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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
One oft-cited concern about government shutdowns is that they’ll send workers fleeing the public sector or dissuade future public servants—say, a federal agency lawyer—from a career in which a regular paycheck can’t be assumed.
But at least for now, there’s little evidence that the longest-ever partial government shutdown had much effect on legal career trajectories in the nation’s capital.
Georgetown University Law Center’s office of career services indicated through a school spokesperson that it had not noticed any changes in terms of firms’ recruitment of students or the students’ career plans—be they focused on public interest or the private sector—due to the shutdown.
The uncertainty created by the last shutdown and the prospect of future ones could adversely affect the career planning of younger lawyers more than their veteran colleagues, but the impact is yet unknown, said James Leipold, executive director of the National Association for Law Placement, in an email.
Legislative gridlock and political backbiting may have mucked up the ambitions of elected officials, but legal experts say they haven’t seen it slow the whirl of the revolving door or dissuade young lawyers’ career plans. Jeffrey Lowe, Major, Lindsey & Africa’s managing partner in D.C., said the shutdown has not had a broad effect on the legal recruiting market in the city.
“We haven’t seen much of a slowdown in terms of recruiting lateral partners,” Lowe said. By contrast, he said, government officials that typically have trouble making time to meet with recruiters and firms suddenly had open schedules and more time to interview for private sector gigs.
Lowe said he thought many law students are far enough removed from employment that the shutdown’s impact on legal business does not immediately hit home. Lowe pointed to international trade and antitrust practices as among those he saw hampered by the shutdown. Some firms struggled to collect fees and others noticed a perceptible impact on deals.
Such problems could be compounded if another shutdown arrives in February and exacerbates uncertainty and delays in government-facing practices. In the meantime Lowe said the impact—at least for government attorneys—is more or less akin to snow days at school: a welcome break at first, but the longer it lasts the more you know you’ll pay for it in the end.
Law Firm Moves, News and Notes
Speaking of government lawyers changing careers, former Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-Virginia, joined Baker Donelson as senior adviser in the firm’s government relations and public policy group in D.C.
Comstock served in the U.S. Congress from 2015 to 2019, having lost re-election last November to Democrat Rep. Jennifer Wexton. Prior to her turn on the Hill, she served three terms in the Virginia House of Delegates, co-founded her own public affairs firm, was partner at Blank Rome, and was director of the Office of Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Arent Fox added David Hanke as partner to its international trade and national security practices. His practice involves counseling clients navigating the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States amid the enactment of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act.
Hanke was lead policy adviser to Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and a professional staff member on the U.S. Select Committee on Intelligence. Prior to working for Cornyn, he held several staff positions on various committees in the U.S. House of Representatives and was a judge advocate on active duty with the U.S. Army.
Linney has advised U.S. and foreign clients for more than 25 years and teaches as an adjunct at Georgetown University Law Center, her alma mater.
Noskow has begun working in King & Spalding’s corporate, finance and investments practice group, with a focus on private equity, leveraged buyouts, debt and equity financings, and complex business transactions.
Former American Bar Association president Hilarie Bass announced the opening of the Bass Institute for Diversity & Inclusion this week. Bass, former co-president of Greenberg Traurig, plans to work with companies, law firms, and other institutions to evaluate the perceived failings of various diversity programs’ effectiveness.
Bass left Greenberg Traurig in December 2018 after completing her one-year term as the ABA’s president in August 2018.
Michael Best & Friedrich is formally moving into new offices in The Wharf on Monday. The Milwaukee-based firm made a splash in D.C. last year with the addition of former White House officials—including President Trump’s former chief of staff Reince Priebus—and is headed to the same riverfront building as Fish & Richardson at 1000 Maine Ave. S.W. along the Potomac River.
Fish and Michael Best’s move to The Wharf will be followed by Williams & Connolly moving to 690 Maine Ave. S.W., in 2022.
Speaking of Williams & Connolly, the firm was on both the losing and the receiving end of ome of the biggest shakeups to the U.S. Supreme Court bar in years. Litigator Kannon Shanmugam left the firm to join Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison, where he’ll helm a new dedicated appellate and Supreme Court practice for the firm. Shanmugam will also serve as a leader in the firm’s D.C. office.
Replacing Shanmugam as appellate practice head at Williams & Connolly is Lisa Blatt, who headed Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer’s appellate and Supreme Court practice.
Shanmugam was Williams & Connolly’s only lateral for 32 years. Blatt is returning to Williams & Connolly, where she started her career as an associate in the 1990s and where her husband also practices.
Arnold & Porter announced the promotion of 16 new partners, including five in D.C.
The new partners in Washington are Murad Hussain in the white-collar defense practice, Colleen McDuffie in the corporate and finance practice, Raqiyyah Pippins in the life sciences and health care regulatory practice, Kristen Riemenschneider in the corporate and finance practice, and Elisabeth Theodore in the appellate and Supreme Court practice.
Morrison & Foerster announced the addition of Alice Connaughton as partner in the firm’s real estate investment trust (REIT) group. Connaughton is making the move in Washington, D.C., from Greenberg Traurig, and she will play a role in the firm’s corporate finance | capital markets group.
Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith is opening offices in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis.
Antitrust partner Katherine Funk is leading Lewis Brisbois’ new D.C. office, upon her departure from Crowell & Moring.