Allison Jones Rushing testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee during her confirmation hearing to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Fourth Circuit on Oct. 17, 2018. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/NLJ

When there are openings on the federal judiciary or at Main Justice, large law firms are a great place to turn to, as was evidenced by big moves in the last week. Future and wannabe nominees to some of the nation’s highest offices recently found themselves exiting and entering the gravitational pull of Big Law’s orbit.

Allison Jones Rushing, a Williams & Connolly partner, was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Tuesday. Rushing, 36, is one of the youngest federal appellate judges appointed by President Donald Trump. She made partner in 2017 and reported more than $650,000 in partnership compensation in 2017, according to a financial disclosure.

Two other ex-Big Law lawyers joined the federal bench this week. Former Jones Day partner Chad Readler was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on Wednesday and former Jones Day associate Eric Murphy was confirmed to a judgeship on the same court Thursday.

Big Law not only stocked the federal judiciary this week, but proved to be a farm system for Main Justice. On Tuesday, Trump announced his intention to nominate Jessie Liu to be associate attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice, the third-ranking official at Main Justice. She has served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia since 2017, and previously was a partner at Morrison & Foerster starting in 2016. She is also a former partner at Jenner & Block, where she spent seven years.

“Jessie was a highly respected partner and wonderful colleague at Morrison & Foerster,” said Morrison & Foerster chair Larren Nashelsky in a statement. “I expect that Jessie’s outstanding experience and deep expertise across both the government and private sectors will make her an ideal appointment for this critical role.”

Liu aims to fill a Senate-confirmed vacancy created by Rachel Brand’s departure for Walmart. (Brand is a former Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr partner in D.C.)

Big Law is serving not only as a launching pad for federal judges and Justice Department appointees but of prospective 2020 presidential candidates as well. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made plans to spend the weekend in South Carolina, an early presidential primary state for the Democratic Party. On de Blasio’s scheduled tour of the Palmetto State is a Saturday afternoon event on Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough’s 17th floor in Columbia.

Law Firm Moves, News & Notes

While the U.S. Senate is busy processing Big Law nominees for the federal bench and Main Justice, the U.S. House is hitting Big Law lawyers with a flurry of demands for documents regarding investigations into Trump and those around him. The Democrat-controlled House Judiciary Committee this week sent demands to lawyers at Jones Day; Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; Sullivan & Cromwell; Kasowitz Benson Torres; Winston & Strawn; Latham & Watkins; and several others.


Speaking of the U.S. House investigations, the ongoing feud between Trump’s former “fixer” Michael Cohen and Trump’s current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, escalated this week. Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, acknowledged in a statement that Cohen had previously talked about the possibility of a presidential pardon with the New York City mayor but would now never accept such a pardon. Davis said in a statement this week that his client “remains committed to telling the truth and cooperating with authorities.”

Giuliani remains committed to his view that the convicted and disbarred Cohen should be prosecuted for his testimony before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform last week. “If he is not prosecuted for perjury, it would be an admission [that] DOJ only selectively prosecutes perjury,” Giuliani texted Friday.


Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher added Elizabeth Papez as partner in Washington, D.C., this week. The litigator left Winston & Strawn in D.C. and plans to focus on appeals, class actions and complex commercial litigation.


U.S. Federal Trade Commission official Haidee Schwartz left the agency last week to join Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as partner later this month.

Schwartz encountered Akin Gump in the FTC v. Wilhelmsen controversy, regarding the Wilhelmsen Group’s attempted acquisition of Drew Marine’s technical solutions business.


Robert Smith joined Quarles & Brady as partner in D.C., the firm said this week.

Quarles & Brady’s business law group poached Smith from Wiley Rein, where he was chair of the franchise group.


Vannin Capital said this week it added Arthur “Ted” Farrell as managing director in D.C.

Before arriving at Vannin, Farrell was partner at Ruyak Cherian handling antitrust, intellectual property and complex commercial disputes in the technology sector.