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Lawyers often say their most important advice to clients is to keep quiet. But when it comes to high-profile representations, the equation isn’t always so simple, a panel of Washington defense attorneys told attendees at the American Constitutional Society conference June 16. Abbe Lowell, a partner at Chadbourne & Parke, said he learned that lesson the hard way representing then-Rep. Gary Condit (D-Calif.) in connection with the search for the congressman’s missing intern, Chandra Levy. “My role became so much the public voice of Gary Condit,” Lowell said, a position he believes lawyers are better off avoiding. Indeed, he said his decision to keep quiet about plea-bargain discussions for his current client Jack Abramoff helped aid that outcome (despite a television cameraman being staked out in front of his office during the final days of the negotiation). Of course, engaging the press is sometimes critical to success. Michele Roberts, a partner at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, said one prime example was when she represented former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, who was indicted in a federal probe. Their strategy: show up at the prosecution’s press conference. Despite this cat-and-mouse game with the media, Reid Weingarten, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson, said if you represent high-profile clients, “you have to live amicably with the press.” That might be true for opposing counsel as well, as Weingarten learned years ago when he faced off against fellow panelist Marna Tucker, a partner at Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell who represented Weingarten’s former wife in their divorce. “He was a bully,” Tucker recalled. But in the end, he took her advice and got the divorce.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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