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Firm's national REIT practice joins 2007 Chambers list, as Employee Benefits, Corporate M&A, Real Estate, and Healthcare groups maintain positions among top-tier groups

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WASHINGTON/BALTIMORE (July 17, 2007) - Maintaining position as market leaders, Venable LLP attorneys earned impressive accolades from peers and clients in the 2007 edition of the Chambers USA survey of America's leading business lawyers. Chambers USA is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading annual rankings of attorneys and practice groups.

In the 2007 edition of Chambers USA, five of the firm's practice groups - Corporate/M&A, Real Estate, Labor and Employment, Employee Benefits, and Healthcare - were ranked in the top tier for Maryland.

Venable also drew notice at the national level. The firm's REITs practice - noted for its regular role as Maryland counsel to the country's largest REIT transactions - joined Venable's Government Contracts and Financial Services Regulation groups in being named among Chambers' nationally ranked practices. In addition, Venable's Maryland Commercial Litigation, Washington, D.C. Environmental and Real Estate, and Northern Virginia Construction, Corporate/M&A, and Labor and Employment groups were recognized as leaders among their peers.

In all, Chambers cited 31 Venable attorneys among its roster of the country's leading lawyers, including four new additions to the list. Chambers rankings are compiled from extensive interviews with the area's top attorneys and business leaders, legal advisors and general counsel at client firms.

"As we continue to expand nationally and across multiple practices, it's gratifying to see so many Venable attorneys continue to receive recognition from their peers, and more importantly, from our clients," said Venable Chairman James L. Shea. "This year's Chambers listings are a wonderful testament to our growing eminence in a variety of legal disciplines, in our core markets and across the country."

Here are some Venable highlights from the 2007 Chambers survey:
  • The Commercial Litigation group, "a major contender for litigation matters," was described as exhibiting "quality on a par with the biggest national players." Known for his "presence and charisma," Paul Strain was regarded by clients as "responsive and client-friendly." James Gray was praised for his "tough guy approach." Virginia partner William Dolan, "highly regarded by his peers," was noted for his "excellent white-collar work."
  • The Corporate/M&A practice maintained a top ranking in Maryland for the third year in a row and was among the best in Northern Virginia. Noted for excellence in private company work, the corporate group was recognized for "high quality" counsel and "superb service." One Chambers interviewee remarked, "The talent utilized by those representing me was extraordinary and complete in every respect." Tax partner Bryson Cook was cited for his "unusual creativity" and being "dogged in his efforts to keep clients happy." Baltimore partner Jim Hanks, who was also recognized by Chambers for his national REIT work, was praised for "becoming the expert on Maryland corporate issues." Tuck Washburne, Chair of Business Transactions group, was valued for "understanding everybody's position and showing respect to all." Michael Baader, partner in charge of the firm's Baltimore office, was described as "highly practical, with an ability to control the deal." Clients also noted that Virginia partner Thomas France is "meticulous, calm, demanding of himself and courteous in every regard."
  • The top-tier Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation group was praised for being "experienced and smart," with attorneys who "always work with a practical outcome in mind." The team was noted for its work with MBNA (now part of Bank of America), designing and executing the largest voluntary reduction in its workforce that the company has ever implemented. Barbara Schlaff, hailed as one of the best attorneys in the field, "sees through the minutiae and really knows what is going on." Clients found her "popular, easy to work with and high on the list of go-to lawyers."
  • Another top-ranked practice, Labor and Employment, handles "state-of-the-art" work and was recognized for "negotiating highly complex structures." Robert Ames was called "the preeminent traditional labor lawyer - the absolute best," and was noted for his work on union matters and for consistently "producing great results." Jeffrey Ayres, described as "strong without being pushy," is well respected for his deep knowledge of traditional labor law and for being "highly articulate" in court. "Big picture litigator" Ronald Taylor is "an excellent adviser to management," especially well known for his knowledge of employee safety issues. "Exceptionally bright and hard-working," Todd Horn is viewed as "one of the best in town," especially for his "phenomenal presence" and courtroom style. In the firm's Virginia office, "world-class labor lawyer" David Smith was noted for his labor work. "Outstanding lawyer" Gregory Ossi broke onto the list for the first time this year.
  • The full-service Real Estate group, ranked in the top-tier in Maryland, enjoyed special notice for the D.C. office, which was noted for its "high quality both in terms of its work product and lawyers." In the Maryland office, Jim Wright "makes it happen," with an "excellent feel for how a transaction should unfold." "Star of the Bar" practice co-chair Kevin Shepherd was singled out for his "trendsetting" transaction work. A "judge-like erudition" has led clients to claim that Russell Reno "really is the master." His peer group agrees, with one fellow attorney noting, "If we had a complex matter, I would seek his advice." In the Washington office, Stefan Tucker was called hands-down "the best real estate tax lawyer in D.C." by one Chambers admirer. Tucker's "advice goes beyond the usual chapter and verse. He also has an excellent grasp of a company's business objectives." Philip Horowitz, who just completed a term as president of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, is praised as "meticulous" and "extremely committed to his clients." The "excellent" Robert Gottlieb, joining the list for the first time this year, is cited for his mixture of real estate and tax work. In Virginia, "conscientious" Jay Yurow, also making his first Chambers appearance, is praised as "great to work with - when he says he will take care of something, you can trust him."
  • Breaking into the Chambers national REITs rankings for the first time, Venable's REITs practice is "the Maryland REITs counsel of choice." The firm is praised for its commanding role in representing approximately half of the REITs formed in Maryland. The author of the leading treatise on Maryland corporation law, Jim Hanks, called "the don of Maryland corporation law," is "a wonderful man and great service provider." Sharon Kroupa was noted for her former service as an in-house counsel and praised for doing "a phenomenal job."
  • Venable's Environmental Criminal Defense group, "a standout feature," is one of the few D.C. practices of its kind, according to Chambers. Practice co-chair Judson Starr is a "fabulous criminal defense lawyer and a great litigator." Joseph Block was praised as "extremely capable, competent and experienced," while Peggy Strand, who "continues to perform excellently," was acknowledged for her grasp of wetlands and natural resources issues.
  • The Construction group in Virginia, recognized as a national player, was noted for its "ability to provide comprehensive advice on the full spectrum of construction matters, particularly the most complex." Wayne Lalle exhibits "excellent judgment," as well as an "ability to get to the heart of a matter without wasting time - he knows how to achieve success both in the courtroom and outside."
  • The "excellent" full-service Government Contracts practice was noted for its representation of many government contracting companies. The group was cited for offering "sound, practical advice," as well as for its "leading expertise on the intersection between government contracting and IP." Group chair Thomas Madden is "respected by government officials," and has the ability to "see both sides of the issue - he isn't afraid to tell the client they're wrong."
  • The national Financial Services practice, composed of a number of "top-notch" former government regulators, was recognized for its seamless integration of advisory and defense functions in response to regulatory investigations and enforcement. Practice chair Ronald Glancz won applause for his "low-key but very effective manner."
  • Venable's Healthcare group "continues to win the respect of clients" and is praised for its experience with community hospitals and major academic health centers. Handling a large volume of cases, Connie Baker "does a great job on physician privileging issues." "Premier practitioner" Peter Parvis covers a wide swath of issues, and is particularly praised for his deep familiarity with Maryland's complex rate-setting system.

One of the American Lawyer’s top 100 law firms, 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.