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 2019 calendar year is shaping up to be a banner year for the suburban-D.C. boutique Consovoy McCarthy. Its lawyers have been tapped to defend President Donald Trump in matters involving the House Oversight Committee and to represent Trump attorney Jay Sekulow in response to a House Intelligence Committee probe. Since the start of April alone, a former named partner was confirmed to a federal appeals court and an of counsel left for a top job in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.
Not bad for a 5-year-old firm with fewer than a dozen attorneys listed on its website.
The firm formed in October 2014, when Wiley Rein partners William Consovoy and Thomas McCarthy left their Big Law perch and took their Supreme Court legal clinic and litigation work with them. The firm has become a magnet for former law clerks to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, including Consovoy, partner Patrick Strawbridge, former of counsel Jennifer Mascott, and associate Cameron Norris, who left the firm to clerk for Thomas in the October 2017 term before returning last year.
Consovoy, Stawbridge, and Norris are actively fighting in federal court to undermine a subpoena from House Oversight chairman Elijah Cummings seeking financial information from Trump’s accountant. Mascott, meanwhile, left the firm last month to join the Justice Department as deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel.
Consovoy McCarthy, which didn’t respond to interview requests, bills itself as an alternative to big firms that assume “armies of lawyers are needed to represent their clients effectively.”
“While this approach remains useful in select cases, it requires law firms to maintain a leveraged staffing model and expensive overhead,” the firm’s website states. “Our model gives us the flexibility to tailor our fees, including the use of alternative fee arrangements, to meet our clients’ goals.”
When Consovoy McCarthy’s lawyers have left the firm, they frequently wind up in top legal jobs surrounding the federal judiciary. The U.S. Senate voted 52-41 last week to confirm former Consovoy McCarthy named partner Michael Park to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Park’s nomination drew criticism from New York’s Democratic delegation, with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand labeling Park an “extreme right-wing” nominee and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer portraying Park as an ideologue.
Such criticism is attributable, in part, to Consovoy McCarthy’s increasing status as a favorite firm for Trump. Alongside its work defending Trump and his team in congressional investigations, the firm is also defending Trump in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in litigation related to the Constitution’s emoluments clause and has worked in support of the Trump family’s attempt to keep Capital One and Deutsche Bank from being forced to comply with subpoenas from Democrats in the House of Representatives.
In Consovoy McCarthy’s first five years, it has become a home for numerous former U.S. Supreme Court law clerks, a farm system for top legal jobs in the government and federal judiciary, and served as counsel to the president of the United States. Its lawyers are clearly thinking ahead, however, and are also working to educate a new generation of right-leaning lawyers at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington, Virginia.
More than half of the lawyer’s listed on the firm’s website teach at the Scalia Law School, including Consovoy and McCarthy, who are co-directors of the school’s Supreme Court clinic and its administrative law clinic.
Law Firm Moves, News, & Notes
The Justice Department formally announced the elevation of Claire McCusker Murray to the position of principal deputy associate attorney general, replacing Jesse Panuccio, who left the position earlier this month.
Murray previously joined U.S. Attorney General William Barr from the White House counsel’s office, where she worked on Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Murray formerly clerked for Kavanaugh on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis from 2015 to 2017.
Michael Luttig, once a candidate to lead the FBI under Trump, is no longer Boeing’s general counsel. Luttig was named counselor and senior adviser to Boeing’s chairman earlier this month and will manage all legal matters pertaining to the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accidents.
Luttig, a former judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, was replaced by Brett Gerry.
Jones Day said this week it added Ronald Sharpe as a partner in its investigations and white-collar practice in Washington, D.C.
Sharpe, an appointee of former President Barack Obama, served as U.S. attorney for the District of the Virgin Islands from 2009 to 2017. He was previously an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia for 13 years.
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton said this week its D.C. office added three partners, Robert Masters, Jonathan DeFosse, and Bevin M.B. Newman.
Masters and DeFosse joined Sheppard Mullin’s intellectual property practice from Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson. Newman, formerly of Jones Day, is the newest man in Sheppard Mullin’s antitrust and competition and health care practice.
Day Pitney relocated its Washington, D.C., office to a new building little more than one quarter-mile from its old office in D.C.’s downtown City Center. The new office is located at 555 Eleventh Street NW.
“Our new downtown location is centrally located, easily accessible and offers added convenience and amenities to our clients and to our employees,” said Joseph Fagan, managing partner in the firm’s D.C. office, in a statement.