For the first time in a legal career that spans nearly half a century, Stanley Sporkin is striking out on his own.

In the 1960s and '70s, Sporkin was one of the first enforcement watchdogs at the Securities and Exchange Commission. Next he became the top lawyer at the CIA. President Ronald Reagan several years later named him to a high-profile federal judgeship in the District.

Until his retirement in 2000, Sporkin cultivated a reputation for being an outspoken, results-oriented judge. From the bench he famously threw out an early antitrust settlement that the Justice Department struck with Microsoft and rejected on procedural grounds the Senate's bid to impeach U.S. District Judge Alcee L. Hastings (currently a member of the House of Representatives).

Now, at 75, Sporkin is trying something new.

He's hung out his own shingle as a lawyer and consultant, signing on as a part-time ombudsman for troubled petroleum giant BP and filling out his time by working as an arbitrator and mediator at Gavel Consulting Group. He says his favorite part of the job involves advising companies on how to keep in line with securities laws.

"What I enjoy is being able to consult with people," he said. "We've become such cookie cutters that we've lost common sense."

Sporkin continues to work out of the I Street NW office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges, the law firm where he was a partner before resigning last year because of client conflicts with his BP assignment.

Unlike some fledgling solo practitioners, he's got more than enough work. "The last thing I need to do is advertise," he said.

-- Carrie Johnson