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The National Law Journal It’s not just the readers of the lushly photographed National Geographic Society’s magazine who experience wanderlust from time to time-apparently its lawyers do, too. This fall Suzanne Ross McDowell, 53, traded her post as National Geographic’s senior vice president and deputy general counsel for a partnership position in the business solutions group at Washington, D.C.’s Steptoe & Johnson. McDowell plied her trade at the world-famous publication for 12 years. As deputy general counsel-a position she held for the past four-and-a-half years-McDowell wore several hats. She oversaw all of the organization’s tax work and handled intellectual property issues flowing from the book publishing division and fledgling international licensing program. McDowell says the job was “always stimulating” and that she enjoyed a “wonderful” relationship with the GC, Terrence Adamson. Why, then, did she leave? Simple: She was getting antsy. “It was time to try something new,” she says. “I wanted to take a stab at building my own practice.” So McDowell, a 1977 graduate of the George Washington University Law Center, traded her “safe, secure” in-house job for the long hours and client pressures of the big law firm world. She says she chose Steptoe because of its strong tax-exempt organization practice. Moreover, she had spent three years there as an associate in the early 1980s. “I feel like I have a very good base to build on,” she says, “and a little bit of firsthand knowledge, too.” Since joining the firm, McDowell has worked with the National Park Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund, Inc., and a variety of D.C.-based trade associations. So far the job is providing exactly the kind of variety she was looking for, which seems to be quelling her restlessness. “At least for now,” she says with a laugh.

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