SEC’S TOP COP QUITS AFTER REFOCUSING UNIT
Robert Khuzami last week became the latest top official to announce his departure from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. As head of the Enforcement Division, Khuzami brought a record number of new cases and undertook a top-to-bottom overhaul of how the SEC detects and prosecutes wrongdoing.
Among the changes to the 1,100-person division on his watch: creating five new specialized units, coming up with standards for rewarding individual cooperation and establishing the Office of Market Intelligence to handle tips. He took his lumps as well, criticized for not going after more Wall Street executives and for settling some cases on the cheap.
John Sturc, co-chair of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher‘s securities enforcement practice group, said Khuzami “refocused the division’s enforcement program. During his tenure, the division reached far more deeply into areas of institutional securities trading and money management than before.” Khuzami, who had been rumored to be in the running to serve as chairman of the SEC, is leaving the agency at the end of the month. There’s no word on his next job, but many expect him to return to his native New York, where he worked as a federal prosecutor and went on to become general counsel for the Americas at Deutsche Bank A.G. — Jenna Greene
SENATORS, DOJ IN COURT FIGHT
The U.S. Justice Department and a group of Republican senators are feuding over time. In the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, DOJ is challenging a New York federal trial judge’s ruling that blocked enforcement of a controversial military detention provision. The senators — John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte — want to participate in the February 6 oral argument in the case. But DOJ lawyers are not keen on the idea — especially if it means the senators, represented by a team from Baker & Hostetler in Washington, take away from the government’s allotted time. DOJ Civil Division appellate lawyer Robert Loeb said in court papers that it would be “highly unusual” to restrict the government’s time “to allow individual members of one component of the legislative branch” to present their views. Baker partner David Rivkin Jr. on January 8 responded to the government’s criticism, saying the senators’ interests are distinct from DOJ’s. Rivkin said the senators don’t argue that they are entitled to participate in the appeal. Rather, he said, the senators “would assist the court in resolving the complex issues before it.” Legislative history, he said, “is central to this appeal.” — Mike Scarcella
The head of Becker & Poliakoff‘s Washington office has taken the helm of the leading group for Hispanics in government relations. The Hispanic Lobbyists Association (HLA) elected Becker government consultant Omar Franco to a one-year term in December. He succeeds Podesta Group principal Cristina Antelo as the organization’s head. “It’s a big honor,” said Franco, who has served on HLA’s board since 2007. “I’m so happy my colleagues put their trust and faith in me to do this.” Founded in 2006, HLA has about 75 members. Franco said he hopes to expand the group’s membership and provide ethics training and additional networking opportunities. In 2012, Franco was registered to lobby for more than a dozen organizations, including Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, according to congressional records. The group is trying to establish a museum for American Latinos on the National Mall in the Smithsonian Institution’s Arts and Industries Building, which at the moment doesn’t house any permanent exhibits and is closed to the public for renovations. — Andrew Ramonas
THE SOLO LIFE
They say old habits die hard, and that may be the case for Bernard “Bernie” Grimm. After almost five years in Big Law, Grimm is leaving Cozen O’Connor to reboot his solo practice. The famed defense attorney said that despite the stability and predictability of a large firm, he missed the courtroom and wanted more control over the types of cases he takes on. “There is a market for clients that aren’t white collar but not blue-collar, middle-of-the-road people that have not been in trouble before but made an awful mistake in judgment,” Grimm said. He jumped to big law in part because his friend Barry Boss is Cozen’s D.C. managing partner. Now that he’s back on his own, Grimm plans to add a couple of associates and possibly even a partner within the next year. In the meantime, he’ll keep busy with clients from Cozen who are following him and new ones. — Matthew Huisman
Good news this month for Washington-based government lawyers hoping to up their civic participation. A law passed late last year amending the federal Hatch Act will make it easier for federal and local government employees in D.C. to run for elected office. The law could widen the pool of candidates for a variety of elected positions, and comes just in time for the city’s shift in 2014 to an elected attorney general. In one of the many quirks surrounding the District’s unique legal status, D.C. government employees had long been bound under the same rules as federal employees when it came to political participation. Under the Hatch Act Modernization Act of 2012, D.C. executive branch employees will now be treated the same as other state and local workers. The new law would allow most state and local government employees nationwide to run for partisan political office, although D.C. still has local laws regulating campaign activities. The new law will also allow federal employees in D.C. to run for partisan positions as independents. — Zoe Tillman
The map of D.C. law offices is shifting east. Arnold & Porter announced last week that it has entered into a 20-year agreement for 375,000 square feet in a new development at 601 Massachusetts Ave. The firm aims to move into its new digs in late 2015, pulling up the roots from 555 12th St. N.W., where it has been since 1995. The firm considered other possible development projects as well as remaining in its current spot, managing partner Richard Alexander said. Limited availability means more firms are willing to expand the map in search of prime real estate. “Given the height limitations and the availability of space in the more traditional areas, it’s not surprising that law firms are moving more eastward,” he said. — Matthew Huisman