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, #windmageddon survival stories and lateral moves to Ryan Lovelace at email@example.com.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues to pick up steam in Washington, keeping lawyers busy at multiple major law firms in the city. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, meanwhile, has had to cope with the gap left by Mueller’s departure, and by the colleagues he tapped to join the probe.
Mueller took three other Wilmer partners with him after taking up the Russia investigation: Jeannie Rhee, James Quarles and Aaron Zebley. The trio can boast experience working on governmental investigations ranging from Watergate to pre-9/11 al-Qaida.
The lawyers were also active in Wilmer’s cybersecurity and privacy practice, according to co-managing partner Bob Novick.
Asked about how their absence has affected his firm in the past year, Novick answered, “it did and it didn’t.”
“We’re a big firm, and so the departure of any number of partners, any reasonable number of partners like four, doesn’t have an appreciable effect on our business as a whole,” Novick said in an interview. “All of those people were busy and active on important firm matters, so obviously we had to find people to take over the work that those folks were doing and we did.”
Novick said it’s never easy to lose top lawyers, but Wilmer’s deep talent pool limited the impact.
Wilmer also stepped back from its representation of President Donald Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort after Mueller began to probe Trump officials’ connections to Russian nationals.
Novick emphasized that Mueller has not obtained or had access to any information related to Kushner or Manafort from the firm. The only information Mueller has received from the firm was related to his own financial disclosures, Novick said.
In other news highlighting the tense legal times in Washington, Covington & Burling this week issued an updated manual on how to handle investigations of Congress members for chiefs of staff on the Hill.
It was authored by Robert Kelner, who represents former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn pleaded guilty late last year to lying to the FBI about conversations he had with a Russian ambassador in 2016.
“In the highly politicized world of investigations involving members of Congress and congressional staff, taking the right steps in the first hours and days can mean the difference between a swift resolution and a yearslong crisis,” Kelner wrote. “The consequences of even a small mistake at the outset can be very significant and long-lasting. Chiefs would be wise to spend a little bit of time now thinking about how they would react to an investigation in the first critical hours and beyond.”
Law firm moves, news and notes:
• Speaking of the Hill, the U.S. Senate voted Thursday to put a another Big Law partner on the federal bench.
The Senate voted 69-29 to confirm Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina. Quattlebaum formerly worked as partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough.
Quattlebaum is the 26th Trump judicial nominee that the Senate has confirmed in the 115th Congress, according to information compiled by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
• Latham & Watkins, which just became the world’s first law firm to exceed $3 billion in annual revenue, added a key partner in Washington to its litigation and trial and intellectual property litigation practices.
Jamie Underwood joined Latham last week from Alston & Bird in D.C., bringing her experience representing top technology and automotive clients before the International Trade Commission.
• Foley Hoag added Mark Mansour to its Washington office from Mayer Brown.
Mansour will work as a partner in Foley Hoag’s U.S. Food and Drug Administration practice group. He has several decades of experience working with clients on regulatory matters in the food, pharmaceutical, medical device, dietary supplement and cosmetic industries.
• Preliminary Am Law 100 financial results continue to show D.C. firms making, well, money in 2017. Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer recorded revenue nearing $1 billion last year following the merger of legacy Washington firm Arnold & Porter with its smaller New York counterpart Kaye Scholer.
In the coming year, Arnold & Porter is looking to invest in expansion beyond its D.C. and New York offices, the firm said.