O’CONNOR GETS FEISTY DURING HER BOOK TOUR
Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was her feisty self during a whirlwind book tour last week, launching her latest: "Out of Order: Stories from the History of the Supreme Court." It’s a breezy, digestible history of the court, its personalities and traditions, sprinkled here and there with anecdotes from her own 25-year tenure.
But her interviewers often ignored the book, instead pressing her on the current court or how her life experiences affected her judging. On NPR’s "Fresh Air," O’Connor bristled when Terry Gross described O’Connor as the "swing vote." O’Connor snapped, "I don’t like that term. I never did, and it’s not one that I like any better today." Gross’ fans took to Facebook to complain that O’Connor was "hostile and rude," as one put it. Said another, "I will not be buying her book!"
She was in a better mood for Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. She laughed when Stewart asked her how the court reaches a consensus on what to eat for lunch. But when he asked her to identify the court’s best writer, she said pleasantly but abruptly, "I’m not going to tell you." — Tony Mauro
FORMER SENATOR JOINS COVINGTON LOBBY SHOP
Former Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) joined the lobby shop at Covington & Burling last week after a career on Capitol Hill that led him to become the second-highest ranking Republican in the Senate. He joined the firm as senior adviser in the public policy and government affairs practice, and will advise clients on the policy aspects of tax, health care, defense, national security and intellectual property.
During the two-year lobbying ban on former senators, Kyl said he’ll primarily be advising clients on these issues. "I practiced law for almost 20 years in Phoenix before my career in politics," he said. "The skills that I acquired as the minority whip and other leadership positions convinced me that I can offer to clients a lot of judgment and wisdom that is difficult to come by otherwise."
Though Covington partner Dan Bryant, chairman of the firm’s public policy and government affairs group, said the firm does not shy away from adding members of Congress to its ranks, Kyl is now the only former member of Congress on Covington’s roster, though it also employs several former Capitol Hill staffers. "We view this as taking our model forward," Bryant said. "Our model is strengthening our international problem-solving capability with great policy depth, great judgment and people who are workhorses." — Matthew Huisman
BIG-FIRM LAWYERS IN BAR FIGHT
Two Big Law partners will duke it out in the coming weeks to become the next District of Columbia Bar president. The bar’s nominations committee announced last week that Steptoe & Johnson LLP‘s Brigida Benitez and Jenner & Block‘s Lorelie Masters are this year’s candidates for president-elect; the president-elect spends a year in that job before becoming president. Benitez is a member of the bar’s board of governors and serves on the budget committee. Besides working on a slew of bar committees over the years, she’s also a past president of the Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia and has served on the board of directors of the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia. Masters brings an equally impressive record of service, also serving on the board of governors and chairing the bar’s Screening Committee. She’s also a former president of the local Women’s Bar Association and, besides her other work on bar committees, is on the Council of the American Bar Association’s Section of Litigation. Benitez and Masters will both speak at a forum on April 10; nominees for other positions will also be introduced. Voting starts April 30. — Zoe Tillman
NOT GIVING UP
Senate Republicans and the White House are in a stalemate over the nomination of Caitlin Halligan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Senate Republicans once again blocked Halligan’s confirmation vote March 6, and sent along a message in no uncertain terms: "It is time for the president and Senate Democrats to accept the fact that this nomination is not going to be confirmed by the Senate," Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said on the Senate floor. "We need to move on." But President Barack Obama said he is not giving up on Halligan, the general counsel of the Manhattan district attorney’s office. "A majority of the Senate agrees that Ms. Halligan is exactly the kind of person who should serve on this court, and I urge Senate Republicans to allow the Senate to express its will and to confirm Ms. Halligan without further delay," Obama said in a statement. Halligan, first nominated in 2010, needed 60 votes to allow a confirmation vote, but only got 51. Republicans called her "an activist judge" and questioning her views on gun rights, abortion and the war on terror. — Todd Ruger
The chairwoman of Dechert‘s firmwide pro bono practice, D.C.-based Suzanne Turner, is being kept busy these days. Turner, who previously had helped set up Ballard & Spahr‘s pro bono practice, has recently worked on forced marriage and human-trafficking issues. She is also currently helping to revamp domestic violence laws in Mongolia. The firm is handling 1,700 active national and international pro bono cases, Turner said, noting that "there is an increasing interest in and trust by international [nongovernmental organizations] in using pro bono work of law firms." More firms are engaging in pro bono work, she said, because "they are developing international offices and there is a better infrastructure helping to match the NGOs with the lawyers." — Mounira Al Hmoud
READY FOR TAKEOFF
When Aerostar Airport Holdings LLC gained approval from the Federal Aviation Administration late last month to operate San Juan Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport under a public-private partnership, it marked an important milestone. It will be the first major airport under U.S. jurisdiction to operate within the agency’s privatization pilot program, which is designed to allow airports to generate access to sources of private capital for airport improvement. As part of the agreement, Aerostar will invest $1.4 billion over the course of its 40-year lease. Representing Aerostar in the deal were Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman Washington partners Kenneth Quinn and Jennifer Trock, as well as Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton partner Richard Lincer and associate Adam Brenneman. "Historically, given the U.S. regulatory landscape, privatization is difficult to achieve," Trock said. — Matthew Huisman
Washington toasted lawyer and crisis manager Lanny Davis last week at the release party for his new book Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping with Crises in Business, Politics and Life. Among the guests in attendance were a roster of legal and congressional all-stars, including House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.); Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.); Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher partner Theodore Olson; and former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele, with whom Davis recently formed a D.C. consultancy. Davis said that he dedicated his fourth book to truth in facts. "The concept is truth and fairness in journalism," he said. He said that when a crisis hits, you’re unable to change the facts. So it’s best to present them in an unbiased manner. He also said that being a lawyer allows him to maintain attorney-client privilege while giving the media the information it needs to write a fair story. — Matthew Huisman