Solicitor General Theodore B. Olson, a prominent conservative and the Bush administration's top attorney for three years, is returning next week to his former law firm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Olson, 63, will lead the firm's client crisis management team and serve as co-chair of the appellate and constitutional law practice group, along with Miguel Estrada in Washington and Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. in Los Angeles.

Boutrous said in an interview that Olson's practice had always had a public policy component and that it would do so again, coming up with solutions for complex legal issues that might involve legislative and regulatory considerations before litigation becomes necessary.

"He is uniquely qualified to work with clients to develop strategies to address their legal problems in a framework that addresses relevant social and policy concerns, while being sensitive to the media and other relevant constituencies," managing partner Ken Doran said in a statement.

Washingtonian magazine reported in November that Olson planned to return to the firm and that Gibson Dunn had kept his office available for him. After announcing last month that he was stepping down as solicitor general, Olson said he had not decided if he would return to Gibson Dunn.

Boutrous said that he always hoped Olson would return -- "We're a family" -- but that "no decisions had been made until now."

Olson gained wide national notice when he represented George W. Bush before the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore, winning the ruling that halted the Florida vote recount and resulted in Bush capturing the presidency.

Olson -- whose wife, Barbara, was killed on the jetliner that crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001 -- had been at the forefront of the Bush administration's legal campaign against terrorism, defending expanded surveillance powers under the USA Patriot Act and arguing for extensive presidential control over detainees.

Abramoff to Start Company

Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff is untying his ties to Cassidy & Associates and forming his own company, Middle Gate Ventures.

It was just in March that Abramoff, who has been close to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), signed an exclusive contract with Cassidy for him to steer lobbying business to the company.

Middle Gate Ventures will be his vehicle for pursuing such business opportunities as energy projects, real estate development and motion picture production -- no lobbying. (In the 1980s, he produced such action films as "Red Scorpion" and "Spear of Destiny.")

Abramoff had set aside his lobbying practice to deal with investigations into his work since resigning from Greenberg Traurig law firm in March after a Washington Post report disclosed his Indian lobbying fees totaling $15.1 million since 2001 and more than $30 million in fees from the tribes to Capitol Campaign Strategies, a company run by former DeLay spokesman Michael Scanlon.

"I greatly appreciate Gerry Cassidy giving me the chance to transition from my last law firm to this new opportunity and I especially appreciate his team providing a place for so many of my former colleagues," Abramoff said. "Now I would like to pursue my own ventures, many of which are far removed from lobbying and government."

Cassidy & Associates put out a nice statement wishing him well, adding, "His former staff who have joined our firm have been and will continue to be tremendous assets." The shop declined to say what clients Abramoff referred to it.

Livingston Group Hires Ex-GPhA Official

Steve Bende, a former HIV/AIDS researcher and administrator at the National Institutes of Health and more recently vice president for scientific affairs at the Generic Pharmaceuticals Association (GPhA), has affiliated with the Livingston Group.

He also founded Science & Policy Strategies, a consulting firm.

"With his science background, communication expertise and big picture strategic vision, Steve possesses the unique ability to bring credibility to policy positions in the health science arena," Bob Livingston, a former Republican House member, said in a statement.

Bende, who left GPhA in April, said that he is just setting up his practice but that he plans to do everything from strategic and business development advice to science advice and lobbying.

Group Sponsors Clothing Drive

They may not get any Gucci loafers, but the American League of Lobbyists is seeking men's and women's "gently used" business clothes for low-income job applicants. The group is sponsoring its first Capitol PurSuit Drive, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on July 14 in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building.

Furthermore . . .

Grass-roots specialist Rory Davenport has left Fleishman-Hillard for Hill and Knowlton, where he is a senior vice president and director of the public affairs practice of its D.C. office.

Zach DeWaters, a legislative representative for the National Association of Development Organizations and earlier an aide to Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-Mo.), has joined Chwat & Co. as vice president of government relations.