December 18, 2014

11 Memorable Topics in DC Law This Year

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As the year comes to a close, we're looking back on some of 2014's biggest topics in the DC legal industry.

DC AG

DC got its first elected attorney general after a contentious back-and-forth about pushing back the election date. Welcome former Venable chairman Karl Racine.

Real Estate

Many, many firms moved offices--including Sheppard Mullin (its new 2099 Penn Ave space under construction, above, and its launch party here), Covington to CityCenter, Venable to 600 Mass Ave, and Haynes and Boone to PNC Place. Others built out their current office spaces, such as Sterne Kessler at 1100 New York Ave, and Reed Smith at 1301 K. Yet other firms moved into the city for the first time: Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Lowenstein Sandler. The discussion about real estate trends was so big, DC Mayor Vince Gray got involved at this Bisnow event.

Mergers

Law firm mergers continued, such as the combination of Squire Sanders and Patton Boggs into 1,500-lawyer Squire Patton Boggs six months ago. During the integration, the firm sadly experienced the passing of its chairman emeritus and DC icon Thomas Boggs Jr.

Marriage Equality

Same-sex marriage rights continued to advance throughout the year, whether through judges striking same-sex marriage bans or issuing pro-marriage rulings. In 35 states and DC, same-sex couples are able to get married. In July, President Obama signed an executive order forbidding LGBT discrimination in the workplace. Arent Fox partner Hunter Carter, above, is also working toward marriage equality through filings before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Healthcare

Healthcare loomed large at law firms. The Affordable Care Act and its implementation encouraged firms to boost their healthcare presence, such as Jones Day (Washington partner-in-charge Greg Shumaker, above), which has had several challenges to Obamacare. Other firms, including Reed Smith, responded to the legal repercussions from Ebola.

Book Tours

In a possible prequel to running for office in 2016, we saw two potential female Democrat contenders express their views with book tours. Elizabeth Warren hit up Barnes & Noble, and Hillary Clinton chose GWU. Will we see either of these women declare their candidacy for President? We'll have to wait until next year. (Right?)

Cybersecurity

Judging by the state of the movie The Interview, it's no surprise that cybersecurity was and continues to be a key issue. Former FBI Director Robert Mueller spoke at the Georgetown Cybersecurity Law Institute, saying that the info needed to combat cyber attacks lies in the private sector. (A lesson Sony, among other companies, has learned all too well.) Mueller is now a partner at WilmerHale.

Space Law

Between space flight becoming the domain of private companies, and potentially thousands of miniature cube-satellites launching into space, space law is a growing issue. Dentons launched a space law practice with Del Smith at the helm, and held a full-day conference on issues from space debris to spectrum wars.

Campaign Finance

After the McCutcheon Supreme Court ruling allowed individuals to give unlimited aggregate donations to federal candidates, we talked to Venable political law co-chairs Ron Jacobs and former FEC GC Larry Norton on what's next--potentially starting with another look at the soft money ban from McCain-Feingold. We'll get a firsthand look at all of it in 2016.

Quirky Office Behavior

More folks went the route of the treadmill desk (examples here and here, and one lawyer even started her own treadmill desk company), while others decided it was a good idea to pour ice on their heads at work (here).

Creativity on Display

Lawyers also showed their creative sides. For instance, Bruce Klores opened up his own grilled cheese restaurant, which you may have spotted on Penn Ave near the White House, and Derrick Wang had his first full reading of the opera he created about Justices Scalia and Ginsburg.

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