By Kathryn Alfisi and Thai Phi Le
Welcoming New Members
The D.C. Bar Board of Governors and the D.C. Bar Membership Committee hosted a reception in November to welcome attorneys who recently have joined the Bar. More than 90 guests attended the New Member Reception where they had the opportunity to network and meet with Bar leaders, including Bar President Tom Williamson. Williamson also spoke about the importance of lawyers making ongoing improvements to their practice and serving the community. Sponsors of the reception, which was held at the D.C. Bar headquarters, included Avis Budget Group, GEICO, and UPS.—K.A.
2013 D.C. Bar Elections Open for Nominations
The D.C. Bar is accepting nominations from members wishing to be candidates in the 2013 Bar elections. The deadline for receipt of nominations is January 7.
The D.C. Bar Nominations Committee is charged with nominating individuals for the positions of D.C. Bar president-elect, secretary, and treasurer; five members of the D.C. Bar’s Board of Governors; and three vacancies in the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates, including a vacancy in the under–35 seat. All candidates must be active members of the D.C. Bar, and all candidates for ABA House positions must also be ABA members.
Individuals interested in being considered for any of these positions should submit their résumés and a cover letter stating the position for which they would like to be considered and the reason(s) for their interest in the position. Please also include a description of work or volunteer experiences that provide relevant skills for the position(s) sought. Nominations that do not include a description of relevant experience will not be considered. Leadership experience with D.C. Bar Committees, voluntary bar associations, or with the Bar’s sections is highly desirable.
Nominations may be submitted online at www.dcbar.org/
inside_the_bar/structure/nominations, or mailed to the D.C. Bar Nominations Committee, Attn: Katherine A. Mazzaferri, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210.
In addition, in February, the Nominations Committee will hold a public meeting at the offices of the D.C. Bar, at which time members of the Bar are invited to speak briefly on their own behalf or on behalf of persons whom they propose for nomination. Anyone wishing to receive information about the date or time of the meeting or to schedule a time to speak at that meeting should call Ms. Wynn at 202-737-4700, ext. 3221.
Bar Sections Announce Steering Committee Openings
The D.C. Bar’s 20 sections are seeking candidates interested in serving on section steering committees. Members wishing to be considered should submit a Candidate Interest Form and résumé to the Sections Office by 5 p.m. Eastern Time on February 7. Section members have been notified by e–mail about the availability of Candidate Interest Forms at www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers/sections/section_elections/
Each steering committee has either two or three positions available. Elections will be held in the spring of 2013, with results announced in mid–June. Steering committee terms run for three years, from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2016. A list of vacancies can be found at www.dcbar.org/for_lawyers
Section nominating committees will review all Candidate Interest Forms to select candidates who reflect the excellence and diversity of the Bar. Two to three candidates will be nominated for each position.
There will be a briefing for prospective candidates from noon to 1 p.m. on January 23 at the D.C. Bar Conference Center, 1101 K Street NW, first floor. Section members interested in running for a position on their section’s steering committee are encouraged to attend. It will be a “brown bag” lunch meeting, with snack foods and beverages provided. To RSVP, please send an e–mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additionally, for the first time, the 2013 section elections will be conducted primarily online. Paper ballots will be provided to section members who request them before April 15. To request a ballot, visit www.dcbar.org/section_ballot.
For more information, visit www.dcbar.org/
New Families Created at Annual Adoption Day Event
On November 17 the atrium of the H. Carl Moultrie Courthouse was filled with the sound of children whose adoptions were finalized during the 26th Annual Adoption Day in Court ceremony.
Thirty–four children were officially adopted during the event, a joint program of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA).
The ceremony featured guest speaker Reese Hoffa, a shot put bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympics who was himself adopted at a young age. Hoffa expressed hope that the adoptive parents at the ceremony would give their children as good a life as his adoptive parents gave him.
The audience also heard remarks from D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Lee F. Satterfield, CFSA director Brenda Donald, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, and Judge Zoe Bush, presiding judge of the Family Court and an adoptive parent.
Barbara Harrison, NBC4 news anchor and host of the weekly segment “Wednesday’s Child,” emceed the event and introduced every child and adoptive parent as their adoption decrees were being signed.
During the past year, 197 children—excluding those whose adoptions were finalized during the program—were formally adopted through the Superior Court. However, 120 children were still seeking adoptive parents.
