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Bethesda Lawyer Who Argued Before High Court Kills Self in Office on Layoff Day

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By Del Quentin Wilber and Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, May 1, 2009

A 59-year-old lawyer with an Atlanta-based firm who was about to lose his job because of the economy was found dead in his Washington office yesterday of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to police.

Mark I. Levy, a Bethesda resident who was a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration, was discovered by a co-worker about 8 a.m. in his 11th-floor office at Kilpatrick Stockton, in the 600 block of 14th Street NW, police said. They said evidence indicates that Levy shot himself in the head with a .38-caliber handgun.

The firm would not comment on his death beyond issuing a statement calling him a "highly respected" colleague and offering condolences to his family.

Kilpatrick Stockton, which employs scores of people in offices in the United States, Europe and the United Arab Emirates, announced Tuesday that 24 lawyers would be laid off.

Based on detectives' interviews, police learned that Levy had been told he was among those being let go, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the case. Kilpatrick Stockton's Web site says Levy was head of the firm's Supreme Court and Appellate Advocacy Practice. He argued 16 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court during his career, it says.

Another source familiar with the case, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is not complete, said that yesterday would have been Levy's last day at work and that he was given four months of severance pay.

Diane Prucino, a co-managing partner of the century-old firm in Atlanta, confirmed the layoffs Tuesday in a statement quoted by the Fulton County Daily Report.

"These actions are driven by the economic downturn," she said, adding that the belt-tightening was "structured to further the long-term success of the firm and to enhance the achievement of our strategic goals."

The source said Levy left a note in his home saying he loved his family and instructing his wife on how to handle finances and other matters. He apparently had spent some time recently getting his affairs in order, the source said.

The source said Levy's 20-year-old son found the note yesterday morning and called Montgomery County police.

An officer was at the home when someone called from the law firm. The officer spoke with the caller, learned of the suicide and then told the family, according to the source.

Computer records show that Levy swiped his entrance card to get into the building at 607 14th St. from a parking garage about 5:30 a.m., the source said, adding that Levy was the registered owner of the handgun.

According to his biography on the firm's Web site, Levy was a Yale Law School graduate who joined the Justice Department in 1993 as deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Division, overseeing 60 lawyers handling appellate litigation.


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