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    July 31, 2008  



Last night we visited Mayer Brown for a hyper-timely panel on making your way through the revolving door between government and private practice, getting dizzy-busy now as the Bush administration draws to a close. Partner Richard Ben-Veniste, storied Watergate prosecutor, chief counsel to the Senate Whitewater Committee, and one of ten members on the 9/11 Commission, played host along with the Hispanic Bar Association.


The door between government and firms is one thing, but Richard showed us a cooler passageway: the secret door from Mayer Brown’s K office to Teatro Goldoni, where the intimate crowd headed for post-panel drinks. Something about entering a restaurant through the kitchen makes you feel like a certified VIP. Flanked by WilmerHale’s Brigida Benitez and the SEC’s Marlon Paz (he’s Senior Counsel to Director Erik Sirri), Richard is defending Google and YouTube in the massive S.D.N.Y. copyright litigation brought by Viacom.


Karla Cortes, the Nature Conservancy’s Attorney for Mexico; William Rivera of Health and Human Services; and panelist Liz Lopez of Davis Wright Tremaine, who made the leap to private practice from the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office. Liz’s tip? Ask if the position you’re interviewing for is a new one (which indicates a growing practice) or if you’re replacing someone (a potential sign of retention problems). At Davis Wright’s 80-lawyer DC office, she does “corporate diversity counseling” for Fortune 500 companies, a practice we hadn’t head of before—think of it as an audit aimed at preventing litigation or crises over diversity issues.


Two of Mayer Brown’s newest government imports: partner Anthony Alexis, former Deputy Chief of the Federal major crimes unit in DC’s U.S. Attorney’s Office (showing us his tough guy look), and Grace Kwon, late of the FTC. Anthony served on the panel and opined that while conventional wisdom says the optimum time to leave the government is after three to five years, it’s better to forgot about a timetable and rely on your sense of when you’ve built up skills with value in the private sector. He started in the civil fraud unit of DoJ’s commercial litigation branch, working a stack of cases no one was interested in: health care fraud. Yeah, turns out that issue had some legs.


Through our special Bisnow powers we’re going back in time to the start of the evening, where we caught the EEOC’s Claudia Molina-Antanaitis looking amazingly awake considering she’s got a newborn at home. She’s with Raj De, who followed Richard Ben-Veniste’s trail to Mayer after doing legwork for the 9/11 Commission and, later, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.


Moderator and President of the HBA Loretta Garcia with Mayer Brown attorneys (or Mayer Brownies, if we may coin a term) John Roberti and Maya Wilson. A sonogram led John to leave the FTC—when twins are on the way, it’s time for private practice. On Monday, Loretta’s HBA is co-sponsoring a forum with the two candidates for Chief Judge of D.C. Superior Court, Hon. Anita Josey-Herring and Hon. Lee Satterfield. 

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