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When your client goes to jail and yet emerges months later still singing your praises, we’re talking one damn good attorney. Meet Robert Bennett, “the amazing Mr. Bennett,” as former New York Times reporter Judith Miller refers to him. He remains her “champion,” she says, even though she spent 85 days in a federal jail for refusing to name names in the Valerie Plame leak investigation. Miller isn’t the first person on a very public hot seat to turn to Bennett. Now a partner in the D.C. office of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Bennett, 66, has been building his formidable reputation since 1971, after spending a few years with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington. Over three-plus decades he has represented the biggest names in politics and big business � from President Bill Clinton in the Paula Jones case, Clark Clifford in the BCCI scandal, and Caspar Weinberger in the Iran-Contra matter to, more recently, Enron during congressional and criminal inquiries into its financial escapades, and the Albritton family in the collapse of Riggs Bank. Bennett has a proven rapport with the media, which is one of the reasons that high-profile clients seek his counsel. So he was a natural to represent Miller. While she was refusing to identify sources that she had interviewed in connection with the Plame leak, Miller recalls, “Bob kept asking me, ‘Where does this end?’ ” That, she says, kept her focused on finding a resolution. It ended with Bennett successfully cutting a deal, which, Miller says, other attorneys had failed to make for her with the indefatigable special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald. To get out of jail, Miller agreed to testify solely about her contacts with former vice-presidential aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby Jr. Cutting deals and positioning clients to avoid prosecution is a lot of what Bennett does these days. In a world of Sarbanes-Oxley strictures and the heavy cudgel of the corporate-sentencing guidelines, a lesser penalty is sometimes the client’s best result. Consider KPMG, which survived the Justice Department’s rigorous examination thanks, in large measure, to Bennett’s skills. In January 2004, KPMG dismissed three top executives tied to what federal prosecutors were calling a cover-up of “the largest ever tax shelter fraud” and replaced its outside counsel with a Skadden team led by Bennett. A year later, KPMG announced that it would be appointing as its chief legal officer Sven Erik Holmes, a U.S. district judge known for his ethical standards. By August 2005 the feds had entered into a deferred prosecution agreement: KPMG agreed to pay $456 million in penalties, admitted to selling bogus tax shelters and then lying about it under oath, and prepared to institute a number of reforms. If the company follows through, prosecutors will drop all charges at the end of 2006. “Bob has an extraordinary instinct � a quality that really distinguishes him � the ability to assess all of the differing variables in a situation and see how they are most likely to interact over the course of a matter,” says Holmes, who retired as chief judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma to take the KPMG job. “A second remarkable quality Bob has,” Holmes continues, “is that over the course of any discussion or interaction, he has a very keen ear for understanding both the words and the music, an ability to read between the lines, to form a deeper understanding of what the other side is really interested in, which enables him to turn to a client and say, ‘Here’s what they say, but here’s what I think they really mean.’ “ Adds Holmes, who spent 10 years on the bench observing lawyers at work, “That’s a hugely important skill in coming to a negotiated understanding.”

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