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Slow and steady — that was the course for D.C. firms when it came to making new partners this year. Local firms showed little or no change from the previous year in the number of new partners elected, interviews with managing partners from D.C.’s largest firms show. Still, some practice areas stand out for producing the lion’s share of new partners. This year, litigation was the most common speciality among new partners at the 10 local firms surveyed, followed by corporate and intellectual property. But law firm managers stress that while partnership may be the pre-eminent goal, it is no longer the only option for associates. Increasingly, they say, firms are moving away from the “up and out” model, where associates are forced to leave the firm if they fail to make partner. In fact, firms — even those with two-tiered partnerships — are using the counsel status more and more to keep worthy lawyers within their ranks. At Wilmer Cutler & Pickering, for example, counsel has become a formal stepping stone on the way to partnership. “All of our lawyers become counsel before they become partners,” says firm chairman William Perlstein of the process developed four years ago. On Jan. 1, the firm welcomed eight lawyers, two of them women, into its partnership, and promoted 32 associates to counsel. All partners hold an equity stake in the firm. Firmwide, Wilmer now has 127 counsel and 153 partners. The new partners — five in the District and three in New York — represent an increase from last year’s six. By and large, says Perlstein, the entire process takes 8 1/2 years. Associates become eligible for counsel after 6 1/2 years, and are considered for partnership in another two years. But there is no “up and out” system, Perlstein says. If a counsel does not become partner immediately, he or she can stay with the firm in hopes of eventual promotion. Litigation is the central focus for six of Wilmer’s eight new partners. The other two partners, both in New York, work primarily in securities enforcement. New D.C. partners David Cohen and Ronald Machen practice white collar criminal litigation, Edward DuMont focuses on appellate litigation, John Trenor concentrates on international disputes, and Amy Kreiger Wigmore practices complex commercial litigation. Hogan & Hartson promoted 27 associates, five of them women, to partnership, including 13 in D.C. and two in Northern Virginia. While a sizeable class, it was not a record — in 2001, for example, the firm added 28 new partners. Last year, Hogan added 25 new partners. Overall, the firm has 452 partners in 19 offices. In the firm’s two-tiered system, associates are first eligible for “special” partnership after seven years, says firm chairman J. Warren Gorrell Jr. After that, they seek membership in the profit-sharing general partnership. Hogan also promoted 10 associates to counsel, three in its D.C. office. Counsel is an elevated position for associates who have contributed to the law firm but are not yet ready for partnership, says Gorrell. The new partners and counsel represent eight of the firm’s 25 practice areas, with 17 lawyers coming from the business and finance group. “I think it’s an incredibly strong class that represents our diverse capabilities,” Gorrell says. In the D.C. office, new partners R. Daniel Keating, Keith Larson, Thomas Morey, and Kevin Vold work in the firm’s business and finance practice. Shelly McGee, Ajit Vaidya, and H. Keeto Sabharwal are intellectual property lawyers. Yaron Dori maintains a communications practice. Lorane Hebert and E. Desmond Hogan are litigators. H. Deen Kaplan is a trade lawyer, while Michael Mason and Patrick Traylor are in the government contracts and environmental groups, respectively. Howrey Simon Arnold & White elected 15 lawyers into its partnership this year, four of them women. Between 22 and 24 lawyers were eligible for partner, says managing partner and CEO Robert Ruyak. Some may be deferred for consideration in the future, he says. This year, nine new partners are based out of the D.C. office. In 2003, the firm admitted nine attorneys total into its partnership, with seven of them in D.C. The new junior, “Level 1″ partners will share the firm’s profit, but on a different compensation scale than the senior, “Level 2″ partners, Ruyak says. Level 1 partners usually move up to the full-fledged Level 2 partnership after three or four years. At Howrey, associates are eligible for partnership after 7 1/2 years. But senior associates begin receiving reviews of their progress and partnership potential after 5 1/2 years at the firm, Ruyak says. The firm factors in litigation skills heavily in evaluating partnership candidates. New partners Kenneth Donnelly, Jacqueline Grise, and Eric McCarthy in the antitrust group; intellectual property lawyers Jennifer Dzwonczyk, David Long, and Mark Whitaker; and Timothy Finley, Christina Sarchio, and James Wagner in the global litigation group, are all based in the firm’s D.C. office. “Achieving partner was a tremendous milestone,” Sarchio says, “I feel a greater sense of responsibility now.” Dzwonczyk agrees. Now that she is partner, Dzwonczyk sees herself taking on more of a leadership and mentor role at the firm, “especially being a woman in IP,” she says. Arnold & Porter elevated 14 lawyers this year — 11 to equity partner status and three to counsel. Two partners are women. Nine of the new partners are based in D.C.: Daniel Cantor in the litigation and environmental groups; Duane Mauney and James Rosenthal of the litigation and product liability groups; Jeffrey Handwerker, a member of the litigation and government contracts group; Leslie Jacobs and Robert Jones Worrall in the intellectual property group; Elissa Preheim in the litigation group; Darren Skinner in the corporate and securities group; and John Barker of the public policy and international trade groups. Swidler Berlin Shereff Friedman elevated one new partner this year — antitrust