William Lee had just checked into his hotel room in Texarkana, Arkansas, on April 15 when he switched on the television and saw the carnage near Boston’s Copley Square. The Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr litigation and IP partner, who was in town for a hearing in the federal courthouse that straddles the state line with Texas, says that like many Bostonians his immediate thoughts involved the safety of his family members.
"I’ve got two brothers and two nieces that work at [Boston's] Brigham and Women’s Hospital," says Lee, adding that his wife and daughter reside in nearby suburban Brookline, Massachusetts. All of Lee’s relatives, it turned out, were safe.
In the wake of the pair of bomb blasts that marred this year’s running of Boston Marathon, the Boston Athletic Association, which hosts and organizes the 116-year-old event, has turned to Lee and his Wilmer colleagues to handle any legal issues that may arise from the brutal attack that claimed three lives and injured more than 170 people. (Reuters reported last week on the possibility that BAA’s insurance coverage could be tapped to pay potential liability claims brought by bombing victims.)
Last week’s chaotic events in Boston were capped Friday by a manhunt launched for one of two brothers of Chechen descent suspected of carrying out the bombing. The daylong drama, which followed an early morning shootout with police, shut down most Back Bay businesses, including those of several large firms, according to reports by sibling publication The National Law Journal.
Wilmer’s Boston and suburban Waltham offices were both closed Friday, says Lee—who stepped aside as the firm’s co–managing partner last year under a prearranged succession plan—and some of the firm’s employees found themselves caught up in the tumultuous events that effectively turned sections of the city and surrounding towns into crime scenes.
Like much of the rest of the Boston region, Wilmer began to return to some sense of normalcy Monday. Among its assignments will now be helping the BAA, which released a statement last week expressing its sympathies to the families of those affected by the marathon bombings, cope with any legal fallout from the attack. The BAA, a registered nonprofit founded in 1887, has turned to Wilmer in the past in connection with a variety of pro bono and paying matters, such as contract and trademark issues.
Leading the way for the firm this time around will be Lee, who sat out the marathon this year but has run the race before, and is no stranger to long journeys. Lee once wore a white suit to a job interview in 1976 at old-line Boston firm Hale and Dorr. Fast-forward to 2004, when Lee was at the helm of the firm as it hammered out a merger with Washington, D.C.’s Wilmer Cutler Pickering. The combined firm, which now boasts nearly 1,000 lawyers, crossed the $1 billion mark in annual gross revenues for the first time in 2012, according to a recent report by sibling publication The Blog of Legal Times.
There is no lack of lawyers within the BAA’s own ranks. Joann Flaminio and Thomas Grilk, who, respectively, serve as president and executive director of the organization, are both attorneys. Flaminio is a vice president for retirement policy development at Fidelity Investments, while Grilk serves as general counsel of Chelmsford, Massachusetts–based Brooks Automation.
Flaminio and Grilk also sit on the BAA’s 10-member board of governors, along with vice president Frank Porter Jr., a retired Choate, Hall & Stewart partner who served as president of the BAA from 1994 to 2000. A federal tax filing by the Boston-based nonprofit shows that it had more than $11.2 million in total revenues in 2010, the most recent fiscal year for which public records are available.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Monday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been charged with using a weapon of mass destruction in connection with the bombing. The case against Tsarnaev, 19, is being prosecuted by assistant U.S. attorneys William Weinreb and Aloke Chakravarty from the antiterrorism and national security unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston. Tsarnaev, who could face the death penalty if convicted, remains under armed guard in serious condition at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. (According to a transcript of his bedside proceedings, among the team of federal public defenders assigned to represent Tsarnaev is former Foley Hoag associate William Fick.)
Tsarnaev, the younger brother of fellow accused bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was killed in Friday’s shootout with police, may have tried to kill himself prior to being taken into custody, according to news reports. Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s widow has retained Amato DeLuca of Providence’s DeLuca & Weizenbaum as federal investigators seek to question her about her late husband’s alleged actions.
The NLJ reported last week that Goodwin Procter has been hired to run The One Fund Boston, a nonprofit being set up to coordinate donations to bombing victims. Former Kaye Scholer partner Kenneth Feinberg, a native of Brockton, Massachusetts, has been tapped to administrate the fund. Goodwin Procter previously advised Feinberg in his role as administrator of a facility used to compensate victims of a disastrous 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
ESPN.com reported Monday that the Boston Red Sox, Major League Baseball, and the Major League Baseball Players’ Association have collectively raised $646,500 to contribute to The One Fund, which has also received substantial contributions from companies like Simon Property Group and New Balance Athletic Shoe.
As for the marathon itself, some news reports show that among those who crossed the finish line this year were Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe labor and employment of counsel James McQuade, while sibling publication Texas Lawyer had the remarkable story of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld litigation partner and Guinness World Records member R. Laurence Macon’s return to Texas from Boston after the explosions cut short his effort to finish the race.