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 email@example.com.
If it ever becomes a reality—a big if, at least for now—the Space Force envisioned by President Donald Trump would be the sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, “separate but equal” to the Air Force. It could also yield a new kind of space race among lobbyists and lawyers in Washington.
As Trump said at a meeting with the National Space Council announcing his Space Force directive this week: “Remember, economically, militarily, scientifically, in every way, there is no place like space.”
Close to $70 million was spent on defense aerospace lobbying last year, and more than $20 million has been spent so far in 2018, according to nonpartisan watchdog OpenSecrets.org. The industry includes both air defense and space defense.
An overwhelming majority of that lobbying has involved four clients: Boeing, Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and United Technologies, which have each spent more than $10 million to lobby the defense aerospace industry since the beginning of last year. Among law firms, top lobbyists for those companies since last year have included paid influencers at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Covington & Burling; McDermott Will & Emery; Squire Patton Boggs; and Venable.
The aerospace defense industry has already contributed more to congressional Republicans in the 2018 cycle than it did in the entire 2010 cycle, according to OpenSecrets.
Beyond lobbying, there’s been an active lateral market lately for lawyers with aviation and aerospace practices. In April Hogan Lovells hired Laura Ponto, former head of Google X’s Project Wing, which was the internet giant’s drone delivery venture. In the same month, Crowell & Moring launched a digital transformation practice with an eye toward the sky, as the practice similarly included regulatory, litigation and transactional teams across several areas, including drones.
Will Washington law firms eventually help the Space Force “launch intrepid souls blazing through the sky and soaring into the heavens,” as the president said he intends to do? That depends, for starters, on voters in November.
Law Firm Moves, News & Notes:
Speaking of aviation-focused legal issues, Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott added Alexander Marriott as an associate in its aviation group this week.
Marriott will focus on regulatory, policy and competition issues in the aviation industry. He previously worked as an associate at Kirstein & Young, a smaller aviation law firm, where he represented airlines and airports.
David Cohen returned to Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck this week as a shareholder in the firm’s government relations department, where he will focus on oversight and investigations, homeland security, financial services and science and technology.
After about a decade at Brownstein, in 2016 he left to become chief administrative officer at CLEAR, a company focused on expediting its members’ trek through airport security. Cohen also formerly worked as chief of staff to the head of the now-defunct U.S. Customs Service agency, where his tenure coincided with the 9/11 terrorist attacks. His time working at Customs involved the “initial policy deliberations” that led to the formation of the Department of Homeland Security, according to Brownstein.
Theresa Connolly joined Fisher Phillips as a partner in Washington from Constangy Brooks, Smith & Prophete. She will become managing partner of Fisher Phillips’ D.C. office and will be involved in finding a new location for the firm’s Arlington, Virginia, office—which is across the Potomac River from Washington—according to the firm.
Geoffrey J. Greeves joined Bradley Arant Boult Cummings as a partner focused on policyholder insurance in the litigation practice group.
Greeves has experience as a trial and appellate attorney, including representing corporate policyholders in coverage litigation. He was previously a partner at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and Greenberg Traurig.
The co-leader of Arent Fox’s government enforcement and white-collar practice, Robert Capers, has been tapped by New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill to review the New York City Police Department’s disciplinary polices.
Capers joined Arent Fox last year, after serving as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Former President Barack Obama appointed Capers in 2015 to lead the office, which he first joined in 2003.
In his role for the NYPD, Capers will work alongside former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission chair Mary Jo White and former Southern District of New York Judge Barbara Jones.