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TRADING PLACES: NEW CROP OF LEADERS AT THE FTC After a two-year tenure that surprised many with its activism, Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Competition Director Joseph Simons announced he is stepping down as of Aug. 1. On his watch, the FTC launched more than 100 investigations, initiated 46 merger enforcement actions, and even challenged two consummated mergers. “We revitalized the litigation program at the FTC,” Simons says. Taking his place is deputy director Susan Creighton, a one-time partner at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati who helped spark the government’s antitrust case against the Microsoft Corp. Creighton’s post will be filled by Barry Nigro, who joins the FTC from the D.C. office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, where he was a partner. Simons, a former partner at Clifford Chance, acknowledges he has talked to several law firms about post-government employment, but declines to be more specific. The buzz in the antitrust bar is that Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison has the inside track to land him, with Clifford Chance and Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton as alleged contenders as well. “Simons was an excellent bureau director,” says David Balto of White & Case. “He really accomplished a lot in terms of significantly expanding health care enforcement.” Antitrust lawyers call Creighton a strong choice to succeed Simons. “Over the past two years, Susan has developed an excellent relationship with the commission and bureau staff,” says Nicholas Koberstein, who left the agency in 2002 and is now a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery. “She is well-respected by all her colleagues at the FTC.” The Bureau of Economics is also set to receive a new head. Although no formal announcement has been made, three agency officials confirm that Vanderbilt University economics professor Luke Froeb is slated to replace David Sheffman as director. Froeb, who could not be reached for comment, did two stints at the Department of Justice Antitrust Division in the late 1980s and early ’90s. More recently, he served as a consultant for AT&T’s acquisition of Comcast, the merger of cruise ship lines Carnival Corp. and P&O Princess, and PepsiCo Inc.’s acquisition of the Quaker Oats Co. The next hot property to exit the agency may be M. Sean Royall, the co-deputy director of the Bureau of Competition, who many expect to leave after the trial against chip designer Rambus Inc. ends. — Jenna Greene SUING SADDAM Steptoe & Johnson partner Stephen Fennell won a giant award for his clients last week when a federal judge ruled that Iraq and its former president, Saddam Hussein, were liable for nearly $1 billion in damages for mistreatment of 17 prisoners of war held during the 1991 Gulf War. Collecting from the former government, however, will be difficult. U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts issued a 118-page ruling July 9 ordering Iraq to pay the ex-POWs and their families $653 million in compensatory damages and $306 million in punitive damages. The ruling notes that the defendants never filed anything in the case. In March, President George W. Bush issued an executive order confiscating roughly $1.5 billion in Iraqi assets in U.S. banks and earmarking the money to rebuild Iraq. Fennell says Bush released some of that money to satisfy a similar judgment against Iraq, and he, too, plans to seek out the confiscated funds. “If President Bush were properly briefed, he would release these assets,” Fennell says. Steptoe of counsel Mary Poag and associates David Smyth and Anthony Onorato also worked on the matter, as did University of Virginia law professor John Norton Moore. — Tom Schoenberg SHEPPARD-IZED Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson has become the latest target of poaching by Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton. New York-based Fried, Frank lost five government contracts lawyers in the District to Los Angeles-based Sheppard, Mullin, which has been hungrily expanding the office it opened in February with five lawyers. With the addition of partners John Chierichella, Douglas Perry, Anne Perry, Jonathan Aronie, and special counsel Louis Victorino to the government contracts and regulated industries practice, the firm’s local head count has shot up to 23. — Marie Beaudette PRODUCT PROTECTION The Department of Homeland Security issued long-awaited guidelines July 11 outlining how sellers of anti-terrorism products can apply for liability protection. Under the proposed Safety Act rules, sellers can request certification as an “approved” anti-terrorism technology or designation as a “qualified” technology. Qualified products receive a substantial, but lesser, level of protection than certified products, says Holland & Knight government contracts lawyer Craig Holman. The proposed rules set an ambitious Sept. 1 date for the DHS to begin taking applications. The agency’s goal of issuing recommendations about products within 90 days of application could be tough to pull off, says James McCullough of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. “Initially it will be very hard to meet those deadlines just because