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Museum Madness James Joseph didn’t exactly get to pore over Mayan artifacts or delve into the personal papers of our founding fathers. But Joseph, a partner at Arnold & Porter, did get a firsthand look recently at the controversy surrounding the Smithsonian Institution’s former secretary, Lawrence Small. Brought on board at the end of March because of his tax and nonprofit experience, Joseph represents the Independent Review Committee, which was charged with an investigation of spending and governance at the institute after a not-so-pleasant spending scandal. The committee, led by former U.S. Comptroller General Charles Bowsher, issued its report two weeks ago to the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents, finding that Small had, among other things, misappropriated funds. Joseph worked with, as he put it, a “lean team” of a few attorneys, including Paul Wolff of Williams & Connolly. The team reviewed more than 15,000 pages of documents and compiled all of Small’s expenditures and vacation time. On the basis of the committee’s findings, the Smithsonian’s board is adopting new procedures to make sure the nation’s attic doesn’t get fleeced again. “The Smithsonian seems to be moving very quickly to implement reforms,” says Joseph.
Salary Restructuring It didn’t make much news when Howrey matched the first-year associate market at $160,000 in Washington; ho-hum, just more money for 26-year-olds without a shred of professional experience. But this addendum is noteworthy: The firm is working on a compensation plan for all of its associates that would trash the lockstep system used by nearly every firm. “We want to individualize how we take associates and move them along the development cycle,” says Robert Ruyak, chairman of Howrey. “This would allow us to pay people a different rate based on skill.” The fledgling program is still being constructed with input from the associates at the litigation firm. Ruyak says he hopes everything will be up and running by the new year. “I was happy with the positive feedback I got,” he says. “We think it would be a better system that, once people progress at different speeds, you can advance them at a different pace.” Ruyak envisions the flexibility allowing women associates more freedom to spend time raising a family while remaining on track to make partner. “I think, because we have a relatively narrow specialty, it gives us the freedom to try a program like this,” says Ruyak. The bottom line is that there would be a new bottom line: skill outweighing billable hours.
Hot Stuff The weather in Washington is heating up, and so is the climate change practice at Vinson & Elkins. Christopher Carr has just returned from the World Bank to the firm as counsel and will co-chair the climate change group. The group cuts across a number of legal practices, with 41 attorneys with expertise in tax, trade, corporate law, and litigation, according to Carr. Carr previously worked on legal matters for the World Bank’s Carbon Finance Unit, where he managed several carbon funds. Before hopping over to the bank, he focused at Vinson & Elkins on air regulatory work, which introduced him to a practice area that he calls “increasingly important.” “I would say the draw to V&E, in addition to the people, who are great, is the strong energy and environmental platform,” says Carr. Also in move news, Dewey Ballantine has lost another partner in the firm’s intellectual property practice. Cecil Key, a leading IP litigator, has joined Howrey as a partner. “There were some opportunities that opened up here at Howrey,” says Key, who focuses mainly on patent and trademark litigation. “The platform for IP litigation is incredible.” Key adds that Howrey has more chances for work in Europe as well as the United States. This loss comes after Dewey picked up three new IP attorneys from the soon-to-be-closed D.C. office of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi a week ago.
Going Corporate Firms are starting to look more like corporations every day. And Pennsylvania-based Cozen O’Connor took a major step in that direction last week, announcing its first-ever board of directors. The board will consist of the firm’s six recently named management committee members and nine nonmanagement members. Firm founders Stephen Cozen and Patrick O’Connor and advisory committee member John Cunningham appointed the members. Beginning in 2008, the members will be elected by firm shareholders on a staggered-term basis. “Our new governance structure is designed to place the decision-making power and management with the shareholder body, the elected board, and the management committee,” says O’Connor, who is also firm president and CEO. “With lawyers from all departments, practice groups, and geographies, our new board of directors represents every aspect of the firm. I am confident that this new generation of firm leaders will uphold the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to client service that has been the hallmark of Cozen O’Connor since its founding.” The naming of the board of directors follows the recent announcement by O’Connor and Cozen that they would be reducing their leadership roles within the firm. Cozen will remain chairman, and O’Connor will give up his role as CEO to become vice chairman of the firm. The last step in the leadership transition will be the naming of the new CEO, which the firm has said might come in the first few weeks of July. Speculation has been that Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Chairman Tad Decker is set to return to the firm to serve as the new CEO, but neither the firm nor Decker has confirmed those rumors.
Keeping Score is Legal Times ‘ weekly column devoted to the legal business scene. Got a tip? Contact Business Editor Anna Palmer at [email protected]. Gina Passarella of The Legal Intelligencer contributed to this article.

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