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BIGGEST FIRMS SQUEEZING SMALLER RIVALS IN D.C. It’s not easy competing against D.C.’s behemoth law firms. That’s the lesson from The American Lawyer‘s annual survey of the Second Hundred highest-grossing law firms in the country. Six D.C.-based firms were named among the 101st to 200th biggest firms, with Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman at No. 113 (firmwide gross revenue $154 million); Williams & Connolly at No. 114 ($153.5 million); Arent Fox Kinter Plotkin & Kahn at No. 135 ($129 million); Wiley Rein & Fielding at No. 142 ($118 million); Crowell & Moring at No. 143 ($117.5 million); and Dow, Lohnes & Albertson at No. 188 ($88 million). Nationally, gross revenue at the Second Hundred was up an average of 5.4 percent, compared with 8.5 percent for the AmLaw 100. But in Washington, D.C., AmLaw 100 firms truly dominated their Second Hundred counterparts. The larger firms’ gross revenue increased an average of 12.7 percent, while the Second Hundred eked out gross revenue growth of just 0.8 percent. (Results from Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky and Crowell & Moring were not included in these averages, since large contingent fees skewed their figures in 2001 and 2002.) Why is it so hard for Second Hundred firms in the nation’s capital? James Jones, a D.C.-based consultant for Hildebrandt International, says that it’s simply the result of greater competition in the marketplace. “Larger firms are going after matters that three or four years ago they would have passed up,” he says. And it’s not just coming from the big D.C.-based firms. AmLaw 100 firms from across the country have moved into the nation’s capital, intensifying competition. “A lot of firms that have opened up shops here have been able to lure talent away from the old-line firms,” says Jeffrey Lowe of legal recruiter Major, Hagen & Africa’s Washington office. In the past year, for instance, Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson and Hand merged into Piper Rudnick, and Arent Fox lost attorneys to Sidley Austin Brown & Wood, to Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, and to Thelen Reid & Priest. Arent Fox managing partner William Charyk says there is still a place in the District for firms of Arent Fox’s size, assuming they strategize wisely; for Arent Fox, that means strengthening core practices in real estate and IP work. — Robert Lennon, The American Lawyer DISTRICT V. DEVELOPER The Office of Corporation Counsel has filed a civil suit in D.C. Superior Court against developer Douglas Jemal seeking $2.8 million in damages for allegedly submitting false invoices to D.C. officials. The case involves office space in Northeast Washington that one of Jemal’s companies — Cayre Jemal’s Gateway — had leased to the District. The July 29 complaint alleges that Jemal’s company submitted two invoices in 2001 totaling $929,000 for construction costs on a building located at 77 P St., but that none of the work was performed. The bill was approved by Michael Lorusso, who at the time was deputy director of the D.C. Office of Property Management, and paid by the city, the complaint states. The suit, which also names Lorusso as a defendant, is asking for $2.8 million in damages and fines. The matter has been referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for a criminal investigation. Jemal’s attorneys — Robert Leibner of D.C.’s Leibner & Potkin and John Dowd of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld — did not return calls seeking comment. — Tom Schoenberg THEY CAN HEAR HER NOW Cheryl Tritt, a partner in the D.C. office of Morrison & Foerster, helped ink the first wireless telecommunications license in Afghanistan. The deal, which seals the right of Fort Lee, N.J.’s Telephone Systems International to run Afghan Wireless Communication Co., is worth between $60 million and $70 million and represents the largest private outside investment in Afghanistan to date. Tritt says crafting the contract with the fledgling Afghan government, represented by Hogan & Hartson, was difficult at times because of the country’s fluid legal structure. She hopes the contract will pave the way for a better communications infrastructure. “The pent-up demand is extraordinary,” she says. — Marie Beaudette HOME FREE The Department of Homeland Security has its first general counsel. On July 31, the Senate unanimously confirmed nominee Joe Whitley. The vote came as little surprise — at Whitley’s confirmation hearing last week, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) called him a “shoo-in.” Only two members of the panel — Lautenberg and Chairwoman Susan Collins (R-Maine) — were present for the entire July 29 hearing. (Utah Republican Robert Bennett left early.) Whitley was introduced and recommended by both Georgia senators — Democrat Zell Miller and Republican Saxby Chambliss — and faced mostly friendly questioning. Collins and Lautenberg seemed satisfied with his brief, and at times uncertain, answers about the still-evolving agency and its policies. Whitley, who has been working as a DHS consultant since his nomination, said “considerable work still remains” to build and organize the department. Lautenberg praised Whitley for returning