of the sheer volume of applications,” says McCullough. But he commends the DHS for trying to expedite the process. McCullough expects the DHS to issue interim rules after the 30-day comment period on the proposed regulations and to release final rules by year’s end. Lawsuits over qualified products that fail in the case of an attack must be brought in federal court and cannot seek punitive damages or prejudgment interest. Certified products have the added benefit of a presumption of immunity from certain claims, such as design defects or failure to warn. — Lily Henning THE NEGOTIATOR Unions beware. Venable is beefing up its labor muscle, adding longtime negotiator David Smith and three associates from Smith’s McLean-based firm, Institutional Labor Advisors. The group, which will be based in Venable’s Northern Virginia office and be called Venable Institutional Labor Advisors, consults on collective bargaining, cost containment, lobbying, labor planning, and labor analysis issues related to mergers and acquisitions and bankruptcy. Smith, 57, is a former staff labor attorney for the Bituminous Coal Operators’ Association — made up of more than 290 corporations, including steel companies, electric utilities, and coal companies — and has negotiated with the United Steelworkers of America, the United Mine Workers of America, and the Teamsters Union. — L.H. CLAIMING VICTORY The White House won a battle on the judicial nominations front July 9, when the Senate confirmed four of President George W. Bush’s selections for the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The most controversial was Victor Wolski, a partner at D.C.’s Cooper & Kirk, who was approved for the specialized trial court on a roll-call vote of 54-43. Wolski, 40, was opposed by environmentalists and other liberal activists, who termed him a “self-described libertarian ideologue” who will invariably side in favor of people filing takings claims against the government. Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) replied in a floor speech that Wolski “has represented clients on both sides of the issues.” Also confirmed by voice vote for the same court were Susan Braden, 54, of Baker & McKenzie; Charles Lettow, 62, of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton; and Mary Ellen Coster Williams, 50, of the General Services Administration Board of Contract Appeals. — Jonathan Groner PEPPER SHAKE-UP Pepper Hamilton has moved the six lawyers from its three-year-old Tysons Corner outpost to its D.C. office. The firm will keep its Northern Virginia office open until September, and anticipates leasing a smaller space in Northern Virginia for client meetings, says D.C. managing partner David Wormser. Pepper also has spun off its Pennsylvania-based technical consulting practice. “We reached the conclusion that as an appendage to the law firm it was not likely to be successful,” says executive partner James Murray. The five-member Capsicum Group, which recently opened a one-person D.C. office, will establish another location in Palm Beach County, Fla., in September, says its chief executive, Samuel Goldstein. — L.H. DECISIVE VOTE Federal Election Commission Chairman Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat, and Vice Chairman Bradley Smith, a Republican, disagree on many of the issues facing the six-member commission. But they are in complete accord about one thing: A proposal to abolish the FEC and replace it with another election-law agency is wrongheaded. On July 10, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.), the chief architects of campaign-finance reform, unveiled their idea to establish a new three-member enforcement agency headed by a chairman with a 10-year term. This would replace the FEC, which its critics say is toothless, prone to 3-3 splits, and captured by big-money interests. Weintraub, however, says the proposed new agency would inevitably be dominated by the chairman’s party, leading to “tremendous potential for partisanship.” She says the notion that the agency would be above politics is a “pipe dream.” Smith calls the idea “lawmaking at its worst, based on false ideas of how the FEC operates.” He says the proponents of change are simply “complaining about the people appointed to the FEC and the decisions that the FEC has made.” — J.G. NEW NAME DIDN’T FLY Air Force lawyers are calling each other a lot of names these days. The service has tweaked the title of its uniformed legal division twice in two weeks. On June 16, the Judge Advocate General’s Department was renamed the Office of the Judge Advocate General. The moniker was revised again July 1 to the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Insiders say the name changes stem from a power struggle between the Air Force’s two top attorneys: General Counsel Mary Walker and Judge Advocate General Thomas Fiscus. Walker reportedly sought the change because she felt the word “department” created confusion with the Department of the Air Force. Fiscus argued that the label “Office of the Judge Advocate General” — already used to refer to lawyers at headquarters — would imply that JAGs in the field report to him rather than their unit commanders. “Corps” was adopted as a compromise. — Vanessa Blum

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