STAFFERS LAID OFF AT WHISTLEBLOWERS CENTER
An organization famous for taking the cases of disgruntled ex-workers in the public and private sectors likely has a few of its own right now. The National Whistleblowers Center, founded in 1988, laid off a “significant” number of its staff on November 5, according to executive director Stephen Kohn. The center is still operational, according to Kohn. They’ve secured pro bono lawyers and fellows supported by law schools to cover any cases on their plate at the moment.
Kohn wouldn’t say how many people were fired, but the center’s website previously listed at least a half-dozen employees. He attributed the firings to the center’s loss of a major grant from the Open Society Institute, where a spokeswoman confirmed that a two-year, $200,000 grant had not been renewed.
The Washington-based center supports whistleblowers across the country and advocates for stronger whistleblower protection legislation. Kohn said the lack of funds could affect their ability to take on new matters in the near future, but that he’s hoping donors will be more willing to give now that the election is over. — Zoe Tillman
FIRMS EAGER TO PROVIDE POST-ELECTION ANALYSIS
As Corporate America tried to make sense of the election, Washington law firms last week wasted little time before they attempted to provide clarity.
Eager to show their public policy prowess, law firms offered a smorgasbord of post-election analysis from well-known Washington insiders, including columnist Norman Ornstein, who spoke during a DLA Piper event, and former U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), now at Alston & Bird.
Former Representative James Walsh (R-N.Y.), a K&L Gates government-affairs counselor, said firms are in fierce competition for clients’ attention.
“If you don’t remind them, they don’t know,” said Walsh, whose firm published a 132-page guide detailing changes in Congress and held a webinar on what the election means for emerging technologies.
At Alston, the firm took extra precautions to ensure that its analysis wasn’t forgotten.
Clients who attended Alston’s post-election discussion received a written advisory in three places: their chairs, their email inboxes and a flash drive adorned with the firm’s name.
“You’re well covered,” Alston partner Robert Jones told the clients. — Andrew Ramonas
FARMERS FEE FIGHT TAKES A TWIST
The plaintiffs lawyers who represented a class of black farmers have asked for more than $90 million in fees for their work to secure a $1.25 billion settlement. Enter Adam Segal, owner of the public relations firm “The 2050 Group.” Segal has filed court papers to intervene in the case to “protect his entitlement” to fees and expenses of more than $519,000. Segal’s attorney, Jesse Strauss of New York, said his client dedicated thousands of hours advocating for black farmers “with the expectation of payment if his efforts were successful.” Strauss said he tried on “numerous” occasions to convince class counsel to pay Segal for his work between 2000 and 2011 coordinating P.R. on behalf of farmers. “It should be noted that this motion is unfortunate and was avoidable,” Strauss said in court papers. Class counsel, including Crowell & Moring partner Andrew Marks, haven’t yet responded to Segal’s claims. (Marks declined to comment.) In response to the recent demand for compensation filed by John Boyd, president of the National Black Farmers Association, Marks and class counsel argued that Boyd is not an attorney and not a member of the class and should be denied any cut of the settlement. — Mike Scarcella
Three years after the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, killed 13 people, the case of accused shooter, Army Major Nidal Hasan, has reached the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, but not on any issues central to the charges against him. Hasan’s appellate defense counsel, Captain Kristin McGrory of Fort Belvoir, Va., on November 7 filed petitions for extraordinary relief, asking the court to prohibit the forcible shaving of Hasan’s beard and to order the removal of Judge Gregory Gross from his court-martial because of bias. Hasan, a practicing Muslim, recently had a premonition that he faced imminent death, according to McGrory. “He does not wish to die without a beard,” she wrote in the petition. “The petitioner believes that growing a beard is mandatory for Muslim males.” Gross found that the beard did not comply with the Army’s grooming standards and was disruptive. The Army Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Hasan’s appeal last month. — Marcia Coyle
Atlanta-based Parks IP Law has opened a Washington outpost with the help of a former Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox director. Theodore Wood will serve as the lead partner in the firm’s second office. Firmwide, Parks IP includes 11 attorneys. Wood is joined in Washington by of counsel Corey Mack. The firm originally focused on patent and trademark law, but has since expanded to include practices like IP litigation and technology transactions. Wood helped start the grid industry group at Sterne Kessler before joining Parks IP. In an interview, Wood said he met founding partner Cynthia Parks during a patent bar study course in 2001 and that the two kept in contact. Parks founded her firm in 2004 and the two would often discuss opportunities for collaboration. Wood said he would continue to pursue much of the same work that he did at his previous firm. — Matthew Huisman
Squire, Sanders & Dempsey’s lobby shop has taken on lobbying work from the owner of amusement parks Kings Dominion in Virginia and Cedar Point in Ohio, the shop told Congress last week. But the firm isn’t trying to bring new thrills to the resorts. Squire Sanders is lobbying for Sandusky, Ohio-based Cedar Fair Entertainment Co. on U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations related to “fall protection,” according to lobbying registration paperwork. The filing doesn’t elaborate on the firm’s activities. Neither a Cedar Fair representative nor Squire Sanders of counsel Brian Woolfolk, who is handing the account, responded to requests for comment. Cedar Fair owns nine other amusement parks and properties in the United States and Canada. The company hasn’t had a federal lobbyist before, according to congressional records that date to 1999. — Andrew Ramonas
One ex-D.C. Council member, Harry Thomas Jr., is in prison for embezzling public dollars. Another, former council Chairman Kwame Brown, is awaiting sentencing after admitting to bank fraud and campaign finance law violations. And a federal investigation into the 2010 campaign of Mayor Vincent Gray (D) continues. All this and more was likely on the minds of local voters on Election Day, when they overwhelmingly approved two measures that would oust officials convicted of a felony while in office and bar them from serving in that position again. Charter Amendment VI, which will apply to councilmembers, and Charter Amendment VII, which will apply to the mayor, were approved by more than 75 percent of voters. Washingtonians also voted to empower the council to penalize misbehaving colleagues. Under Charter Amendment V, the council will be able to expel a member for a “gross failure to meet the highest standards of conduct.” — Zoe Tillman