CADWALADER TEAM WRITES NCAA REPORT IN SHORT ORDER
When the National Collegiate Athletic Association asked Ken­neth Wainstein and a team of attorneys from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft to investigate the NCAA’s enforcement staff, it was a tall order. In 27 days, Wainstein and a team of attorneys interviewed 22 people and sifted through 4,300 documents to product the 55-page report, which ultimately found missteps on the part of staff, but no violation of law or bylaw.
The NCAA was investigating allegations that University of Miami players received illegal gifts from convicted Ponzi-scheme orchestrator Nevin Shapiro. Former director of enforcement Ameen Najjar circumvented the advice of legal staff when he hired Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez, to depose witnesses key to the NCAA investigation using her client’s bankruptcy subpoenas. After the NCAA learned of the depositions, it agreed not to use them in the investigation.
On January 22, the NCAA hired Wainstein and his team to investigate the Perez depositions. A day after the report came out, Julie Roe Lach, the group’s vice president of enforcement, was fired.
"One thing that makes this situation stand out was the speed with which we had to do this report," Wainstein said. "In a short time we talked to all these people and read through thousands of documents. It was a fairly intense process." — Matthew Huisman
MENENDEZ HIRES TRIO OF VETERAN ADVISERS
As Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) faces allegations about personal improprieties, he is looking for help in Washington through a damage-control team that includes at least two lawyers and a consultant who served as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s top spokesman. Menendez has enlisted McDermott Will & Emery partner Stephen Ryan, Perkins Coie partner Marc Elias, and Matthew Miller, the former Justice Department spokesman who is now at the consultancy Vianovo, according to news reports.
With the unprecedented smear campaign that has been launched against Bob Menendez over the past ten months, it is only prudent that we add resources to our team to fight back," Menendez’s office said in a written statement. Through McDermott spokesman Chad Torbin, Ryan declined to comment. And neither Elias nor Miller responded to requests for comment.
News reports emerged late last year alleging that Menendez had sex with prostitutes in the Dominican Republic after visits to the Caribbean nation using the private jet of Florida eye surgeon Salomon Melgen, a friend and donor. Menendez didn’t pay for two round-trip flights on the jet in 2010 until this year. Elias successfully defended Menendez in a 2010 New Jersey Supreme Court case nullifying the application of state recall laws to U.S. senators. — Andrew Ramonas
LAWYERS EMBRACE HOSPITALITY
Two partners in the Washington office of Greenberg Traurig will serve on the faculty of the inaugural Hospitality and Tourism Law Institute of the American University Washington College of Law. Nelson Migdal, co-chairman of the firm’s hospitality group, and Tara Gorman, a partner in the real estate practice, will discuss a broad range of complex hospitality and tourism legal issues. The five-day program will include behind-the-scenes tours at hotels. Migdal, who has been working in hospitality law for more 30 years, focuses on hotel acquisitions, operations, development, finance and management agreements. "Hospitality law is a unique part of the business and it does not behave like real estate," Migdal said. "Our experience is that there is still a lack of appreciation on the elements of the hospitality business." Gorman focuses on general commercial real estate transactions, including commercial real estate acquisitions and sales, hotel acquisitions, operations, development and finance, and office leasing. "It is a great professional opportunity for me and the students," Gorman said. Migdal and Gorman started the Hospitality Law Check-In blog. — Mounira Al Hmoud
Anytime Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. was testifying on Capitol Hill, you’d always see Tracy Schmaler sitting close by. Schmaler, a longtime aide to the attorney general — serving now as director of the Office of Public Affairs — is leaving her post March 8. Schmaler has run the public affairs office since 2011, when Matthew Miller left. Schmaler will join ASGK Public Strategies as managing director and head of a new practice group targeting crisis communication, litigation and congressional matters. Schmaler has been at the center of numerous high-profile cases and controversies — from the BP oil spill settlement to the flap over Operation Fast and Furious. Holder called Schmaler, who joined DOJ in 2009, one of his "most trusted advisers." Holder said he’s "grateful to Tracy for her wise counsel, loyalty, good humor and unwavering support of me and the Justice Department over the last four years." Schmaler’s career in public service also included a stint at the Senate Judiciary Committee, where she was the communications director for Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) between 2003 and 2007. Before joining DOJ, Schmaler supervised Yahoo! Inc.’s global public affairs office in Washington. — Mike Scarcella
Federal prosecutors last week kept some of Washington’s best-known criminal defense lawyers busy with court work. Steptoe & Johnson LLP litigation partners Reid Weingarten and Brian Heberlig were in court February 20 for Jesse Jackson Jr., charged with misusing $750,000 in campaign funds. Jackson’s attorneys face an uphill battle: convincing U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins to be lenient. Jackson faces a prison term between 46 and 57 months. On February 22, after press time, Millicent West, the former director of the District of Columbia’s homeland security office, represented by K&L Gates litigation partner Carol Elder Bruce, was due in court for a plea hearing on a tax violation rooted in the issuance of false grant documents. — Mike Scarcella
A D.C. councilmember was in court last week, but unlike some of his former colleagues who faced recent criminal prosecution, he was there by choice. Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) is fighting an opinion by the D.C. Board of Ethics and Accountability finding that he likely violated the D.C. Code of Conduct. The board decided against moving ahead with its investigation, but noted it had "sufficient evidence" that Graham improperly handled a contracting matter. Graham denied wrongdoing. What Graham does have in common with ex-councilmembers who found themselves behind bars is that he’s being backed by serious legal firepower. His attorney is William Taylor III, a founding partner of Zuckerman Spaeder. Taylor couldn’t be reached for comment, but said in a statement on Graham’s website that the board’s decision to issue the report was "disappointing and unfair." — Zoe Tillman
Former senator Robert Bennett (R-Utah) has officially joined the ranks of Washington’s lobbyists. Arent Fox, where Bennett is a senior policy adviser, filed lobbying registration paperwork last week disclosing that Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Inc. is his first client as a lobbyist. Bennett, who joined Arent in 2011 after leaving the Senate, is helping Arent partner Dan Renberg and senior government relations director Amy Demske advocate on matters that include the Affordable Care Act and autism care and research. "I think it is a very worthwhile kind of cause," Bennett said. Under federal law, former senators have to finish a two-year "cooling-off" period before they can traverse Capitol Hill as lobbyists. Bennett called the cooling-off period unnecessary, saying that he doesn’t have a "mystical power" that allows him to get whatever he wants as a lobbyist. — Andrew Ramonas