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To John Chierichella, being a top-notch government contracts lawyer means more than just pushing paper. In the course of his work, the Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton partner has flown helicopter and V-22 Osprey simulators, inspected factory production lines, even offered advice to the government of Poland on supplying material for the war in Iraq. “A friend of mine says that if you like toys, government contracts is a great practice,” he says. “I really love the stuff I do.” Chierichella, 57, worked from 1973 to 1975 in the Air Force General Counsel’s Office, where he handled government contracts for major systems and worked on the original five-country consortium agreement to produce the F-16 fighter plane. His military experience, he says, gives him “a real appreciation for the other side of the street, for the factors that influence and drive government decisions.” He’s made good use of that knowledge in private practice. Currently, Chierichella is representing Northrop Grumman Space & Mission Systems in a bid protest over a $263 million contract to create a paperless, automated travel management system for the Department of Defense. Awarded to Northrop in 1997, the contract was restructured in 2002. CW Government Travel protested the restructure, arguing that the contract should have been re-advertised for new bidding. The case is now being litigated in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Chierichella also represented Northrop Grumman Ship Systems in 2002. The company had been awarded a $3 billion contract to build the next generation of destroyers. The Bath Iron Works Corp. filed a protest, which was denied by the General Accounting Office (now the Government Accountability Office). “He’s very knowledgeable about cost accounting issues, and he’s surrounded himself with a very good team,” says Joseph Costello, vice president and deputy general counsel at the Northrop Grumman Corp. “They’re able to come in and take a look at a problem in a very efficient manner and provide succinct and practical advice.” In cases often marked by long hours and complex issues, Costello adds that he appreciates Chierichella’s “healthy sense of humor about where we find ourselves from time to time.” Chierichella’s work also has a significant international component. One client, Herndon, Va.-based Electronic Warfare Associates Inc., praises his successful resolution of a long-standing arbitration dispute between a subsidiary and the Russian government. “The case was extraordinarily complex, requiring over six years of work to bring it to an amicable conclusion,” writes Vice President Norman Blaylock in a statement on Chierichella’s behalf. “His efforts resulted not only in a satisfied client but also in keeping open an invaluable door to Russia for the U.S.A.” Chierichella also advises a Dutch defense contractor on compliance with export controls, and has represented German, French, and Canadian companies on a variety of procurement issues. A 1972 Columbia Law School graduate, Chierichella left the Air Force in 1975 to join Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue (now Jones Day) as an associate. He was a founding partner of Crowell & Moring, formed in 1979 as a breakaway from Jones Day, and later moved to Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, where he was a partner from 1993 to 2003. Chierichella is the co-author of a 600-page book, Multiple Award Schedule Contracting, published in 2002 by the Xlibris Corp. In the last decade, the value of such contracts, which are typically used when the federal government buys commercially available products or services, has risen sharply, he notes. And yet many companies that sell to the government under the Multiple Award Schedules Program are not fully cognizant of federal procurement rules. “A lot of companies that sell pens and pencils and tires and fanny packs � a lot of stuff � to the government don’t think of themselves as government contractors,” says Chierichella. “It can be a recipe for disaster.”

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