and trade regulation specialist Michael Farber, who is based in D.C. Last year, the firm made seven new partners. “The eligibility pool of people varies from year to year,” says Linda Rickman, the firm’s recruitment and professional development director. “We just had a smaller eligibility pool this year than last.” Steptoe & Johnson promoted 16 lawyers, four to partner, and 12 to of counsel or special counsel. Three new partners and six of counsel work in D.C., while the fourth partner resides in the Phoenix office. One new partner is a woman. Steptoe promoted six lawyers last year to its single-tiered partnership, with another eight elevated to counsel positions. Steptoe associates are usually considered for partnership after eight years, says managing partner Lon Bouknight Jr. The counsel status at Steptoe is for a valuable person who is not yet ready for partnership, he says. Becoming counsel is not a dead end for Steptoe lawyers, since they can potentially become partners, Bouknight adds. The new partners at Steptoe all come from different practice groups. In the D.C. office, John O’Connor is in the litigation group, Jennifer Quinn-Barabanov works in the technology practice, and Thomas Trendl practices international law and trade. A candidate’s practice area is indirectly a factor in making partner, acknowledges Bouknight. “When a practice area is growing and very busy, the opportunity to shine is certainly there,” he says. But even when the practice area is slow, he adds, the key question in evaluating a candidate is, “Is this still just a really good lawyer?” At Dickstein Shapiro Morin & Oshinsky, which welcomed five new partners, four men and one woman, determining a good lawyer is a three-step process. Dickstein has a three-level professional development and promotion process to evaluate associates’ climb to partnership. The program begins after an associate’s first two years at the firm. Typically, the associate moves up to the second level in the fourth year out of law school. After another two years, the associate is promoted to a third level before being considered for partner. On average, associates become non-equity, or income, partners 8 1/2 years out of law school. Typically, three years later they are considered for equity partnership. “We thought [the process] made good sense for the associates, for the firm, and [for] the clients,” says Michael Nannes, Dickstein’s managing partner. But movement in the firm depends on the individual’s professional skills, including ability to manage cases and transactions, problem-solving skills, client relationships, and firm contributions and commitment. Dickstein’s new D.C. partners are all litigators. Eric Bensky and James Wines focus on securities litigation, while Michael Sharkey’s practice primarily involves insurance coverage disputes. The firm also added two new partners in New York. The promotions represent a slight decrease from last year, when the partnership grew by six lawyers, all in D.C. Patton Boggs doubled the number of new partners in its D.C.-area offices this year. The firm elevated five lawyers in D.C. and one in Northern Virginia, compared with three in the two offices last year. In all, the firm elected eight lawyers from 14 candidates to non-equity partner, says firm head Stuart Pape. Four new partners are litigation group members, two work on corporate and mergers and acquisitions, another is a member of the public policy practice group, and the eighth is an intellectual property lawyer. Associates are considered for partnership after eight years, Pape says. This year, the firm also promoted two senior associates to counsel. Counsel is by no means a sidetrack, Pape says, but rather an intermediate step for those who will likely make it to partnership. Pape meets with senior associates once or twice a year to discuss partnership issues. “I walk them through the process [and] remove as many of the urban myths as they put on the table,” he says. In the firm’s D.C. office, partners Douglas Boggs, son of name partner Thomas Hale Boggs Jr., and David Weiler focus on corporate and mergers and acquisitions; Ugo Colella and Patrick Slevin are litigators specializing in civil litigation and labor unions, respectively; and Elizabeth Vela Moeller is a member of the public policy practice group. In the Northern Virginia office, Laura Nammo practices patent law. At Covington & Burling, which announced its partnership promotions in Oct. 2003, five lawyers, two of whom are women, were elected. Litigators Stephen Anthony and Patrick Davies are based in the District. Anthony focuses on white collar criminal defense and civil litigation, while Davies concentrates on product liability work. Wiley Rein & Fielding promoted seven lawyers this year — six to its partnership and one to of counsel. Two partners are women. The promotions bring the firmwide partner head count to 112. Last year the firm promoted five new partners. Wiley first considers seventh-year associates and then mulls them over again a year later. “We think that’s a reasonable period,” says Richard Wiley, the firm’s managing partner. “It’s going to continue to be our track.” The firm has a two-tiered partnership, but, Wiley says, this year a new partner who joined the firm as a lateral bypassed non-equity status and became a share partner. Four of the new partners are litigators. Charles Lemley is involved in the firm’s litigation, health care, and employment law practices. Kevin Maynard concentrates on government contracts, health care, and litigation. William Smith and David Topol work in the litigation and insurance practices. Helgi Walker practices in the communications and appellate group. And Jennifer Hindin practices communications law. “This group represents the diversity of our practice,” Wiley says, adding that he regards promoting associates as a positive step for the firm. “We want people to attain the partnership — if they deserve it.”

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