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    March 24, 2008  

Oprah’s Legal Club

Keep those nominations coming for the “30 Under 30” awards.  No muss or fuss—just a couple sentences about your nominee and why they deserve this august honor:  30under30@bisnow.com. 


Everyone knows that Oprah has a golden touch, so you could excuse Dow Lohnes for feeling pretty good about the fortunes of its media practice right now. The talk diva has chosen the firm to represent her Harpo production company in the creation of OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network), debuting summer ‘09. We sat down for a tear-shedding interview with Management Committee Chair John Byrnes and Board Chair Len Baxt.


Seen here on their DuPont West balcony, Len (left) and John were much too professional to start jumping on couches over the engagement, but they gave us the enticing details nonetheless.  A 50-50 joint venture with Discovery Communications, OWN will take over the Discovery Health Channel, which goes out to some 70 million homes. The Internet component of the multi-media network will launch on Oprah.com.


Len (a subscriber to “O,” natch) tells us that Oprah is hardly just the name on this thing. She wanted to select the legal team herself, and held beauty contest interviews in her Santa Barbara home. Backed by Linda Fritts, David Wittenstein, and Sue Underwald, Len delivered the firm’s pitch. (Kevin Mills, who didn’t make the trip, also works on the matter.) Len says that Oprah asked lots of questions—excellent ones—which the team must have answered well. Since signing up the celebrity client, Len has made it out to Chicago for one taping of the flagship show (it featured the female leads from Juno).


For OWN, Dow Lohnes is doing everything from partnership agreements to licenses to employee benefit issues. John, a transactional specialist, tells us that the 170-lawyer firm—140 in DC, 30 in Atlanta—aims to provide old-fashioned one-stop shopping for its clients (which, like Cox Cable, Sprint Nextel, and the University of Michigan, are mostly focused in the media, telecom, and higher-ed areas). The firm’s latest initiative, Dow Lohnes Government Services, added lobbying capability last year.

Now if one of these guys put out a book, they’d really be in business.

Arent Fox
Andrews Kurth
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