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Several attorneys left key federal government posts this summer and headed into private practice as an embattled Bush administration moves toward its last year in office. While some of the lawyers said increased freedom to participate in political campaigns and the current administration’s troubles contributed to their decision, others said they were simply taking the next step in their careers. Of course, higher pay in the private sector also was a consideration. DLA Piper; Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; and Winston & Strawn are some of the firms that gained lawyers in the moves. While several of the departing attorneys came out of the Department of Justice, which has been fighting off a congressional inquiry into the role of politics in the department, others came from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Treasury Department. Former federal prosecutor Peter Zeidenberg felt it was time for a new challenge. The 48-year-old joined DLA’s Washington office earlier this month after serving on the special prosecution team that convicted I. Lewis Libby Jr. With the size of DLA’s client base, “there’s a ton of business that we’ll be able to generate,” said Zeidenberg, who is a partner in the litigation and regulatory practices. Enough of the furor Zeidenberg, who had been with the Justice Department for 17 years, spent his last six years in the Criminal Division’s public integrity section, investigating and prosecuting public officials. He noted that the recent department furor played a role in his decision to leave. “It just makes your job harder,” Zeidenberg said, referring to the leverage it gives defendants. “It lets them make arguments about the politicization of the department.” Eric Purple, 39, started thinking about leaving the SEC’s Investment Management Division, where he had worked for eight years, after some colleagues started exiting, he said. That made him think about new opportunities. He’s now at Chicago-based Bell, Boyd & Lloyd’s Washington office building a practice with business-development companies. Joyce Bartoo, 57, sought an of counsel position in Chicago-based Winston & Strawn’s Washington office after 13 years at Justice’s Antitrust Division. Bartoo rejoins a former colleague, Michael Sibarium, who has been busy with Winston antitrust work, she said. “It was just an exciting opportunity to expand and grow the D.C. antitrust practice,” she said. Jay Taylor spent the last four years at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, gaining international experience, particularly with cases before the World Trade Organization in Geneva. He wanted to put those new skills to work in the expanding international trade practice area and rejoined McDermott, Will & Emery’s Washington office, where he had been from 2000 to 2003. Taylor, 34, said it’s a natural time for people to leave the administration, especially if they want to work on presidential campaigns. While that wasn’t a driver for him, he said he is interested in getting involved in campaign work. Federal government workers’ political participation is limited by the Hatch Act. Marketable skills Jonathan Vogel, who left a federal prosecutor position in Charlotte, N.C., to join Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, is also interested in taking part in campaigns. Moreover, he was eager to use his experience from the Department of Education and the Justice Department in Sonnenschein’s new, expanding Charlotte office. As the former deputy general counsel for the Education Department, Vogel, 36, said his understanding of regulations in that area and his litigation skills will be particularly marketable as probes of student loan companies and colleges heat up. “I did have, in the back of my mind, the thought that as the administration comes to a close there will be many like me that will be in the job market,” Vogel said. “I thought, if I wait much longer I will be in competition with those folks.” Other lawyers leaving public service in the past three months include Daniel Hogans, who joined Morgan Lewis’ Washington office from the Treasury Department’s Office of Benefits Tax Counsel; Daniel Levin, who went to White & Case’s Washington office after 25 years at Justice, the FBI and the National Security Council; and Susan DeSanti, who is now in Sonnenschein’s Washington office after a year as counsel to the Antitrust Modernization Commission and 15 years at the Federal Trade Commission.

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