Washington Wrap is a weekly roundup of Big Law hires and other Washington, D.C., legal industry news. Read the previous edition here. Send tips and lateral moves to Katelyn Polantz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
White-collar practices are among the hottest in Washington, D.C., this summer—and not just thanks to the the ongoing Russia investigation.
Two firms, Linklaters and Foley & Lardner, announced expansions to their white-collar groups in Washington this week. Linklaters added Douglas Davison as a partner from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr. And Foley & Lardner welcomed back Rohan Virginkar as a partner after he spent six years at the Department of Justice investigating fraud.
“The DOJ does not seem to be taking its foot off the gas, said Lisa Noller, who chairs Foley’s white-collar practice out of Chicago.
While some Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA)practitioners have expressed doubts about the Trump administration’s focus on corporate fraud prosecution and compliance, Noller said the demand has stayed strong, prompting firms to hire in the field. “I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon,” she said. “Adding someone like Rohan only deepens our bench.”
Virginkar said he hopes to help the firm grow its FCPA group and plans to work on cases that deal with the life sciences and pharmaceuticals industries and in corporate monitorships, among other areas.
While at the Justice Department, he worked on the Teva Pharmaceuticals prosecution, which ended with a corporate monitor appointment and $519 million in settlement payments. Foley currently serves as independent monitor for Och-Ziff Capital Management Group.
Adam Lurie, who leads the white-collar group at British firm Linklaters in Washington, echoed Noller’s sense of demand for FCPA skills, especially because of a rise in cross-border investigations.
“I think more than ever today there’s a big market opportunity and a big competitive advantage for Linklaters over our U.S. domestic competitors. That’s why the firm is building this,” Lurie said. He joined the firm last March from Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft and has since hired others besides Davison, including Matt Axelrod, the former deputy to Sally Yates at the Justice Department. The firm continues to represent the French bank Societe Generale in a price-fixing case in federal court in New York.
Lurie said his firm’s white-collar group expansion in the U.S. isn’t done yet. “The test for us continues to be what our clients want,” Lurie said.
Both firm group leaders admitted that while the Trump/Russia investigation-related work looks like a flurry of white-collar business, politics isn’t really driving most activity.
“Criminal enforcers aren’t really influenced by what’s happening in politics,” Lurie said. “These are career lawyers [working on government cases] who are not political officials, who are developing relationships and trust and cross-border strategies for many years. We’re really starting to see those relationships bear fruit.”
The week’s lateral moves:
- Randy Forbes, a Republican Congressman from Virginia until January, joined Greenberg Traurig’s Washington lobbying group as a senior director. He previously practiced with Kaufman & Canoles. He will not act as a lawyer at Greenberg.
- Kirkland & Ellis hired Carla Hine as an antitrust partner in Washington. She previously was a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery.
- Susan Seabrook joined the tax practice in Eversheds Sutherland’s Washington office. She previously led the D.C.-based tax controversy group at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, which she joined in 2015. Earlier in her career, Seabrook worked at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Latham & Watkins and Dewey & LeBoeuf.
- Trial attorney Buffy Mims joined Shook, Hardy & Bacon’s D.C. office as a partner. She previously was a partner at Hollingsworth.
- Zoe Tillman of Buzzfeed News floated Geoffrey Berman, a Greenberg Traurig partner in New York, as a possible nominee for the U.S. Attorney position in the Southern District of New York.
- Bloomberg News reports that Joseph Simons, an antitrust partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison in D.C., will be President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the Federal Trade Commission. A formal nomination isn’t expected until next month.
In other D.C.-area industry news:
- The Justice Department released federal financial disclosures this week about how much Robert Mueller III, Jeannie Rhee, Aaron Zebley and James Quarles III earned as partners at Wilmer. Their take home profits ranged from $1.4 million to $5.8 million each.
- Trump white-collar defender John Dowd told USA Today the president has sent messages of “appreciation and greetings” to Mueller for his work as special counsel. But then in an email to The Wall Street Journal, Dowd lashed out at Mueller’s approach to the investigation following news of the FBI raid of Paul Manafort’s home.
