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    October 29, 2008  
Thelen RIP;
Akin Gump
Fashion Show;
Fight Night

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Expected news, but still sobering: the Thelen firm is set to dissolve. Spokesman Kevin Livingston confirmed to Bisnow yesterday that the firm’s partnership council has recommended that dissolution take place as of December 1. The full partnership will vote on the recommendation within seven days.


Thelen (founded 1924, merged with Reid & Priest in ’98) laid off 26 associates in the spring and throughout ’08 lost one-time name partners Richard Raysman (to Otterbourg Steindler), Peter Brown (to Baker Hostetler), and Jeff Steiner (to DLA Piper). That drain and failed merger talks with Nixon Peabody—final candidate among many rumored—made the end inevitable. According to a press release issued late yesterday: “The firm is in default of its primary credit agreement, having breached a partner departure covenant that restricts the number of partners who may depart the firm within any twelve month period.” The same release states, “Although not necessarily required, Thelen is seeking to pay its employees 60 days salary under federal and state WARN Acts.” We all wish the best for Thelen’s lawyers and staff.


Akin Gump Struts the Runway

In other news, your lucky correspondent spent last evening in the company of 200 female Akin Gump lawyers, clients, and models showing off Neiman Marcus frocks at the firm’s Fall Fashion Show. The best touch at the event, which took place in DuPont’s Washington Club: the leopard-print runway. Actually, the best touch was the donation from Akin Gump’s DC office to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, in recognition of the event’s taking place during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


Among the minglers, we spied Akin Gump Supreme Court ace Patricia Millet, her assistant Adriana Bowen, and Robin Conrad of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s National Chamber Litigation Center. Robin’s NCLC is a favored venue for Supreme Court litigators to practice upcoming arguments, and sure enough, Patricia said she’ll soon be one of four “Justices” grilling WilmerHale’s Seth Waxman there as prep for Wyeth v. Levine, a pre-emption casedocketed for November 4th. After years of working in a government office (Assistant to the SG from ’96-’07), Patricia said she was eager to check out some fresh wardrobe looks on the runway.


Associate Angela Adams, Howard Law Prof. Janet Ashcroft, partner Fairley Spillman, and Akin-associate-turned-eighth-grade-teacher Fani Geroff. Fairley does antitrust work (which she expects will pick up regardless of who wins the election), and also has a FERC practice for clients including Akron-based First Energy, aka Joe the Utility. Angela, who counsels private equity and hedge funds, got her start in Janet’s classroom—she actually took three business law classes from her while at Howard.


Political law associate Melissa Laurenza, right, with Carrie Hoback, a “policy analyst” (she digs through the fine print of campaign finance regs and the like). Melissa tells us the event was structured to comply with Congressional gift-giving rules, including the stricture to limit hors d’oeuvres at receptions to “finger food” size.


Attendees got to check out looks that included Gucci black riding boots, an Escada military-style coat, a Prada tiered dress in purple, and a pair of Michael Kors trousers. There was also one ensemble called simply “the Sarah Palin.” We kid! We kid!


One of the best looks of the night was worn by model Val Slater. Oh, wait, we mean head of Akin Gump’s firmwide international trade practice Val Slater, who, in fine Heidi Klum fashion, opened the show with brief introductory remarks. We also discovered she knows our publisher Mark Bisnow from a summer during college back in the year [national security deletion]. One of them has excellent fashion sense, and because we’d like to keep our job we’ll leave it at that.


The one and only Fight Night rolls around again next Thursday November 6; above is founder Joe Robert and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Peter Pace at last year’s. Despite a rocky economy, the Washington Hilton will again be flooded with more than 2000 fanatical business leaders having a good time for a great cause; they’ve already raised $2 million and sponsor income is up 10%. Last week, our friend Michela English, head of parent organization Fight for Children, announced $1.1 million in education and healthcare grants for low-income children in DC, all of which comes from Fight Night proceeds. www.fightforchildren.org.

John Ford, Bisnow’s Legal Editor, may or may not be a Project Runway addict. He admits nothing. Send your story ideas to john@bisnow.com.

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