Legal Times: What is keeping the Washington office busy?
Joseph Fanone: At the time that I stepped in as office managing partner, we took some time to reflect on the direction of the office. We were trying to focus on areas where legal services were needed. We have a real estate practice for the firm and then we went into the recovery section of the real estate practice and emphasized that. Within the real estate department, we identified a group for distressed real estate. Even though the country as a whole is in the recession, we believe that the Washington area economy is still very strong. Housing is very strong here now. You're starting to see a lot of significant mixed-use development. We have tried to enhance the real estate group in Washington that represents developers.
We continue to look for real estate development lawyers to couple with our finance practice. I do a great deal of tax increment finance in connection with mixed-use developments. We see the need of coming in and not only being able to do the finance side of it, but also the development side. We continue enhance that practice.
LT: Tell me a little bit more about the real estate practice. What are some of its clients?
Fanone: We have a housing group here that represents housing authorities throughout the country. We are bond counsel to the District of Columbia Housing Finance Agency and the District of Columbia itself. We represent and do finance work for the universities in the city — Catholic, American, GW and Howard. We represent MedStar Health, a major health care provider in the area. We represent underwriters, both on Wall Street and locally. Another major part of our practice is representing Freddie Mac in their housing and credit enhancement programs. It's a diverse group and one of the largest in terms of numbers of lawyers in the city.
LT: What about future growth plans?
Fanone: We have identified a number of growth areas. We have a group in the consumer finance service area that joined us from Patton Boggs at the end of 2012. That group has been a tremendous addition and has added a number of associates since they've been here. We continue to look at other areas. We feel as though we need a governmental affairs group. We'd like to enhance our litigation group and white-collar crime [and] enhance the regulatory side of our Washington office.