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Washington—With a second Bush administration on its way, the list of available lawyers on firms’ wish lists is decidedly smaller than it may have been had John Kerry won the election. But the revolving door between government and private practice will keep turning regardless, and with that in mind, The Recorder and Legal Times, both sister publications of The National Law Journal, asked a number of recruiters and lawyers at D.C.-area law firms whom they consider to be the hottest hires and the biggest “gets” among lawyers who may be leaving the administration. While many were willing to name names when asked about administration officials, they requested anonymity when it came to their own. What follows, then, is a wish list of sorts. Moving between government and private practice can promise a big payday for upper-level administration officials. Big names can trade their policy experience and their government contacts for up to six times their government salary. Surfing the SEC One agency where it seems administration officials can write their own ticket is the Securities and Exchange Commission. Recruiters say anyone with SEC enforcement experience is considered golden. The top name on most people’s lips is current Director of Enforcement Stephen Cutler. “Cutler is the man,” said one recruiter. Another says, “He is a slam dunk. Once he decides to move on, everyone will be all over him.” One recruiter heard that Cutler may be in talks to join the Washington office of New York’s Davis Polk & Wardwell. While Davis Polk only has a small D.C. office for the moment, the firm would bulk up its presence there in order to land him. Other recruiters believe the move would make sense since Cutler’s deputy, Linda Thomsen, was at the firm before she joined the SEC. A Davis Polk spokesman said the firm has no comment. For his part, Cutler declined to comment on his future plans except to say that he loves what he does. But if he were to leave, the head of one securities enforcement practice at a Washington firm said Cutler’s combination of skills-heading the SEC Enforcement Division and his history at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr-make him unique among SEC recruits. In the past few months, the SEC has already experienced a few defections from its ranks as deputies and assistants made the jump into private practice. Most notable was Thomas Newkirk, the associate director of the Enforcement Division, who jumped ship to Chicago-based Jenner & Block, where he will officially begin later this month. The intellectual property area is another practice that has seen a number of high-profile officials join private firms in recent months. Just last month, Stephen Kunin, deputy commissioner of patent examination policy at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, joined the Alexandria, Va., patent boutique Oblon, Spivak, McCelland, Maier & Neustadt. And in January, James Rogan, the former director of the PTO, rejoined his old firm, Venable.

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