- On Thursday, Manafort swapped his legal team at Wilmer for tax and litigation boutique Miller & Chevalier.
- Tom Schoenberg of Bloomberg Businessweek outlines how Trump’s white-collar team doesn’t appear to match the depth or breadth of Mueller’s prosecutors.
- This blurb from Politico about Trump’s selection of Chris Wray as FBI director flew somewhat under the radar last week. The president chose Wray without giving his advisers warning, because he had tired of the FBI director search and had heard a pitch about Wray from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
- The D.C. Bar Pro Bono Initiative announced its results from 2016. Out of almost 60 participating firms, the count of attorneys who participated in pro bono work reached its highest ever, and the total number of pro bono hours attorneys contributed is at a four-year high. On average, attorneys contributed 78 hours of pro bono each. The full 2016 report from the Pro Bono Initiative is available here.
- Our last attorney general was known as Loretta Lynch to most, but as Elizabeth Carlisle to a select few. Documents released this week revealed Lynch’s alias used inside the Justice Department.
- Doesn’t get more #ThisTown than this: Trump adviser and self-proclaimed anti-cosmopolitan Stephen Miller and former Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. live in the same extra-swanky downtown apartment block.
- Speaking of City Center DC: The downside of when law firms move into shiny new towers comes when they leave behind dark, deserted offices that renters in D.C. struggle to fill.
- David Lat of Above the Law pulled together a juicy readout of the Williams & Connolly/Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan power breakfast that led to the firms’ short-lived merger rumor.
- For your next power breakfast or lunch, consider Supra, the soon-to-open Shaw restaurant that will specialize in Georgian food. Its owner is Jonathan Nelms, a partner at Baker McKenzie who’s well-acquainted with the tastes of Eastern Europe and Russia. Nelms follows a long line of Washington lawyers who’ve dabbled in the food industry, including the late McKee Nelson partner Mark Kuller, who opened Estadio, Doi Moi and Proof, and the late Tom Boggs, who partnered with Haley Barbour to open The Caucus Room.
- Shout-out to Robert Bernstein, the D.C.-based Kirkland & Ellis associate who talked appellate bar aristocracy into defending the ex-CIA couple whose home was raided after they bought hydroponic gardening supplies to help their tomato plants.
- Tough week for the former leaders of intellectual property boutiques. Citibank sued two former heads of Novak Druce Connolly Bove + Quigg for not paying back a loan. And the former chief operating officer of Fish & Neave shared some tough love about law firms’ business decision-making.
- Marc Elias, counsel to the Democratic Party, is back in action with a site called “We the Action,” which intends to connect lawyers more to pro bono causes. Plus, my colleague Cogan Schneier interviewed the Perkins Coie partner for this podcast.
- From #AppellateTwitter grew #PracticeTuesday. Now, the Tuesday night advice-for-lawyers chat has a blog.
- Jenna Greene, writer of Am Law’s Litigation Daily column, applauded Preet Bharara’s decision not to join a law firm and instead to become a media darling.
- My colleague Tony Mauro found that Supreme Court litigators are ghostwriting opposition briefs as a way to lie low. Some of the most well-known attorneys in town do this because they hope the Justices won’t review a case their client won in a lower court. Sneaky, but is the practice unethical?
- The past two weeks marked several anniversaries at the Supreme Court. Justice Elena Kagan was sworn in seven years ago on Aug. 7. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in eight years ago on Aug. 8. Justice Stephen Breyer was sworn in 23 years ago on Aug. 3. And Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was sworn in 24 years ago on Aug. 10.
- Spotted as the lead item in Politico Playbook this week: “Robert Bennett [of Hogan Lovells], who represented Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal, having lunch with Abbe Lowell [of Norton Rose Fulbright], who is representing Jared Kushner in the Russia investigation, at the Greenhouse Restaurant at the Jefferson Hotel Monday.”
- In this week’s second most significant flight of fancy, what if Wes Anderson directed the grand jury’s Trump/Russia investigation? Buckle up—we’re going to need a lobster trap.