggs is chairman emeritus.) Though Akin had its own struggles during the 2008 economic downturn, it may have benefited from its need to shake itself up periodically. Cofounder Bob Strauss, who died earlier this year, repeatedly left for political appointments, forcing partners to think beyond him. Today the firm is led by a relatively young female chair, Kim Koopersmith.

Not that Akin should get too comfortable. History shows that a firm’s time at the top is often fleeting. In 1998, a revered lobby shop called Verner, Liipfert was the highest-grossing in Washington. Patton came in first in 2003—one year after Verner, Liipfert was swallowed by a larger firm. Sound familiar?

The folks at Akin are wise to be cautious. Though he acknowledges that his firm may “very well be” number one, public-law-and-policy head Donald Pongrace says: “I haven’t done any of the math to figure it out. It doesn’t drive us because it doesn’t drive our clients.”

This article appears in the July 2014 of Washingtonian.

Posted at 09:32 AM/ET, 06/23/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()