Helping with one of these adoptions was Roland C. Goss, a partner at Jorden Burt LLP. Goss took on the adoption case through his pro bono work with the Children’s Law Center, where he has worked on adoptions and guardianship cases for approximately six years.
“My firm does pretty complex commercial litigation, regulation for large insurance companies, and to be able to take those skills and apply them in a context like this is just wonderful,” he said.
His most recent case involved a three-year-old girl who was removed from her mother’s care at two weeks old. Goss’s client took the girl in about a year ago, at which time she was not talking or walking and had developmental and medical problems. With the help of comprehensive services, she is now jumping, running, and speaking in short sentences.
“It’s just amazing what good, caring, stable parents can do for those kinds of kids,” Goss said.
Similar events were held throughout the country to celebrate National Adoption Day and to bring awareness to the plight of children in foster care and awaiting adoption.—K.A.
Bar Seeks Nominees for 2013 Rosenberg, Brennan Awards
The D.C. Bar is calling for nominations for its 2013 Beatrice Rosenberg Award for Excellence in Government Service and 2013 William J. Brennan Jr. Award. Both awards will be presented at the Celebration of Leadership: The D.C. Bar Awards Dinner and Annual Meeting on June 18.
The Rosenberg Award is presented annually to a D.C. Bar member whose career exemplifies the highest order of public service. The Bar established the award in honor of Beatrice “Bea” Rosenberg, who dedicated 35 years of her career to government service and performed with distinction at the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She also served as a member of the Board on Professional Responsibility.
In keeping with the exceptional accomplishments of Ms. Rosenberg, nominees should have demonstrated outstanding professional judgment throughout long-term government careers, worked intentionally to share their expertise as mentors to younger government lawyers, and devoted significant personal energies to public or community service. Nominees must be current or former employees of any local, state, or federal government agency. For more information on the Rosenberg Award criteria, visit www.dcbar.org/
The William J. Brennan Jr. Award recipients are recognized for their excellence, achievement, and commitment to civil rights and individual liberties. Candidates must be members of the D.C. Bar who have demonstrated excellence in dedication and commitment to public interest law.
Nominations for both the 2013 Rosenberg and Brennan Awards may be submitted in one of the following ways: (1) online via the Bar’s Web site at www.dcbar.org/awards; (2) by e–mail attachment to email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org; or (3) in hard copy to Katherine A. Mazzaferri, Chief Executive Officer, District of Columbia Bar, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210. Electronic submissions are encouraged. The last day for submissions is February 1.
For more information about the Brennan Award, e-mail email@example.com; for information on the Rosenberg Award, e–mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Information for both awards can be found at www.dcbar.org/awards.
To learn more about the Bar’s 2013 Celebration of Leadership, which will be held at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Avenue NW, visit www.dcbar.org/annual_dinner.—K.A.
Bar Opens 2012–2013 Judicial Evaluations Cycle
The D.C. Bar Judicial Evaluation Committee has opened its 2012–2013 evaluation program.
In this process, selected attorneys are invited to provide feedback on the performance of certain judges who preside over the D.C. Court of Appeals and D.C. Superior Court.
Attorneys are eligible to participate if they have appeared before one or more of the judges listed below during the period between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2012. The survey is conducted online only. All participants will remain anonymous. Evaluations are due by 10 p.m. Eastern time on January 11.
To view a complete list of the judges who will be evaluated this year, visit www.dcbar.org/judicial_evaluations.cfm.
Judges are evaluated in their 2nd, 6th, 10th, and 13th year of service. Additionally, senior judges serving four–year terms are evaluated during their second year, and those serving two–year terms are evaluated once during their term.
Each evaluated judge, along with the chief judge of each court, will receive a copy of the survey results. Evaluation results of senior judges and judges in their 6th, 10th, and 13th year of service also will be sent to the D.C. Commission on Judicial Disabilities and Tenure.
If an attorney is eligible to participate in the survey but did not receive an invitation from Research USA, an independent vendor administering the survey, he or she may request a link to the survey directly from Research USA at email@example.com.
Kirkland’s Attridge Named New Catholic University Law School Dean
On November 27 The Catholic University of America named Daniel F. Attridge, managing partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, as the new dean of its Columbus School of Law. He will assume the role this year.
“We are most fortunate to have recruited such an accomplished lawyer to be the dean of [the] … Columbus School of Law. The breadth and depth of Dan Attridge’s experience are exceptional,” said university president John Garvey.
