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Advertising and Marketing Group wins Award for Excellence; Ten Venable attorneys join this year's Chambers ranks; Commercial Litigation, Healthcare, Employee Benefits, Corporate M&A, Labor & Employment, Real Estate groups sweep top-tier of Maryland practices

WASHINGTON/BALTIMORE (June 17, 2010) – Venable LLP recently bested last year's Chambers USA rankings, with 48 attorneys at the firm now named among the best in their fields in the eighth annual survey covering America’s leading business lawyers.

On the national level, the firm’s Advertising and Marketing group took home the 2010 Chambers US Award for Excellence, having been chosen from more than 20 leading practices around the country. Venable’s Government Contracts and Financial Services groups also performed strongly in this year’s national rankings.

In the recently released 2010 directory, seven Venable practice groups – Advertising Litigation, Corporate/M&A, Labor & Employment, Real Estate, General Commercial Litigation, Healthcare, and Employee Benefits – were ranked in band one, the directory's top tier, for their jurisdiction. Many other Venable practices were also recognized for outstanding work in Washington, DC and Virginia.

Venable made particularly strong advances in two Maryland categories – Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation; and Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions – adding three new attorneys to each of their rankings. For ten Venable attorneys, 2010 marked their first Chambers appearance; these attorneys include Harry Atlas, Kenneth Hoffman, Roger Colaizzi, Jeffrey Knowles, Anthony Rosso, Douglas McDonald, Charles Morton, Richard Powers, Thora Johnson and Michael Pedone.

Of the 48 Venable attorneys on the Chambers USA roster of the country’s leading lawyers, 14 were ranked at the very top of the profession in their areas of practice.

Chambers directories are compiled from extensive surveys of clients and lawyers, including in-depth interviews with law firm attorneys and in-house counsel. Chambers is renowned globally for its annual rankings of leading lawyers and practice groups, and is among the most-used legal guides by in-house counsel.

“Our significant gains in this year's rankings show that Venable's commitment to client service and our strategic vision are paying dividends,” said Venable Managing Partner Karl Racine. “The expansion of our presence in the Chambers rankings, as well as bringing home our second consecutive Award for Excellence, demonstrates that we are operating at the top of the practice areas in which we are ranked."

Here are some Venable highlights from this year’s Chambers USA survey/directory:

New to this year's list are two rankings for Venable's Advertising and Marketing group, based in DC. The team was noted for its depth and excellence across the board in litigation, transactional and regulatory advertising matters. Chambers noted the team's prominence in electronic retailing and direct marketing matters and for an impressive client list. Sources added that "they really shine in crisis management. They know the language and how to defuse a situation." Roger Colaizzi was called an "astute and tenacious litigator" and peers were impressed with his performance in false advertising cases. "Few attorneys know more about direct marketing” than Jeffrey Knowles, who was given a nod for his work in response to the FTC's proposed revisions to the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Joining Venable's Advertising practice with a first-time nod is the Energy Group, ranked by Chambers in the Oil & Gas Regulatory category. The group garnered a ranking with its work representing shippers in FERC litigation against pipelines, and advising various industrial customers on their dealings with oil & natural gas pipelines. Richard Powers was appreciated by clients for his approachable manner and his "ability to make you feel like you are the most important thing in his life."

Also prominent in the national rankings was Venable's REITs Practice, which was listed as a go-to firm for Maryland matters, representing over half of the 60% of REITs formed in the state. Jim Hanks was described as "simply an exceptional guy for Maryland REIT issues." Venable partner Sharon Kroupa was praised by clients for being "smart, creative and always available."

The National Financial Services Regulatory team was ranked again this year – the group also received a first-time nod for their work on the Banking Compliance side. According to the guide, clients value the firm's innovative advice and commitment and called Venable attorneys "incredibly smart and responsive – everything you could want in legal advisers." Chambers called group chair Ronald Glancz a greatly respected practitioner, seen as a leader by both peers and clients. He received plaudits for his work with several troubled institutions and their employees in connection with investigations and enforcement proceedings. "When we need to understand the politics of what to do, we call Ron," a client revealed.

The firm's Government Contracts group was recommended for its practical, business-focused advice. Sources said "these tenacious lawyers are committed to delivering great results." Thomas Madden was noted as "an influential figure in the government contracts Bar." Venable's Privacy and Data Security practice was listed as a prime destination in Washington, DC for innovative, behavior-targeted advertising work. Clients noted that "the firm is well received on the Hill and has a strong rapport with the FTC." One client said that Stuart Ingis "has a fabulous understanding of the complicated regulatory environment surrounding marketing privacy." Another called Emilio Cividanes "a terrific resource in all matters involving the FTC." The Products Liability National team was also ranked by Chambers and trial lawyer Paul Strain was described by peers as "terrific on his feet."

The firm's Maryland-based Corporate/M&A group saw the addition of three attorneys to this year's list. The group is well regarded for its full range of work and close cooperation with Venable's bankruptcy group – "this outstanding team is strong on complicated legal issues, and can answer our questions deeply, thoroughly and quickly," said Chambers sources. Bryson Cook is described as "a brilliant attorney" who is well known and highly regarded throughout the state. James Hanks was called "the dean of corporate law in Maryland." Michael Baader is "a savvy operator who does an excellent job – he always keeps his eye on the deal." Thomas Washburne was regarded for his work regularly advising on M&A and corporate law, as well as on matters relating to federal securities issues. Clients praised Charles Morton for his M&A and financing agreement work, saying he is "quick to share his expertise, and unwavering in his commitment to us." Recent lateral partner Anthony Rosso was called "an excellent negotiator" and was praised by a client as "a top-notch attorney whom I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone." Michael Pedone was noted as an up and comer who "combines a detailed approach with a good overall grasp of legal and business issues."

The Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation group also added three attorneys to its Chambers rankings. Clients said "we highly recommend this team. The attorneys are enjoyable to work with and what they produce is always great." Barbara Schlaff impresses with her knowledge of deferred compensation retirement plans, executive compensation, welfare plans and other benefit programs. Newly listed attorneys Harry Atlas "thinks creatively but realistically," Kenneth Hoffman provides "excellent technical, strategic and practical advice and solutions" and Thora Johnson was praised for her ability to "spot things coming up on the horizon that she can help us with."

Clients called Venable's Healthcare group "one of the best legal healthcare firms in Maryland," and said that "this impressive team combines technical expertise with excellent political insight." Constance Baker is acclaimed for her leading healthcare practice that encompasses advice on regulatory compliance, medical staff issues, physician peer reviews and state licensing board matters. Peter Parvis was called "a pleasure to work with – his expertise and client service are of the highest caliber."

Venable's kudos didn't stop with the Labor and Employment team, which was called "undoubtedly one of the leading labor and employment firms in Maryland." The group was praised throughout the market for the strength of its labor and employment practice. Jeffrey Ayres was praised for his thorough and intelligent approach. Todd Horn was lauded for his employment litigation practice and his expertise in complex cases. Robert Ames was singled out for his knowledge of issues affecting the healthcare industry. Ronald Taylor was highly recommended by clients for his broad range of expertise, particularly in OSHA law issues.

The Maryland Litigation group was highly regarded as a local litigation team and noted for its work in product liability, toxic torts and labor and employment-related matters. Chambers' sources said "this firm's lawyers are plainly at the top level of litigators and trial lawyers in Maryland." Paul Strain was noted for his decades of experience litigating cases involving complex technological and scientific issues. James Gray received praise for the diversity of his practice, which covers commercial disputes, insurance coverage claims, IP litigation and products liability cases.

The Maryland Real Estate group is highly respected for the strength of its local real estate presence and ability to advise clients on the full range of real estate issues. According to Chambers, "this excellent firm houses a number of extremely distinguished attorneys," including Russell Reno who is "one of the doyens of real estate law in Maryland." Kevin Shepherd was recognized as one of the driving forces behind the firm's real estate work and James Wright was held in high esteem for his decades of real estate experience.

In the DC office, the Environmental group was noted for their range of environmental criminal defense, civil and regulatory environmental matters and won plaudits as "a terrific firm with very strong players who are always responsive to our concerns." Practice group leader Judson Starr was regarded by clients as "the absolute best at the white-collar Bar; he has environmental criminal matters locked up." Joseph Block was also recognized for his criminal expertise, while Douglas Green "has been in the business a long time and is well respected for his work." Margaret Strand was noted for her work focusing on federal wetlands law, ESA matters, natural resources and pollution control, as well as her work relating to the National Harbor development in Maryland.

Clients know the DC Real Estate group as "a thorough team that protects us legally while taking a welcome business approach to our issues." Philip Horowitz was noted for being "great at finding workable solutions to difficult issues thanks to his wide knowledge of the real estate industry." Practice chair Robert Gottlieb was highlighted as "a good, tough deal-maker who does an excellent job of coordinating and managing resources." Chambers also called "Dean of the real estate Bar" Stefan Tucker "a phenomenal lawyer and a big-name draw for the firm."

Venable's Virginia Construction group, which handles large matters such as complex infrastructure and industry projects like refineries and power plants, is respected for their strength in civil litigation. Clients were said to appreciate the group's "accommodating approach; Venable understands the need to accomplish work at the lowest staff level reasonably possible." Wayne Lalle was said to excel in negotiations and was called a skilled trial lawyer. "His grasp of the law and complex technical and engineering issues is impressive," revealed one client.

The Real Estate lawyers in Virginia were called out by clients as being "user-friendly, punctual and client-focused." Jay Yurow, Tyson's office partner-in-charge, was described as a highly regarded transactional attorney. According to one client, "Jay stays on top of a deal and informs you of its progress. He always keeps his eye on things from a business point of view." One client said of Douglas McDonald: "Doug is so responsive sometimes I feel like his only client." Zoning and land use partner John Milliken was noted by peers as "one of the strongest land use attorneys around. He is very seasoned and experienced." Erika Byrd was also named as a highly regarded land use and zoning practitioner. Henry Brandenstein was noted for his excellence in real estate and for his commercial litigation practice.

Also appearing in the Virginia rankings is Venable's Corporate/M&A group. A client said Joseph Schmelter "has a great way about him and does a nice job." Thomas France was highlighted by peers for his work on debt securities matters. The Virginia Labor and Employment group was noted as handling a wide range of activities and one client called the group's members "extremely capable attorneys, who I enjoy working with." Clients said David Smith "handles projects beautifully, producing huge returns for clients" and Gregory Ossi "is great at communicating with union representatives on the other side of the bargaining table." Virginia litigation attorney William Dolan was called "a lion of the Bar and a true gentleman practicing in the rough and tumble world of white-collar criminal law."

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Note:  An American Lawyer top 100 law firm, Venable LLP has attorneys practicing in all areas of corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and government affairs. Venable serves corporate, institutional, governmental, nonprofit and individual clients throughout the U.S. and around the world from its headquarters in Washington, D.C. and offices in California, Maryland, New York and Virginia.