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    March 7, 2008  

General Counsel Schmooze!

Big welcome to new sponsor The Kane Companies.  Office Movers, Office Shredding, Office Archives...you name it, Kane's got a company that does it!  Welcome!


An overflow crowd of 130 turned out at Il Mulino Wednesday to hear Fannie Mae's Beth Wilkinson and Marriott's Ed Ryan, two of America's leading general counsels, dispense wisdom at Bisnow's maiden Legal Schmoozarama (we've done a bunch in other fields, but lawyers scare us). The audience was also full of stars:  Arent Fox Chairman Marc Fleischacker, Gilbert Randolph founder Scott Gilbert, Assn. of Corporate Counsel President Fred Krebs, and three DC office managing partners—Pillsbury's Maureen Dwyer, Gibson Dunn's Stephanie Tsacoumis, and White & Case's Vic DeSantis.  Who knew Washington had so many celebrities?


After Ed confessed his devotion to the Pittsburgh Steelers (cue hearty booing), he turned the audience around with his Johnny Carson-esque looks and charm (for those of you old enough to remember).


If you didn't make it (shame on you), here are a few tasty morsels you missed besides the eggplant rollatine:

  • Ed uses a group of seven preferred partner firms to handle 80% of Marriott's outside work. Beth doesn't use a preferred network, but both agreed that funneling work to a smaller number of firms pays off.  "There's no learning curve," Ed said.
  • Beth is big on encouraging diversity on her legal teams; in October, Fannie Mae awarded its first annual "Bridge Builder" award to Hunton & Williams for its efforts.
  • Sarbanes-Oxley hasn't had a tremendous effect on Beth or Ed's relations with outside counsel.
  • Tips for law firms: let your associates make more decisions (Beth), establish client relationships at their own level (Ed).

There was a ton more—on conflicts, structuring law departments, pet peeves in dealing with outside counsel, satisfying internal "clients," lessons learned, and so on—but if we told you, you wouldn't come to the next one. So, on with the schmoozing!


Credit for the lunch goes to our friends at sponsors Gilbert Randolph law firm, Studley tenant rep brokerage, and The Lansburgh apartment residences. When we found name partner Scott Gilbert, he just happened to be chatting with Xerox Litigation Services' Lauren Kingsmore.  Okay, maybe it wasn't a coincidence—they're husband and wife.


Katten Muchin real estate partners Rori Malech and James Sheesley with Tom Petty from Anderson Kill. (Where are the Heartbreakers?) Katten is counting the days until its move to new Georgetown digs, now set for June 28th. Factoid you could not live without: Rori just returned from Jamaica, where she took a guitar lesson from a Rastafarian on the beach. The price? A few Red Stripes.


Ed posed with his Venable team—Dana Fidazzo, Courtney Capute, and Ted Evans—along with Jenner & Block's Michael DeSanctis.  Don't ask us about that guy in the background; there are limits to how many names we can keep track of after a filling Italian lunch.


Ian Gershengorn (another Jenner-ite) represents Fannie Mae in its suit against KPMG for negligent accounting. On an unrelated note, Beth is hands-down the coolest-dressing GC we've ever seen. Our opinion:  She should be on TV as much as her husband, NBC White House correspondent David Gregory.


More of our Gilbert Randolph friends: David Killalea, Bette Orr, super-mensch Mark Packman, and Rachel KronowitzG 'n' R (we're officially coining that rockin' short form here) just filed a class action against Comcast for advertising unfettered Internet service while simultaneously blocking access to peer-to-peer file-sharing sites. But here's the test: Can they get that guy to our house between 12 and 4? 

Kane Companies
Arent Fox
Gilbert Randolph
The Lansburgh
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