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    March 3, 2008  

Baker & McKenzie's Globetrotter

Alternative fee arrangements? Consolidation of vendors? Conflicts? There are a lot of potential topics this Wed, March 5, when we're joined for lunch by two of America's top General Counsels: Ed Ryan of Marriott and Beth Wilkinson of Fannie Mae.  And Il Mulino will feed you a great three-course lunch. Sign up here. Special thanks to great sponsors Studley, Gilbert Randolph, and The Lansburgh.


We see a lot of offices making our way around the DC legal scene, but Elizabeth Espin Stern's has to be our favorite. If we had a world map on the ceiling, turquoise walls, and a stocked bar in our offices at Bisnow central, you can be sure that no work would get done, but Elizabeth is far more diligent. Her unique "global migration" practice wins wide praise—The Washingtonian named her DC's 26th-best attorney in their latest rankings—and often takes her away from her splendid quarters. Tragic.


"You need champagne on hand if you have international clients," Elizabeth told us. But hey, we think it's good policy regardless.


Elizabeth heads Baker & McKenzie's Global Migration & Executive Transfers Group, which "helps businesses maintain seamless staffing around the globe." What do they actually do, besides rack up frequent flier miles on trips to London and Hong Kong? Beyond immigration work like securing and renewing visas for executives transferred internationally, the group handles the full range of employment issues that arise in running a foreign office: employment benefits, taxes, and privacy regulations among them. "We build a whole HR management program," she says.


Elizabeth's office, empty when she arrived at the firm, was known as the "Map Room." But doesn't her neck ache when she's using it to plan a trip?


After 19 years at Shaw Pittman, Elizabeth moved to Baker & McKenzie in 2005. Calling herself a "business creature at heart," she says her executive immigration practice needed a bigger "global platform and entrepreneurial bent" to grow, and Baker & McKenzie's 70 offices in 38 countries fit the bill. Three attorneys made the move with Elizabeth, joining forces with Baker's Carl Hampe; they've now built their group up to 20 timekeepers who speak 14 languages among them.


Elizabeth sits on the Visa Policy sub-section of the Secure Borders Open Doors Advisory Committee, established by Condi Rice and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.  She's hoping the group can find a fix for situations where executives endure prolonged security scrutiny because of their frequent travel patterns or having the same name as someone on the terrorist watch list. She's currently positioning her group to provide counsel in a new area at the intersection of immigration and business: worksite investigations, such as those Immigration and Customs agents conducted last year at meatpacking plants across the U.S.  Now, if she could only figure out a way to do it all from her fun-filled office.    

Andrews Kurth
Cardinal Bank
Intelligent Office
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