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.
June 1 marks the anniversary of the birth of Crowell & Moring 40 years ago, when 53 lawyers at what was then Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue—the majority of the firm’s Washington, D.C., office—left to strike out on their own.
The 1979 split sent shockwaves across Washington legal circles, and it provided plenty of fodder for analysis of a changing industry. As chronicled at the time by Nicholas Lemann in the Post, Crowell & Moring was the product of an insurmountable divide that had developed between the plugged-in Washington lawyers and Jones Day’s Cleveland headquarters, led by traditionalist Welch Pogue.
Four decades later, Crowell & Moring has seven offices, close to 500 lawyers and a perch—for now—on the Am Law 100. And far from looking back on its divisive beginnings, the firm is planning to celebrate its anniversary with a combination of parties and community service events, beginning this weekend.
While the community service isn’t mandatory, Crowell chair Phil Inglima said the firm selected a broad range of events—such as cleaning up parks and helping out at soup kitchens—so that everyone will be able to participate.
In addition to the parties and community service, the firm is also holding a luncheon for the firm’s surviving founders (name partner Eldon Crowell died in May 2010, a year after partner John Frederick Moring.) It will later have a firmwide retreat for all of its attorneys.
Inglima said the firm prides itself on “excellence, distinction, humanity, and collaboration,” and he touted its “revolutionary instincts,” which he said augurs well for the future. Inglima pointed to recent growth in California as a venue where Crowell has seen expansive growth, adding that he expects such head count growth to continue.
“We absolutely believe we’ve established the right mix of practices and the right set of venues,” Inglima said. “We might choose to reach beyond on the venue-level and a bit on the practices.”
The firm has experienced declining gross revenues in recent years, following major contingency proceeds that had boosted the firm’s top line. Last year revenue per lawyer dropped by more than 10% as the firm added a net total of 30 lawyers, which represented a 7% gain.
Still, Crowell has repeatedly emphasized that its base business is as large as ever. In 2018, Inglima said earlier this year, Crowell experienced the “largest single year growth in our base ever.”
The firm says it is also proud of its Crowell diversity, as measured by race, gender and sexual orientation. Crowell is a majority minority firm, said Crowell spokeswoman Rebecca Carr, noting that 52% of the firm identifies as LGBT, women or as people of color. Inglima said the firm nevertheless still sees boosting diversity as a key goal.
Law Firm Moves, News and Notes
The American Constitution Society is set to award Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative and New York University School of Law professor, a lifetime achievement award at its annual national convention in D.C. next week.
In a statement announcing the award, ACS said, “Under Stevenson’s leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill and aiding children prosecuted as adults. He has initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts that challenge the legacy of racial inequality in America, including major projects to educate communities about slavery, lynching, and racial segregation.”
The D.C. investigations firm IGI announced the return of Larry Potts, former FBI deputy director.
Potts will lead IGI’s compliance practice.
Perkins Coie announced that its new D.C. office leader will be Bruce Spiva, whose handling of matters for the Democratic National Committee attracted attention.
Spiva will replace William Malley in July, who left the D.C. leadership position to take control of the entire firm.
Nathan Fagre has joined the Faraday Grid, an energy technology company, as general counsel. Fagre previously was senior vice president, general counsel and secretary at Spectrum Brands.
Faraday Grid founder and CEO Andrew Scobie said in a statement that Fagre’s track record and expertise would be of “immense value” as the company continues to “rapidly scale.”
McCarter & English announced the addition of Gabriela Coman as partner in Washington, D.C. She previously was a partner at Rubin and Rudman, where she was co-chair of the firm’s intellectual property practice.
The firm noted that she was also born and educated in Romania.
Michael Best & Friedrich announced the addition of Arimi Yamada as a partner in the firm’s intellectual property practice group in Washington, D.C.