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    August 19, 2008  
 
 
DLA Piper;
Bingham;
Nixon Peabody

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DLA Piper left last week’s annual ABA meeting in NYC with more than a goodie bag; the firm was honored with the prestigious Pro Bono Publico award. According to American Lawyer, the firm ranks #1 in pro bono participation among AmLaw 200 firms, with more than 95% of lawyers in the U.S. doing 20+ hours of service last year. Yesterday we checked in with pro bono counsel Roberta Ritvko and environmental associate Alix Magill to hear about the DC office’s efforts to help Holocaust survivors claim reparations.

 

Under a German law passed in October last year, survivors who did voluntary work in German-controlled ghettos are entitled to one-time reparations of 2,000 euros. DLA Piper learned of the program through Bet Tzedek, an L.A. legal services group, and now serves as one of five local offices—along with Howrey, Skadden, Steptoe, and Latham & Watkins—coordinating legal clinics that help survivors through the application process. Alix tells us the application forms are “short but confusing,” and that attorneys typically spend three hours or more getting necessary info and listening to survivors relate stories of sweeping streets or sewing gloves for members of the German army. The clinics are run out of Rockville’s Jewish Social Service Agency, which pre-screens clients.

 

After holding its initial clinic in June, Roberta says DLA Piper got its first approval for a DC-area survivor just a couple of weeks ago. She’s hoping it’s the first of many, as the firm has teamed with the Holocaust Museum to spread the word out about the program in mailings to the Museum’s extensive database of survivors. So what do these two do in rare moments when they aren’t making the world a better place? Alix is prepping for a winter trip to India, and Roberta has taken to ultimate frisbee.


Solar Man!
 

Also yesterday, we dropped in on Herb Stevens at Nixon Peabody, where enough sun was pouring through the conference room windows to power a small home. Call it a lame segue if you must, but the fact is that Herb has just helped U.S. Bancorp establish an innovative program that will let up to 1,000 Connecticut residents install and use solar panels on their roofs without the normal upfront costs. (Coincidentally, Herb’s eco-friendly neighbor in Potomac has actually done this, at a price of some $40,000.) Under the program, a U.S. Bancorp subsidiary uses federal tax credits and loan rebate terms from the state’s clean energy fund to finance the solar generating systems, which are then leased to consumers.

 

This Nixon Peabody painting of a column was so life-like that it fooled Herb for a second. Well, not really, but we’ll call it an example of his imagination, which he more often uses to help clients take advantage of tax credits. On U.S. Bancorp’s project, he tells us that the very first solar panels are now going up on a home in Simsburg, Connecticut. As for his own energy use, Herb got in on the hybrid trend (with 73,000 miles on his Escape, he’s starting to realize the savings) and is actually contemplating a limited solar-power system to heat his water at home.


Bingham Bulks Up SEC Enforcement
 

Geoffrey Aranow, former enforcement director of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and most recently with Heller Ehrman, really knows how to move in. When we dropped in last week, just days after his start at Bingham, he’d already hung so much art he barely had room for that Beatles pic. And actually, like Lennon leading the British Invasion, Geoffrey is one of four SEC enforcement experts to have landed in Bingham’s DC recently, the others being Peggy Blake (from Winston Strawn), Joe Brady (from the National American Securities Administrators Association), and Tim Nagy (from Financial Industry Regulatory Authority). Currently representing the head of the failed hedge fund Amaranth in CFTC and FERC proceedings alleging manipulation of the natural gas markets, Geoffrey says he lives by the credo of taking his work seriously but himself much less so.

 
 
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