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    January 15, 2010  
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Where Do Women Stand? We've assembled five of Washington's most powerful women to talk about how their gender is doing in the executive workplace. In November, this event sold out when signups reached room capacity of 450. Don't miss your chance. Sequoia Restaurant, Friday, Jan 22Sign up now!

Two DC firms have ponied up huge donations for Haiti; but first we catch up with part of the Association for Legal Administrators exec committee, for an inside look at how large and small firms are cutting costs, increasing sustainability, improving visibility, and attracting top talent in the midst of numerous challenges.
Alston & Bird’s Elizabeth Germain, Deloitte’s Ed Ross (current ALA prez), Robbins, Russell, Englert’s Beth Fowler, Sidley Austin’s Steve Dempsey, and Cadwalader’s Cheryl Flynn

What’s that they say about keeping your competitors close? Here’s top brass at the 10k member association’s DC Chapter (2nd largest worldwide after NYC): Alston & Bird’s Elizabeth Germain, Deloitte’s Ed Ross (current ALA prez), Robbins Russell's Beth Fowler, Sidley Austin’s Steve Dempsey, and Cadwalader’s Cheryl Flynn. This gregarious bunch serves some 225 DC law firms by organizing seminars on ways to improve their value proposition, raising money for local charities, and publishing a monthly newsletter.

Sidley Austin’s Steve Dempsey

Steve says that the traditional BigLaw staffing model (recruiting associates two years in advance) “worked beautifully in a climbing market, when we needed to add bodies,” but proved to be “a disaster” when the economy contracted. The unholy log-jam that resulted, says Steve, doesn’t show signs of decongesting any time before 2011. Speaking of logs, Steve says that his firm has said sayonara to paper: e-filing and “duplexing” (for the non-tree huggers, that’s printing on both sides) is the new norm

Elizabeth says that her firm has responded to clients’ interest in sustainability by designating individuals to facilitate compliance office-wide and personal sustainability initiatives. These include the use of low VOC paints in all build-outs, recyclable cleaning products, and biodegradable kitchenware, as well as employee coaching on how to live a healthier, more environmentally-friendly lifestyle. Elizabeth also tells us that the competition for administrative talent is fiercer than ever, as consulting firms, accounting firms, and the government are perpetually trying to poach top performers.

The BigLaw hiring freeze, says Cheryl, has been a boon for her mid-size (400 lawyer) financial litigation firm: “We’ve been able to go to Harvard and recruit summer associates that previously would have been harder to attract.”

Beth says the case has been similar for her 24-lawyer appellate boutique, which just lured one of Justice Roberts’ clerks; job security, Beth tells us, was a major selling point
Ed Ross

Ed, who heads an 85-lawyer unit of DC-based national tax law experts, says the “Deloittes of the world” have the same challenges as law firms, but on an even larger scale (does that mean they don’t understand the efficacy of Twitter either?). Here Ed shows us the ALA Capital Chapter’s award for being the guiding force in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program; this past holiday season, it led members to bankroll the Christmas wish-lists of over 2,500 underprivileged DC youth.

Patton Boggs chairman Stuart Pape

You certainly don’t need to be one of the country’s top FDA law attorneys to understand that Haiti is in a dire state. Still, we caught up Patton Boggs chairman Stuart Pape hours ago and were moved to hear him announce his firm is donating $25,000 to the Red Cross and $25,000 to Doctors Without Borders.. In addition, its creating a fund for employees to give and has promised to match pledges, up to $50,000. “Financial donations seemed like the best thing to do right away,” he says. “We’re also looking for ways to become involved on a more lasting basis.”

Akin Gump chairman Bruce McLean

Akin Gump chairman Bruce McLean (pictured here at a past Bisnow event), pledged his firm’s support for immediate relief efforts this morning, as well: $25,000 to the American Red Cross, $25,000 to Mercy Corps, and a pledge to match donations from its lawyers and staff, up to $50,000.

Do you know of any firms in town that plan to raise the bar set by Akin Gump and Patton Boggs? If so, our legal reporter, Patrick Dowd, wants to know. Email him, patrick@bisnow.com.

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