IN FAMILY AFFAIR, MORVILLOS OPEN BOUTIQUE
When Richard Morvillo‘s brother Robert Morvillo of Morvillo, Abramowitz, Grand, Iason, Anello & Bohrer died on Christmas Eve, Richard and three of Robert’s sons who worked with their father — Scott Morvillo, Gregory Morvillo and Robert C. Morvillo — felt the call of family. Richard decided to leave Schulte Roth & Zabel in Washington to band together with his nephews and form a boutique specializing in securities enforcement and white-collar defense, called, appropriately enough, Morvillo LLP.
It’s been almost 2 1/2 months since the firm opened with offices in D.C. and New York, and it’s already handling several big clients, including Anthony Chiasson, a co-founder of Level Global who is going to trial in October on insider-trading charges.
At his new firm, Richard said clients “are getting lawyers with big-firm experience who are competitive on rates. We think we can compete with large firms for interesting business.” He said the firm is looking to add like-minded lawyers, but that any growth would be organic. He hopes to grow the firm from its current nine attorneys to around 20. — Matthew Huisman
LAWYER: DOJ BUILDING ‘BLACK HOLE’ AT GITMO
A group of lawyers representing a detainee at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba contend the U.S. Justice Department is trying to reconstruct a “legal black hole” at the prison, altering the conditions under which attorneys can meet with clients there.
Human rights lawyer David Remes last week asked a federal judge in Washington to weigh in. Remes, who represents Yasein Khasem Mohammad Esmail, said he should not have to sign a “memorandum of understanding” — trumping a protective order already in place — to meet with Esmail, whose petition for release was denied last year.
Remes last met with Esmail in July 2011. “This May, when I tried to visit him, it was an issue. What accounts for the turnabout?” Remes said in an e-mail. Remes said in court papers filed on July 9 in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that he refused to sign the memorandum, saying that every aspect of attorney-client contact is unfairly turned over to and governed by the “unreviewable discretion” of the commander of the Joint Task Force-Guantánamo. The government, Remes said, should not be allowed now to adopt new conditions over his interaction with Esmail, who’s also represented by a team from Covington & Burling (where Remes used to work) that includes Alan Pemberton, S. William Livingston and Brian Foster. — Mike Scarcella
NEW GC COMES TO FREDDIE MAC
The former general counsel for JPMorgan Chase & Co. has come out of retirement to serve as the next general counsel, executive vice president and corporate secretary for Freddie Mac. William McDavid will take on his new role with the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. starting on July 16. He replaces Alicia Myara, who has served as the interim general counsel since November 2011. McDavid started his legal career atDebevoise & Plimpton in 1972 and later served as associate general counsel for Bankers Trust Co. from 1981 to 1988, including two years in London as chief of its European legal division. He had served as general counsel with JPMorgan since 2000. After JPMorgan’s 2004 merger with BankOne, McDavid served as co-general counsel for two additional years before retiring. “Few people have Bill’s specific experience of being the general counsel of a large financial institution, and that is why he is perfectly suited to help Freddie Mac navigate an increasingly challenging and changing environment,” Freddie CEO Donald Layton, who worked with McDavid at JPMorgan, said in a written statement. McDavid did not respond to a request for comment. — Matthew Huisman
D.C. HOT SEAT
One month after former D.C. Councilmember Kwame Brown pleaded guilty to bank fraud and campaign finance violations, local prosecutors turned the public’s attention back to their ever-deepening investigation into Mayor Vincent Gray’s 2010 campaign. Eugenia Harris, the owner of a local public relations company, pleaded guilty on July 9 to funneling $653,800 to a shadow campaign supporting Gray and conspiring to cover it up as investigators closed in. The fraud and public corruption section of the U.S. attorney’s office has been busy — Harris is the third person to plead guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to malfeasance surrounding Gray’s campaign. In May, two former campaign aides pleaded guilty to being part of a scheme to improperly contribute funds to one of Gray’s challengers, Sulaimon Brown, and then obstructing the FBI’s investigation. Gray hasn’t been charged with any wrongdoing, but The Washington Post reported last week that several officials are calling for him to step down. Harris is being represented by Brown Rudnick partner Mark Tuohey III and Frederick Cooke Jr. of Rubin, Winston, Diercks, Harris & Cooke. — Zoe Tillman
After seven years at Holland & Knight, a former senator and one of his close associates have set out on their own. Former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-Colo.) and his onetime chief of staff in the Senate, David Devendorf, have established Ben Nighthorse Consultants, which is based in Colorado and focuses on American Indian issues. The lobbyists left June 30. Devendorf said his colleagues at Holland & Knight were “wonderful, wonderful people.” But he said a law firm wasn’t the right fit for him and Campbell, who aren’t attorneys. The lobbyist said they will continue the work they did at Holland & Knight for the National Indian Gaming Association and Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo. — Andrew Ramonas
Any horror movie aficionado will tell you: the scariest thing is the unknown. For 50 in-house lawyers and business professionals surveyed by Mayer Brown, the bogeyman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is enforcement — when will actions come and what will they look like? “Past experience suggests that a new agency with a new mandate will focus on making a high-profile initial impact,” according to the survey. “The greatest concern about the CFPB is fear of the unknown.” More than three-quarters of respondents also reported that they expect CFPB compliance will increase their regulatory costs by 20 percent or more. To date, 12 percent of respondents reported that their companies have already been contacted or subpoenaed by the CFPB in relation to an examination or investigation. — Jenna Greene
Disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has found a new way to get the ear of Washington. He has a talk show. The Jack Abramoff Show, which airs on Sundays from 5 to 8 p.m. on XM Satellite Radio’s Talk Radio channel, quietly debuted on June 24. Clear Channel Communications Inc. subsidiary Premiere Networks, which has shows with Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Ryan Seacrest, produces the program. Abramoff, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to fraud, corruption and tax evasion charges, has spoken out frequently in the media about his support for lobbying reform and stronger government ethics rules, after the release this fall of his memoir, Capitol Punishment: The Hard Truth About Washington from America’s Most Notorious Lobbyist. Abramoff, who is Jewish, said the show is live — except on Jewish holidays — and includes conversations with guests and callers. His first few shows featured discussions on topics that included the U.S. Supreme Court and the presidential race. Abramoff said the show is “an interesting challenge.” He added: “It is easier being a guest than a host.” — Andrew Ramonas