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OWNERSHIP RULES, PHONE WAR KEEP TELECOM LAWYERS BUSY The Federal Communications Commission’s setbacks last week have meant a windfall for many D.C. telecom lawyers. After losing a major round in the battle over media-ownership regulations, the agency also weathered the opening salvos in what promises to be a protracted fight over an order that deals with opening up local telephone networks to competition. “They are both complex and contentious proceedings,” says Wiley Rein & Fielding partner Richard Wiley. “There are many players in the private sector who will want to be heard in the appeals of them.” Indeed, lawyers are lining up to argue for big-name clients. A team from Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd & Evans led by Michael Kellogg prepared appeals to the FCC’s 576-page Triennial Review order for Qwest Communications International Inc., SBC Communications Inc., and the U.S. Telecom Association. The order, adopted in February but released by the commission an unprecedented six months later, requires Baby Bells to continue to lease parts of their networks at discounted rates to the local arms of companies such as AT&T Corp. and MCI. Not that those telecom behemoths are satisfied with the rules either, since they don’t require incumbents to give their rivals both access and cut rates to broadband facilities as hoped. “There’s something for everybody to hate,” says Powell Goldstein Frazer & Murphy telecom partner Kelly Cameron. Lawyers in the D.C. office of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood are handling AT&T’s appeal of the order. MCI hasn’t decided whether it will file a protest, says a spokesman. FCC Chairman Michael Powell, who guided the ownership deregulation effort, got a taste Sept. 3 of the losing side of the appeals process. In a surprise decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, Andrew Jay Schwartzman and Georgetown University Law Center professor Angela Campbell won a stay of the FCC’s proposal to loosen media ownership rules. Arguing for the agency was Associate General Counsel Jacob Lewis. The work isn’t over yet. Schwartzman’s brief arguing that the case should remain in Philadelphia rather than be transferred to the D.C. Circuit is due Sept. 8. Historically, the D.C. Circuit has looked askance at FCC ownership caps. Wiley says it’s likely the Philadelphia jurists will keep the case, possibly in part because of how much attention it has attracted. “The court will hang on to the media ownership,” says Wiley. “It’s sexy.” � Lily Henning LUCKY 13 Janet Rehnquist left her position as inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services on June 1 amid controversy, but that didn’t keep her from landing a choice job with the D.C. firm Venable. The 46-year-old daughter of Chief Justice William Rehnquist started work last week as co-chair of the firm’s health care practice, along with partner Ted Ramirez. She’ll advise pharmaceutical clients and join in the firm’s active litigation docket. “I think I’m the 13th former assistant U.S. attorney here,” she says. “The lucky 13th.” In the HHS job, she had a staff of 1,600 investigators and enforcement agents and succeeded in collecting, along with the Justice Department, more than $4 billion in fines and restitutions. But some personnel and enforcement decisions raised questions on Capitol Hill. A General Accounting Office report issued June 10 found that she “exhibited serious lapses in judgment” � including improperly keeping a firearm in her office. Rehnquist says the allegations “didn’t cause me any problems in the job search.” She adds, “Everybody I talked to viewed it as a political hit. Being inspector general is a result-driven job, and you don’t make a lot of friends.” Did her last name also make her an appealing target? Rehnquist declines to speculate, but says she was often told that “if my name had been Janet Smith, none of this would be happening.” As for the firearm, she acknowledges “it was not a good idea” but that it was in her office less than 24 hours. It had been brought to her in connection with her efforts to “build esprit de corps with my agents” by joining them on a shooting range, she says. “I’m a good shot for some reason, but I don’t own a weapon.” Venable corporate and business practice head Robert Zinkham agrees the GAO report was “critical, but it goes with the job,” and did not raise concerns in the firm. “Anyone who knows Janet knows she is a person of the highest integrity.” � Tony Mauro SAYING GOODBYE In his three decades as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Virginia, Justin Williams worked every day toward a single goal: justice. The chief of the Criminal Section died unexpectedly on Aug. 31 at the age of 61. And on Sept. 5, more than 500 friends and colleagues joined his family to say goodbye at a funeral service at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria. Williams joined the Eastern District more than 30 years ago, and his influence ran wide and deep. “Justin is the Eastern District of Virginia,” said Paul McNulty, U.S. attorney for the EDVA, in his eulogy. The crowd that filled the 200-year-old church reflected his legacy. Prosecutors and defense lawyers, court reporters and judges, sheriffs and federal agents stood shoulder to shoulder to pay their respect and share their grief. To many, Williams was a mentor, a living legend, and a friend. “He got it