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Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell was formed in 1970 and initially focused on representing federal grants recipients including state and local government agencies, universities, and nonprofit organizations. Today, in addition to grants law, Feldesman Tucker provides traditional legal services in the areas of domestic relations, health and federal employment matters, corporate and tax law, business matters, trust and estates, government contracts, and general administrative law. Two years ago, the firm named two of its youngest partners � Edward Waters and Richard Shadyac Jr. � co-managing partners. In an e-mail interview, Legal Times asked Waters and Shadyac “Five Questions.” Their responses appear below. Why did you decide to start your own practice? Our firm was founded more than 30 years ago and has thrived by serving clients that, traditionally, have been overlooked by larger firms. Back then, the federal government was rapidly expanding the reach of grant programs with the implementation of the Johnson Great Society programs such as Medicaid, community health centers, Head Start, and public housing. James Feldesman had the novel idea of developing a practice that provided legal services to the recipients of these newly established federal grants. Out of that core practice, still as significant today, other practice areas took hold as the firm responded to changes in law and society. In the 1970s, asfamily law became a viable practice, Marna Tucker provided the leadership to develop what is now one of the largest family law practices in the country. In the 1980s, Jacqueline Leifer came from the Department of Health and Human Services, attracting many health care providers, including community health centers. While these centers needed assistance with the administration of their federal grants, they also required a wide array of legal services in the health care arena. As a result, we have developed a significant transactional and regulatory health care practice, both locally and nationally. In the late 1980s, Eugene Fidell joined the firm, bringing with him a wealth of litigation experience and internationally recognized expertise in military law. Most recently, Cary Feldman joined the firm in 2002 to establish a white collar criminal practice. In addition, the firm has the benefit of many other talented partners and associates who have helped the firm to continue to develop new areas such as employment, education, government contracts, and trust and estates, and to expand our reach in existing practice areas. Tell us about your clients. Most of our clients are individuals and corporations who have particular problems that call for our specialized expertise. As a result, our firm is not dependent on any one client for a significant percentage of its revenue. Our largest day-to-day clients include a number of trade associations such as the National Association of Community Health Centers and the National Head Start Association, as well as a number of large health care providers and managed care entities. Our clients reflect the diversity of our practice areas. While our family law clients predominantly come from the District, Maryland, and Virginia, we do have a specialty in international family law issues and, as such, have handled numerous international divorces and child custody disputes. In our other practice areas � grants, health care, military, and criminal law � our clients come from all over the country and world. Our grants and health care clients are largely nonprofits and local governments, while our military and criminal clients are both individuals and corporations. Where do you find your clients? Contrary to the trend of increased marketing for new business, we find that most of our new clients come through referrals. Our attorneys are actively encouraged to teach workshops and seminars, which we present for our trade association and other clients on a regular basis. In addition, we encourage our attorneys to develop new opportunities by becoming involved in local and national organizations and associations. How do you measure business success? How many hours do you need to bill to succeed? We have an annual billable hour requirement of 1,800 hours. What challenges to your practice do you foresee? Our biggest challenge, not unique to our firm, is to continue to attract and retain talented attorneys. Like many small firms, we cannot pay salaries comparable to the big firms and must rely on other incentives, such as good working conditions, interesting and often high-profile work, and the satisfaction that attorneys here have helped clients who really need our services. So far, this strategy has been very successful and most of our attorneys approached the firm about joining one of our practice areas. Very few firms, for example, can offer the opportunity to work for safety net health care providers or Head Start programs full time and actually get paid for it. Another challenge, also not unique to our firm, is a generational transfer. That we � two of the firm’s youngest partners � have been elected to the positions of co-managing partners shows that Feldesman Tucker has gone a long way to successfully navigating these troubled waters. Undoubtedly there will be challenges as our senior partners decide to slow down or retire. We are confident that in the years ahead these challenges will be resolved due to the strong foundation of younger attorneys.

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