BACK TOGETHER AGAIN. Harvard law professor Donald Turner, head of the Justice Department's antitrust division from 1965 to 1968, is returning to Washington next summer to join Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering as - guest what - and antitrust lawyer.
Turner and Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering partner Lloyd Cutler had worked together in the 1950s in the Washington firm of Cox, Langford, Stoddard & Cutler before Turner left private practice to go to Harvard and then to the Justice Department.
The close friendship between the two lawyers was criticized by Ralph Nader and his associate, Mark J. Greon, who complained that Cutler had "open door" entry to Turner's Justice Department office that allowed the firm to pick up new anti-trust clients.
While Nader called the new relationship between Cutler and Turner "a payoff with a 10-year waiting period," Monroe H. Freeman, a member of the D.C. Bar's ethics committee and a strong opponent of the revolving door between government and private practice, saw nothing wrong with it. "I don't see any imporiety or appearance of impropriety," said Freedman.
Turner, who will join the Washington firm July said he and Cutler have been close friends for years. "We were before I went to the antitrust division, we were while I was in the division and we were after I left the division. So what? I have a lot of close lawyer friends," he said.
Bad news for Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering on the fee front. The U.S. Court of Appeals has overturned a District Court decision awarding the firm $160,000 in an employe discrimination case against the Labor Department.
And more significant for law firms throughout the city taking employe discrimination cases, the appeals court proposed a new method of fee payments from the government that would be based on law firm profits - generally considered top secret - rather than hourly rates.
The appeals court made it clear that Uncle Sam can't be considered a "deep pockets" client to be charged the "inflated fees" billed to private industry.
"A standard of unadjusted maximum fees charged by major Washington law firms to their large corporate clients . . . is not the appropriate measure for fees to be charged against a federal agency . . . We find no support . . . for the notion . . . that the United States should be liable to pay . . . the highest fee rates charged by the prevailing attorneys to other clients," the court said.
Wilmer, Cutler lawyers asked for a fee of $205,919.50, which was cut by District Court judge Gerhard A. Gasell. The attorneys said they did 3,602 hours of work on the case, billed at the rate of $51.65 an hour for two associates - Gary D. Wilson and Mary A. McReynolds, who, the court said, had less than two years experience and were assigned to the case within two months of joining the firm and $89.92 an hour for the partner, John H. Harwood II.
The appeals court pointed out that the employes who benefited from the suit gained a total of $31,345 in back pay - about one-fifth of the legal fees.
Marc Feldman, who followed the ancient and honorable practice of reading for the law by apprenticing himself to a group of attorneys instead of going to law school, lost the first round of his court fight to gain permission to take the D.C. Bar Exam.
U.S. District Court Judge June L. Green ruled that an appeal from the D.C. Court of Appeals decision refusing to allow Feldman - a member of the Virginia and Maryland bars - to take the bar exam here can only be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. Feldman's lawyers are looking to the U.S. Court of Appeals to overturn Judge Green's decision.
The case has become a battle of the city's legaltitans, with Covington & Burling representing Feldman and Arnold & Porter representing the judges of the D.C. Court of Appeals.
The D.C. Bas has called for the transcript of two days of Senate Ethics Committee hearings into charges that Washington lawyers for Sen. Edward W. Brooke - Charles H. Morin and Barry Levine - had stalled on handing over some papers to the committee and altered other documents.
The charges were made by the committee's former counsel. Richard J. Wertheimer of Arnold & Porter. While the committee cleared Brooke of altering or withholding documents, it left open the question of whether his attorneys did so.
The request for the transcript is an indication the Bar is considering the possibility that Brooke's lawyers may have violated disciplinary rules governing the practice of law in Washington.
There's a big backlog of applications for membership in the D.C. Bar due to a change of rules that look effect April 1. People who submitted applications in February and March for admission without taking the bar exam - because they were members of bars in other states - are just getting word as to whether they have been accepted.
Anthony Nigro, secretary to the admission committee, said more than 6,000 lawyers rushed to get their applications in before the new rules, which tightened requirements.
Oops. Sorry. William Cummings is still U.S. Attorney for the eastern district of Virginia even though the Carter administration considered replacing him earlier this year. Cummings now expects to finish out his term, which ends in six months.
The Federal Bar Journal published a paper by Catholic University law student K. Gregory Tucker critical of the way the U.S. Supreme Court disciplines lawyers admitted to practice before it. The paper originally was written for a course in legal ehtics taught by Washington attorney Joseph Borkin.