Attridge said he looks forward to the opportunity to lead the law school, noting that taking on the position combines three things he is very passionate about: the law, education, and his Catholic faith. “Having spent over three decades in the private sector at my firm, Kirkland & Ellis, I focused mostly on that kind of situation with private clients and representing them. This is an opportunity to give back, to be in a more public service–oriented function with the law school and the communities the law school intersects with,” he noted.
During his tenure, Attridge said he plans to tackle the issues most law schools face, including enrollment, job placement for graduates, and fundraising to help keep tuition costs affordable.
“My intent is to build on the strengths of the law school and university. I think they have a very strong faculty, very strong group of students, very strong programs and clinics, in particular,” Attridge said.
For more than 30 years, Attridge has worked at Kirkland, serving as managing partner since 1998. When he begins his position at Catholic University, Attridge will continue his affiliation with the firm as of counsel.
Attridge graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and received his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He served on the D.C. Bar’s Board of Governors from 1996 to 1999 and chaired or taught more than 75 continuing legal education programs on litigation, antitrust, or intellectual property topics sponsored by the American Bar Association, the D.C. Bar, Georgetown Law, George Washington University Law School, and the National Institute for Trial Advocacy.—T.L.
D.C. Pro Bono Fair Goes Online
The refrain is heard everywhere. Many people get their information in different ways these days. Face–to–face interactions have been replaced by online transactions. With that in mind, the Washington metropolitan area pro bono and legal services community launched the Virtual Pro Bono Fair in early November to cast a wider net.
The pro bono fair, where legal services providers talk online about their organizations, was an idea that the D.C. Pro Bono Week Celebration Planning Committee had been mulling over for a while. The committee saw a similar project in the San Francisco Bay Area that seemed successful.
After getting feedback from the DC Consortium of Legal Services Providers, Marcia Maack,assistant director for pro bono activities at Mayer Brown LLP, and Rebecca Troth, pro bono counsel at Sidley Austin LLP, went to work to make the idea an online reality.
“The idea is to have something that is long lasting. If you have a pro bono fair, it only connects you with the people that day,” Troth said. “Having the video on the Web site, you can look at it at any time.”
Maack and Troth reached out to Creative Video, a video production and postproduction company based in McLean, Virginia, that chose the online fair as its big pro bono project of the year. One long day in the summer, representatives from 11 local legal services providers gathered at Sidley Austin’s office where Creative Video recorded them as they spoke about their mission, the communities they serve, and the opportunities available at their respective organizations. A few volunteers also offered touching testimonials. The videos were later edited down to about five minutes, and by November they were posted on www.probono.net/dc/
The organizations featured on the Web site are the AARP Legal Counsel for the Elderly, CAIR Coalition, CARECEN, Children’s Law Center, DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, Employment Justice Center, Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, Neighborhood Legal Services Program, Our Place DC, Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless, and Whitman-Walker Health.
“Legal Aid is delighted to be participating in the Virtual Pro Bono Fair, which is a new and innovative way to connect potential pro bono attorneys with Legal Aid,” said Eric Angel, executive director of the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.
In just a month after uploading the videos online, the organizations featured in the Virtual Pro Bono Fair noticed an uptick in calls from interested volunteers. If the trend continues, the Pro Bono Week Committee will try to expand the fair to include more area legal services providers.
“We plan on using this to showcase opportunities that come around and bring to life what the legal services providers do. Sometimes you just see an opportunity on a page and it might not be as meaningful, but when you hear people talking about what they do, what their impact is, and how important this is, it can really make a difference,” Maack said. “We’re hoping the Virtual Pro Bono Fair allows us another way to meaningfully publicize the opportunities that are available for people out there, as well as the need that exists in the District for pro bono attorneys to get involved.”—T.L.
Bar Members Must Complete Practice Course
New members of the District of Columbia Bar are reminded that they have 12 months from the date of admission to complete the required course on the D.C. Rules of Professional Conduct and District of Columbia practice offered by the D.C. Bar Continuing Legal Education Program.
D.C. Bar members who have been inactive, retired, or voluntarily resigned for five years or more also are required to complete the course if they are seeking to switch or be reinstated to active member status. In addition, members who have been suspended for five years or more for nonpayment of dues or late fees are required to take the course to be reinstated.
New members who do not complete the mandatory course requirement within 12 months of admission receive a noncompliance notice and a final 60–day window in which to comply. After that date, the Bar administratively suspends individuals who have not completed the course and forwards their names to the clerks of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals and the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, and to the Office of Bar Counsel.
