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WASHINGTON/BALTIMORE (June 10, 2005) – Venable LLP practice groups and attorneys received a strong showing in the third annual lawyers directory from Chambers USA as part of its survey of America’s leading business lawyers.

In the Chambers directory for 2005, Venable’s Government Contracts group received a national ranking.  Four other Venable practice groups – Employment Defense, Real Estate, Corporate/M&A, and General Commercial Litigation – were ranked in the top tier for Maryland. Additionally, the firm’s Washington-based Environmental group and the Virginia-based Construction group were recognized among the market leaders.  The total number of Venable attorneys cited in the new book increased to 29, up from 23 last year.

Chambers’s rankings are compiled from interviews with top business leaders and legal advisors.

“We’re pleased to see that our recognition factor in Chambers has increased in the past year across a broad range of practice areas,” said James L. Shea, Venable’s managing partner.  “It’s especially satisfying knowing that Chambers bases its results on interviews with peer attorneys, business leaders and clients – it’s the ultimate endorsement of our firm’s talent.”

Here are some highlights from this year’s Chambers survey:
  • In a new Chambers category this year, the national Government Contracts group is noted for the “sizable team” it possesses and “both the technical legal skills and an understanding of the nuances in government contracts to secure its place as a national leader in the field.”  The group advises on costs and accounting, bid protests, suspension and debarment issues, as well as a growing volume of MAS (Multiple Award Schedule) contract matters.  Practice chair Thomas Madden is cited as an “expert with a unique practice” in intellectual property issues under government contracts.
  • The top-tier Employment Defense practice was described as “responsive, knowledgeable, client focused and easy to work with.” Jeffrey Ayres is admired for inspiring “utmost trust and confidence.” The “time-efficient and highly personable” Ronald Taylordoesn't have to spend time getting up to speed on the basics he's such an expert, he can get to the heart of the matter very quickly.”  He is also “extremely responsive you can get hold of him any time of the day or night.”  Robert Ames, “encountered just about everything under the sun he's got a huge breadth of experience and combines pragmatism with aggressive presentation in litigation.”  Cited for his work on discrimination claims, George Johnston was praised as a “sharp and accomplished litigator” who has “developed a breadth of knowledge and provides great judgment in his advice.”  Pat Clancy is noted by a client as “an essential, invaluable resource we've learned a lot from him over the years.”  He “puts in the time to learn about our organization, has a wonderful mannerhe calibrates his responses to the people he's dealing with.”  In the firm’s Virginia office, John Bredehoft, is viewed as a “practical, academic and astute tactician.”  David Smith, an "aggressive and successful" attorney, was cited for his extensive experience in labor law and collective bargaining negotiations.  In Washington, Maurice Baskin was noted as “low-key, but effective.
  • The “well-staffed" Real Estate group, ranked top-tier in Maryland, is considered a go-to choice for “difficult transactions,” while competitors rate its “knowledgeable and trustworthy senior real estate lawyers.”  Co-chair Kevin Shepherd“writes and analyzes a lot of legislation affecting real estate. He's thoughtful, careful and diligent, and he uses these qualities in a pragmatic manner.”  Russell Reno, “one of the deans of real estate in the state,” represents a range of real estate developers, home builders, and lenders in the metropolitan Baltimore area. Jim Wright was praised as “pleasant, responsive and smart a senior guy who's able to put extremely complex matters together.”  In the Washington office, Philip Horowitz was noted for his representation of building landlord Louis Dreyfus Property Group on its lease negotiation with Ernst & Young pertaining to a 130,000 sq. ft project on New York Avenuein DC.  Stefan Tucker was cited as particularly well regarded in the market for his tax-related work among a “broad range of capabilities.”
  • The Corporate/M&A group received a top ranking in Maryland.  Praised for its “responsiveness and ability to understand client needs in a business setting,” it also boasts “bench strength from top to bottom.” James Hanks was cited as “the father of local counsel work” in the state, with “the largest practice in the cottage industry of representing mutual funds incorporated in Maryland.”  Bryson Cook was praised for being “extraordinarily smart, creative and pleasant to work with.”  Practice co-chair Tuck Washburne was noted as “very strong in securities, corporate governance and M&A matters,” as well as for high levels of client attentiveness.  Michael Baader is “a great relationships manager,” who “makes himself available and understands the client's needs in a business setting.”  John Ramirez, rated for his private equity and asset-based lending work, was noted as “extremely diligent and fast a terrific legal technician.” Thomas France, from the Virginia office, was lauded for his experience in securities law, M&A and corporate transactions often focusing on public and private offerings of equity and debt securities.
  • The Commercial Litigation group, also in the top tier, was called “pre-eminent,” with one Chambers interviewee noting that Venable draws the “complex matters that require specialist assistance, technical matters that I want prepared well.”  Venable managing partner James Shea won praise as “smart, responsive, pleasant and not confrontational he tries to make things work as opposed to being bombastic.” “Exceptional communicator” James Archibald is “energetic and thoroughly organized”and “focuses on understanding as much of the factual background and pattern to the case as he can.”  Paul Strain is especially rated for his leadership in products liability, and James Gray, “a real heavy hitter,” was noted for being “a great trial lawyer.” Versatile” Michael Schatzow impressed clients with his “command of the material” and his “ability to focus on what's important and develop the appropriate strategies.”
  • The Environmental group, with almost 20 attorneys, is praised for not having “any loopholes; they have it all covered.” Judson Starr is “the dean of the environmental crimes bar.” Mr. Starr is joined by former DOJ Attorney and “top name” