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    November 24, 2008  


We’ve talked to some esteemed lawyers about the financial crisis, but none more learned than the guest of honor at Venable on Thursday afternoon—famed professor John Coffee of Columbia. He was on hand for a lunch put on by the Bar Association of DC’s securities law committee, or as it’s now known, the penny stock committee.


Coffee, center, with Bingham’s Rob Bertin, IP specialist who’s on the bar association board, and Brent Salmons, corporate lawyer (if the tie didn’t give it away). Before the professor gave his educational review of “What went wrong?,” we asked him what GCs should have as top-of-mind concerns these days. He told us that MD&As (for the uninitiated, that’s the “management discussion and analysis” portion of annual reports and other securities filings) will prove challenging to write, as companies must address risks and uncertainties, like whether you might get cut off by your bank. Unfortunately, that’s a real concern for some these days.


Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), the other headliner, gave a provocative take on the financial crisis. Ranking member on the Senate Banking Committee, the Senator had just faced off in a hearing with Detroit’s Big Three, and didn’t seem sold on their bailout request—he said he was skeptical that $100 billion could solve their problems, much less the $25 billion figure under discussion. Also, he doubted whether Bernanke’s Fed “has its arms around” the crisis and threw Paulson’s Treasury in for criticism for changing course too much. We didn’t hear the rest because we decided we’d better make a run on our bank.


Venable’s Ralph Albrecht, right, is President of the Bar Association of DC, the volunteer bar not to be confused with the compulsory DC Bar. It’s also the third-oldest bar association in the country behind NY and Boston. We caught Ralph with Treasurer-elect Greg Smith and Christopher Zampogna, each heading his own shop, who played a game of bocce ball on Venable’s rooftop court during their last visit to the firm. Maybe Venable’s bit of Italian culture got Ralph on the inside track with the people at the Italian Embassy—that’s where the BADC is holding its annual fundraising gala on December 6.


“How does she do it?” That’s the question you may ask yourself about professional moms like Danielle Varnell of Winston & Strawn, Patti Exposito, senior counsel with Marriott, and Tamika Tremaglio of Huron Consulting. It was also the title of the panel discussion moderated by Danielle at Winston & Strawn on Thursday night, put on by Big Jobs, Little Kids, a group for women who manage to juggle sippy cups with summary judgment briefs. Patti, former Winston-ite now doing employment work with Marriott’s 80-member legal department, lent her wisdom to the panel while Tamika serves on the group’s advisory board.


Jo-Ellyn Klein, healthcare specialist at Akin Gump; Kathleen Palma, international trade counsel for General Electric; and Frances McLaughlin of DOJ’s civil section. Frances adopted her child just 12 hours after birth, on the same day she closed on her house. That’s multi-tasking! Other things we learned: Day care centers charge steep late pick-up fees (like $1/minute and more), so litigators and others with unpredictable schedules might be better off going with a full-time nanny.

John Ford is Bisnow’s Legal Editor. Shoot him story ideas and Thanksgiving recipes at john@bisnow.com.

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