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NEW LIFE IN LEBOEUF’S BID FOR $16.5M DOE CONTRACT LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae is getting a second chance to win a $16.5 million contract to provide legal services to the Department of Energy for the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site in Nevada. On Oct. 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held unanimously that, in awarding the original 1999 contract, the DOE hadn’t looked carefully enough at possible conflicts of interest that the winning bidder, Winston & Strawn, may have had. In 2001, the DOE parted ways with Winston & Strawn because of such a conflict of interest. LeBoeuf, the only other bidder, had filed suit in U.S. District Court, asking for a “directed award” of the contract. Last year, U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina turned aside LeBoeuf’s contentions, terming them moot since there was at that time no pending contract proposal by the DOE. But the circuit disagreed, noting that as of April of this year the department was again looking for outside legal help. Judge Judith Rogers’ opinion sent the case back to the District Court and asked the court to come up with a remedy to help LeBoeuf. Rogers noted that one possibility would be for a trial judge to require the DOE to pick LeBoeuf in a new round of bidding. Rogers’ opinion voiced criticism of DOE’s contract procedures. Rogers wrote that the DOE acted inconsistently with its own rules when it accepted on face value a statement by Winston & Strawn that that firm had no disqualifying conflicts. Winston & Strawn had previously represented a Yucca Mountain contractor, and it later emerged that the firm represented a nuclear-industry trade group. The appeals court also said that the District Court should now consider whether the contract with Winston & Strawn violated Nevada legal-ethics rules. Urbina had rejected that contention as well. James Feldesman of D.C.’s Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell, who represents LeBoeuf, says he is “very gratified” by the ruling. Charles Miller, a spokesman for the Department of Justice, which represented DOE, declines comment. James Thompson, Chicago-based chairman of Winston & Strawn, says, “We continue to believe that we did not have a conflict and that the hearing before the district judge will demonstrate that.” � Jonathan Groner LAWYERING UP Key players in the Freddie Mac accounting imbroglio continue to hire lawyers to help them deal with an array of government probes. Two lawyers familiar with the McLean, Va.-based company say that Maud Mater, who was ousted two months ago as Freddie Mac’s executive vice president and general counsel at the suggestion of regulators, has tapped John Douglas as her attorney. Douglas, 53, chairs the financial services group at Atlanta’s Alston & Bird and served as general counsel of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in the late 1980s. Douglas declines comment, and Mater could not be reached for comment. Fired Freddie Mac President David Glenn recently reached a settlement with a federal regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, which calls for him to pay a $125,000 fine and cooperate with OFHEO’s investigation. Glenn is represented by Thomas Vartanian, a partner in the D.C. office of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Last week, Freddie Mac forced out three vice presidents and one trader, wrapping up its disciplinary action against those named in an internal probe. A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria says that the office’s investigation of accounting issues at Freddie Mac is continuing. � Jonathan Groner CALL FOR HELP MCI Inc. has retained former Sen. Warren Rudman as a senior adviser for ethics and corporate governance to Chief Executive Officer Michael Capellas. Rudman, a senior counsel in the D.C. office of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, says he was being hired in an individual capacity and that the law firm will not be involved with his MCI work. A Republican senator from New Hampshire from 1980 to 1992, Rudman was until last year a partner at the New York-based law firm. � Anthony Lin, New York Law Journal POETRY POWER One Washington lawyer has found a way to relieve the doldrums during a drawn-out jury trial. Hogan & Hartson partner William Nussbaum ended his 84-minute closing argument in a six-week trade secret misappropriation case at the DuPage County, Ill., Circuit Court last week with a 20-verse poem summarizing the case. Nussbaum was defending Hughes Network Systems Inc. against allegations that the company misappropriated In-Flight Phone Corp.’s trade secrets involving air-to-ground telephone technology. Nussbaum, who says he used humor as a tool with the jury throughout the lengthy trial, thought ending his closing on a lighter note would be effective. “I thought that they would find this a respite,” he says. His final stanza: “So thanks to you for your time / And for listening now to my rhyme / As I’ve said all along / Hughes has done nothing wrong / And we don’t owe the plaintiff a dime.” It worked. Not only did the jurors chuckle and applaud Nussbaum’s opus, they also found in favor of his client. � Marie Beaudette TAX TROUBLE A D.C.