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WASHINGTON � The election is over � let the reshuffling begin. In the nation’s capital, as the political landscape changes, so too does the composition of Washington law firms. But although a self-purging of Bush administration officials isn’t expected upon incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveling in the new Congress, law firm recruiters say there should be more movement than would have been seen had Republicans retained control. “The people who are going to pop out are going to be asked to do so quickly,” says a recruiter. “Or else they’ll be asked to stay and gut it out until the end of the administration.” Part of being a D.C. insider is tracing the career paths of lawyers as they move, almost seamlessly, between private practice and government. With that in mind, Recorder affiliate Legal Times presents a look at who will be considered a hot commodity once they’ve put themselves on the open market. In return for some covert name-dropping, recruiters, managing partners and other insiders were given anonymity. “Yeah, that’s a no-brainer,” was the response a recruiter gave when asked about the desirable qualities of Solicitor General Paul Clement. Recruiters say anyone high up on the food chain at the Department of Justice will be highly sought. And no one is more so than Clement. The former head of King & Spalding’s appellate practice has been at the Justice Department since 2001, has argued more than 25 cases before the Supreme Court, and has done nothing but enhance an already sterling reputation, say recruiters. “He could just about write any number,” says a former senior Justice Department official. “Even among the D.C. firms, the number begins with a two. And if it includes New York firms, it may begin with a three.” One recruiter speculated that King & Spalding would be the obvious front-runner for Clement’s services once he leaves the government, though the recruiter says it will come at a high cost. “What is always most important is that someone like Clement has already proven his worth in private practice,” says another recruiter. “And now he’s proven his ability working for the government. But firms care more than anything about the business a lawyer can produce for them.” At the end of the Clinton administration, former SG Seth Waxman was equally desirable, ultimately landing with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. Another highly sought-after lawyer is Thomas Barnett, assistant attorney general in the Antitrust Division at the DOJ. “He’s going to be in absolute major-league demand when he comes out,” says a recruiter. “I think that Covington [& Burling] will certainly be a contender, but he could probably make more money somewhere else.” Part of the attraction is his pedigree: Before entering public service, Barnett was a partner in Covington & Burling’s D.C. office, where he was vice chairman of the firm’s antitrust and consumer protection practice. The other component, says a recruiter, is the nature of his post at the Justice Department: “Anyone in his position, with the antitrust experience, is going to be a blue chip for a firm.” Several other names at the DOJ were also mentioned repeatedly. Among the most often cited were Sue Ellen Wooldridge, the top official in the Division of Environmental and Natural Resources; Alice Fisher, head of the Criminal Division; and Civil Division leader Peter Keisler. SEEKING SECURITY Five years ago, Philip Perry was a senior White House lawyer who helped establish the Department of Homeland Security. He then went back to Latham & Watkins’ D.C. office, where he lobbied the DHS on behalf of two Fortune 500 companies, and then returned to the DHS, joining the agency as its general counsel. Says a recruiter, “When he moves back to private practice, there’s no one who wouldn’t want him.” Then there’s Michael Chertoff. The secretary of homeland security has taken some political lumps but will still be a prized addition, insiders say. He has already given up a prized spot on the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to return to government work, so a judgeship doesn’t appear to be in the offing. “Chertoff is still highly sought after,” says a recruiter. “Lawyers will separate the political side from the legal side, and the guy has a tremendous background. The fact that he’s perceived as bungling the Katrina disaster is not going to be a major hindrance.” Chertoff was a partner at Latham & Watkins before being appointed special counsel for the Senate Whitewater Committee investigating allegations surrounding President Clinton. Then, from 2001 to 2003, he was head of the Criminal Division at the DOJ before his appointment to the appeals court.
Big names are not solely what firms are looking for. The days of bringing in someone based largely on name recognition are over. Firms want a resume demonstrating success in a private practice.

Deborah Majoras was also named often by recruiters. Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, Majoras joined the FTC from Jones Day’s D.C. office, where she was a partner in the firm’s antitrust section. Her husband, John Majoras, also currently works for the firm, a recruiter notes, though the recruiter was unsure if that would have any impact on where she would go next. Linda Thomsen, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s director of the Division of Enforcement, was cited as a big catch. “Anybody who has that job and does it competently is going to be in tremendous demand,” says a recruiter. “She’s an obvious interest for people.” Thomsen has been with the SEC since 1995, though she was previously in private practice in Davis Polk & Wardwell’s D.C. office. The name-dropping came with a caveat: Big names are not solely what firms are looking for. The days of bringing in someone based largely on name recognition are over. Firms want a resume demonstrating success in a private practice. “You don’t just say that Barack Obama is in the Washington office of such-and-such and business will boom now,” says a recruiter. “Business is too competitive for people to bring their work to a firm just because someone is there.” PREPARING FOR THE CHASE A storm is also brewing for the services of lawyers who can help with governmental oversight and some key figures have already made the transition. Next year is being described as that of the congressional subpoena, with everything from Medicare payments to military spending open for Democrats to aggressively inspect. And a few law firms have taken steps to accentuate their ability to adequately represent clients fearful of being frog-marched onto the Hill. Dickstein Shapiro recently hired Mark Paoletta, previously chief counsel for oversight and investigation at the House Energy and Commerce Committee, to burnish their congressional investigation practice; Andrew Snowdon worked with Paoletta and will be joining him at Dickstein. Venable brought in Raymond Shepherd III, who was previously chief counsel and staff director of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations as a partner in its government affairs division. Another sign of the times is Barbara Comstock’s betting on the market, having left Blank Rome’s D.C. office to team up with her former colleague and friend Mark Corallo to form a crisis-management firm that will specialize in spinning the media’s coverage of their clients. One managing partner says it is more about making sure the team in place is ready to do the work a client needs than bringing in lawyers with an expertise in government oversight. “It’s a combination of pooling the talents of people we have � a substantial number of our people have come out of the government. It is making sure we are gathering all the relevant skills. And then it’s identifying particular industries, clients, who may face a subpoena,” says William Perlstein of WilmerHale. As one recruiter puts it: “If subpoenas start flying � like Pelosi has promised � out of the House, somebody is going to do the work. We’re talking about the oil industry, energy and pharmaceutical. They could open up defense. This could be a wide berth � and corporations will need to fight back.” A few notable administration officials who have recently moved back to private practice include Ann Klee, who in August left her role as general counsel of the Environmental Protection Agency and rejoined Crowell & Moring’s environment and natural resources practice as a partner. In November, Mark Matthews went to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius from the Internal Revenue Service, where he was deputy commissioner of the Services and Enforcement Division, after what a recruiter called a “pretty strong bidding war.” And although congressional oversight is being pointed to as a theme for 2007, there are practice areas that have been and will continue to be a veritable gold mine for government lawyers: SEC enforcement, antitrust and health care. All are at the top of most recruiters’ lists as practice areas that law firms have continued to say are areas of need. “Anybody involved in CMS [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] is walking gold,” says a recruiter. “All those people involved in health care � they’re going to go after this [Medicare prescription] bill � those people who can be a sherpa for anything related to health care will be paid a premium.” Another lawyer says the SEC is ripe for a mass evacuation, and area firms are set to take advantage. “SEC enforcement types will be leaving for sure,” says a recruiter. “I’ve heard there are a lot of people who didn’t expect the election to go the way it did. And they are now actively looking to get out.” Nathan Carlile is a reporter with Legal Times, a Recorder affiliate based in Washington, D.C.

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