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ABBE LOWELL AND MANATT PARTING WAYS After less than four years in the D.C. office of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, well-known defense litigator Abbe Lowell will leave the firm, says Manatt chief executive and managing partner Paul Irving. As of last week, Lowell was no longer administrative partner of the 41-lawyer office, Irving confirmed, but he declined to say when Lowell vacated the post. Lowell, who is expected to leave the Los Angeles-based firm by the end of the month, would not comment on the circumstances of his departure from Manatt. One Manatt attorney, who declined to be identified, says there had been dissatisfaction with Lowell’s leadership. Some of the firm’s partners were also concerned about the kinds of clients Lowell chose to represent — particularly then-Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.) — and about whether Lowell’s criminal-defense practice fit with the firm’s goals, the attorney says. Irving, though, defends Lowell’s management record. “Washington is a challenging market and, under the circumstances, he did the best job that he could,” Irving says. “I am frankly very thankful for the work he did for us. It’s a tough job running an office. He put in the time, the effort, the hours.” Irving says that Lowell will have to speak for himself with respect to his professional goals and future. “It’s safe to say that we may have different objectives and professional focus,” Irving says. The 51-year old Lowell is known for his representation of lawmakers involved in criminal investigations, including then-Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.), then-House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Texas), and then-House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dan Rostenkowski (D-Ill.), who went to prison over the House Post Office kickback scandal. The pugnacious litigator was also the Democratic counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against then-President Bill Clinton. Earlier this year, Lowell represented a lawmaker from the Philippines accused by the U.S. government of making illegal campaign donations to Clinton and other Democratic politicians. He also counts Aliza Waksal, daughter of ImClone Systems chief Sam Waksal, as a client. In 1999, when Lowell left his own firm to join Manatt, then-managing partner June DeHart said Lowell’s arrival at the firm was “great chemistry.” Shortly thereafter, Lowell took over DeHart’s duties. — Lily Henning KEENEY WINS D.C. BAR VOTE In the closest election in D.C. Bar history, Hogan & Hartson partner John Keeney Jr. squeaked past John Cruden from the U.S. Department of Justice to become president-elect of the 71,000-lawyer association. “I’m delighted,” says Keeney, who will serve as bar president in 2004 and 2005. Keeney received 4,926 votes — just 197 more than Cruden. As part of his campaign, the 51-year-old Hogan litigator sent direct mail to all local bar members. But he gives most of the credit to his “grass-roots campaign,” plus help from his wife, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. lawyer Kathleen Gunning, a former president of the D.C. Women’s Bar Association, and his father, John Keeney Sr., a DOJ lawyer for 53 years. As president, Keeney says he wants to focus on “the billable-hours crisis,” by promoting ABA initiatives designed to “improve [lawyer] lifestyle and service to clients.” — Jenna Greene ETHICS MATTER DRAGS ON It took the D.C. Court of Appeals more than two years to rule on bar ethics charges of professional misconduct against McDermott, Will & Emery partner Michael Romansky, and still the June 5 decision hasn’t settled the nine-year-old matter. Romansky, who headed McDermott, Will’s health care practice from 1984 to 1995, is accused of overcharging four clients by adding “premiums” to their billing statements, charging work done for his father to another client, and falsifying a client letter. A three-judge court panel ruled Romansky’s actions were “egregious” and “demonstrated a lack of integrity and dishonesty” in violation of D.C. ethics rules, and sent the case back to the Board on Professional Responsibility for more “fact finding.” The board had recommended a 30-day suspension. Romansky’s lawyer, Piper Rudnick partner Earl Silbert, declines comment. — Tom Schoenberg ALL IN FAVOR OF JUDGE ELECTION REFORM, SAY AYE With added firepower from state chief justices, an American Bar Association commission took aim June 13 at elected state judiciaries. The panel recommends reforms, in the words of ABA President Alfred Carlton Jr., to “diversify America’s courts and inoculate them against the toxic effects of money, partisanship and narrow interests.” The report repeats the ABA’s long-standing preference for selecting judges by merit, rather than at the polls, but acknowledges that most Americans elect their judges and want to continue doing so. The key recommendation: Elections should be held at the beginning of a judge’s service — not for retention — and should be for lengthy terms. The panel also advocates public financing of elections — recently enacted in Carlton’s home state of North Carolina — and increased pay for judges. Massachusetts Chief Justice Margaret