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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark Zuckerberg’s trek to Capitol Hill this week won him plaudits from the technology sector and record gains on Wall Street. But Big Law leaders in Washington, D.C., think the jury is still out on the longer-term forecast for Facebook Inc. and its CEO.
As Senators grilled Zuckerberg, Facebook’s stock experienced its largest one-day gain in nearly two years, according to Fortune. Facebook’s stock rose 4.5 percent, or more than $21 billion in market value. And leading technology blogs scored the hourslong hearings as a victory for the social media billionaire and said, “Zuckerberg’s boring testimony is a big win for Facebook.”
Stephen Immelt, Hogan Lovells’ Washington-based CEO (and the brother of former General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey Immelt), was traveling in Europe when Zuckerberg testified earlier this week. But Immelt, whose firm has done work for Facebook, said his impression was that a consensus was building that Zuckerberg was effective. Immelt said he did not think one day or one hearing would be enough to resolve the issues at play in the Zuckerberg hearings.
“Time will tell,” Immelt said. “I think this is going to be a fairly extended process.”
Zuckerberg did what he set out to do, indicated Barry Boss, co-chair of Cozen O’Connor’s criminal defense and internal investigations practice.
“It was the Holy Trinity: He accepted responsibility for his mistakes, said he was sorry and promised to do better,” said Boss, the leader of Cozen O’Connor’s D.C. office, in an email. “These are the fundamental requirements for anyone seeking forgiveness and a second chance.”
Whether the government regulates Facebook and ramps up scrutiny of Zuckerberg remains to be seen, but such decisions could turn on the outcome of the midterm elections this fall.
Law Firm Moves, News and Notes:
Vinson & Elkins grew its antitrust practice in Washington, D.C., by picking up new counsel Gregory Wells from Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
Wells joins two other former Morgan Lewis antitrust partners, Darren Tucker and Hill Wellford, who joined Vinson & Elkins’ office in the nation’s capital earlier this year.
“V&E is the perfect fit for me and my clients,” Wells said in a statement. “I am especially pleased to be a part of the firm’s highly regarded antitrust practice, which has a strong global platform and deep roster of impressive lawyers, including my friends Hill and Darren.”
Wells has several decades of experience representing clients on complex litigation and compliance matters in the technology, pharmaceutical and financial services sectors.
The D.C. Bar celebrated the grand opening of its new offices in Washington’s Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood on Thursday.
The 17,000 square foot venue features lots of patio and rooftop meeting space and a broadcast studio.
“Our goal was to create an all-in-one space for members and clients that addresses their needs as professionals while fostering community and we encourage members to come visit us,” said a statement from D.C. Bar CEO Robert Spagnoletti.
Among those who spoke alongside Spagnoletti at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were D.C. Court of Appeals chief judge Anna Blackburne-Rigsby and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who arrived late to the festivities.
The plaintiffs firm first gained prominence from earning big settlements in discrimination class action cases, but it has more recently attracted attention for suing major law firms. Sanford Heisler recently settled a multimillion-dollar gender bias case on behalf of a female partner who worked at Chadbourne & Parke before the latter was absorbed by Norton Rose Fulbright. Another Sanford Heisler case against Proskauer Rose remains pending in a D.C. federal court.
Deborah Marcuse, who rejoined Sanford Heisler in February and will lead the Baltimore office, said its efforts to act on pay inequity in Big Law attracted her back to the firm.
Two prominent Big Law firms, Reed Smith and Squire Patton Boggs, grabbed headlines this week for how they approached controversies swirling around President Trump.
Eric Dubelier and Katherine Seikaly, two Reed Smith partners in Washington, D.C., will fight for one of the Russian companies accused by special counsel Robert Mueller III of interfering in the 2016 elections. Dubelier and Seikaly filed notices of appearance for Concord Management and Consulting, which a D.C. grand jury charged on eight counts in February 2018.
Squire, meanwhile, distanced itself from Trump lawyer Michael Cohen. Following an FBI raid of Cohen’s offices, Squire said it ended its “strategic alliance” with Cohen. The firm also scrubbed any mention of Cohen from its website.
Trump’s nominees to become the newest members of the federal judiciary are no strangers to calling “home” some large firms in D.C.
Trump nominated 20 more federal judges this week, including a pair who have local Big Law roots: Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant and Covington & Burling partner Emin Toro.
Grant, nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, began her legal career at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington, D.C., Following a clerkship with D.C. Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh, Grant worked on complex commercial litigation for Kirkland in D.C. at the outset of her career.
Toro, a judicial nominee for the U.S. Tax Court, handles tax controversies for multinational companies from Covington’s D.C. office. He began his legal career as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Presidents have long canvassed major law firms for judicial nominees. Big Law has once again proven itself to be a lucrative farm system for Trump, who made filling judicial vacancies a priority early in his presidency.