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It was a good year to be a two-pack-a-day business guy. Not so good for tribal lobbyists and small-firm lawyers… SWEET SUCCESS From big business to large law firms, here are a few still toasting 2005… • TORTURE: It’s been a good year for the dark arts. It wasn’t until former Vietnam POW Sen. John McCain stepped up that the Bush administration backed off threats to veto a bill aimed at reining in CIA activities. As the agency’s secret camps show, Dick Cheney’s America will pull a few toenails to fight terror. • BIG TOBACCO: Still smokin’ after the D.C. Circuit threw out the Justice Department’s request to disgorge cigarette makers of some $280 billion in profits. Also benefited from secondhand help by political appointees at DOJ, who scaled back the government’s case even further. Next stop, China. A billion smokers can’t be wrong! • WILMERHALE: After knocking off Hogan & Hartson in 2005 to become D.C.’s biggest law firm, it added to its stable of stars by grabbing Stephen Cutler from the SEC and Ben Heineman Jr. from GE. Twenty months post-merger, its D.C. and Boston camps appear to be working together. Can they keep it up? • RALPH FERRARA: The D.C. rainmaker ditches Debevoise & Plimpton for an 8-figure payday at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae. Months later, the securities expert becomes its D.C. managing partner. And he’s got an ego to match his bank account. “People don’t leave firms like Debevoise,” he told Legal Times. “And people know people don’t leave firms like Debevoise.” • JOHN ROBERTS JR.: Despite spending a decade preparing for a Supreme Court nominee fight, judicial activists weren’t ready for Roberts. He goes from hard-right jurist to a moderate even Pat Leahy could love, and is confirmed as chief justice with the help of Dems. Set to preside for decades. • MICHAEL SCANLON: Jack Abramoff’s right-hand man managed to dance through the raindrops and cut a favorable plea with federal prosecutors. In so doing, the former aide to Tom DeLay turned government witness has become one of the most feared men in Washington. Is that why he’s smiling all the time? • JANICE ROGERS BROWN: Think a sitting judge who openly equates the New Deal with a socialist revolution and compares big government to slavery blows her shot at a lifetime appointment to a federal court of appeals? Think again. • DAVID FRUM: The National Review columnist was the first to come out against Harriet Miers as a nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. While more timid souls stood silent, the former Bush aide led a GOP revolt that helped rescue the Supreme hopes of long-suffering conservatives. • THE CHAMBER: No, not the John Grisham novel, but the boys at the biz lobby, who had a banner year. First, they knocked class actions out of local and state court systems. Then, they made it harder for individuals to dodge credit card debt by filing for bankruptcy. • PATRICK FITZGERALD: Keeping secrets in Washington is a tough business, even for those investigating leaks. Surprisingly, Scooter’s pursuer has managed to keep his staff mum. Dubbed the Elliot Ness of the 21st century, the federal prosecutor from Chicago, who managed to make it onto People magazine’s “Sexiest Men” list, proves that some G-men in this town still know how to keep their traps shut.
BITTER FRUIT These Washington players had a rough ride in 2005. Paging Baby New Year! • HISPANIC ACTIVISTS: For years members of the Hispanic community have been eagerly anticipating the nomination of Alberto Gonzales, or someone like him, to be the first Hispanic on the Supreme Court. With Texas pal George W. Bush in the White House and Karl Rove looking to lure Hispanic voters into the GOP, it seemed a cinch to happen. Maybe next time. �Que l�stima! • COUDERT BROTHERS: Au revoir, les enfants! It was death by a thousand cuts for the firm that once defined global panache and Cold War-era intrigue. Partners finally voted to call it quits in August, with Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe and Baker & McKenzie, among others, feeding on Coudert’s international remains. Well, they say fusion cuisine is hot, hot, hot. • WASHINGTON JOURNOS: All it takes is a few Pulitzer Prize-winning reporters to spoil it for everyone. After the sourcing travails of Judith Miller and Bob Woodward, will any high-level administration insider want to pass along juicy information on background ever again? We sure hope so. • BUSH CRONIES: Every no-good brother-in-law or second cousin who ever made it onto the payroll took a hit this year after Michael Brown’s and Harriet Miers’ lack of qualifications were exposed. “You’re doing a great job, Brownie” entered the permanent national lexicon — ideal for mocking colleagues at the office or your significant other at home. • MIDSIZE LAW FIRMS: Suddenly, it’s not such a big deal anymore to be a D.C. firm with a few hundred lawyers. Ask Shaw Pittman or Swidler Berlin, which were swallowed up by Pillsbury Winthrop and Bingham McCutchen, respectively, this year. Size apparently does matter. • GOP LEADERSHIP: As they say in “Spider-Man,” “With great power comes great responsibility.” But Tom DeLay and Bill Frist don’t seem to get to the movies much. This year, DeLay took hits on multiple fronts. Frist drew an SEC probe and was embarrassed by the “Gang of 14″ filibuster deal. • REID WEINGARTEN: Don’t feel too badly for the Steptoe & Johnson partner. Last year, he made the Winners list by getting former Tyco GC Mark Belnick acquitted. But you can’t win every year. This time around, WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers took it on the chin from a New York jury. The bright side: Weingarten still got to go on “Charlie Rose.” • CAREER OFFICIALS: Everyone knows it’s the GS-13s and their ilk who keep the government running. So why didn’t they get their props this year? First, FDA politicos overruled staff on Plan B. Then, DOJ higher-ups ignored career lawyers’ views on the Voting Rights Act. What’s next, taking away Hawaiian Shirt Day? • MICHAEL SITCOV: The career Justice Department lawyer battled the D.C. Bar over a suspension for unpaid dues. Sitcov said he never received any notice of his suspension, which lasted almost two years. The bar said tough beans. Sitcov demanded his record be wiped clean and took his case to the D.C. Court of Appeals, which sided with the bar. Sitcov vows to keep fighting. • FILE-SHARERS: The file-sharing software company Grokster shut down after the Supreme Court ruled it could be liable for copyright infringement for connecting users. Other file-sharers may follow suit, which means time is running out to download that Wayne Newton double album you secretly covet but would never dream of paying for. • TV LAWYERS: “The Law Firm,” a lawyer reality show, didn’t have the sizzle of “The Apprentice” or even “Who Wants to Marry My Dad?” And remember “Head Cases” and “Just Legal”? Neither do Chris O’Donnell and Don Johnson — and they were the stars. More troubling: William Shatner won another Emmy, for “Boston Legal.” End Times are surely near.

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