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    September 25, 2008  
 
 
McGuireWoods;
Reed Smith;
Sheppard Mullin

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Just in time for debate over climate change legislation in the new Congress, McGuireWoods had landed a big fish in Jim Kerr, former Commissioner of the North Carolina Utilities Commission with a national profile as past president of the Nat’l Assoc. of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners (that’s NARUC if you want to sound knowledgeable). We were on hand last night as the DC office rolled out the welcome mat.

 

The shrimp-and-grits hors d’oeuvres may have been a nod to Jim’s North Carolina roots, where he’ll keep an office in Raleigh along with one in DC.  Appropriate that he’s sandwiched between former Congressman L.F. Payne (D-VA, ’88-’97), now president of McGuireWoods Consulting, and DC Managing Partner Steve Kittrell, since Jim will bill time for both the consulting arm and as head of the firm’s new National Energy Policy Practice. The idea, he says, is to build up policy-side work as a natural extension of the firm’s regulatory and transactional expertise in energy. Pssst, Jim, don’t get out of line in DC—Steve is a martial arts expert. (Actually, Steve puts his skills to work at YMCA classes for kids but not, as far as we know, to enforce his administrative duties.)

 

FERC Commissioner Marc Spitzer, right, took time off from regulating wholesale energy prices to attend. We caught him with Electricity Consumers Resource Council President John Anderson, who has a unique connection to Jim—he owns property on Kerr Lake on the Virginia-North Carolina border, which was constructed to support a hydro-electric plant and named after Jim’s ancestor John Kerr, the late Congressman from North Carolina. Are you getting the energy theme with the Kerr clan yet? 


Reed Smith Clears Embezzlement Defendant
 

The beaming smile is understandable—Reed Smith’s DC Managing Partner Scott Boldin just scored a big win when prosecutors dropped all charges against his client, Diane Gustas, in connection with the $48 million embezzlement scheme centered in the DC tax office. The case led to 10 guilty pleas (and no other dismissals), all filed on the September 16, the same day Gustas was cleared. “It’s the kind of case you want to practice law for,” Scott told us.

 

He got the news in a call from prosecutor Tim Lynch—whom he commends heartily—at the end of a nine-month investigation, just as speedy-trial limits were being reached. He says that checks forged in his client’s name had an electronic signature or were prepared by others, and no witnesses could place her within the embezzlement conspiracy. It’s a happy end for his client, but she’s been out of a job for nine months, so Scott says he’ll continue representing her to “make her whole,” whatever that might take.


Third Time a Charm for Sheppard Mullin?
 

While lobbyists may be in a holding pattern ‘til election day, gov’t contracts attorneys face a busy season as agencies rush to spend budgets before the Sept. 30th end of their fiscal year (a phenomenon known in the vernacular as “the fiscal flush”).  We met up with Bruce Shirk, John Chierichella, and “Vic” Victorino to learn more, but our key takeaway: These guys get much cooler deal toys (eg, model fighter jets) than corporate lawyers who just get those glass encased tombstones.

 

In the multi-discipline gov’t contracts field these guys do everything from IP rights (Vic) to healthcare (Bruce). They also handle bid protests, and have a doozey on their hands right now. Back in ’07, on behalf of helicopter-maker Sikorsky, they successfully challenged the Air Force’s award of a $15 billion (you read it right) contract to Boeing for “combat search and rescue helicopters.” The GAO doesn’t overturn such large defense contracts every day, John says. But when the Air Force accepted bids a second time, and again awarded to Boeing, Sikorsky won a second protest. They’re expecting the results of the third go-round shortly—and for the troops’ sake, we hope the Air Force gets it right this time.

John Ford, Bisnow’s Legal Editor, preferred Tonka trucks to model planes as a kid. Send him your story ideas at john@bisnow.com.

 
 
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