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November 14, 2007

What’s Up at Sonnenschein?
Quick Questions for Fred McClure, DC Managing Partner

Sonnenschein just made it official—Fred McClure has been appointed new managing partner here.  (He’s been performing the role in a semi-formal capacity since August, so we can’t call it a shock.)  The former chief lobbyist for President Bush 41 replaces Amy Bess, who is stepping down to focus full time on her employment litigation practice.

The photo behind Fred comes from his 1989-92 term as Assistant for Legislative Affairs to the first President Bush.  He also worked for the Bush-Cheney transition team, guiding John Ashcroft’s nomination for Attorney General through the Senate. 

How many attorneys are you up to?

We’re around 650 total.  In DC, we have about 85, and 16 non-lawyer professionals.

Are the non-lawyers your lobbyists?

Lobbyists, yes, and we also have a few professional investigators who support our Internet Communications and Data Protection group.

What’s that?

They handle privacy issues and investigate break-ins to computer systems.  They also do proactive work—monitoring the Internet for clients to see if their sites are being spoofed or if their trade names are being used illegally.  Marc Zwillinger is the head.  They actually have their own crime lab here to do forensic work.  It may be the only one of its kind. 

A graduate of Texas A&M (can you see those Aggie coasters?), Fred was Chairman of the Cotton Bowl for four years, during which he started a Hall of Fame to honor players and others involved in the big game, such as Roger Staubach, Jim Brown, and TV announcer Lindsey Nelson

What are Sonnenschein’s strengths here?

We have one of the largest health regulatory practices in the country.  Hospitals, doctors, and physician groups come to us on CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] issues, when they run into challenges navigating the rules.   My own group is Public Law and Policy Strategies, which is a good asset for the firm in DC.  

Do you practice in other areas?

Yes, I’m involved in what you could call Congressional investigation work, representing clients who are appearing before Congress.  We have people with DOJ backgrounds, and we also have a strong Communications and Public Affairs group, so we know how to handle the atmospherics of a Congressional investigation as well as the legal issues.

Who have you represented before Congress?

Most recently, I prepared the CEO of Allianz, Gary Bhojwani, for Senate testimony about the sale of annuities to senior citizens.

Almost 20 Sonnenschein lawyers are participating in a pro bono program through the American Legion, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, and the National Veterans Legal Services Program, to assist military veterans who need help getting benefits on their return from service.  Fred just went through the 10-hour training program himself. 

What's Sonnenschein’s pace of growth here?

I’ve been here since 2004, and we’ve doubled in that time.  The PLPS [Public Law and Policy Strategies] and healthcare groups have really been pushing that.  We’re growing pretty quickly outside DC, too—we’ve opened four offices just since January.

What’s the management structure of the firm?

We have a Policy and Planning Committee, which is like an executive committee that sets strategy. In terms of individuals, we’ve moved to a practice group management system, so practice groups have responsibility for the people within them.

How'd you get the managing partner position and how long will you be in it?

Elliott Portnoy asked me.  He’s the firm’s Chairman, located here in DC.  We don’t have terms for our managing partners, so who knows how long it’ll be.

PN Hoffman
Arent Fox
Special Counsel
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