to public service from his private practice at Alston & Bird, and Collins said, “Mr. Whitley is well-qualified for these far-reaching responsibilities.” — Marie Beaudette DOJ DEPARTURE A key Justice Department official charged with overseeing prosecutions in federal terrorism and corporate fraud cases stepped down July 31. Deputy Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher — a protégé of former Criminal Division chief Michael Chertoff — will be replaced by 38-year-old David Nahmias. Nahmias most recently served as a legal adviser to Chertoff and previously worked as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta. Fisher, who was a corporate defense attorney in the D.C. office of Latham & Watkins before joining the Justice Department in July 2001, will not immediately return to private practice, according to a DOJ spokesman. — Vanessa Blum POSTWAR WORK Squire, Sanders & Dempsey will have a hand in the reconstruction of the economy in Iraq as legal counsel to the McLean-based consulting firm BearingPoint, which won a $9 million initial contract from the U.S. Agency for International Development to help create competitive markets in the occupied nation. Squire, Sanders D.C. partner Joseph Markoski and Brussels partner Thomas Ramsey will coordinate the legal work in Iraq. The firm, which recently opened an office in Kuwait, will be involved in a wide swath of issues that will accompany the transformation of Iraq’s centrally planned economy into one based on private sector business. The first step will be to “make a comprehensive legal audit of what’s there and benchmark that against international best practices,” Markoski says. About a dozen Squire, Sanders lawyers, including recently recruited Iraqi lawyers, will be on the ground in Iraq at any given time. — Marie Beaudette CONVENTIONAL WISDOM The American Constitution Society drew nearly 800 participants to its first annual convention over the weekend, about twice what organizers expected for the three-day gathering at the Capital Hilton. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) drew cheers from the audience at an Aug. 1 session when she resurrected allegations of a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” She told the luncheon crowd: “There’s nothing secret about it. It’s an effort by conservatives [in the Bush administration] to turn back the clock.” The ACS — modeled as a counterbalance to the influential, conservative Federalist Society — promotes individual rights, civil liberties, and access to justice issues. Like the Federalists, who often feature liberal speakers on their panels, the ACS put conservatives like 4th Circuit Judge J. Michael Luttig on the program to tussle with liberals like Judge David Tatel of the D.C. Circuit. Clinton’s 50-minute address was punctuated with quips critical of the White House’s judicial selections. She said there was no Senate vote to end debate on 9th Circuit nominee Carolyn Kuhl because “the right hand didn’t know what the far-right hand was doing.” — Jonathan Groner IMMUNIZED A federal judge has ruled that confiscated Iraqi assets earmarked by President George W. Bush to rebuild that country cannot be used to satisfy a $959 million civil judgment awarded to a group of American soldiers captured and tortured in 1991 by Saddam Hussein’s government. Stephen Fennell of Steptoe & Johnson, who represents the 17 ex-prisoners of war and their families, has filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in an attempt to keep the federal government from sending to Iraq roughly $1.7 billion being held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The July 30 decision by U.S. District Judge Richard Roberts was issued one week after the Justice Department moved to intervene and have the judgment vacated on the grounds that the president granted sovereign immunity to Iraq in May — two months before the plaintiffs won their judgment. — Tom Schoenberg NO WAFFLING ON BELGIUM Arnold & Porter is taking another leap across the pond, with plans to open a Brussels office at summer’s end. Led by antitrust lawyer Marleen Van Kerckhove, the new outpost “will dramatically strengthen our European competition team,” says William Baer, head of the D.C. antitrust group. The office will kick off with about a half-dozen lawyers. “We had been considering this for a long time,” adds Baer, who will spend time in Belgium helping to establish the firm’s second European branch. A&P set up shop in London in 1997. — Lily Henning PAUL, WEISS GETS COMPETITIVE It’s official: Outgoing Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Competition Director Joseph Simons has joined the D.C. office of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. The addition of Simons, who was a partner at Clifford Chance before he moved to the FTC in 2001, marks a bid by Paul, Weiss to expand its 20-lawyer D.C. office. “We expect to attract additional people, associates, and partners, and have a major antitrust practice in Washington,” says Paul, Weiss chairman Alfred Youngwood. Simons says he considered rejoining Clifford Chance, which he describes as a “wonderful” firm, but was attracted by the opportunity to build a practice at Paul, Weiss. — Jenna Greene

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