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MOST D.C.-AREA LAW SCHOOLS CLIMB IN RANKINGS Most Washington-area law schools continued their steady march up U.S. News & World Report‘s just-released ranking of the nation’s best law schools. Love them, despise them, or profess to take them with a grain of salt, the annual rankings, released April 2, are important benchmarks, says Daniel Polsby, associate dean of academic affairs at George Mason University School of Law. “We take them seriously — everyone in this industry does,” Polsby says. “There are many other ways of measuring the progress of legal education and comparing how programs are doing, but this is the report card, this is what people pay attention to.” Continuing its movement up the chart, George Mason ranked No. 38, moving from No. 40 in 2003 and No. 47 in 2002. Founded in 1979, it is the youngest school listed among the top 50. The list includes 177 law programs. The University of Maryland School of Law earned its best ranking yet, coming in at No. 43. The school also garnered top 10 standings in three specialties: health care law, environmental law, and clinical education. Maryland Dean Karen Rothenberg says she is pleased with the ranking, but says it is important, especially for students, to remember the report is just one measure of a program’s quality. Georgetown University Law Center maintained its long-standing ranking at No. 14 and earned accolades as one of the top three law schools for international law, clinical training, and tax law. Up two places to No. 20 was George Washington University Law School. The school also was listed as No. 2 for intellectual property law. American University Washington College of Law slipped from No. 55 in 2003 to No. 56. But the school still nabbed the No. 2 spot among clinical training programs. American and GW outranked area peers in the magazine’s diversity index, which is based on the total proportion of minority students and the mix of racial and ethnic groups on campus. “We take pride in the areas where these rankings recognize core values of education,” says Claudio Grossman, AU’s law school dean. But “they don’t take into account other factors such as diversity, need-based scholarships, and engagement in the community.” Catholic University Columbus School of Law came in at No. 82, up two places from last year, and Howard University School of Law was placed in the third tier, where schools are not ranked numerically. Yale University, Harvard University, Stanford University, Columbia University, and New York University topped the list overall. — Lily Henning PAY CUT During Supreme Court oral arguments March 30, leading high court advocate Carter Phillips told justices he had spent six months looking into the history of the 1789 Alien Tort Statute, the law at the crux of Sosa v. Alvarez-Machain, No. 03-339. Some in the audience wondered who paid Phillips, managing partner of Sidley Austin Brown & Wood‘s D.C. office, for his historical quest. Certainly not his client, Jose Sosa, currently in the federal witness protection program. Sosa had been recruited by the U.S. government to help kidnap Humberto Alvarez-Machain in Mexico and bring him back to the United States to face charges that he murdered drug enforcement agent Enrique Camarena-Salazar in 1990. Alvarez sued Sosa under the disputed law. Phillips had a ready answer when asked who was footing his bill: the Justice Department, which farms out work to private counsel to represent government employees such as Sosa whose interests might differ from the department’s. “The government got a heck of a deal,” laughs Phillips, explaining that the DOJ paid him $200 an hour, not the $775 he charges private clients. Phillips says he does not know how many hours he and associates put into the research, but it was taxing. “Especially the old Blackstone and other treatises where half the S’s are F’s,” says Phillips. “That will give you a headache pretty quick.” — Tony Mauro AILING U.S. District Court Senior Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson is recovering from heart surgery at Washington Hospital Center. Chief Judge Thomas Hogan says Jackson had quadruple bypass surgery March 26. “As far as I was told, the surgery went well, and we’re just waiting for him to recover and get back to work,” says Hogan, who’s not sure when that will be. The chief judge says the operation had been scheduled, but may have happened earlier than planned. — Tom Schoenberg MERGING Veteran D.C. criminal defense lawyers Henry Asbill, William Moffitt, and Barry Boss are joining the corporate ranks. Last week, their six-lawyer firm, Asbill, Moffitt & Boss, announced it was merging with 490-lawyer Cozen O’Connor. Asbill says he and his partners will focus on white collar crime and complex criminal matters. “It will enable us to lawyer more and manage less,” says Asbill, noting that there still may be room for an occasional murder case. For Philadelphia-based Cozen O’Connor, the hire was a way to boost its presence in the District by adding a white collar crime practice. “These guys will give us credibility in the D.C. market,” says Patrick O’Connor, president and chief executive officer of the firm, which focuses on business