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November 21, 2007

Dorsey Brings Northern Exposure to D.C.


You can tell Dorsey & Whitney DC Managing Partner Chip Magid has some Minnesota background.  He’s willing to present himself every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, when in town, over at the Potomac boat club in Georgetown for 530 AM rowing.  Though a native Iowan by way of Princeton, it’s that 14 years he spent at the firm in the Twin Cities that got him assigned here in 2001:  dispatched with a mission to integrate the office more closely with its Minnesota mother ship.
Dorsey’s Scandinavian- and Germanic-influenced culture, Chip says, is a real thing that shows up in a focus on leanness and efficiency.  “You won’t see five people musing on a problem all day.”  Here, Chip demonstrates the values he was brought to instill in the D.C. office.
Dorsey tapped Chip, a litigator and co-head of the firm-wide Products Liability practice, to guide the D.C. office after retrenchments beginning in 2000 brought numbers down from a high-water mark of 45.  The office, founded when Dorsey acquired a D.C. foreign trade firm, is now focused on expanding Dorsey’s core expertise in energy, telecom, and civil litigation—and is actively looking for recruits.  (Another resume alert, courtesy of Bisnow.)  Heading out for a strategic planning meeting next month with the entire partnership, Chip is eyeing some other areas as well for growth in D.C.:  among them, government contracting and regulatory work.  He also sees a coming trend in shareholder suits based on executive compensation, which Dorsey is now researching on its own dime in order to be out front on the issue.
During his 14-year run at Dorsey in Minneapolis, Chip made a few visits to the neighboring Missoula office, where he fell in love with the art of Montana photographer Barbara Van Cleve.  The litigator in Chip came out when he described this piece:  “The boot is a metaphor.”
But Chip has also adapted quickly to DC.  During his six years here, he’s already become a member of the Education Committee of the Federal City Council, and is impressed with both D.C. School Chancellor Michelle Rhee and his AU-area elementary school.  So much so that he and his wife Vicky have decided to stay in the city instead of heading out as their daughters Paige (5) and Blair (2) reach school age.  Chip is also on the Steering Committee for the Ocean Initiative at the Natural History Museum.  The “Ocean Hall” exhibit opens in September of next year.

Dorsey has 650 lawyers and 18 other offices, including 25 in Anchorage.  Which explains, in part, the curious award on display when you walk into the DC office:  the Alaska Telecom Association’s “Yo Yo” Award for 2007.  “I’m not sure it’s a good thing to have something calling us that in our reception area,” Chip jokes.  The award is given for a success in the telecom field achieved with unconventional flair, and Of Counsel Stefan Lopatkiewicz bagged it on behalf of the entire Dorsey firm for negotiations with Anchorage telecom company GCI Inc.  Dorsey got favorable interconnection agreements for two separate rural exchange carriers, despite fancy footwork required to accommodate their different interests.  As last year’s winner, GCI bestowed the 2007 award on Dorsey.  It’s the first time the decorative yo yo—which Stefan informed us originated as Native American hunting tool—has been housed on the East Coast.  

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