Washington Monument. (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

Washington Wrap is a weekly look at the biggest legal industry news and Big Law moves shaping the legal business in Washington, D.C. Send tips and lateral moves to Ryan Lovelace at rlovelace@alm.com.

With all eyes in the capital understandably trained on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s seemingly unstoppable ascension to the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s been easy to miss some of the other legal industry news making headlines this week.

Here are five business of law stories with implications for law firms in Washington and beyond—no matter who’s sitting on the high court.

These Big Law Firms Are Backing an App Store for Legal Tech Products

Washington loves gangs—the Gang of 14 for judicial nominations, the Gang of Eight on immigration reform, the Gang of Six on health care, and so on. Now there’s a gang of firms promising to shake up the way Big Law adopts new technology.

A group of chief information officers at 12 of the world’s elite law firms have come together to push for vendors to adopt a platform that would help firms more easily deploy new technologies for contracts analysis, discovery and practice management. Lawyers behind the effort hail from Clifford Chance; Covington & Burling; Cravath, Swaine & Moore; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; Latham & Watkins; Orrick, Herrington Sutcliffe; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Ropes & Gray; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; and White & Case.

King & Spalding’s Long Battle to Overcome the Odds

King & Spalding’s experience navigating the last decade’s financial crisis while growing exponentially—including in Washington—is a study in disciplined growth.

The firm has made waves in Washington this year with prominent hires in its government investigations practice, including former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and Russ Ryan, who formerly served as senior vice president at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. King & Spalding chairman Robert Hays’ ambitious plan for the future includes growing the firm’s net income by 50 percent in the coming four years, and D.C. figures to be a large part of that.

Once Storied Sedgwick Files for Bankruptcy as Wind-Down Fails

There’s plenty to learn from failure as well as from success, and there are a few lessons in the latest tale of Big Law collapse. Sedwick’s total lawyer head count topped out around 400 a decade ago. Now it’s down to zero, and the firm officially filed for Chapter 11 protection in San Francisco this week.

Sedgwick’s D.C. office shuttered last year with the capital’s last Sedgwick holdouts moving to Troutman Sanders.

Big 4 Dominate as Law Firm Alternatives Press Their Brands

The Big Four accounting firms all but edged out the competition in a new survey of brand strength among alternative legal service providers by research consultancy Acritas. PwC took the lead spot from Thompson Reuters in a survey of more than 800 general counsels or persons in equivalent positions at organizations raking in more than $1 billion in revenue.

It’s been almost exactly one year since PwC chose Washington to launch a U.S. law firm affiliate, ILC Legal.

Law Firm Moves, News and Notes

Wiley Rein added Washington partner Richard Sofield, who spent 25 years at the Department of Defense and Main Justice. Sofield oversaw the Justice Department’s participation in the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

Sofield will work in Wiley’s international trade and telecom, media and technology practices and work with the firm’s government contracts team.


John Isacson has joined Pepper Hamilton’s intellectual property department as a partner.

Previously a partner at Perkins Coie, Isacson is the third lateral hire to join the firm’s intellectual property department since the start of April, when Howard Shire and Paul Richter Jr. joined the firm.


Littler Mendelson recruited Bradford Hammock from Jackson Lewis, where he was managing principal in D.C.

Hammock will work as shareholder for Littler’s Workplace Institute and is the 10th shareholder to join the firm this year. He was previously the Labor Department’s lead counsel for safety standards.


Sarah (Xiaohua) Zhao left Faegre Baker Daniels to Baker Hostetler, where the D.C.-based partner will be part of the firm’s privacy and data protection team, with a focus on cybersecurity and cross-border data transfer issues involving China. The firm said in a statement that it has added nearly 20 lawyers—including Zhao—to its privacy and data protection team.

In addition to her time at Faegre Baker Daniels, Zhao was previously a partner at Perkins Coie; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; and Holland & Knight, where also led the China office.


Thomas Lisk has joined Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies as an attorney and lobbyist. He will work as a managing director of the public strategies group in Richmond, Virginia, and has represented business groups and trade associations before the Virginia General Assembly since 1980.

Lisk also is the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association’s legal and legislative counsel and has previously served on the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board’s Industry Advisory Panel.