U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. June 13, 2018. Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM

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 news tips and lateral moves to Ryan Lovelace at rlovelace@alm.com.

The 116th Congress took office this week, and the new Democratic majority in the House of Representatives wasted little time in flexing its legal muscle.

Newly minted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recruited Douglas Letter late last month to become the House’s new general counsel, replacing Thomas Hungar, who served in the role since 2016 under former Speaker Paul Ryan. (No word yet whether Hungar will return to his Big Law alma mater, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.) Letter, a former top lawyer at the U.S. Department of Justice who joined the Georgetown University Law Center, joined with former U.S. Solicitor General Don Verrilli on behalf of House Democrats this week to fight a Texas-led challenge to the Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare.”

House Democrats began mustering legal talent as soon as it became clear that Democrats would have the majority. The day after the 2018 mid-term elections in November, for example, a job posting appeared for the Democratic staff of an unnamed House committee seeking “an investigative counsel to conduct congressional investigations and advise on policy matters related to oversight of the executive branch.” Several House committees are continuing to look for lawyers, according to CNN, which noted that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is seeking an “executive branch investigative counsel.”

Former House Oversight Committee chairman Trey Gowdy is one of the Republicans skipping town upon the changing balance of power in Washington. Gowdy planned to leave Congress regardless of the outcome of the November elections, but made his new destination public this week. Gowdy is returning to South Carolina and joining Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, though he’ll still practice part-time out of Washington, D.C.

Speaking of Republicans exiting the capital, A.B. Culvahouse is headed to Australia following his confirmation in the U.S. Senate on Jan. 2 by voice vote before the new Congress took charge. The ambassadorship to Australia had been vacant since 2016 before Wednesday’s vote to give the job to Culvahouse, the former chair of O’Melveny & Myers.

Culvahouse was White House Counsel to President Ronald Reagan but will now serve as President Trump’s man at work in the land down under.

Law Firm Moves, News and Notes:

It’s promotion season in D.C., with lawyers at several Big Law firm entering the ranks of partner. Hogan Lovells promoted seven attorneys to partner in D.C. as part of its 30 partner promotions worldwide, in its banking, health care, litigation, privacy and cybersecurity and tax practices. Blank Rome similarly promoted 14 attorneys to partner, including two in Washington in the firm’s real estate and white-collar defense and investigations practices. Holland & Knight elected three new partners in D.C., in its government and business sections.

Partnership promotions generally get less publicity than lateral moves, but social media has given new partners more opportunity to trumpet their good fortune. #AppellateTwitter denizen Sean Marotta, a freshly minted Hogan Lovells partner, celebrated his promotion on Twitter with messages thanking clients, colleagues and mentors.

Miller & Chevalier elected Andrew Howlett as member in its tax practice, effective Jan. 1.

Howlett was previously counsel at Miller & Chevalier, where he has worked since 2012, and he was formerly an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton.

Mark Mansour moved to Locke Lord’s IP pharmaceutical practice group in D.C. from Foley Hoag, where he was previously partner.

He handles regulatory matters involving the Food and Drug Administration, and he regularly counsels corporate clients on how to negotiate with the relevant government agencies in the U.S. and global markets.

Hosang Lee joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius’ intellectual property practice in D.C. from McDermott Will & Emery, following in the footsteps of more than 50 McDermott lawyers who made a similar move last year.

Lee is a member of the Korean Patent Bar, has represented large Korean companies including Samsung, and figures to grow his new firm’s client roster internationally.

Hunton Andrews Kurth added Natalie Tynan to its national labor and employment practice as a senior attorney in Washington.

Tynan is joining the immigration group after nine years at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. She was most recently unit chief of policy at Immigration and Customs Enforcement and previously was chief of adjudications at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency’s office of policy and strategy.

Tanenholz & Associates, a boutique discovery law firm, named Charles Marr as partner in Washington, D.C.

Prior to joining Tanenholz & Associates in 2012, he was associate attorney at Hirschler Fleischer in Richmond, Virginia.