In these dog days of summer, Hearsay has little news to report. So, while vacationing elsewhere, we were studiously eschewing those real-life TV shows as well as those surreal political TV shows last week. Instead, Hearsay's thoughts have turned to baseball. Baseball, you ask? What does that have to do with lawyers? You thought this was the lawyers' column.
We'll get to that. First, Hearsay feels compelled to disclose some biases. Hearsay believes that baseball should return to Washington. And we don't mean Northern Virginia. Hearsay believes baseball belongs in cities, not in freeway-clogged suburbs. And we think that baseball's owners need to act now to restore the national pastime to our nation's capital lest lawmakers decide to convene congressional hearings to review baseball's exemption from antitrust laws.
Hearsay has a lot in common with Paul Wolff and Steve Porter because that's what they think, too (well, maybe not that part about the antitrust laws). Wolff and Porter are the duo behind the scheme to return baseball to Washington. And of course Wolff and Porter are lawyers. What other profession is more representative of Washington?
Porter and Wolff are counting on counselors to back the cause.
"In every other city in which sports franchises thrive, you need the support of those industries there," Porter said. "You need the support of the major institutions, particularly in the downtown area. You hope that people are going to pour out of their offices at the end of the day and stroll over to a baseball game."
Wolff and Porter approached this task like good lawyers. They analyzed the case history, studied the facts, looked at the jurists who will make this decision and developed a strategic plan. For years, the longtime friends have talked about baseball, what it means to them and what it meant to the cities where they grew up (Wolff in Kansas City, Mo., and Porter in Milwaukee).
They both are longtime civic activists at two of the District's most prominent law firms. Wolff, 59, is a partner at Williams & Connolly and Porter, 61, is a partner at Arnold & Porter. In the spring of 1999, Wolff was chairman of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission's budget and finance committee and Porter was chairman of the D.C. Chamber of Commerce's baseball-exploratory committee. With the city rebounding, the time seemed right.
"The city was clearly on the return," Wolff said. "Everything looked great for the 'new' District of Columbia. Now it is put-up or shut-up time. We sat down and we put together a list of people and we started talking to people."
The most important recruit was Fred Malek. As founder and chairman of the Thayer Capital Partners investment firm, Malek has the means to buy and run a baseball team. He also has a history with the owners because he was part owner of the Texas Rangers. Rounding out the investment team are Jim Kimsey of America Online Inc., real estate investor Joe Robert and Franklin D. Raines, another prominent lawyer and chief executive of Fannie Mae.
Now, the duo is waiting--waiting for the owners to decide whether to move any of a cluster of failing baseball teams to Washington. Oh, there is that matter of Baltimore lawyer-owner Peter Angelos complaining about losing Orioles fans from Washington. But we regard that as nothing more than whining nonsense.
Hello, Senate Judiciary Chairman Orrin G. Hatch? Have you looked at that antitrust exemption for baseball lately?
Better Than a Name on the Door
A trend among big law firms is to name their buildings after famous lawyers from their firms. Arnold & Porter is headquartered in the Thurman Arnold building, named for FDR's famous trustbuster and co-founder of the firm. The Edward Bennett Williams Building houses Williams & Connolly and is named for the titan of the law and politics and famous litigator who co-founded the prominent Washington firm.
Now, Clifford Chance Rogers & Wells is making an effort to reclaim some of the history lost when a merger with a London firm gave Rogers & Wells the back seat in the firm's name. Clifford Chance is christening a building in the District the William P. Rogers Building. The name, of course, comes from the Rogers & Wells named partner who was President Eisenhower's attorney general and secretary of state under President Nixon. Rogers is 87 and still a senior partner of the firm he founded. He and wife Adele keep residences in New York City and Bethesda.
The building at 2001 K St. NW was just leased by the firm for 15 years. When the firm moves in next year, Clifford Chance will occupy the top three floors with 200 lawyers and support staff, growth that reflects expansion in (what else?) intellectual property practice.
Associates Buck a Stereotype
Maybe they're not so greedy after all. More than 1,100 associates have helped the Legal Aid Society for the District of Columbia exceed its goal of $155,000 by nearly $20,000. Perhaps the trick was that gimmicky Web site address, www.generousassociates.com, which played off the greedy-associate sites. It is a good thing too: The society, for the first time in 66 years, has a $1 million budget and is adding two lawyers.
Another going dot-com: After 32 years with Baker & McKenzie, John C. Klotsche joined the eLawForum legal services exchange as managing director of international operations. Klotsche, former chairman of Baker & McKenzie, has also become a major investor in Washington-based eLawForum and a board member. . . . Patently leaving: Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering snagged a new D.C. partner in John W. Ryan, who is departing as co-chairman of Dorsey & Whitney's patent practice group; three other patent lawyers are coming along.
Hearsay goes to bat every other week in Washington Business. Send your box scores to email@example.com.