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    November 12, 2008  
Kelly Drye;


Wall Street’s continuing travails have reminded us to check in with a few more firms responding to business opportunities presented by the financial crisis.


Kelly Drye Managing Partner Paul Rosenthal came to the firm through its April ’06 merger with Collier Shannon, which added some 95 DC lawyers to the ranks, now standing at 125. With Kelly Drye’s DC and Tysons offices now consolidated at the former Collier Shannon HQ on the Georgetown waterfront (a no-brainer in our book—those Potomac views beat those at 19th & N), the firm is another that’s assembled an interdisciplinary team to handle the market mess. The twist here: Kelly Drye can offer the services of Georgetown Economic Services, a firm-owned subsidiary with 12 full-timers, who crunch numbers on litigation damages and international trade cases.


Paul tells us that Georgetown Economic Services is standing by to value assets to be bought and sold under Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program. He says that Collier Shannon’s international trade and government relations specialties posed minimum conflicts but lots of cross-selling potential with Kelly Drye strength areas like securities. And since we know you’re wondering about that giant Nestle Crunch bar on the shelf, it’s a nod to Paul’s work as general counsel to the World Cocoa Foundation, which addresses the use of child labor in picking cocoa beans in West Africa. We are tempted to say sweet cause, but won't.

Steptoe Covers TARP

Steptoe partner Scott Sinder has been tracking developments throughout the crisis for a couple of association clients: the Commercial Mortgage Securities Association (which is hoping the residential free-fall doesn’t affect the commercial mortgage-backed securities market) and the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers (which wants to make sure AIG’s relatively healthy insurance subsidiaries don’t have to contribute policyholder funds to take care of the parent’s debt). The broader Steptoe team, he tells us, is looking to advise two types of clients that might get involved in TARP: financial institution beneficiaries of the Federal relief, and companies thinking about signing up as service providers under the program.


Scott’s advice to service providers: take a trip to Capitol Hill and introduce yourself to key overseers like Reps. Frank and Waxman. There are risks (greater oversight) and benefits (enhanced public profile) to weigh for firms that get involved in asset managing, but Scott says that step one is clear communication between clients and the Hill. (Here, he invoked the old Holiday Inn slogan—“The best surprise is no surprise.”) To make sure there were no surprises for clients or each other, those involved with Steptoe’s financial services initiative (75 total) met before the firm’s annual partner retreat to co-ordinate their efforts.

LECG Turns 20

LECG turns 20 years old this year, and if you didn’t know that the acronym used to stand for the Law and Economics Consulting Group, don’t worry—they’ve pulled a KFC and just go by their initials these days. Founding members were economics professors at UC Berkeley, but LECG has grown to 1,000 personnel and 29 offices worldwide, including a 125-staff office in DC. Last week we checked in with business development guru Joanne Jordan (former lawyer herself), who tells us that LECG is busy broadening meat-and-potatoes engagements like providing testifying experts and other litigation support.


In DC, she’s leading LECG’s charge into areas like consulting with business on the impact of cap-and-trade climate change rules, and assignments in the subprime area that go beyond offering experts for class actions and securities litigation (though they do that, too). Speaking of going places, that baton Joanne is holding comes from the 100-mile relay race she ran with a team of 12 from Cumberland to DC. Joanne’s team (the “Over the Hills”) won its age group—actually, they were the only ones in their age bracket crazy enough to even try it.


We were on hand last night for the annual Lab School fundraiser—1000 supporters at the Washington Hilton—and ran into a couple friends: Arent Fox corporate and securities guru Peter Macleod and Kalbian Hagerty’s Chipp Sandground.  Chipp’s speciality: restaurants. Honesty, he’s not just an investor in the likes of Central and Beck, but does transactional and other legal work for them. He also gives us regular updates on the scene:  He reports that former 1789 celebrity chef Ris LaCoste has raised money for her own restaurant and will be opening at 22nd and L this coming spring. Our question: If he takes a client to lunch at one of his places, so he can also check in on it, can he deduct it double?  

John Ford is Bisnow’s Legal Editor, and he’s hungry for your story ideas. Send sustenance to john@bisnow.com.

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