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.
Leading antitrust legal practitioners are increasingly on the move in Washington in 2018, at a time when President Donald Trump is calling attention to their work.
Last Friday, the self-appointed ombudsman-in-chief tweeted that the “Fake News Media” had failed to properly cover the U.S. Department of Justice’s scrutiny of the proposed AT&T/Time Warner merger. Meanwhile Rudy Giuliani, the Trump private legal team’s mascot and omnipresent cable news personality, added to confusion over the administration’s stance when he said the president had “denied” the deal, and then walked back his statements.
Less objectionable to Trump, but perhaps just as consequential to the work and perception of the Antitrust Division, is news of the antitrust lawyers who have recently left the DOJ or are flying their flag at new firms across town.
Former Justice Department lawyer Ryan Kantor moved to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius this week after a decade in government that culminated in his work as assistant chief of the health care and consumer products section of the Antitrust Division. Kantor left the Justice Department at the end of April and said he thought now was the right time for him to return to private practice.
At Morgan Lewis, Kantor is helping to fill a void created by two partners and a counsel who decamped for Vinson & Elkins in February and April of this year.
Kantor’s exit from the Justice Department comes on the heels of Eric Mahr, former Justice Department antitrust litigation chief who left government in November 2017, joining Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in February 2018.
Activity in the antitrust realm elsewhere in Washington has not slowed either. Reed Smith lured Ed Schwartz to co-chair its antitrust and competition team this week from Steptoe & Johnson, where Schwartz was the antitrust practice group leader.
Law Firm Moves, News and Notes:
Robert Bauer, former White House counsel to President Barack Obama, has departed Perkins Coie after more than 35 years at the firm.
Bauer is planning to devote more time to his academic work, teaching and writing at New York University, while also retaining some clients on an individual basis, such as remaining personal counsel to Obama.
The Seattle-based Perkins Coie’s political law practice, which Bauer founded at the firm in 1980, has made the firm a prominent player in Washington. The political law team has been led since 2009 by Marc Elias, who was counsel of record for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Talking to the NLJ this week, Bauer weighed on the current debate over whether Trump can be indicted if prosecutors determine such a move is warranted.
“I believe the better view is that he can be [indicted],” Bauer said.
Bauer noted Giuliani’s recent comments suggesting special counsel Robert Mueller’s team did not share the view Trump could be indicted. Bauer added that Giuliani, “hasn’t exactly been steady on his feet,” but said he takes the former U.S. attorney and New York City mayor at his word.
In something of a reversal for Kirkland & Ellis, which is usually the one doing the raiding lately, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher poached four corporate and private equity partners from Kirkland this week.
The lawyers—all longtime Kirkland partners—are George Stamas, based in New York and Washington, and Mark Director, Andrew Herman and Alexander Fine in Washington.
Baker Botts picked Paul Cuomo as partner-in-charge of its Washington, D.C., office this week.
Cuomo is taking over for John Taladay, who led the D.C. office since 2013.
“As our firm’s second-largest office, the Washington, D.C., office is an important part of our firm’s growth strategy,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I am excited by the opportunity to work with such an outstanding group of lawyers and professional staff.”
Former top Department of Homeland Security official Seth Stodder has joined Holland & Knight’s Los Angeles office as partner.
Stodder worked as a DHS assistant secretary for border, immigration, and trade policy and for threat prevention and security in former President Barack Obama’s administration. He served as head of policy for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, commonly referred to as Border Patrol, under former President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
After leaving government in January 2017 he worked as CEO of Palindrome Strategies, a consulting company he founded.
At Holland & Knight, he will work with clients on matters involving international trade, immigration, cybersecurity and data privacy, government investigations, and transactions evaluated by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
K&L Gates recruited Susan Kayser from Jones Day.
Kayser will work as an intellectual property litigation partner in K&L Gates’ Washington offices, where she will counsel clients on trademark, advertising and copyright matters. She also will advise clients on global product launches and advertising efforts, as well as IP due diligence for global brands in acquisitions.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld lured Zachary Rudisill away from Ohio U.S. Sen. Rob Portman’s office.
Rudisill was tax counsel to Portman, whose office Rudisill worked in since 2014. At Akin Gump, Rudisill will work as a partner in the public law and policy practice.
“Moving into the implementation stage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, this is a pivotal time for Akin Gump’s clients,” Rudisill said in a statement. “Many will be seeking our counsel on how the new law will affect them and how they may need to adapt and respond.”
Aside from being Portman’s go-to person on last year’s tax cut legislation, Rudisill also managed Portman’s trade portfolio.
John Fietkiewicz joined Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, reuniting with former U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman of the District of New Jersey .
Fietkiewicz worked for Fishman as counsel to the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, before Fishman resigned in the early months of Trump’s administration. Fietkiewicz will work alongside Fishman in New Jersey and the firm’s New York office, as counsel in the white-collar and complex litigation practices.
Fishman signed on with Arnold & Porter in March.
Fietkiewicz spent more than three decades handling all manners of federal criminal prosecutions with an emphasis on securities fraud, corporate fraud, health care fraud and corruption.