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.
The wife of the Trump Organization’s top ethics counsel pleaded no contest this week to charges of disorderly conduct stemming from a tryst with a then-23-year-old inmate in her Maserati outside a jailhouse in suburban Washington, D.C.
Teresa Jo Burchfield, wife of King & Spalding litigation partner Bobby Burchfield, was arrested roughly a year ago after having sex with an inmate in her car outside a jail in Fauquier County, Virginia. Bobby Burchfield, who joined King & Spalding in March 2015, cited his wife’s arrest in a divorce filing obtained by NBC 4 in Washington, D.C. The Big Law litigator, hired last year to serve as chief independent ethics counsel for the Trump Organization, appeared not to have heeded his wife’s request that the couple put out a statement discrediting the affair.
The inmate had been meeting the 53-year-old Teresa Burchfield for a month, her estranged husband reportedly told investigators, during which time she would bring him cigarettes and the duo would have sex in her car. Now, Teresa Burchfield is facing a $2,500 fine and has nine months to pay it, per an order imposed by a judge.
Bobby Burchfield’s name has been floated in recent days as a possible replacement for exiting White House Counsel Don McGahn or as a replacement for embattled U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. McGahn will leave his job this fall, according to a recent tweet by President Donald Trump, while Sessions remains a constant focus of the president’s ire. (The Washington Post reported Friday that Pat Cipollone, a litigator with Washington, D.C.’s Stein Mitchell Cipollone Beato & Missner who is part of a legal team that just scored a big win for actor Johnny Depp—who once portrayed Trump—could replace McGahn.)
The current King & Spalding partner has a long track record working as lead trial counsel in C-suite level trials and appeals, as well as ethics adviser to the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust. Bobby Burchfield, who spent 23 years at Covington & Burling and nine years as co-head of McDermott Will & Emery‘s office in Washington, D.C., also previously served as general counsel to President George H.W. Bush’s re-election campaign. President George W. Bush appointed him to his Antitrust Modernization Commission.
Bobby Burchfield declined to comment for this story through a King & Spalding spokeswoman. In discussing his move to the firm three years ago, he similarly refrained from talking about his past and described politics as an incurable “disease.”
“I don’t like to talk about my old girlfriends,” Burchfield said jokingly in 2015, remaining mum about what made King & Spalding stand apart from other law firm suitors.
The Yale Law School community’s bitter debate over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Supreme Court nomination is bubbling up to the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of next week’s hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination.
On Thursday, 10 of Kavanaugh’s female classmates at Yale detailed their support of Kavanaugh in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California.
“Before he was a lawyer and a judge, Brett was an excellent student, a dedicated basketball player and a great friend,” the letter explains. “He earned top grades, but was always humble; he never showed off his obvious brilliance or acted arrogantly.” Kavanaugh’s female classmates added that, “Brett treated us as friends and equals in all respects.”
The emphasis on equality comes as the fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination set to begin at the hearings on his nomination next week figures to fixate on the issue of how the U.S. Supreme Court will adjudicate controversies involving abortion following Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement.
Kavanaugh’s opponents in the Yale community—more than 250 law school alumni, students and staff—wrote a letter in July to the law school’s dean, Heather Gerken, arguing, “People will die if he is confirmed.” Gerken, meanwhile, wrote of her admiration for Kavanaugh in a letter of more than 100 Yale students, alumni and faculty writing in support of Kavanaugh’s nomination.
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination begin Sept. 4.
Speaking of judicial nominations, Jonathan Katchen, of counsel at Holland & Hart in Anchorage, withdrew his nomination to be a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska.
In April, Trump tapped Katchen, who previously worked as a law clerk for the president’s sister, Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Katchen told the Anchorage Daily News he informed the White House in July of his decision to withdraw.
Hunton Andrews Kurth has hired Ondray Harris, a former director of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, in Washington, D.C.
Harris will work as special counsel in the firm’s national labor and employment practice, where he will provide employment advice, training and counsel to clients that interact with government agencies that administer employment laws. Hunton Andrews Kurth was formed earlier this year via a merger between Hunton & Williams and Andrews Kurth.
Daniel Keating quit Hogan Lovells after two decades to join Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati in Washington, D.C. He began work at the firm Monday as a corporate partner and member of Wilson Sonsini’s global generic pharmaceutical group. Keating will focus on fintech, life sciences and technology transactions.
Clark Hill added Daniel Simon as senior counsel for its firm’s environment, energy and natural resources practice in Washington, D.C. Simon most recently served as special counsel at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in the nation’s capital, having previously spent more than 10 years working at Ballard Spahr.