Suspensions become a permanent part of members’ records. To be reinstated, one must complete the course and pay a $50 fee.
The preregistration fee is $219; the onsite fee is $279. Upcoming 2013 dates are January 12, February 5, March 9, April 2, May 11, and June 4. Advanced registration is encouraged.
For more information or to register online, visit www.dcbar.org/mandatorycourse.
D.C. Practice Manual, 2012 Edition, Is Available for Purchase
The D.C. Bar and its sections have released the District of Columbia Practice Manual, 2012 Edition, a two-volume, soft-cover guide covering the basics of law in the District of Columbia.
Produced with the assistance of Thomson Reuters, this easy–to–use format brings together the collective knowledge of hundreds of experienced practitioners in 33 chapters.
A must–have resource and the starting point for every D.C. practitioner, the new manual has an introductory chapter on Finding the Law in the District of Columbia, followed by specific chapters covering Administrative Procedure, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Antitrust, Appellate Practice in the D.C. Court of Appeals, Art Law, Child Abuse and Neglect, Commercial Law, Consumer Protection, Corporate Practice, Criminal Law and Practice, Criminal Traffic Offenses, Domestic Relations, Employment Law, Environmental Law, Government Contracts, Health Maintenance Organization Act, Human Rights, Intervention Proceedings, Juvenile Law and Practice, Landlord and Tenant Practice, Legal Ethics and Lawyer Discipline, Mental Health Proceedings, Partnerships, Personal Injury, Real Property, Small Claims, Superior Court Civil Practice, Taxation, U.S. District Court Civil Practice, Wills and Estates, Workers’ Compensation, and Zoning and Historic Preservation.
The title is available for $300 and may be ordered from the D.C. Bar Member Services Center, 1101 K Street NW, Suite 200, Washington, DC 20005-4210. Credit card orders may be placed by secure fax to 202-942-9752. Individuals purchasing the new edition automatically qualify for subscription pricing discounts on subsequent editions.
For more information about the title, contact the D.C. Bar Communications Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making a Difference
The Hispanic Bar Association of the District of Columbia (HBA–DC) held its 35th Annual Equal Justice Awards Reception on November 8, honoring individuals and organizations that have made contributions to the Hispanic community. Pictured from left are HBA–DC president-elect Jaime Areizaga–Soto; HBA–DC president Lyzka DeLaCruz; U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity John Trasviña, the recipient of the Judge Ricardo M. Urbina Lifetime Achievement Award; and Judge Urbina of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The Hugh A. Johnson Jr. Memorial Awards were presented to James Ferg-Cadima, regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and to the nonprofit New Futures. Benjamin Hernandez–Stern, program specialist at the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, received the Rising Star Award.—K.A.
D.C. Attorney General’s Office Wins WRAPPY Award
The District of Columbia Attorney General’s office received the WRAPPY Award from the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) for helping combat underage drinking and drunk driving in the Washington metropolitan area.
At WRAP’s annual luncheon, held at the Hamilton restaurant, the Attorney General’s office was recognized specifically for drafting the Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act of 2012.
“The Office of Attorney General and our District and federal law enforcement partners developed the revised impaired driving laws to ensure we had tough and clearer standards and ensure that the law would require an independent scientific check on testing instruments,” Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan said.
Under the new impaired driving bill, first–time drunk driving offenders will face harsher penalties. In addition, repeat offenders, those who register very high blood alcohol levels or are impaired by other specific drugs, and drivers with minors in the vehicle will receive more severe mandatory minimum sentences. The statute was sponsored by D.C. Councilmember Phil Mendelson and became effective August. 1.
Irvin added, “We are gratified to receive the WRAPPY Award because it helps bring public attention to the office’s effective efforts to fight the impaired driving problem and keep the streets of the District safe.”—T.L.
Gifts for Those in Need
Gifts for the Homeless, a legal community–supported nonprofit that provides new and used clothing for the homeless, held its annual used clothing drive from November 30 to December 2. Over 300 volunteers from more than 75 firms sorted and delivered 4,009 bags of clothing to 65 shelters in the Washington metropolitan area. Pictured from left are Kelley Drye & Warren LLP legal assistant Richard Isaacs and associates Daniel Blynn and Matt Sullivan with clothing donations from the firm.—K.A.
