Former Virginia Solicitor General Stuart Raphael (left) and former West Virginia Solicitor General Elbert Lin


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Elbert Lin and Stuart Raphael, two new partners at Richmond, Virginia-based Hunton & Williams, may be one of the oddest legal couples in the district. Lin is a former clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas who joined Hunton & Williams from Wiley Rein, while Raphael had been a partner at Hunton & Williams years ago, before he went to work for Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Both have served as state solicitors general—Lin in West Virginia and Raphael in Virginia. Despite their shared state border, the two found themselves on opposite sides of major cases, with Raphael arguing for the rights of same-sex couples and Lin opposed the Obama administration on the Clean Power Plan and other policies.

On the marriage case in Virginia, which Raphael argued in the Fourth Circuit barely a month after becoming state SG, he took notice of Lin’s work. “I thought his brief expressed as well as anyone could the other side,” Raphael said. “He wasn’t right, but I grew to respect his legal opinion.”

The pair is hoping to carve out a book of business among the appellate attorneys at Hunton & Williams. Raphael will work out of Northern Virginia, while Lin will move to Richmond.

They feel especially ready to argue in the Fourth Circuit, and hope to be appellate generalists, not just advocates on issues of federalism and state-level briefs. Still, the decision to join together at a firm plays off of the rise of state AG-driven litigation and the vocal role states now frequently take in cases of national importance.

“I think the state solicitor’s experience is second to none,” Lin said. He described his time in West Virginia, where he was the first SG officeholder in recent memory, as “the dream appellate job, to be not just an advocate, but run an appellate shop.”

The Churn—Beltway edition:

  • Covington & Burling brought Jennifer Saulino over from Wilkinson Walsh + Eskovitz in Washington. Saulino had been there a little more than a year as a partner, after working in the fraud section at the Justice Department under Andrew Weissmann. “Covington offered me a really exciting opportunity to marry my focus on trial work with Covington’s diverse practice areas and client base on a very large scale,” Saulino said. While she worked on cases for pharmaceuticals clients at Wilkinson Walsh, Saulino plans to build a more general practice in commercial litigation trial work at Covington.
  • Kirkland & Ellis hired Paul Brinkman as an intellectual property partner in Washington. Brinkman focuses on litigation before the International Trade Commission. He previously worked at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, where he was a founding partner of its D.C. office.
  • Christina Guerola Sarchio joined Dechert as a litigation partner in D.C. She previously was Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe’s class action “strike team” chairwoman and was on the firm’s board of directors. My colleague Brian Baxter noted that Sarchio is known for her work for the National Basketball Players Association. And the reason she landed at Dechert? Give it up for former D.C. acting U.S. Attorney Vincent Cohen Jr.
  • Jeff Beatrice will join Steptoe & Johnson LLP as a partner focused on export controls, economic sanctions, anti-money laundering and firearms industry regulatory matters. He moves from Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, which he joined in 2015. Before that, he was the anti-money laundering general counsel at Citigroup Inc. and an assistant U.S. attorney in D.C.
  • John McInerney, formerly of the Commerce Department, joined Mayer Brown as an international trade counsel in D.C.
  • Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr added Petal Walker as a D.C.-based special counsel, since she has left the position of chief counsel for Commissioner Sharon Bowen at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Walker had been at Wilmer previously until 2014.
  • Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck added William “Bill” McGrath as a shareholder in Washington in its energy, environment and resource strategies group. Most recently he was staff director for a U.S. House subcommittee on the interior.
  • The firm also rearranged the energy, environment and resource strategies group leadership. Jon Hrobsky and Luke Johnson, both policy directors, become co-chairmen for the group.
  • Colette Honorable, the former Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner, will be a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center in addition to practicing law at Reed Smith.
  • The American Bar Association doled out a rare “not qualified” rating to Trump judicial nominee Charles Goodwin, according to Buzzfeed News. Goodwin is a federal magistrate judge in Oklahoma City and is nominated as a federal district judge in the Western District of Oklahoma.
  • Will Hunton & Williams merge with Texas’ Andrews Kurth? Both firms were tight-lipped this week after rumors of preliminary merger talks popped up.
  • Another Dentons combination to note this week. The world’s largest law firm is picking up Gallo Barrios Pickmann in Peru.

Inside Clyde:

Insurance litigation practices are a tough sell. They get conflicted out of lots of work, especially when the practice represents insurance companies. Yet a few firms in D.C. such as Wiley Rein have kept them central to their operations.

