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SCARLET LETTER Edward Waters, managing partner of D.C.’s 27-lawyer Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell and outside counsel for the National Head Start Association, saw red when he first laid eyes on a May 8 letter sent to Head Start programs nationwide by Windy Hill, associate commissioner of the Head Start Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The letter was apparently a response to an NHSA newsletter urging Head Start program staff and parentsto lobby Congress against legislation that would divert to the states funding of Head Start, the program established to foster healthy development of low-income children. Hill’s letter, according to Waters, 42, was “full of legal inaccuracies” and incorrectly cited the Hatch Act and other statutes to threaten local Head Start programs with lawsuits if its teachers spoke out against the legislation. After the NHSA’s calls to have the letter retracted went unanswered, it filed suit June 11 against the HHS in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asking for declaratory and injunctive relief. Earlier this month, the administration agreed to withdraw the letter, and the NHSA withdrew the suit. A July 2 letter sent by Hill to local Head Start programs stated, “The purpose of this letter is to clear up any possible confusion concerning my letter of May 8. . . . As a general matter we are all at liberty to contact our representatives about our political thoughts and concerns. It was not my intention to discourage such activities.” NHSA suffered a setback on July 25, however, when the legislation it opposes passed in the House by a single vote. The future of the Senate bill is uncertain. � Joel Chineson TAX MAN Under the direction of partner Gary Thompson, D.C.’s Gilbert Heintz & Randolph is one of several firms representing the District and its residents in a commuter tax lawsuit filed last week. Banner v. United States challenges the constitutionality of the federal ban on nonresident taxation, which could redirect from $540 million to $1.4 billion in taxes to the District. Thompson began working on the suit while an associate at Howrey Simon Arnold & White. The 38-year-old Washingtonian continued working on the suit pro bono when he co-founded Gilbert Heintz with fellow Howrey and Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky insurance attorneys in 2001. Thompson’s work on Banner will help Gilbert Heintz hit its pro bono target � 10 percent of billable hours. Now numbering 50 attorneys and out of the red financially, the firm is fine-tuning its other goals: to do excellent work and to have fun. “We all got weary of the notion that practicing law in a law firm is a drag,” Thompson says. These aren’t empty words. While the firm is usually hard at work for such clients as America Online, Pfizer, and Texaco, management flew more than 200 of the firm’s staff and family on a rented 757 jet to a resort in Puerto Rico in February to celebrate its second anniversary. � Alicia Upano LINE OF SUCCESSION As the newly elected vice president of the Fairfax County Bar Association, Richard Ruddy Jr. will almost certainly find himself president of the 2,000-member bar in a few years. The vice presidency position is, in effect, a training ground for the presidency. Next year, he likely will be president-elect and the following year, president. Current Fairfax Bar President Janine Saxe and President-elect Sharon Nelson followed that same path. “The thought process is, rather than jump straight into being president-elect, [as a vice president] you can be involved in more of the decision making and discussions at the executive level” and so be more familiar with the role and responsibilities, Ruddy says. The voluntary bar association coordinates pro bono activities, maintains the courthouse law library, and advises on candidates for the local bench. Ruddy, 51, a solo practitioner in Fairfax for the last 25 years, divides his practice between counseling local businesses and estate planning. He is also of counsel to Fairfax’s Rathbun & Goldberg. � Siobhan Roth GOOD SPORTS When ESPN News needed commentators to address the legal issues on both sides of pro basketball player Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case, they were able to bag their talking heads with one phone call. The sports news channel turned to D.C.’s Kiyonaga & Soltis and booked founding partners Paul Kiyonaga, 39, and Debra Soltis, 37, who also happen to be husband and wife. Kiyonaga says ESPN was swayed by his experience representing sex crime defendants and Soltis’ expertise on sexual harassment law and policies. It’s a good thing Kiyonaga and Soltis were familiar with the basic issues, because they had next to no time to prepare for the segment. Within an hour of receiving the request from ESPN, they were in a downtown D.C. studio being readied for the live July 19 broadcast. The duo started Kiyonaga & Soltis back in 1994, leaving posts at Arnold & Porter (Kiyonaga) and Williams & Connolly (Soltis) to do so. The three-lawyer firm focuses on criminal and civil litigation, including employment, civil rights, and personal injury cases, and class actions. � J.C.

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