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On its face, the Association of Corporate Counsel’s annual conference last week was a chance for America’s top general counsel to brainstorm strategies and improve their embattled legal departments. But with more than 2,700 in-house legal staff in D.C. for the three-day affair, law firms had something else in mind: recruiting clients. So they forked over big bucks for high-end activities. Nixon Peabody, for one, held a special viewing of the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery of Art last Tuesday evening. Along with providing a full table of carefully crafted cookies and cupcakes, the firm hired Warhol and Marilyn Monroe impersonators to entertain guests (that on top of a fee of more than $10,000 to simply rent the space for the evening). “This was a way of entertaining clients and prospects who were in town,” says Tina Wilcox, managing partner of Nixon Peabody’s D.C. office. Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman hosted 200 conference attendees for refreshments and a tour of the International Spy Museum. Among the other events: McGuireWoods invited George Will to speak to clients at the Army & Navy Club. Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld organized a wine tasting at the Hay-Adams Hotel. Altman Weil Inc. treated attendees to dinner at the 1789 Restaurant. In all, 33 of the 100 sponsors were law firms — 25 percent more than in 2004. “It was just amazing just how many big events there were,” says a longtime attendee. “And a lot of competition to get people to your event.”
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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