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    May 20, 2011  
Nixon MP (Most Pedaling)


Did you hop on your Schwinn this morning? Since it's “Bike to Work Day," we tracked down (or Trek'd down) Nixon Peabody DC managing partner Jeff Lesk, an avid bike commuter and a bit more: recently riding 300 miles in five days.

Nixon Peabody's Rachel Loper and managing partner Jeff Lesk

Jeff cycled from Manhattan to the Capitol steps earlier this week on the Brita Climate Ride to promote sustainability, cycling, and a “green” lifestyle. He was joined by 150 like-minded bikers, including the firm’s sales manager Rachael Loper (left) and her husband. Maybe even more impressive is that both Rachael and Jeff came to work the next day and were happy to re-create the ride for our camera on Pennsylvania Ave. Jeff says he became interested in sustainability after learning that the development and operation of buildings creates over 40% of our energy consumption, carbon production, and landfill waste. Since his practice focuses on community and real estate development, he wanted to offset any damage. The former HUD attorney also heads the firm’s Tax Credit Finance & Syndication practice, where he champions sustainable investments and renewable energy tax credits. He tells us renewable energy consumption is rising as people use it to hedge against spikes in oil costs. 

Kane Comp Mini LEGAL
Nixon Peabody's Rachel Loper and managing partner Jeff Lesk

Here are snapshots of the marathon ride (we’re just impressed they found the energy to smile). Renewable energy financing has moved from zero to about 20 percent of Jeff's work over the past four years, and that's rising. The federal government’s completely stalled on environmental legislation, he says, but we should expect to see more laws pop up at the state and local level. Most cities already have acts and building codes that are more stringent than federal requirements. DC’s been leading the way with the '06 “DC Green Building Act” and Greenspace scheduled to open this fall (a green learning and resource center; Jeff's a board member of the non-profit). He tells us green is moving from trendy to mainstream, but it’s a few years away from full market transformation—building with the most cutting-edge technology still requires tapping into gov’t subsidies, which is the heart of Jeff's practice. Thankfully, sustainable development (in a rare case) has good bipartisan support.

Jeff Lesk, Nixon Peabody

Jeff helped launch the firm-wide “Legally Green” initiative in ’07 with an office-by-office “green plan” and individual employee pledges to be more conscientious. His D.C. office plan also includes a bike-sharing program (using the very cycles and helmet above). It’s all in the details: five of the 512 who took the pledge win a Kindle (greener than buying books), and the bike program is financed by money saved on energy consumption. If your office wants to upgrade on green without breaking the bank, here are a few tips from the pro: 1) Consult with your building owners on how they can help (Jeff gives kudos to Boston Properties); 2) ensure maintenance staff uses sustainable products; 3) regulate energy use (eg, motion-sensor lights in conference rooms); 4) use non-VOC paint in renovations (it’s linked to asthma and allergies); 5) minimize carpeting or look for “green” brands; 7) take ABA-EPA Law Office Climate Challenge. (That, or start training for your next 300-mile bike ride.)

Biz-now at Dickstein
Barbara "Biz" Van Gelder at Dickstein Shapiro

Barbara “Biz” Van Gelder is well-known for being a criminal defense ace to turn to if you’re the subject of a congressional or grand-jury investigation. She repped former FDA commissioner Lester Crawford and former GSA COS David Safavian and is bringing her 35 years of experience to Dickstein Shapiro. We snapped Biz (next to her engagement picture) after she returned from a trial before Chief Judge Royce Lamberth on behalf of Shelly Singhal, who was indicted for securities fraud. Another client, this one from the recent FCPA sting, was just called as a gov’t witness because he walked away from the offer. She tells us she’s actively working on between six and eight cases, including several grand jury investigations, a couple qui tam cases, and an SEC fraud indictment.

Barbara "Biz" Van Gelder at Dickstein Shapiro

Biz has been an AUSA, headed Wiley Rein’s white collar practice, and spent time at Morgan Lewis (where she recruited Fred Fielding, former WHC to Bush 43), but she tells us she wanted to join some old friends at Dickstein. To name a few: political law practice head and former FEC chairman Scott Thomas (he took her job as Executive Assistant to Commissioner Thomas Harris when she became an AUSA, and she used to be roommates with his wife); employment practice head and deputy GC Deborah Kelly (Biz’s former intern); antitrust & financial services co-chair Peter Kadzik (she was housemates with his best friend after college); and Steve Roman and John Kotelly from her AUSA days. (It would be great if Fred would join her one day too, she says.) We snapped this photo in Biz’s office with her and AUSA colleagues. (Can you spot her?) She also showed us old photos on her iPad, which she tells us she regularly uses in court.

Barbara "Biz" Van Gelder at Dickstein Shapiro

Here’s Biz with a picture of the island from which she used to be an instructor for Outward Bound sailing programs in her 20’s. It lasted until she was once struck by lightning on a boat during a storm (really), which convinced her that she should “get a real job.” She says the Outward Bound experience prepped her for court: an OB team has 12 people, as does a jury, and you need to manage both. Though her leg still pains her from the lightening strike, Biz regularly does Bikram yoga and is an avid biker (a theme for today), making the 45-minute trek to and from Alexandria each day. So, how’d she get the famous nickname? Biz says she hated her last name because it was near the end of the alphabet (putting her in the last row in class). Her Dad joked that it could be worse, calling her Barbara Isadora Zorinsky. She later adopted the initials to distinguish herself from a class full of girls named Barbara. In the referral-heavy white collar practice, Biz says the catchy name’s been helping her since. (Hmm, should we consider adopting that for Bisnow?)

Big Hearts
Yamil Jaskille with committee member Randi Weissberger and commercial real estate brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield senior director Eugene Kenney and his wife

Hearts are red, and so are some wines. So it was only logical that Lawyers Have Heart hosted a wine-tasting Wednesday at U St’s Vinoteca. (Warning: may not hold up to actual logical analysis.) We joined about 50 others sampling tasty wines like a 2005 cava from Penedes, Spain, and eating hearty hors d’oeuvres including grilled shrimp and crab cake sliders. But we took the time to put down our food to snap this picture. Here’s young professionals group PULSE:LHH co-chair and employment attorney Yamil Jaskille with committee member Randi Weissberger and commercial real estate brokerage Cushman & Wakefield senior director Eugene Kenney and his wife. Eugene, who’s been a board member of LHH since its inception 20 years ago, tells us he’s run the LHH 10K every year. Watch out for him this year at Washington Harbor June 11. Yamil tells us PULSE:LHH is working on raising $25K to donate to AHA before that date, while the main LHH is going for $675K.


Business Etiquette With Robert Half:
Social Networking

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By now it’s well-known that employers will seek out a potential employee’s Facebook page to get a peek into their character. But what happens after you are hired? Our friends and sponsors at Robert Half have several recommendations to make sure your profile doesn’t negatively impact your professional life. Start with identifiers – a nice, clean profile photo and vanity URL that will make sure people know they found the right person. Once you are Facebook friends with colleagues, make sure posts are substantive and don’t include info that may not sit well with your professional contacts. This means no Farmville, Mafia Wars, or other game posts (if you don’t recognize any of these, it means you are on the right track).

What would you like to see in this column? Send it to our DC legal reporter at roksana@bisnow.com. Hint: we wouldn't mind some more invites to wine tastings.
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