-area criminal defense lawyer was sentenced to 20 months in prison last week for tax evasion. Navron Ponds, 55, was convicted by a jury in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in July of five felony and two misdemeanor counts of tax evasion. The U.S. Attorney’s Office claims that Ponds failed to pay income taxes for several years beginning in 1988 and owes the federal and D.C. governments more than $117,000 in unpaid taxes and penalties. Ponds, who was sentenced by Judge John Bates, faced a maximum term of 35 years behind bars. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Dubester pushed for about two years in jail, pointing out that Ponds has a history of wrongdoing, including a contempt conviction in Maryland for lying to a federal judge about his acceptance of a Mercedes-Benz, which the federal government was attempting to seize, as payment from a client. Ponds will remain free pending an appeal, according to his court-appointed lawyer, Preston Burton of D.C.’s Caplin & Drysdale. � Tom Schoenberg BREAKING THE LOCK Clifford Chance has completed its review of the firm’s compensation system for partners and has voted to allow a limited number of U.S. partners to earn more than their highest-paid British counterparts. Proponents of bending the London-based firm’s lock-step compensation system, in which partners are paid strictly according to seniority, had argued that exceptions were necessary to attract and retain star U.S. partners, who are more accustomed to being paid according to business origination. “The outcome of the partner compensation review provides the firm with the flexibility to use additional units where necessary to improve the competitiveness and profitability of the practice globally,” says Clifford Chance U.S. managing partner John Carroll. “This review gives us clarity on a complex issue and provides a clear direction for the firm’s management to build for our future success,” he says. Last month, Steven Newborn, the firm’s highest-paid U.S. partner and the only one outside of the firm’s lock-step policy, left for the D.C. office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. � Anthony Lin, New York Law Journal GRILLING COMEY No one expects James Comey Jr., the Manhattan prosecutor tapped to replace Larry Thompson as deputy attorney general, to have much trouble winning Senate approval. Still, Comey’s confirmation hearing Oct. 29 was far from a lovefest. Comey, who currently serves as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, endured nearly 30 minutes of tough questioning from his home-state senator, Democrat Charles Schumer, related to the Justice Department’s investigation of the leak of a Central Intelligence Agency officer’s name. Comey said he was uncomfortable discussing the investigation, but pledged to approach the matter with integrity. “I would not take this job if I thought I was going to be working with people who didn’t share my love of the law,” he said. Flanked by his wife and five children, Comey remained in good humor. When Schumer noted that he had provided Comey with many of his questions in advance, Comey thanked him for the courtesy, adding, “We are not going to conduct cross-examination like that at the department.” � Vanessa Blum SMOKE SIGNALS Antitrust and M&A lawyers took heart at last week’s flurry of deals. Behind one of the biggest announced mergers � R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.’s acquisition of the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. � are a squadron of D.C. and New York antitrust lawyers. Doing the heavy lifting in antitrust for R.J. Reynolds, the nation’s second largest tobacco company, are Joseph Sims of Jones Day and Kaye Scholer‘s Mark Popofsky, both based in the District. Ronald Rolfe of New York’s Cravath, Swaine & Moore is giving Brown & Williamson, the third largest cigarette company in the United States, advice on the antitrust issues related to the marriage of the two mammoth tobacco product-makers. The deal is likely to be reviewed by the Federal Trade Commission, says Sims. � Lily Henning RETIREMENT FOR ROGAN? As hundreds of IP lawyers convened in the District last week for the American Intellectual Property Law Association’s annual meeting, there was speculation that U.S. Patent and Trademark Office head James Rogan is on the verge of stepping down. It is “widely expected that Mr. Rogan would resign by the end of the year,” says Harold Wegner, a partner at Foley & Lardner. Should Rogan leave, his deputy, Jon Dudas, would take over as acting head of the agency. Fueling the fire that a departure is imminent were reports posted by Internet Patent News Service editor Greg Aharonian. But PTO spokeswoman Brigid Quinn says Rogan “has no plans to leave anytime soon.” Instead, Rogan’s current plans include a trip to Japan this week for a meeting with his Japanese and European counterparts to discuss ways to harmonize their patent systems. The PTO director is also working on his autobiography. � Christine Hines

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