Capital Buzz: Development legal duo decides to go it alone

December 22, 2013

Thomas Heath is away, but we found some tidbits to pass on.

Since 1997, law partners Ed Rogers and Debra Yogodzinski have worked together at big law firms such as Nixon Peabody, Arent Fox and Reed Smith, negotiating deals on behalf of developers to build projects such as the Newseum and Waterfront Station. This month, the duo decided the time was right to open up their own shop, Rogers Yogodzinski.

Though they both praised their former firm, they are welcoming the newfound flexibility that comes with running their own business. Without the overhead of a large law firm, they’ll be able to charge lower rates and be more flexible with billing in general.

“We can structure rates in deals in different ways and only answer to ourselves,” Rogers said. “We think that in today’s real estate market, you need to have that level of flexibility and entrepreneurship to be successful. It’s harder to do that within a large firm context.”

There’s no hierarchy or committee to sign off on billing decisions, Yogodzinski said, “which makes it a little more nimble.”

— Catherine Ho

Getting small

Reston-based Leidos — the company created by splitting McLean-based Science Applications International Corp. in two earlier this year — isn’t done getting smaller.

The contractor said earlier this month that it has been selling off some of its smaller units, including its global anti-terrorism assistance contract, its commercial machine language translation business and its stake in smart-grid company BPL Global.

K. Stuart Shea, Leidos’s chief operating officer, said the company is also looking at its options for at least one other product line. “Bottom line, this is a journey, and we have begun in earnest the process of honing our portfolio.”

— Marjorie Censer

Keeping his memory alive

Ron Kirby is gone, but not forgotten, at the Metropolitan Council of Governments .

The regional body of local leaders, where Kirby served as transportation czar for a quarter-century, unveiled an award in Kirby’s name at its annual meeting Dec. 11. Kirby was shot and killed at his Alexandria home in November. Scott K. York, chairman of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, announced the Ronald F. Kirby Award for Collaborative Leadership at the meeting. It will be given out annually, beginning next year.

— Jonathan O’Connell

Attention motorists: put the phone down.

District-based NeXt has created a mobile app called Heads Up that projects the screen of a smartphone or tablet onto the inside of a car’s windshield. Creators say the set-up allows drivers to make calls, send messages or look-up information without taking their eyes off the road.

Does that make for less distracted driving? You be the judge.

The invention took home the second-place prize of $5,000 in the Mobileys, a contest hosted by a District-based coalition of companies and nonprofits called Mobile First . The organization aims to promote mobile innovation. First place went to Wichita, Kan.-based Page-Out, an app for emergency responders to signal when they cannot respond to calls.

— Steven Overly

Going online

D.C. Health Link officials report that 982 businesses have opened accounts to purchase health care through the city’s new insurance exchange, which was created by the new health care law. It remains to be seen, however, how many of those employers will enroll in one of the 267 plans currently offered through the online portal, which opened on Oct. 1.

— J.D. Harrison

Women ‘there to stay’

There was a time when some of the nation’s most powerful judges did not have their own bathroom.

It wasn’t until 1993, after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg became the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court after Sandra Day O’Connor, that the court installed a women’s bathroom in the justices’ robing area, Ginsburg said last week at an event hosted by the Northern Virginia Technology Council.

That “was a sign that women were there to stay,” said Ginsburg, who was keynote speaker at the event. “Things were changing.”

Ginsburg kept the crowd of business executives at the Hyatt Regency Reston laughing, in a wide-ranging conversation that touched on equal rights, work-life balance, and an opera inspired by her and Justice Antonin Scalia called “Scalia/Ginsburg.”

She called the Supreme Court “the most collegial place” she’s ever worked — though that has not always been the case, as illustrated by a missing photo of the justices from 1916.

“President Wilson appointed Louis Brandeis to the court. Wilson had appointed [James] McReynolds just before. McReynolds didn’t like Jews so much so that when Brandeis spoke at conferences, McReynolds left the room. Every time there’s a new justice, we take photographs. The year Brandeis was appointed, there was no photograph because Justice McReynolds refused to stand next to Justice Brandeis.”

—C.H.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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