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    January 11, 2011  
Untaxed at Age 94

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He graced the cover of Time, opened his own law firm, and celebrated his 90th birthday with Ted Kennedy in the Senate Caucus room. Now at 94, Mort Caplin is still in full swing, working at the law firm he founded 47 years ago, Caplin & Drysdale.

Caplin, Drysdale founder Mort Caplin, in his 1 Thomas Circle office.

Mort, a former IRS commissioner, tells us his dream was to start a firm emulating the collegial environment created by Randolph Paul at Paul Weiss, where Mort spent his first years practicing. The tax law boutique he founded with former student Douglas Drysdale in ‘64 has expanded its services beyond tax, but remained independent of what Mort calls “merger-of-the-month” offers ever since. What’s on the firm's plate? Due to recent government scrutiny of offshore banking, Mort says the 67-attorney firm is handling over 400 cases of undeclared foreign bank accounts for clients. When asked his secret to staying spry (we couldn’t resist), Mort tells us it’s exercise. His father was NYC’s Director of Health Education and Mort was an avid boxer during his years in school and the Navy. He still swims for 45 minutes each morning before coming to work.

Caplin, Drysdale founder Mort Caplin, in his 1 Thomas Circle office.

We snapped Mort pointing out a photo of his meeting with President Kennedy, the first and only president to visit IRS HQ. As IRS Commissioner during the '60’s, Mort received the Alexander Hamilton Award for his “distinguished leadership” in helping retool the IRS and the tax system. Aside from his legal career, Mort’s contributions to the liberation of France during World War II led to a “Chevalier” of the Legion of Honor awarded by Nicolas Sarkozy. Mort, a longtime Kennedy Center subscription-holder, tells us he’s excited about the new 300-seat theater at UVA named after his wife, Ruth. An undergrad and law school alum and former law professor, Mort donated $4 million for the Ruth Caplin Theatre. Its opening performance is scheduled for May 21, 2012.

Real Estate Builds Up
Sheppard Mullin DC managing partner Ed Schiff with recent adds to the Real Estate and Corporate & Securities practices Michele Williams, Katie Mueller and Michael Gibson.

If commercial real estate is any barometer of the economy, "we’re movin’ on up", say these Sheppard Mullin attorneys. DC managing partner Ed Schiff points out an increased volume of real estate deals as a sign of renewed business confidence (usually two or three close at year end, versus nine in 2010). Recent real estate and corporate practice adds, partner Michele Williams and associates Kate Mueller, and Michael Gibson, agree: Many companies with real estate are looking to monetize those assets, while others are plunging into deferred expansion and renovation projects.

Sheppard Mullin DC recent adds to the Real Estate and Corporate & Securities practices Michele Williams, Katie Mueller and Michael Gibson.

Michele joins the firm as the first dedicated east coast real estate attorney (but it might take some time to catch up to the 75 real estate attorneys in Sheppard’s eight CA offices). She tells us the trio, who overlapped at former firms DLA Piper and Arent Fox, focuses mainly on commercial acquisitions, dispositions and financings, sale-leasebacks, and attending Caps games. Deals tend to range from $15M to $300M. The group says banks, which were previously “waiting on the sidelines” for the right opportunity are now more readily lending in deals that make sense. Michele’s one to know; before her attorney days, she spent six years as a banker, including BofA VP.

Tax (Attorney) Increases
New Reed Smith Tax attorneys from Patton Boggs: Greg Rupert, group leader Jim McNair, Cynthia Gausvik and Eric Wang.

To ring in the New Year, Reed Smith received: four new partners, three support staff, two paralegals, and one cool counsel to its Tax, Benefits & Wealth Planning practice. It’s been a journey for partners Greg Rupert, Jim McNair, Cynthia Gausvik and Eric Wang, who started together at Ginsburg, Feldman in 1994, opened Zuckerman Spaeder’s Tysons office and spent 11 years at Patton Boggs before joining Reed Smith. Jim tells us the group moved to take advantage of Reed Smith’s business-focused platform. They bring 500 clients, mostly real estate and contracting firms like the Lenkin Companies, Folger Pratt, and the Interstate Group. Before his Jan. 3 start, Jim took advantage of the holidays to spend time skiing with his son in Park City, Utah, and to watch South Pacific with his daughter at the Kennedy Center (he rates it a B+).

Face Off
Cleary Gottlieb’s Kenneth Bachman and Mayer Brown’s Robert Jenkins, with the WELL trophy.

Cleary Gottlieb and Mayer Brown take the idea of “healthy competition” literally. Their DC offices conducted the nine-week WELL (West End Live Longer) Challenge to see which firm could down more fruits and veggies and up the exercise. The winner: Cleary Gottlieb, with 50% of the total points possible; Mayer Brown came close with 46% (and calls for an imminent rematch). Cleary Gottlieb’s Kenneth Bachman and Mayer Brown’s Robert Jenkins, holding the trophy above, are smiling about the contest—they say it raised morale (and lowered weight), leaving their offices on cloud nine.

New year, new stories! Send transactions, exciting wins, trends, hot topics, and especially event invites with gourmet food to DC legal reporter Roksana Slavinsky, roksana@bisnow.com.
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