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The Virginia Tech Review Panel, responsible for investigating the Apr. 16 shooting that killed 32 people at the school and injured many others, has enlisted the help of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. The pro bono investigation will be led by attorneys Richard L. Brusca and Amy R. Sabrin, both partners in the Washington office. Brusca said he called Governor Tim Kaine’s office directly after the incident to volunteer his services. “Though I didn’t say in what capacity,” he said. A few weeks later, the governor’s office contacted the firm to help out the panel because of its expertise working with government agencies and the number of partners who are Virginia residents, said Michael Rogan, another Skadden partner in Washington. “In terms of what pro bono service means, there is nothing quite as important as helping our students,” he said. In early May, Governor Kaine selected the panel, which plans to complete initial work on the investigation by the time school reconvenes on Aug. 20, to investigate the incidents leading up to and directly preceding the shooting. Jim Kudla, a representative for TriData, the management group helping the panel to run its investigation, said the members intend to investigate whether or not the government handled the situation as efficiently as possible. A representative for the review panel said the law firm was appointed to clarify privacy issues and counsel the team on what information the members are legally allowed to seek. David Clemenson, a spokesman for Attorney General Bob McDonnell, said the board was advised to bring in the firm because McDonnell has the governor, Virginia Tech and the state police all as his clients. “If the review panel is going to go about its business in the best and most expeditious manner as far as getting to the bottom of the massacre and where we go from here, the attorney general and the governor came to the decision it would best serve the commonwealth if they were to bring in outside counsel,” Clemenson said. At the review panel’s first meeting on May 10, Charles W. Steger, the president of Virginia Tech, said he wanted to investigate whether or not current medical privacy laws are in the public’s best interest. “We need to know if privacy laws can or should change so that school administrators, court officials, or the mental health profession itself, has the information it needs to treat and handle those with mental illnesses on college campuses,” he says in a transcript of a speech given that day, available on the panel’s Web site, www.vtreviewpanel.org. Brusca said Skadden attorneys will provide the panel with their best view of the panel’s responsibilities under the law. “The investigation is working to identify challenges Virginia has in its mental health services,” said Kevin Hall, a representative for Kaine. He said the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) laws and student privacy issues prevented medical personnel and students from sharing information with university officials.

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