right,” said fellow Assistant U.S. Attorney Nash Schott. “In an era when it’s easy to criticize or doubt or strike out, Justin was a healer,” said Schott, who met Williams in 1974 when he was a private and Williams was a major in the Army JAG corps. For Williams, McNulty said, “it was never about the big cases, it was about justice.” McNulty and Schott each urged the assembled to honor Williams’ life by working harder in their pursuit of justice. Williams is survived by his wife, Suzanne, their two children, Caitlin, 15, and Andrew, 20, and his mother and sister. Donations for his children’s education may be made to the Justin W. Williams Memorial Scholarship Fund, care of Burke and Herbert Bank in Alexandria. � Siobhan Roth BREAKING AWAY Peter Thompson, former managing partner of 100-lawyer Ross, Dixon & Bell, is leaving the firm after 18 years to start his own practice. Joined by fellow Ross, Dixon partners Lewis Loss and Thomas Judge, the trio will launch their commercial and insurance coverage litigation practice on Oct. 1. The new firm, to be known as Thompson, Loss & Judge, will also take on two Ross, Dixon associates when it opens its doors at 1919 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W. Thompson says ending his tenure as managing partner of the D.C.-based firm in May gave him the opportunity to “take stock of what the next part of my professional life would be.” The parting seems to be causing no hard feelings on either side. “I have nothing but the highest regard for Ross, Dixon & Bell,” Thompson says. The firm’s D.C. managing partner, David Gische, says, “We wish them well.” � Marie Beaudette NOTHING VENTURED Silicon Valley corporate boutique Venture Law Group announced last week it will merge with San Francisco’s Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe. Partners at both firms are expected to vote to finalize the merger by Sept. 9. The decision � which has been expected for weeks � ends the solo run of one of the touchstones of Silicon Valley law. VLG was founded in 1993 specifically to take equity in startup technology clients and share in their stock market successes. At its height in 2000, the firm employed 110 lawyers and grossed $64 million. But as the technology market nose-dived, VLG saw a sharp decline in its bread-and-butter work. After having to resort to salary cuts, demotions, layoffs, and a capital call among partners, the firm today stands at 57 lawyers. Meanwhile, 660-lawyer Heller Ehrman, powered in large part by its 358-attorney litigation team, has thrived. Heller chairman Barry Levin says the merger will give Heller access to a team of experienced corporate lawyers to help the firm expand its reach among tech companies. � Renee Deger, The Recorder HIGHER LITIGATION A pro bono team from Arnold & Porter and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed suit last week against Virginia’s major public universities, lambasting them for discriminatory admission policies. At issue is the schools’ compliance with a 2002 memo from the Virginia attorney general’s office. “Illegal and undocumented aliens should not be admitted into our public colleges and universities at all,” states the memo by Assistant Attorney General Alison Landry, adding that university officials should voluntarily report these applicants to the AG’s office and the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Arnold & Porter partner David Orta and four associates, plus MALDEF’s Tisha Tallman, filed suit in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on Sept. 2. Orta says the universities are impermissibly regulating immigration, and that the policy thwarts the ability of the plaintiffs to go to college, though they attended Virginia’s public primary and secondary schools. A spokesman for the attorney general’s office did not return calls. � Alicia Upano CATCH OF THE DAY Fish & Richardson‘s D.C. office recently reeled in three new partners. The new hires include former Shook, Hardy & Bacon international regulatory partners Edwin Lavergne and Jay Newman, and venture capital attorney Jonathan Aberman, who previously chaired Fenwick & West‘s D.C. office. Aberman, along with Fenwick corporate associate David Dutil, will kick off Fish & Richardson’s corporate and securities practice in Washington. � Lily Henning FOOTBALL FANTASIES For Covington & Burling, longtime counsel to the National Football League, football season has already brought one disappointment. Last week, sports fans at Covington discovered they had been blocked from accessing fantasy football Web sites from their work computers, sparking a vociferous protest among the game’s many devotees at the firm. According to Covington partner Mitchell Dolin, the sites were blocked as a result of security measures implemented during the recent spate of viruses, though he says “fantasy football aficionados were not specifically targeted, and their views are receiving respectful consideration as the filters are fine-tuned.” One Covington lawyer, who estimates that at least 30 firm attorneys belong to fantasy football leagues, says the game does not interfere with lawyers’ productivity. “I don’t view it as any different than pulling out a newspaper for 15 minutes a day,” the attorney says. Participants in fantasy football leagues assemble dream teams of NFL players and compete against one another based on their rosters’ real-life performances. � Vanessa Blum

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