Washington Wrap is a weekly look at industry news and Big Law moves shaping the legal business in Washington, D.C. Send news tips and lateral moves to Ryan Lovelace at email@example.com.
Investigations of the political scandal that embroiled Virginia’s top elected state officials in February could soon come to a close—and the public may never see the results.
Accusations of sexual assault against Lt. Gov. and Morrison & Foerster partner Justin Fairfax, and charges of racism over the use of blackface by Gov. Ralph Northam and Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, threaten their futures in state government, the Democratic Party and, in the case of Fairfax, one of the country’s largest law firms.
Eastern Virginia Medical School, where Northam appeared in blackface in a 1984 yearbook photo, tapped former Virginia Attorney General Richard Cullen, a Republican and McGuireWoods partner, to investigate the school’s practices with respect to race and the governor’s racist yearbook page.
Cullen said in an email this week that he was hoping to finish his investigation by the end of April and submit a report to the school’s president, Dr. Richard Homan, soon after. Whether the report ever becomes public is up to Homan, who did not respond to request for comment on his plans.
Morrison & Foerster has also retained outside counsel to investigate the claims against Fairfax, who was placed on leave from the firm after he was accused of sexual assault by Scripps University professor Vanessa Tyson and by Meredith Watson, his former Duke University classmate. Morrison & Foerster hasn’t identified whom it hired to probe the accusations, which Fairfax has strongly denied.
Morrison & Foerster has repeatedly failed to respond to questions about the investigation in recent weeks, stating only that Fairfax, whose biography is still featured on the firm’s website, “remains on a leave of absence.”
Fairfax said this month that he asked prosecutors in Boston, Massachusetts, and North Carolina, where his accusers say the alleged assaults occurred, to investigate the allegations against him. Morrison & Foerster is mum about whether Fairfax asked the firm to investigate him, and whether the findings of its investigation at Morrison & Foerster will ever become public.
All three scandals, meanwhile, have served to showcase McGuireWoods’ prominence in Virginia and Washington, D.C., legal and political circles. One month before the Richmond, Virginia-based firm began investigating Northam’s yearbook, McGuireWoods hosted a fundraiser for Northam’s political action committee. Another McGuireWoods partner, Ava Lias-Booker, has joined Wilkinson + Walsh’s Rakesh Kilaru on Fairfax’s legal team. And while the firm doesn’t appear to have a role in the Herring controversy, McGuireWoods partner John Adams came close to having Herring’s job, having unsuccessfully challenged him for the attorney general seat in 2017.
Law Firm Moves, News, and Notes
Siblings Georgia Ravitz and James Ravitz joined Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati as partners in Washington, D.C., the firm announced.
The Ravitz duo moved from Arent Fox to Wilson Sonsini’s life sciences practice, and plan to focus on regulatory and compliance work.
Norton Rose Fulbright shared news of its adding Sam Ramer, who left President Donald Trump’s White House counsel’s office to join the firm as partner in D.C.
Ramer joined Norton Rose’s global regulations and investigations teams, bringing experience from the White House, Main Justice, and as general counsel to Symplicity, a software company.
K&L Gates announced the addition of Andrew Wright as a partner in the public policy and law practice in Washington.
Wright was formerly an associate counsel in President Barack Obama’s White House counsel’s office. He is the founding editor of “Just Security,” an online blogging forum for national security law and policy.
Cozen O’Connor said this week that Rachel Welford was returning to the firm from American Airlines, where she was director of security and government affairs.
Welford was previously an associate at Cozen O’Connor. She has also been an associate at Wiley Rein.
Sanford Heisler Sharp added Paul Blankenstein from Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, Sanford Heisler’s opponent in a gender bias suit against Morrison & Foerster.
Blankenstein moved to the plaintiffs’ side from defense work after pondering retirement.
Allen & Overy announced the promotion of 34 partners, including Maura Rezendes, in the firm’s corporate practice in Washington.
Rezendes joined Allen & Overy in 2014 from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher said this week it added Alison Nemeth Steger as an associate in the Washington, D.C., office from the Federal Communications Commission, where she was legal adviser to chairman Ajit Pai.