Court of Appeals’ CUPL Seeks Candidates for Vacancy
The District of Columbia Court of Appeals seeks applicants for a vacancy on its Committee on Unauthorized Practice of Law (CUPL).
The CUPL is largely responsible for enforcing the court’s Rule 49, concerning unauthorized practice, and with releasing opinions interpreting Rule 49. Members of CUPL also conduct investigations and take part in compliance decisions. Members must belong to the D.C. Bar and are appointed to three–year terms, which are renewable.
For more information, contact CUPL staff at 202-879-2777, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
To be considered for a vacancy, send a cover letter and résumé to the attention of Cherylen Walker–Turner, Esq., Chambers of Chief Judge Eric T. Washington, District of Columbia Court of Appeals, 430 E Street NW, Third Floor, Washington, DC 20001.
Former Sen. Mitchell Delivers Flannery Lecture
Former U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell, now a partner at DLA Piper LLP, delivered the Fourth Annual Judge Thomas A. Flannery Lecture on November 14 in which he recalled becoming a U.S. Senator and spoke about the importance of the rule of law.
“It was our ideals that distinguished our nation from the very beginning … Our ideals have been and are the primary basis of America’s influence on the world. We Americans must never forget that this country was a great nation long before it was a great military or economic power,” Mitchell told the audience at the Ceremonial Courtroom of the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse.
“Most of us here this evening live lives of relative comfort, largely insulated from the harsh ways of life by our education, our resources, by the web of friendship and influence woven over a lifetime…. We must all look beyond our comfortable lives of privilege that we lead to the lives of all of the members of our society.”
The lecture commemorates the contributions of Judge Flannery, a native of the District of Columbia who served as assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia from 1950 to 1962 and as U.S. attorney from 1969 to 1971. Judge Flannery served on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia from his appointment in 1971 until he assumed senior status in 1985. It is those who served as Flannery’s assistant U.S. attorneys and his law clerks who began this lecture series.
Past speakers include former U.S. Attorney Earl Silbert, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and Chief Judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In addition to Mitchell’s remarks, this year’s lecture featured reminisces about Judge Flannery from Lamberth, senior Judge Paul L. Friedman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and senior Judge John A. Terry of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Terry also was honored for his legal career as a judge and chief of the Appellate Division of the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia.—K.A.
Fellows of the American Bar Foundation Honors 3 Bar Members
Three D.C. Bar members, including two former Bar presidents, are set to receive the Outstanding State Chair Award from the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation (ABF) during the organization’s annual awards banquet on February 9.
Ellen M. Jakovic, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Jack C. Keeney, director of the Barbara McDowell Appellate Advocacy Project at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia and D.C. Bar president from 2004 to 2005; and Melvin White, lead counsel at Clearspire Law Company PLLC and president of the Bar for the 2007–2008 term, will be honored with the award for their exceptional efforts to promote the foundation’s mission at the state level.
“[The award] recognizes state chairs who have really gone above and beyond and made a real difference in their state or their jurisdiction in increasing the number of fellows and making the experience of being in the Fellows an enjoyable one and a meaningful one,” said Myles V. Lynk, national chair of the Fellows.
Typically in other jurisdictions of the Fellows, there are just one to three cochairs, but Washington, D.C., is unique. The leadership structure of the D.C. Fellows includes three officers—chair, chair–elect, and secretary, each serving a two-year term. Jakovic is the current chair, White acts as chair-elect, and Keeney serves as secretary.
“It just helps to expand the reach of the state officers,” Lynk said. He noted that under Jakovic’s term, the number of fellows increased substantially in the past year. The D.C. Fellows have organized successful annual banquets for the local fellows, drawing large crowds, while also offering substantive programs on subjects of topical interest.
“D.C. has been a leader in … the Fellows for a long time. This is well deserved both for the work that the current leaders are doing … but also historically for the work that has been done in D.C. over the years,” Lynk said.
The Fellows is an honorary organization comprised of attorneys, judges, and legal scholars who aim to improve their communities while upholding the highest principles of their profession. They support research of the ABF in areas needed to advance the delivery of justice, from civil justice and criminal justice to law and globalization and social justice.
In addition to the Outstanding State Chair Award, the Fellows of the ABF will present the Outstanding Service Award to Philip S. Anderson, a founding partner at Williams & Anderson PLC in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the Outstanding Scholar Award to Edward A. Purcell Jr., the Joseph Solomon Distinguished Professor at New York Law School.
