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11/28/06

Cooley Godward strengthens government contracts group


Cooley Godward Kronish raided rival firm DLA Piper to add two established names to its list of partners. The new entrants, Gregory A. Smith and Kevin P. Mullen, are prominent government contracts attorneys who joined the firm's Washington, DC office. They will be attached to the Government Contracts practice group, a recent expansion in the existing practice areas of the firm. The duo, who has to their credit experiences spanning more than five decades, was earlier associated with DLA Piper in the same area of practice.

Apart from adding teeth to its Government Contracts practice group, Cooley Godward is also highly confident that the addition will allow them to serve clients better due to the duo's vast experience and expertise in the sector. The legal market in the sector, augmented by the rise in government and industry relations, as well as escalation in business ties between individuals and the government sectors has seen an increase in the demand for attorneys in the related field. Its attorneys provide both a wide range of counseling and litigation services to clients ranging from negotiations with government agencies to bid protests, contract actions, and termination disputes.

A full-service firm Cooley Godward Kronish's 580 attorneys spread over its 7 offices serves a vast array of clients from diverse industry sectors.

Why lawyers shy away from becoming lawmakers
Lawyers, who wish to turn into lawmakers, have to do so for a price, literally. The two most major deterrents in this respect are time and money. Lawyers not only have to withstand extra long hours, but also have to do without the lucre of precious billable hours, which accounts for their perennially dwindling numbers in the state legislatures. Often they leave the government sector at all stages in their careers to enter the more profitable private practice of law. However, realizing this factor, many companies now allow their attorneys the leg room to juggle between sessions and additionally try to compensate for the financial discrepancy.

The legislature needs attorneys to ensure proper constitutional drafting of legislation, in the greater context of the interest of society as a whole as well to help their counterparts understand the basics while negotiating compromises. Some legislators also argue that taxpayers must shell out more to tackle the shortcomings. Even though the legislation provides assistance for drafting bills, qualified lawyers are more adept to such legal language and can be faster and more efficient in writing statutory language and debating.

Lawyers lose up to the tune of $50,000 in salary a year by serving in the Legislature. The Senate does not compensate for the loss of income from reduced billable hours for the lawyers. Bill Corrigan, a partner at Armstrong Teasdale LLP and former president of the Missouri Bar Association, via bizjournals.com, states that rising campaign costs as well as lengthy sessions deter lawyers from serving the public office. Corrigan says that the legislature and its works should not be predominantly a lawyer's domain. However, to motivate lawyers into becoming lawmakers, they should be given the opportunity to work both as a lawyer as well as a legislator. In this context, Corrigan opines that law firms should be flexible enough to accommodate such lawyers.

According to Kansas Bar Association, 20 lawyers occupy state legislative seats in Kansas. Missouri's General Assembly has 25. The prime reason for the general apathy is because of the extra long sessions, special as well as general, other committee meetings, and speaking assignments that they have to honor. Along with the financial loss, the rising costs of ordinary senatorial campaign worsen the situation.

Firms recognize the need for lawyers in the legislature because of their ability to explain, assist in drafting bills and give feedback on possible legislation. Therefore, most firms now accommodate lawyers who keep switching hats the between private and public sector to keep in tune with the need to serve the senate as well firm's exclusive clientele.


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