WRITTEN BY CHRISS W. STREET
Premier Washington DC criminal attorney William W. Taylor III of the ethics and government investigations firm, Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, just announced that his new client Lois G. Lerner, the now infamous Director of the Internal Revenue Service Tax-Exempt Organization Division, will exercise her right against self-incrimination by pleading the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution in order to avoid answering questions when she testifies today before the House Oversight Committee. With multiple scandals raging and Friends of Obama having to “lawyer-up” at hourly rates of $600 to $2000 per hour, Washington DC is now the boom town for lawyers.
After evidence emerged from the Treasury Inspector General’s Report and Congressional testimony, the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” awarded Ms. Lerner “Four Pinocchio’s” for maximum lack of truth in her statements regarding discriminatory treatment by the IRS against conservative organizations since 2010. As I pointed out earlier this week in Did Executive Branch Violate IRS Code 6103, the punishment for each individual disclosure of tax information is up to 5 years in prison and $5,000 in fine per disclosure. With the IRS staff and members of the Executive Branch appearing to have discriminated against at least 471 conservative organization and tens of thousands of their members, the civil and criminal risks to members of the Obama’s Executive Branch who are accused of committing wrong-doing, are enormous.
William W. Taylor III has an outstanding legal reputation for handling high profile cases and Ms. Lerner will pay $2000 per hour for the privilege of using his services. Taylor obtained dismissal of all criminal charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who was accused of sexual assault in a New York City hotel. He also quietly settled Mr. Strauss-Kahn related civil suit. He obtained a full exoneration for the former chief of the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice in independent counsel and internal investigations of prosecutorial misconduct related to the prosecution of the late Senator Ted Stevens. He also led a team of attorneys who obtained dismissal of all claims brought by New York Attorney General Elliott Spitzer against Kenneth Langone, the former Chair of the New York Stock Exchange Compensation Committee, relating to $140 million golden parachute paid to NYSE President Richard Grasso as the market crashed in 2008.
The average compensation for law firm partners in Washington D.C. and Northern Virginiarose from $702,000 in 2010 to $798,000 in 2012. According to the survey of 74,000 law firm partners in more than 70 U.S. cities, D.C. now ranks third behind Silicon Valley at $1.2 million and New York at $1 million in average partner pay. Average billing rates for D.C. lawyers were up 9% from $608 per hour in 2010 to $662 per hour in 2012. DC legal billing rates are now the fourth-highest in the U.S., only trailing New York at $760 per hour, Silicon Valley at $732 per hour and Boston at $687 per hour.
According to Economic Modeling Specialists Inc., Washington DC had the highest ratio of job openings for lawyers versus the number graduating from local universities and passing the bar of any city in the United States. Last year, there were 618 new jobs opening, but only 273 bar-passers. Nationwide, the National Center for Education Statistics estimates there were 44,159 new law grads passing the bar last year and only 26,239 job openings.
High level Obama Administration executives caught up in the scandals are facing millions of dollars in legal costs that will economically destroy them. With demand high and supply low, the burgeoning number of scandals spinning out of Washington DC will surely drive legal billing rates much higher. Unemployment and stagnant wages may be a national problem, but scandal represents a new bonanza for Washington DC lawyers.
CHRISS STREET & PAUL PRESTON
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