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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The path to the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination may run through the caucus and primary states early next year, but the starting line is painted across the halls of Big Law in 2019.
Former Vice President Joe Biden announced his third presidential bid on Thursday before heading to a Philadelphia fundraiser the same evening. The event was held at the home of megadonors Rhonda and David Cohen, a former Ballard Spahr partner and a senior executive vice president of Comcast, respectively. Headliners of the event included congressmen, a governor, a mayor, a senator, and Steve Cozen, co-founder of Cozen O’Connor.
Cozen’s attendance at the fundraiser, which ran attendees $2,800 a head, was not surprising. He is a longtime Democratic donor, including to some of Biden’s potential 2020 competitors, such as Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.
Cozen’s law firm is not quite ready to endorse #Joe2020, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t embraced the candidate.
“We have lawyers who support both sides of the aisle, including those who have deep connections with several of the current Democratic candidates for president, and the firm will likely support those candidates,” said Michael Heller, Cozen O’Connor executive chairman and CEO, in a statement. “Joe Biden has been a long-time friend of lawyers at our firm and we would expect to support his candidacy as well, including hosting him at our offices.”
Several others in the crowded Democratic field, or mulling whether to crowd it further, have been leaning on Big Law as well. Last month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spent a weekend in South Carolina that included stumping on the 17th floor of Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough’s offices in Columbia.
The campaign of Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Indiana, mayor, paid Jenner & Block close to $82,000 for legal consulting, and the presidential campaign of Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts dropped $80,000 into the pockets of Perkins Coie for consulting, according to filings made public earlier this week.
Booker is one of seven Democratic lawmakers running for president who has reportedly sworn off contributions from lobbyists who register with the federal government, but lawyers at big firms are giving readily. Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison employees gave Booker $134,750 in individual donations through the first quarter of 2019, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Paul Weiss employees have also given more than $137,000 to Sen. Kamala Harris of California, $54,600 to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, nearly $17,000 to Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, and slightly more than $12,000 to Buttigieg.
Harris is a favorite of many Big Law firm lawyers, raking in more than $48,000 in aggregate individual donations from DLA Piper and more than $35,000 from Hueston Hennigan. Klobuchar’s Big Law backers at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz sent her $26,400, and Julian Castro, the former Housing and Urban Development secretary turned presidential candidate, took in $22,000 from Stris & Maher employees.
Wachtell was the biggest source of individual donations to Klobuchar out of any company or business in the Center for Responsive Politics roundup, while Paul Weiss was the largest single source of individual donations for both Booker and Harris.
Such donations could go a long way to lifting a Democratic candidate onto the presidential debate stage, given the national party’s new rules. For the first time in the party’s history, any candidate that gathers contributions from 65,000 unique donors and 200 unique donors across 20 states will be granted access to the nationally televised debate stage.
Seven Democrats look to have already qualified for the debate stage through donations alone, according to FiveThirtyEight: Buttigieg, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Harris, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Warren, and businessman Andrew Yang.
Law Firm Moves, News, and Notes
Speaking of presidential campaigns, President Donald Trump’s campaign denied reports of a rift with Jones Day this week.
Trump campaign chief operating officer Michael Glassner said in a statement that the campaign hired Michael Best & Friedrich associate Nathan Groth as in-house counsel at Jones Day’s recommendation.
Covington & Burling’s global problem-solving group added Daniel Feldman as senior of counsel from Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.
Feldman was the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. State Department during President Barack Obama’s administration and was a principal adviser to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
Nicole Rodgers Houston left her job as Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer’s director of marketing communications to open a D.C. office for Baretz+Brunelle, a public relations shop that services the legal industry.
After more than seven years at Crowell & Moring, Cari Stinebower joined Winston & Stawn in Washington, D.C., as a partner.
She will work in Winston’s white-collar, regulatory defense and investigations practice, the firm said.
Venable said this week it added P. Randy Seybold as a partner in Washington, D.C.
Seybold joins the firm’s commercial litigation practice from Cozen O’Connor. He was also previously counsel at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr.
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett said this week it hired Vanessa Burrows as counsel in Washington, D.C.
Burrows, a health care regulatory lawyer, was previously an associate at McDermott Will & Emery.
DLA Piper said this week that Carl Wessel returned to the firm as a partner in the firm’s litigation practice in Washington, D.C.
Wessel was previously a partner at DLA Piper before departing in 2016 to join Pfizer, where he was senior vice president, associate general counsel, and chief litigation counsel.
Alston & Bird said it has added two partners in the previous two weeks in Washington: Alex Park in the firm’s corporate transactions and securities practice and Amy Mushahwar in the firm’s privacy and data security team.
Park comes from Womble Bond Dickinson, where he was a partner, and Mushahwar is arriving from Davis Wright Tremaine, where she was a partner.
Bass, Berry & Sims said it added Michael Dashefsky as co-chairman of the firm’s antitrust and trade practices group.
Dashefsky was previously Visa Inc.’s vice president and associate general counsel for global litigation and competition.