Joseph Petrosinelli of Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

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Washington, D.C., litigation powerhouse Williams & Connolly will have new leadership in 2019, when Chairman Dane Butswinkas becomes the next general counsel at Tesla Inc.

A firm spokesperson said Friday that partner Joseph Petrosinelli, co-chair of Williams & Connolly’s products liability and criminal defense and government investigations practice group, will become the firm’s new chairman. Butswinkas will remain in the partnership and will continue to maintain an office at the firm, the spokesperson said.

In a statement on Friday congratulating Butswinkas on his new position at Tesla, Williams & Connolly said he would continue to have a “relationship” with the firm. The firm noted that other Williams & Connolly attorneys had served as general counsel at corporations while remaining with the firm, citing Gerson Zweifach’s role as a senior counsel while he also served as general counsel and chief compliance officer at 21st Century Fox. Zweifach recently returned to the firm and will be partner in 2019.

Among Petrosinelli’s prominent past representations, he served as lead counsel for Pfizer in multidistrict litigation alleging personal injury claims regarding its drugs Chantix and Viagra. He also represented former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in the ousted leader’s attempt to fight a venture capital firm, Benchmark Capital Partners, that was aiming to push him out of of the company.

Petrosinelli has also represented manufacturers and suppliers of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, military hardware and technology, and other products in litigation and arbitration. He has defended individuals and corporate clients as part of his government investigations and criminal defense practice, which includes federal grand jury proceedings, trial and appellate work in federal and state courts, and global investigations.

Neither Butswinkas nor Petrosinelli responded to requests for comment on the leadership changes at the firm.

Williams & Connolly has more than 300 lawyers, including more than 100 partners, some of whom President Donald Trump has tapped for his own legal team or picked to join the federal judiciary. The firm, which has eschewed geographic growth in favor of a single office in downtown D.C., brought in more than $400 million in gross annual revenues last year.

The firm was founded in 1967 by Edward Bennett Williams and Paul Connolly and built its reputation around litigation and readiness to bring cases to trial. Kevin Hodges is the firm’s managing partner.

Law Firm, Moves, News, and Notes

President Trump stated his intent to nominate William Barr, Kirkland & Ellis of counsel, as U.S. attorney general on Friday. Barr previously led the Justice Department during the late President George H.W. Bush’s administration.

William Barr at confirmation hearings for DOJ nominees in 2001. Credit: ALM

Trump announced the news in brief remarks to the press as he walked from the White House to a helicopter headed for Missouri. Trump said Barr is respected by Republicans and Democrats and Trump had noticed people saying good things about him in the preceding day before the announcement.

The night before Trump’s announcement, the White House hosted a Hanukkah party with an unusual collection of prominent Washingtonians and lawyers including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, Winston & Strawn partner Abbe Lowell, who represents Jared Kushner in ongoing probes of Russian interference in the 2016 elections, and U.S. deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.

Jared Stout joined Venable as a policy advisor in the firm’s legislative and government affairs practice. Stout advises clients on aerospace issues, having joined from the National Space Council of the White House, where he was chief of staff and deputy executive secretary. He is not a lawyer.

Ballard Spahr added Tanya Curcio as of counsel in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office. Curcio is an intellectual property attorney who focuses on trademark and copyrights. She was most recently of counsel at Vorys, Sater, Swymour and Pease.

Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan announced its largest partnership class ever, numbering 14, this week following the firm’s annual partnership meeting earlier this month.

Three of the firm’s newest litigation partners reside in Washington, D.C., including Jonathan Cooper, Meghan McCaffrey, and Jared Newton.

McGuireWoods Consulting has developed a new initiative aimed at promoting opportunities for women working in government advocacy and public affairs.

MWC Women in Public Affairs will be led by Michele Satterlund, who is a senior vice president and registered lobbyist based in Richmond, Virginia. The group was formed in Virginia and the firm has plans to expand it to include Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and to the firm’s international outpost in Bucharest, Romania.

A pair of former Federal Trade Commission commissioners have taken on new jobs in Washington.

Maureen Ohlhausen, who also was an acting FTC chair, is joining Baker Botts in the New Year. She withdrew her nomination for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims earlier this year.

Terrell McSweeny, who recently became partner at Covington & Burling, is joining Georgetown Law’s Institute for Technology Law & Policy as a distinguished fellow.


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