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Connie Bertram has been a partner for only five years, but she’s built a solid book of business in her employment litigation practice representing some of the D.C. area’s biggest employers. “She’s very smart, and she’s very quick,” says Cindy Hallberlin, an in-house employment lawyer for Giant Food Inc. “You can call Connie on the phone and in 15 minutes get some sound legal advice.” Bertram’s peers say the 38-year-old lawyer is someone to watch. Despite her relative youth, she’s cultivated a substantial list of clients, including Giant Food, Pfaltzgraff Inc., Visa International, the Department of Agriculture, the Lincoln Property Co., and several D.C. government agencies, which she represents in single-plaintiff employment disputes and some class actions. Bertram’s clients describe her as a top-notch attorney who is comfortable going to bat for them in the courtroom, but prefers that they know how to prevent litigation. “She has a wide knowledge of the statutory requirements that we need to abide by,” says Craig Bremer, general counsel of Pfaltzgraff. Bertram estimates that she spends about 40 percent of her time counseling her clients on equal employment, reduction-in-force, complex leave issues, training, and other matters. Bertram says she tries to determine the deeper issues under the surface of an employment dispute. “There’s a human being who’s employed, and there’s a human being who’s supervising,” she says. “A lot of [the cases] are about perception.” A Venable partner since 1999, Bertram got her start as a general litigator at Wiley Rein & Fielding after she graduated from George Washington University National Law Center in 1990. A chance to specialize in labor and employment prompted a lateral move to the D.C. office of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in 1995. She left Akin Gump for an employment litigation spot at Venable in 1997. Two years later, she made partner. In 2000, Bertram scored a victory for York, Pa.-based dining-ware maker Pfaltzgraff after an eight-day age and gender discrimination jury trial in federal court in Pennsylvania. “Connie virtually lived in our offices for two weeks,” says Pfaltzgraff’s Bremer. “Every day she tried [the case], and every night she prepared.” In 2002, when the scandal over financial practices erupted at the United Way of the National Capital Area, the charity called on Bertram to investigate the chief executive officer. Bertram has been keeping herself busy recently representing supermarket chain Giant Food in a spate of employment lawsuits, including one before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, Foy v. Giant Food Inc., in which the employee’s claim was dismissed. “She has a very good personality for this type of law,” says Hallberlin, the Giant in-house lawyer. “She’s calm when she needs to be calm, and she’s forceful when she needs to be forceful.”

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