Legal briefs: Howrey loses more lawyers

By Amanda Becker
Monday, February 21, 2011

Groups of local attorneys continued to splinter off from the law firm Howrey last week, as the bulk of the beleaguered firm's remaining partners weigh offers to join Chicago's Winston & Strawn.

Just days after the Cleveland firm Jones Day announced it had brought on intellectual property attorneys William Rooklidge and Frank P. Coté from Howrey's Irvine, Calif., office, a source within the firm confirmed that a group of seven Howrey attorneys in San Francisco would be making the move, along with construction attorneys Andrew D. Ness and Kevin O'Brien here in the District.

Fellow Howrey construction attorneys Barbara G. Werther and Stephen D. Palley opted for the Washington office of Baltimore's Ober Kaler Grimes & Shriver, the firm announced on Feb. 15. Intellectual property partner Mark Whitaker, meanwhile, landed at Baker Botts in the District.

Howrey Vice Chairman Sean F.X. Boland characterized the recent departures as friendly.

"Most of the people who have left, particularly in the last month or two, really have been leaving due to [client] conflicts with respect to the other firms that have made overtures to Howrey," Boland said. "It's a real issue, it's a serious issue, and when you're with a firm like ours that is litigation oriented, it makes it much more difficult."

Facebook friends K Street

Facebook plans on making lots of friends in Washington.

Two firms registered to lobby on the behalf of the social networking site last week, with the Republican shop Fierce, Isakowitz & Blalock reporting it represents Facebook on technology issues as of Feb. 1 and the Democratic shop Elmdendorf Ryan filing a retroactive report that also covers lobbying activity beginning in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Though Facebook spent about $207,000 on federal lobbying in 2009 and $351,000 in 2010, according to Center for Responsive Politics data, this is the first time the social networking company has hired outside lobbyists. The move comes as the Silicon Valley firm tries to bolster its presence in the District, with plans to move into a new facility that can accommodate a larger in-house team slated for this spring.

Patton Boggs clients win judgment

The environmental case pitting Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher against Patton Boggs reached its conclusion in Ecuador last week, with a court there fining Chevron $9 billion for environmental devastation caused by its excavation for oil.

The two law firms likely have plenty of time to continue their tussle over whether Patton Boggs's involvement in the case is a conflict of interest and if Gibson's tactics amount to intimidation. Chevron's legal team at Gibson had already convinced a federal judge to block any verdict levied against the oil company, which called the judgment an "illegitimate and unenforceable . . . product of fraud."

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