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Association Bisnow
September 29, 2008


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It's not just Wall Street that's directly affected by the bill in Congress that's grown from Hank Paulson's two-page general principles to a 106-page laundry list. Arent Fox law firm chairman Marc Fleischaker, who's practiced association law 37 years, is fighting for several clients directly affected: the automotive industry, which would get a loan of $25 billion (now technically in an appropriations bill); credit counseling agencies, facing a change in the Bankruptcy Code requirement that consumers considering default have to consult them first; financial firms that need new standards for compensation and severance; and pro bono housing clients on process changes that will allow courts to modify home loans.


Marc knows how to fight for a cause; he spent his youth watching Cassius Clay battle to the top in their shared hometown of Louisville, Ky. Marc tells us he has fond memories of going with his dad to see Clay as a Golden Gloves amateur. Here Marc puts up his dukes next to the robe Clay wore into the ring against Sonny Liston in Miami Beach on Feb. 25, 1964 when he became World Champ for the first time, and after which he renamed himself Muhammad Ali. Marc bought the robe at a Christie's auction ten years ago because it makes him think of his dad.


All his time isn't spent reminiscing about boxing; Marc also makes a lot of photocopies. He has one neatly stacked pile per client in an "organized disorder." He also uses an old-fashioned pocket calendar instead of any new-fangled electronic toys. Marc started his association practice even before graduating from law school when he did work for the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association on the 1970 Clean Air Act amendments; with members today like Delphi and Visteon, they're still his client. He represents others in fields ranging from grain and plywood to statistics and higher education, advising them not only on policy, but as a general counsel opining in virtually every practice area from contracts and employment law to corporate governance and antitrust. (Indeed, it's antitrust concerns that particularly prompt firms in a single industry who meet about common issues to want a lawyer present.) 


If boxing gloves don't work, Marc can also use his giant fly swatter to take a swing. Marc has a particular specialty in higher education: the American Council on Education, National Association of College and University Business Officers, and the National Association of College Stores. The IRS and Sen. Grassley are putting pressure on schools to report their top salaries and funding structure. Marc says policymakers, knowing tax revenue will be down next year, are looking for ways to level the playing field between corporations and not-for-profits that have substantial auxiliary revenue and endowment income. Congress has sent long questionnaires to 400-500 schools asking them details about executive compensation, investment, use of endowment funds, and unrelated businesses like bookstores and housing. Schools will be trying to demonstrate they apply appropriate corporate governance in their mission to educate students and aren't just out to make a quick buck on them.


A Wharton and GW '71 law grad, Marc has been at Arent Fox his entire professional life and became chairman 14 years ago. Needing to spend some of his time on management, he was able to reassign corporate and litigation work to colleagues and maximize his beloved plate of association work. Often that work involves long-term objectives and strategizing, allowing him to sit down like in this picture and look contemplative, but he is also ready at a moment's notice to don the gloves for any frenetic round of policy advocacy such as Washington has witnessed this memorable month.

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