litigation, insurance, and intellectual property. Prior to the Asbill, Moffitt merger, the firm had just three lawyers in the District, focusing primarily on corporate and securities law. Asbill, who founded his criminal defense firm in 1981, says it was an emotional decision. “It is both sad and exciting,” says Asbill, who along with Moffitt and Boss is joining as a partner. Peter Paris joins as an associate. W. Louis Hennessy and William Mertens, who were of counsel to the Asbill, Moffitt firm, did not make the move. — Tom Schoenberg GRAND PIANO The Supreme Court has a new piano and, apparently, an old one, too. The Court took delivery of a new seven-foot Steinway Model B conservatory grand piano March 26, in time for the high court’s annual musicale May 5. National Symphony Orchestra music director Leonard Slatkin will inaugurate the piano at the afternoon program. The Court’s old Baldwin piano, apparently still residing at the Court, got a reprieve from being sold last month. An advertisement listing it for sale was canceled after Court officials determined that since it belonged to the Court, it had to be disposed of according to procedures for liquidating government property. Its future is still uncertain, but the new piano won’t run into the same bureaucratic difficulties. It was acquired by the Supreme Court Historical Society — not the Court itself — through a donation from the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who hosts the musical event, coordinated the acquisition. — Tony Mauro STAFF STRIFE Democratic lawmakers are raising questions about the Justice Department’s treatment of support staffers in the Antitrust Division. In a March 25 letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Maryland Democratic Sens. Paul Sarbanes and Barbara Mikulski and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) express concern about plans to terminate secretaries and replace them with lower-paid employees. Those affected are term employees — clerical workers who are hired for 14-month stints to handle fluctuating workloads. According to the federal government employees’ union, many of the DOJ term secretaries were hired with the understanding the jobs would be permanent. Union officials say roughly 30 DOJ term employees are expected to be dismissed before the end of the year, including 15 in the Antitrust Division. A career official in the division says that federal regulations prohibit term personnel from serving more than four years and calls the union’s concerns misplaced. — Vanessa Blum NUT JOB Last week, Covington & Burling of counsel Sarah Taylor scored a victory on behalf of nuts everywhere. Well, walnuts, at least. Taylor helped persuade the Food and Drug Administration to allow her client, the California Walnut Commission, to advertise the health benefits of walnuts based on “supportive but not conclusive” scientific evidence. “I am very pleased with the success that the California Walnut Commission has gained here,” says Taylor, who is a registered dietician. She says the FDA has been losing First Amendment court battles on the issue of allowing “qualified” claims when there is strong, but inconclusive, evidence of health benefits. Taylor, whose practice focuses on health benefits communications, also represents the National Milk Mustache campaign, which features ads of celebrities sporting milk mustaches. — Marie Beaudette BONJOUR Morgan, Lewis & Bockius plans to acquire the 14-lawyer French corporate firm De Pardieu Brocas Maffei & Leygonie. The move will give Morgan, Lewis its first outpost in Paris. “This group seemed to be a very good fit,” says firm chairman Francis Milone, adding that an “evolution of our clients’ businesses” has led the firm to Europe. Morgan, Lewis already has offices in London, Frankfurt, and Brussels. Milone says the firm will continue to try to expand throughout the continent: “It’s a question of getting the right capabilities, the right numbers, and the right practices.” Jean Leygonie of De Pardieu Brocas Maffei & Leygonie will head up the new office. “We felt the time was right to explore new opportunities with a firm that can offer our clients a truly international breadth,” said Leygonie in a press release. The Morgan, Lewis acquisition is subject to the approval of the Paris Bar, which is expected to come in May. — Marie Beaudette EUROPEAN CAPITAL Latham &Watkins‘ London office is making a play for a piece of the European venture capital market. Over the last year, the office has worked on a half-dozen early stage venture deals, many involving software companies. While a loosening investment climate in Europe is driving a surge in deals, a new hire has helped the firm capture work. Charles Fuller, a partner who lateraled from London’s Simmons & Simmons a year ago, is helping build the fledgling VC practice. For Fuller, the appeal of Latham was the “strength of its practice in Silicon Valley and . . . the firm’s commitment to growth in Europe.” Latham has added 25 lawyers in London in the past two years. Working with Fuller on VC deals is former Simmons colleague Martin Saywell, who joined Latham just after Fuller’s arrival. — Adrienne Sanders, The Recorder

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