The event will be held at The Belo Mansion & Pavilion in Dallas, Texas.—T.L.
Washington Council of Lawyers Honors Pro Bono Advocates
On December 4 the Washington Council of Lawyers (WCL) recognized local pro bono attorneys for their dedication to public service and their advocacy on behalf of the underprivileged during the organization’s annual awards ceremony.
Held at Arnold & Porter LLP, the event opened with remarks from Steve Grumm, director of public service initiatives at the National Association for Law Placement and the evening’s master of ceremonies, and Nancy Lopez, executive director of WCL.
Access to justice remains a serious problem in the District, according to Lopez. The poor continue to struggle, and homelessness rates have been on the rise over the past year. Many residents cannot afford legal counsel or do not know how to navigate the system to attain help, she added. But in Washington, D.C., Lopez said the pro bono culture is robust as attorneys from both the private and public sectors have stepped up to help alleviate the issue.
There are firms like SNR Denton LLP, winner of the WCL’s Law Firm Award, that prioritize pro bono service. In 2011 more than 35 attorneys at the firm performed at least 50 hours of pro bono work and volunteered to handle cases from organizations such as the D.C. Bar Pro Bono Program Advocacy & Justice Clinic, the Mid–Atlantic Innocence Project Screening Committee, and the Septima Clark Public Charter School.
In the government sector, there are shining examples like Edward Eliasberg, this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Government Pro Bono Service Award. For more than 35 years, Eliasberg has served as a staff attorney with the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, and often volunteers for numerous pro bono opportunities. In 1996 he became one of the first attorneys to get involved with the Justice Department’s then new Pro Bono Program. In 1998, when his division staffed the D.C. Bar Advice and Referral Clinic for the first time, he was there, ready to put in a full day’s work. Eliasberg currently serves as the division’s pro bono coordinator.
The final award of the evening, the President’s Award, went to James Sandman, president of the Legal Services Corporation, former D.C. Bar president, and current chair of the Bar’s Pro Bono Committee. Sandman was recognized for his exceptional commitment to public service, pro bono, and the public interest community.
Throughout his career, Sandman has worked tirelessly to narrow the justice gap, looking for innovative ways to connect low-income residents to quality civil legal services. While serving as managing partner at Arnold & Porter from 1995 to 2005, he instituted a policy to make pro bono hours count toward firm bonuses—a policy later adopted by many firms across the nation.
The ceremony ended with remarks from keynote speaker Harold Koh, legal adviser to the U.S. Department of State, who spoke about the need to improve domestic public interest law for the United States.—T.L.
Law Firms Eye Efficiency in Hunt for New Addresses
Last fall McDermott Will & Emery LLP left its home of 15 years at 600 13th Street NW to become the primary occupant of the 229,112–square–foot McDermott Building at 500 North Capitol Street NW.
Initially the move was financially motivated, but as the McDermott team did more research, they found a number of additional benefits to relocating its Washington, D.C., office, from branding opportunities and technological advancements to room for growth and the chance to be involved in the building’s planning as it was completely redesigned and remodeled.
“Truth be told, we moved from a ’95 Toyota Camry into a Mercedes Benz that was cheaper,” says Paul Thompson, co–partner in charge of the firm’s D.C. office. The move has made McDermott one of the first international law firms to be based on Capitol Hill, a neighborhood that wasn’t really on the radar of office administrator Paul Sicari when he went looking for new locations.
“Once I started doing my homework, I realized there was a lot of potential and that it was worth bringing [up] to the partners and having a discussion. The uniqueness of the building added to the package; getting a marquee … that is seen by everybody waiting for a taxi at Union Station—in terms of a practical recruiting tool, it’s pretty amazing,” he says.
Thompson says it makes more sense for McDermott to be located near places where it does business on a daily basis, such as the Capitol Building, the U.S. Tax Court, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, than to be close to other law firms.
McDermott’s relocation illustrates some of the recent trends in law firm real estate, such as moving to periphery markets like Capitol Hill and focusing on designing spaces that advance the practice of law and save money rather than impress.
“Way back when, lawyers wanted great addresses. They wanted to be on Pennsylvania Avenue with corner offices high up in the building, and they really looked at real estate more as a showpiece and as a statement. This could not be any more different today,” says Sherry Cushman, executive managing director of the law firm advisory group at Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., a commercial real estate services company.
