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Red Rover, Red Rover . . . In the wake of the election, law firms around Washington have been scrambling to lure experienced staffers downtown to deal with what they hope will be an influx of oversight and investigation work. Venable is the most recent firm to jump on the bandwagon, with its pickup of Raymond Shepherd III, chief counsel and staff director of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Shepherd, who has been chief counsel for the past three years under Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), previously conducted oversight for then-Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Shepherd joins the firm as a partner in its government division and will run Venable’s new congressional investigation group. The firm also recently signed on Seth Rosenthal and Caroline Petro Gately as partners. Rosenthal, a former federal prosecutor, most recently was legal director of the Alliance for Justice. “When we became aware that Seth was interested in private practice, we immediately began recruiting him,” says Karl Racine, Venable’s managing partner. Gately, a real estate and transaction lawyer, joins the firm from DLA Piper’s Reston, Va., office. But that’s not all. Venable’s also in negotiations to bring back former Department of Homeland Security undersecretary Asa Hutchinson. Hutchinson, who is expected to return by the middle of January, exited Venable in March 2006 after spending a year heading up its homeland security practice to run for governor of Arkansas on the Republican ticket. . . . On the flip side, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld is losing public law and policy associate Adam Brand to Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.). Brand, 31, spent the past two years at Akin Gump lobbying on appropriations and defense issues. “I’ve always had an eye on going back to the Hill at some point,” says Brand of his move. He will be Kennedy’s chief of staff.
Departing DLA The recent spate of lawyers exiting DLA Piper continued over the holidays with four veteran private equity and capital lawyers exiting to start Duane Morris’ Baltimore office. (DLA’s Reston real estate partner Gately is also exiting for Venable’s D.C. office after 13 years at the firm.) The move follows exits by multiple lawyers in the firm’s government contracts practice. Jay Cohen, Keli Isaacson, and George Nemphos join as partners, and Wilbert Sirota comes on as senior counsel in the firm’s corporate practice. Nemphos will be managing partner of the firm’s Baltimore office, and Sirota will be chairman of the office. “We considered where we had been for 10 years and change, and the fact that all of us had been there when it was Piper Marbury, then Piper Rudnick,” says Nemphos. “We felt that the best thing for our group and our clients was to take this opportunity to develop something that, if you will, we controlled and that we could grow in a manner which would be successful and responsive to the needs of the community which we service.”
From the Counselors’ Keyboard Lawyers are now blogging more commonly without pseudonyms or anonymity. Davis Wright Tremaine announced last month the official launch of its Broadcast Law Blog. David Oxenford, a partner in the D.C. office’s broadcast media practice, is the blog’s editor. The firm first started the Web site in June, but waited to make an official announcement to first ensure everything was running smoothly. Brendan Holland, an associate in the D.C. office, is also a primary writer, with several other lawyers chipping in on occasion. “We felt we wanted to continue to stay in touch with clients throughout the industry,” says Oxenford. “We comment on [Federal Communications Commission] decisions, articles we see, issues that we hear among broadcasters or bar members, and about any other issues affecting our community.” The blog features articles, legal opinions, and reader comments surrounding radio, television, Webcasting, and other media news. It reads, says Oxenford, almost like a newsletter or public e-mail chain for lawyers and clients to maintain a constant dialogue. “The flexibility and immediacy of the blog format is a great tool and another way for us to disseminate information to our clients and readers quickly,” says Oxenford. As for the blog taking too much time away from billable hours, Oxenford notes, “Well, I’m sure many notice that most entries are made around 11 at night.”
Disabled Case Clears Hurdle A pro bono case led by a group of Wiley Rein & Fielding lawyers against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority cleared a major hurdle last month, when D.C.-based U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy Jr. ruled against a motion to dismiss and certified a class of 12,000 disabled MetroAccess users as plaintiffs, making them eligible to be grouped as a single plaintiff. Wiley Rein partners Thomas Brunner, Andrew Krulwich, Todd Bromberg, and M. Evan Corcoran are working in conjunction with the Disability Rights Council and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. The suit charges that disabled people are being kept from regularly using Metrorail and Metrobus because of faulty equipment and long delays. This, the suit says, constitutes illegal service. “We’d like the court to step in and do something now,” says Elaine Gardner, a lawyer with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee. “We’ll be filing for preliminary relief soon.”
Private Dancers Last year was a banner year for private equity, but not much of the work of representing funds was done out of the District. Bucking that trend, Kirkland & Ellis represented MidOcean Partners, a London- and New York-based private equity shop, in its successful bid for a majority stake in Totes Isotoner Corp., a fashion accessories company, in late December. D.C.-based partner Mark Director led Kirkland’s team. The firm, which has been representing MidOcean since its formation in 2003, also advised the shop in its $450 million acquisition of Sbarro Inc. in November. Director says every indication points to the fact that the buyout boom will continue in 2007.
Keeping Score is Legal Times ‘ weekly column devoted to the legal business scene. Got a tip for Alexia or Anna? Contact them at [email protected] or [email protected].

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