Lobbyists

In my line of work, I sometimes end up as a career counselor of sorts. People talk to me about what’s going on at their law school or law firm and ask me for advice about what to do.

I recently had occasion to speak with a lawyer who was laid off by his Biglaw firm. He remains on the website, but he hasn’t been to the office in months; that was part of the deal they negotiated with issued to him. He has been looking for a new job for months but has been having difficulty. He blames this in part on a lack of specialization — he’s a generalist, not really marketable as an expert in a particular type of litigation or transaction.

This reminded me of a chat I was having with an old friend from my high school debate days, who has found great professional success in a focused practice area. I contacted him again and our chat turned into a full-blown interview about how to become (and remain) a partner at a major law firm by establishing expertise in a particular field of substantive law.

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Kevin Ring in happier times.

Full disclosure: Former Jack Abramoff associate Kevin Ring, whose criminal conviction was recently upheld by the D.C. Circuit, is a friend of mine.  We grew up in the same town and have known one another for decades. In no way is what follows unbiased or objective in any sense.  That said, I know that I’m right and the case against Kevin Ring was simply, unambiguously wrong.  Not to say that there was no ambiguity as to whether he broke a law — there was a tiny bit of that. But under no sane system of justice would Kevin be going to federal prison. Though he almost certainly is, pending a request for en banc rehearing from the D.C. Circuit followed by a Hail Mary filing for a writ of certiorari.

We can all stipulate that Jack Abramoff is one of the sleaziest and most repellent characters to besmirch the legal profession in decades.  (My favorite Abramoff moment: the time he tried convince his rabbi to bestow upon him  a fake, back-datedScholar of Talmudic Studies” award, so he could get in the Cosmos Club.)

Anyway, Abramoff was Kevin’s boss for three and a half years, during the final period of which they were both partners at Greenberg Traurig.  In the words of the judge at his sentencing hearing, Kevin was a “cog” in the Abramoff operation, a “second-tier level” administrator of the firm’s lobbying team.  I won’t try to spin Kevin’s time as a lobbyist as some honorable endeavor.  I couldn’t. Generally speaking, lobbyists are regarded by most of us as only slightly less distasteful than the politicians whose favor they are trying to curry.  But that does not make them criminals….

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Former lobbyist Janna Ryan.

There are a lot of people trying to tell me that Mitt Romney’s pick for vice president, Paul Ryan, is attractive. Like pretty much everybody in my office. And Google is auto-filling with “Paul Ryan Shirtless.” Considering that many of Ryan’s supporters are serious fans of noted rape-novelist Ayn Rand, I’m mildly concerned by all this pent-up Republican sexual energy being thrown Ryan’s way.

But it’s not like Ryan is on the market. He was snapped up by Janna Christine Little Ryan, back in 2000. We’re just getting to know this potential second lady. She’s being pushed by the Romney campaign as a traditional housewife who loves her children and supports her man.

No doubt, she is.

But in another life, before marriage and children, Janna Little was a tax lawyer and big-time lobbyist. She was a Washington insider, like her husband. She worked for PriceWaterhouseCoopers and had a controversial client roster….

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Nick Allard: no sleep till Brooklyn?

As one Biglaw partner makes plans to leave Brooklyn, putting his $10 million mansion on the market, another partner is packing his bags for Kings County. Nick Allard, chair of the lobbying and election law practice at Patton Boggs in D.C., is heading for the Heights: he’ll be the new dean of Brooklyn Law School, effective July 1.

Going from a law firm partnership to a law school deanship is an unusual move. What’s behind Allard’s career shift? A desire to be closer to Sarah Jessica Parker, who is apparently Brooklyn bound?

Let’s find out….

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