Here are the four Washington lawyers most frequently mentioned when firms make their wish lists, according to recruiters:
William R. McLucas
A former chief of enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission, McLucas made his name -- and millions of dollars -- conducting internal investigations for the corporate boards of scandal-beset clients. A list of the companies he has investigated reads like a corporate police blotter: Enron Corp., WorldCom Inc. and, more recently, the Canadian technology firm Nortel Networks Corp.
McLucas, 53, said he is staying put at the Washington law firm Wilmer Cutler Pickering LLP for now because of its congenial environment and its reliable stable of securities lawyers he can turn to on short notice. That is despite incessant inquiries from headhunters and partners at other law firms seeking to lure him away. "It's doable, but with a lot of time and worry," he said. "Here I have lawyers I wouldn't go down the block without."
Reid H. Weingarten
The ubiquitous former Pennsylvania federal prosecutor recently asked for a delay of the criminal trial of former WorldCom chief executive Bernard J. Ebbers. The reason? He was simply too busy.
Weingarten, 54, is defending the former general counsel of Tyco International Ltd., who is now on trial in New York. He also represents Enron's former chief accountant in a trial likely to start next year. Weingarten has been with Washington's Steptoe & Johnson LLP for 17 years and is known for a hard-nosed approach to fighting the government. Recently he called a New York prosecutor a "petulant grade-school bully."
Those hard edges have not kept Weingarten off the headhunters' dream team, said D.C. recruiter Cynthia Sitcov, who calls his high-profile legal practice "very desirable."
Stephen M. Cutler
The top cop at the SEC, Cutler, 43, has presided over lawsuits against some of the nation's biggest companies and corporate officials, from Adelphia Communications Corp. to Xerox Corp., in nearly three years as the agency's enforcement director.
He also has had a prominent role in settling complaints about mutual-fund trading practices and abuses by Wall Street stock analysts.
The understated former partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering receives dozens of calls from recruiters these days, SEC insiders say.
There is no public sign that Cutler, who declined to talk about his job prospects, wants to leave his current post, despite its breakneck pace.
Leslie R. Caldwell
Leslie Caldwell is the outgoing head of the Justice Department task force investigating fraud at Enron Corp. Under her watch, prosecutors charged nearly 30 people connected to the Houston energy trader, including former chief executive Jeffrey K. Skilling.
Caldwell, 46, a no-nonsense figure whose fairness has drawn praise from defense lawyers, said she was leaving in March and has negotiated with several law firms since.
In her long experience in government she has gone from putting gang members behind bars in Brooklyn to winning complex corporate fraud cases in Silicon Valley. Assistant Attorney General Christopher A. Wray has said Caldwell's approach in the Enron cases was "extremely effective in bringing to justice those responsible for perhaps the most notorious corporate scandal in U.S. history."
Caldwell has not said which law firm she will join.