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    December 8, 2008  
Saturday Night's
Bar Bash


We were on hand this weekend as the Bar Association of DC celebrated its 137th year in high style with 300 at the Italian Embassy. Of course there were honorees: Loyal readers will not be surprised that one was Carolyn Lamm of White & Case, named Lawyer of the Year, since she's president-elect of the ABA. We still find it hard to believe, with all our fine lawyers over the years, she'll be just the first DC lawyer to helm the ABA in half a century.


We admired Carolyn's pink sash and thought of doing a Joan Rivers imitation to ask "who she was wearing," but with all the analysis on the treatment of Sarah Palin we decided not to go there. With the economy doing no favors for her goal to increase ABA membership (a third of the nation's 1.2 million attorneys belong), Carolyn is forming 12 task forces (for large firms, boutiques, solo practitioners, etc.) to determine how the ABA can add value. With her: husband Peter Halle of Morgan Lewis, Chris Curran of White & Case and wife Brooke (feeling at home at the embassy since she studied in Florence during college). No rest for Carolyn; she has a March arbitration in Singapore, repping the Philippines in an airport dispute.


Chief Judge Paul Michel (second from left) of the Federal Circuit was the night's judicial honoree, here with the embassy's counselor on justice and home affairs Marco Mancini (hosts get a dress code exception), Brooke Michel, and Milo Coerper. We didn't realize it until Saturday night, but Judge Michel tells us patent cases account for only one third of the Federal Circuit's docket—the court also handles appeals on government contracts, Native American issues, and one area where he's expecting a heavy caseload in '09, veterans benefits. Milo, a self-described "young 83," has been pals with the Judge for 40 years; back in the day he worked at WilmerHale predecessor Wilmer Broun before going to Coudert Brothers.


Our flash caught Geraldine Gennet (former GC to the House of Representatives) with her eyes closed, so in solidarity Michael Stern followed suit. Geraldine once hired him to work at the House, so it's only fair. Geraldine now works with the Tahirih Justice Center for immigrant women, while Michael claims he's a "vagabond." But we know better, since his Point of Order blog keeps us up on Congressional legal issues—plus, wife Liz Stern of Baker & McKenzie is always around to keep him in the loop (when she's not trotting the globe on business immigration issues). At center, Lisa Lawler and husband Bill Lawler of Vinson & Elkins. Last time our camera caught Bill, he was coming off a round of 18 and feeling a little grimy, so we thought we'd give him another chance.


The law department of Sodexo Inc. took home the Quality of Life award. Here, EEO reps Ann Mazzotta and Geonisa Harris bookend associate GC Brenda Fuller and legal administrator Lynn Carmon. Sodexo is a food services company with 110,000 U.S. employees (if you've eaten at a hospital, college, or military base lately you have likely sampled their work), and Brenda tells us there are 26 attorneys and 70 total employees in the Gaithersburg-centered U.S. legal department. A big quality of life perk, Lynn told us, is the flex-time setup under which everyone works certain core hours, but beyond that has freedom to get hours in when convenient. 


To refresh your memory, the Bar Assoc. of DC is a voluntary bar, distinct from the DC Bar. Amy Yeung of WilmerHale sits on the board of the BADC's young lawyers division. She advises mutual funds under the Investment Company and Investment Advisors Acts of 1940, so she was well-equipped to talk securities with Ford Ladd, chair of the BADC's securities law committee. Ford (who has his own shop in Alexandria), gave us his 50,000-foot prediction for the securities area: expect our current regulatory environment based on broad principles to shift toward bright line rules.


BADC prez Ralph Albrecht of Venable eluded us during the packed reception, but we did manage to track down his partners Cameron Tousi and Cliff McCann, not to mention better halves Maryam and Marcia. Cameron, Cliff, and Ralph have all done patent work together since their days at Lane, Aitken & McCann, where Cliff's name was on the door and Cameron and Ralph were the only two associates when the firm merged into Venable in 2000.


The future of the BADC? Arnold & Porter-ites Danielle Edwards, Chieko Clark, and Meki Bracken were trying out their first event. Brian Skrenty was at the event as Danielle's date, so was probably thinking more about the roast salmon with relish provencal and pumpkin maple tarts than possible membership. Danielle started at A&P as a patent agent while going to Georgetown law—eight years later, she's still at the firm, albeit in a different role.

401(k)s Marked Down to 201(k)s

The other night we ran into our friend Graeme Bush, managing partner of renowned high-stakes litigation boutique Zuckerman Spaeder, whom we always find quotable. He told us the firm's well positioned: "It's going to take five or ten years to assess blame for the financial meltdown, and we are in the blame assessment business." (ZS defends top corporate officials accused of questionable judgment.)  Speaking of fallout from the financial meltdown, he also shared the observation that rumors of impending exit of the boomer generation are premature: "They'll be sticking around a little longer while their 401k plans and investments come back from the dead."

John Ford is Bisnow's Legal Editor. Having a party at an embassy? Do tell at john@bisnow.com.

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