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    September 16, 2008  
Sidley Austin;
Proskauer Rose;
Obama Documentary

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It's not every day that Carter Phillips, the appellate legend from Sidley Austin with more than 50 Supreme Court arguments under his belt, finds his chosen cause getting trounced. But yes, it happened this weekend:


Of course, lawyering had nothing to do with his undergrad alma mater's loss to USC in 2008's most anticipated college football game. The devoted Buckeyes fan won't have time to trouble over it anyway—he's got four cases at the Supreme Court this term. Our favorite: FCC v. Fox, where the Second Circuit agreed with Carter that the FCC acted arbitrarily when it reversed policy and started imposing fines for "fleeting expletives." The appeal comes on the 30th anniversary of FCC v. Pacifica (seven dirty words case), and could have First Amendment impact, but we like any case that involves a Billboard Music Awards acceptance speech by Cher.


Ironically, the Second Circuit argument in Fox was itself televised (on C-SPAN cable, outside FCC reach). Speaking of which, the Supreme Court vet tells us he'd been in favor of high court sessions being taped and broadcast. Sure would be nice to have a historical record, he says, of arguments by the likes of Justice Ginsburg and Sidley's own Rex Lee, the late former Solicitor General whom Carter credits with originating the concept of a Supreme Court practice. Sounds better watching than some football games.

Resume Alert: Proskauer Rose

What do you do when you've had 17 years of increasing revenue and are so overcapitalized your bankers are telling you to spend? If you're Proskauer Rose, DC Co-Managing Partner Trevor Chaplick tells us, you invest in yourself: The 750-lawyer firm opened in London last year, Chicago in '08, and just announced Hong Kong and Beijing. Locally, Trevor says there are ambitions to "aggressively grow" the 31-attorney DC shop and the corporate pro comes with a track record; he arrived a year ago from Wilson Sonsini in DC, which he took from zero to 50 in eight years.


The IPO deal toys aren't coming so fast and furious at the moment (this is from one of the last in '07, for Intellon) but Trevor also counsels venture funds (NEA, Valhalla), private equity, and late-stage private companies (Motley Fool). Proskauer's own fiscal health, he says, makes it a "port in the storm," and some are grabbing on. In the last two weeks, Proskauer has landed former EEOC Vice Chair Leslie Silverman in labor and employment and former HHS official Carolyn Doppelt Gray for ADA work.

Obama Doc on the Way

Until yesterday, we knew Tom Hart only as the gentlemanly GC from Group Goetz Architects, which has done interior designs at Bingham, Foley & Lardner, and Georgetown Law Center among others. But turns out he moonlights as a production exec at his On The Potomac Productions, now filming a documentary of Barack Obama and his White House run. Life as a part-time media maven had its start in the law—in private practice at Baker Hostetler, he repped media companies like Scripps Howard, which he sometimes needled to provide more minority-targeted programming.


Their response: Do it yourself and we'll air it. That led to docs on the effort to pass MLK Day legislation (seen in 125 markets) and James Brown. Tom got a prison interview with the hardest-working man in show business—Barbara Walters had tried and failed—through Lee Atwater (!), a blues fan and investor in BBQ joint Red Hot and Blue. Tom was just in Denver working on the Obama doc (distribution being negotiated, to be aired in February), but in advance his company has put up a Leno-worthy YouTube video testing pedestrians on the question: "Can You Spell Barack Obama?".

For the OSU fans, it's only fair to note that John Ford's rooting interest, the University of Michigan, just got shellacked by none other than Notre Dame. Console him with story ideas: john@bisnow.com.

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