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    August 21, 2008  
Baker & McKenzie;
Reed Smith

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Baker & McKenzie just passed the $2 billion revenue mark for the first time in fiscal '08 (ending in June), putting the firm in an exclusive club of three with Skadden and Latham. Yesterday, we used the news as an excuse to drop in on Baker's business immigration star Liz Stern.


Liz tells us that crossing the milestone (to $2.19B from $1.83B in '07)is significant because it shows deepening relations with the Fortune 500 in challenging times. Her own "Global Migration and Executive Transfers" group represents a lot of those multi-nationals, not only getting visas for transferred employees, but also taking care of benefits, employment agreements, and data privacy rules for global offices. Liz says the trend among MNCs towards centralizing HR functions ("it's sort of like the Olympics 'one world' motto") plays to Baker's strength. The firm has feet on the ground in 38 countries for local service to corporate outposts.


The real proof her practice is growing? Her group is hiring, so shoot her a resume. Your cover letters will make fine airplane reading on her trip to the firm's newest office, in Abu Dhabi, later this year. Meantime, she's waiting to see if the State Department adopts the recommendations she helped draft as part of the Visa Policy task force of the Secure Borders Open Doors Advisory Committee established by Condi Rice and DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff. One biggie: allowing foreign nationals to renew visas while remaining in the States, an option discontinued after 9/11. 

Int'l Adoption Champion

Not that we'd chase the news, but another immigration lawyer, Steptoe's Lynda Zengerle, appeared in USA Today last week, commenting on barriers facing U.S. couples adopting children from abroad. Lynda started taking cases back in 2000, and now her two-attorney immigration group has 30 active matters. Many of her clients are trying to clear adoptions from Vietnam, where Lynda says the State Department, in the name of preventing human trafficking, has asked couples to provide sometimes impossible proof (like getting affidavits from unknown biological moms) before granting visas to would-be adopted children. When an agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam expires in September, adoptions will stop. Meanwhile, other countries are getting stricter, even bizarre, about their adoption requirements: You can't adopt from China if you have a body mass index over 40. No joke.


Lynda's father was a Russian immigrant (she has his entry papers framed), who was watching a violent moment in the civil rights struggle on television with her when he said, "The only people who can make this better are the lawyers." She knew from that point what she'd be doing with her life. Still, neither of them could imagine that Lynda would go on to get a visa for D.C.'s seven-foot-tall b-baller Manute Bol.

Holiday Card Magnet

As long as we were talking to immigration attorneys, we made it a trifecta and yesterday sat down with Irene Recio of Reed Smith. A first-generation American of Cuban parents, Irene also has worked many troubled adoptions from Vietnam and Cambodia—she cleared over 100 in a stretch after 9/11 when Irene tells us State was taking a hard line. Among her clients: a WilmerHale partner and the owners of the District Fine Arts gallery in Georgetown. We call her the holiday card magnet because, like a country doctor who has delivered hundreds of babies, Irene gets flooded with updates on successfully adopted children at holiday time. That's the payoff, but getting there is tense work—hence the calming candle in the background above.

McGuire Woods
Andrews Kurth
Cardinal Bank
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