Real estate is a firm’s second biggest expense after salaries, taking up anywhere from 5 percent to 8 percent of a firm’s gross revenue per year, according to Cushman. “Firms are looking for buildings now that don’t make statements as much as they support their business goals and objectives. Real estate has to become more of an asset than a liability. It’s a cost you can’t avoid so you want to make that cost as low as it can be, but also as flexible as it can be,” she says.
A Less Corporate Feel
One way to reduce costs is to make more efficient use of space by setting up smaller offices and flexible work areas that can be used for multiple purposes. “Corporate America has had a major influence on how law firms are looking at their real estate. When you look at industries like finance, accounting, or insurance, they’re all at a ratio of less than 200 square feet per person, and law firms are more than double that. When you look at it on a per attorney basis, there’s a range of 700 to 800 square feet per attorney. Imagine how much money a firm would save if it could get down to the same ratio as these other business entities,” Cushman says.
Sicari says that while the new McDermott office building is more efficient, it doesn’t feel cramped because of the way it was designed. “We didn’t build customized spaces around [firm] positions, we built standard spaces that were more flexible for everyone,” he says.
Arent Fox LLP also recently moved from 1050 Connecticut Avenue NW, its home for three decades, to a new building nearby at 1000 Connecticut Avenue NW (the actual address is 1717 K Street NW). And like McDermott, Arent Fox was able to get involved in the building’s design plans, and was therefore able to create a flexible and efficient work space.
“In designing the space we were looking for an efficient floor plate with smaller offices and more open and flexible work stations. We tried to avoid putting up too many walls. The business of law in five to 10 years could be very different from what it is today and you want the space to be able to change with you without having to tear down walls,” says Arent Fox executive director Kurt Salisbury. “Firms are also designing in more breakout spaces, more team rooms, and more multipurpose rooms that can be used for social events, meetings, training, housing contract attorneys—it kind of covers the whole gamut.”
Arent Fox’s new location also features a 150–person auditorium that can be used for a variety of functions.
Flexibility was also important to McDermott. “Thinking of space in a flexible and highly efficient way that lets you scale up or scale down, and being smarter about how you use your interior space, is, in my mind, critical for the law firm of the future,” Sicari says. McDermott, for example, is not taking up all the space in its new building, but it has the opportunity to do so as the firm grows and expands.
For Arent Fox, one of the most appealing things about its new location was its significant expansion options. “The business and practice of law are evolving. In designing our new space for the building, we did it with an eye for keeping pace with the changes in the industry. We designed it in a way that we think is flexible enough, where it will evolve along with the business and practice of law, and that’s another reason why we chose to go to a building that was effectively a blank canvas so that it can grow and evolve with us,” Salisbury says.
Technology plays an important role for Arent Fox to grow and evolve, especially with its ever–increasing number of employees who work remotely. In addition to making sure there’s a wireless network that allows people to work at different locations in the building, the firm also adapted what is called office hoteling, the practice of providing work spaces to visiting employees, consultants, or contract attorneys on an as–needed basis.
Both McDermott and Arent Fox have offices that are fully wireless so that employees can work from anywhere in their buildings and have an IT infrastructure that allows for external computing for employees working outside their offices.
“We spent a lot of time thinking not of day one, but what would year five look like, what would year seven look like. I think that too often law firms are focused on day one, and the truth is that the business of law is changing rapidly. We have more people who work remotely now. Businesses can’t build like they used to anymore… I don’t know if we got it right, but at least we gave it a shot,” Sicari says.
McDermott and Arent Fox are similar in that they represent the two real estate trends for law firms—McDermott moved to a periphery market while Arent Fox stayed in Washington’s central business district.
Historically, the majority of Washington’s law firms could be found in the central business district, but as buildings got older and firms grew larger the focus became the east end of Northwest Washington. Now there’s not only growth in periphery markets and a return to the central business district, but firms are “hopscotching” and moving into locations vacated by other firms.
Next year will see another large firm relocation. Covington & Burling LLP will move out from its 1201 Pennsylvania Avenue NW address to become the anchor office tenant at CityCenterDC, a mixed–use development at the old Washington Convention Center site. This move will free up 450,000 square feet of available space and, according to Cushman, approximately another 300,000 to 350,000 square feet will open up once the building next door will be taken down and the space redeveloped.
“What you’re seeing now is a constant checker board movement of law firms that are looking at different options,” Cushman says.—K.A.