Marshall decried cuts in state funding for courts. Holland & Knight‘s William Sessions, the former FBI director and co-chair of the commission, hopes the recommendations will form the basis of a “rejuvenation” of state courts. — Tony Mauro SHEPPARD, MULLIN’S GROWTH SPURT CONTINUES Having snagged four antitrust lawyers from Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy, the D.C. office of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton has tripled in size since its February debut. With the addition of partner Robert Doyle and associates Andre Barlow, M. June Casalmir, and Camelia Mazard, the Los Angeles-based firm now has 15 lawyers in Washington, up from five when the office opened, says managing partner Edward Schiff. In February, Sheppard, Mullin lured one partner and two other lawyers from Kutak Rock’s D.C. office, and in March and April it hired three associates from other firms. Powell, Goldstein, meanwhile, has been losing lawyers. In January, two partners left for Sidley, Austin, Brown & Wood, joining more than 30 former colleagues from the international trade group who left for Sidley last year. Powell, Goldstein managing partner Alan Parver says the firm has been hiring for other practices and is reviewing résumés from antitrust attorneys. “We still have a capacity in that area and we want to improve it,” he says. — Marie Beaudette WILLIAMS & CONNOLLY TALENT AT A DISCOUNT? With the promise of Williams & Connolly-trained advocates at small-firm rates, a new four-lawyer boutique, dubbed the Aegis Law Group, has opened its doors. Michael Ross, 36; Oliver Garcia, 33; Paul Rauser, 34; and Mara Murphy, 33, all boast Williams & Connolly litigation experience. Rauser and Garcia join Aegis directly from the hard-driving litigation firm, where they were senior associates. Ross and Murphy come from in-house jobs at Marriott International Inc. and AOL Time Warner, respectively. Ross says his in-house experience helped him shape Aegis’ business model, which assumes that corporate clients always want quality lawyers, but don’t always want to pay big-firm fees. “We think there’s a real market opportunity there for us,” he says. — Otis Bilodeau TOP ANTITRUST VACANCIES FILLED The U.S. antitrust team will soon be at full force, as the White House last week moved to fill top vacancies at the Federal Trade Commission and at the Justice Department Antitrust Division. On June 12, the president nominated Pamela Jones Harbour, a New York partner at Kaye Scholer, to serve as an FTC commissioner. Harbour, a Democrat, would occupy the seat occupied by Sheila Anthony and would be the first black woman to serve as a commissioner. A former top deputy to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Harbour has a reputation as a “sophisticated antitrust lawyer and solid prosecutor,” says William MacLeod of Collier Shannon Scott. At the DOJ, Houston-based Baker Botts partner J. Bruce McDonald has been named deputy assistant attorney general for regulatory matters. He will oversee airline, transportation, and energy matters, as well as media mergers. And on June 13, the Senate confirmed acting DOJ antitrust chief R. Hewitt Pate to run the division. — Jenna Greene WACHTELL RECRUITS OUTGOING UBS GENERAL COUNSEL Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, the ultra-profitable New York mergers-and-acquisitions law firm, beat out Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in the months-long contest to woo Theodore Levine, the outgoing general counsel of investment bank UBS AG. Levine, a former Wilmer partner who put in 13 years at the Securities and Exchange Commission, including several as associate enforcement chief, says he’ll join Wachtell as counsel in July to guide investment banks and corporate clients “through the regulatory maze they’re in right now.” Levine, 58, says that “after building a great department at UBS, I wanted to do something new.” Neither Wilmer chairman William Perlstein nor Wachtell name partner Martin Lipton could be reached for comment. — Otis Bilodeau LAWYERS CHIPPING IN FOR CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL Spriggs & Hollingsworth partner Jerry Stouck, Perkins Coie partner John Devaney, and Justice Department civil litigator Jennifer Shah were going for the green June 10 at the Inaugural Golf Classic in Urbana, Md. The trio got closer to their goal of raising $1 million to establish the Washington Lawyers’ Care for Children Endowment Fund to benefit the critical-care medicine unit at D.C.’s Children’s National Medical Center. In the past year, Sidley, Austin, Brown & Wood; Morrison & Foerster; and Bruce Klores & Associates have pledged around $250,000, and golfers at the tourney pitched in with $40,000 more. Each of the three lawyers has a personal connection to the hospital. Devaney’s son was treated for cancer there three years ago. Shah lost a two-month-old son to a heart condition last year. Stouck’s son died at age four from a rare bacterial disease in 1991.”You never get over something like that,” Stouck says, “but we’ve substantially healed. And the reason we’ve healed is because we got really good care from those doctors.” Legal Times was a tournament sponsor. — Alicia Upano

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