Legal Times: What effect has Congress had on the business of law?
Paul Thompson: It's a very common question and I always say that when Congress does anything or doesn't do something, it generally generates legal work in some way or another. We find that as there was uncertainty about health care legislation, that our health care practice was busier than ever trying to interpret the law, advise on what the Supreme Court could do, and after the Supreme Court decided, advising on the opinion. Congress and the administrative agencies, as well, are such a fundamental part of the regulatory and legal scheme that businesses have to confront today. It will continue, whether they are acting or not acting, to generate, in some way, the need for legal guidance.
Bobby Burchfield: Almost every lawyer that I know who is practicing has ended up in Washington because they have a public policy bend. As Paul said, it has the inevitable effect of creating business for lawyers. We have tried to position ourselves as a firm and certainly as an office to take advantage of that through our health practice, our government relations practice, our tax practice.
LT: What practices do you expect will be busy in the future?
Burchfield: I still think, being an inveterate optimist, that we may be moving to a once-in-a-generation tax reform, which heaven knows what shape it will take. In terms of hot litigation issues, we see the government going after a number of the industries that we represent, particularly health care, in an effort to address what they refer to as fraud and abuse. The administration seems to be heating up in its antitrust review and enforcement. The [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau], many of our clients feel, is going to be a major force coming out of the city in the next couple of years.
Thompson: I would add one to that where we have seen a lot of activity, particularly coming out of this office recently, and that is IP litigation. We have these beautiful new conference rooms on this floor. If you had stumbled through here the last couple of months, you would have seen boxes in these rooms as we have teams of trial lawyers getting ready to go to the [International Trade Commission].
Burchfield: One other area: administrative litigation. I think we are seeing the administrative state gearing up to do a lot of regulatory activity of things that can't make it through Congress.