The British firm Clyde & Co. saw an opportunity in this specific practice area, and in Washington. Clyde opened an office here in January, largely by recruiting partners from Troutman Sanders. I saw down with Clyde’s leadership a few weeks ago to better understand how it sees the market.

Washington, D.C.’s specialty law practice, like with regulatory work, weren’t as big of a draw for the firm to open here as were the people in town, such as Leslie Ahari, a professional liability attorney who now manages the D.C. operation.

“The U.S. is the largest market of premium-based insurance in the world. If our commitment to insurance would be real, we would have to be in the U.S.,” said Bill Casey, the firm’s chairman in the U.S. “We’re becoming beneficiaries of peeling off and closing practices.”

The theory works on the idea that if other firms get conflicted out of representing insurers, a firm that specializes in it can grab significant market share.

Clyde now has six partners, three associates and a senior counsel in Washington.

Around town:

  • The Children’s Law Center, one of the D.C.’s largest legal services, held its annual benefit this week on the Kennedy Center rooftop. Even before Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy gave a brief keynote, the organization had raised more than $1.5 million.
  • The Washington Nationals took Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld out to the ball game on Sept. 28. Members of the firm gave a pregame wave on the field, for working pro bono for the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy and organizing a charity softball event.
  • Remember when DLA Piper shut down for several days after a massive cyberattack this year? That firm and King & Spalding are now helping Equifax Inc. in the aftermath of its data breach scandal, while Quinn Emanuel is representing company chief executive Richard Smith.
  • Kenneth Thompson of Venable will be the independent monitor of the Baltimore Police Department now that it will operate under a consent decree following reports of police brutality.
  • Washingtonian Magazine gave shoutouts to Judge Anna Blackburne Rigsby of the D.C. Court of Appeals, Lisa Blatt of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Cristina Carvalho of Arent Fox, Therese Pritchard of Bryan Cave and Jamie Gorelick of Wilmer for being among the most powerful women in Washington.

Trump tumbler:

  • Speaking of Gorelick, she proved she’s appropriately cautious over email this week, after a prankster contacted her posing as client Jared Kushner and got her to respond a few times. She divulged nothing confidential. This is the third time a lawyer helping the Trumps has stepped into an email mess-up, and the second time in a week that Wilmer made an emailing mistake.
  • This New Yorker story about how Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz may have helped get Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner out of fraud charges is worth your time.
  • Ivanka Trump and Kushner incurred fines of $200 for missing deadlines to file their financial reports to the government.
  • Two of the top lawyers fired by Trump, Sally Yates and Preet Bharara, stressed the amount of proof the special counsel’s office would have to find in order to bring criminal charges in its probe of the Trump campaign. They spoke together at a forum in Beverly Hills.
  • Count another lawyer working for Mueller’s investigation. Scott Meisler, an appellate attorney from the Criminal Division, has been with the special counsel’s office since June, Reuters reported.
  • The Senate intelligence committee is still looking into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the election. This is what we learned in the senators’ press conference on Wednesday.

SCOTUS Returns:

  • The First Mondays podcast is back, and dropped this tantalizing hint: A former U.S. solicitor general, when he moved to private practice, once asked his law firm if they could put a shower in his office, just like in the suite for the U.S. solicitor general. Which former SG could that be? If you know, let me know.
  • The Roman Catholic Red Mass is the unofficial kickoff to the Supreme Court’s 2017 term. This year, the priest had two highly political topics—immigration and religious freedom—he wanted to discuss before the justices in attendance.
  • My colleague Marcia Coyle brought all the color of the first day of the court’s term to this story.
  • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appreciates how she and her nickname namesake, Notorious B.I.G., were both from Brooklyn.

Between Law and Politics

In the National Law Journal magazine cover story this month, I explored whether the work Big Law firms are doing for plaintiffs opposed to the Trump administration have guided Washington’s legal practitioners into deeper political waters than usual. Are firms more openly opposed to Trump now than before, I wanted to know. The evidence is there, with everyone from Covington & Burling to the American Bar Association taking several public stances that oppose the president. Former Solicitor General Neal Katyal of Hogan Lovells, who’s challenging Trump’s positions on allowing immigrants to travel to the United States, explained how he had challenged past administrations, but this time his firm and the rest of the legal industry seemed ready to support him more quickly.

“It’s a lot easier to represent the sovereign state of Hawaii than it is to represent Osama Bin Laden’s alleged driver,” Katyal says, referring to another case he worked on. “My view on any case like this, when you’re fighting the executive, [is that] your duty is to do it not for politics but for standing up for the rule of law. That’s the only way to get Big Law involved.”

The full story is here.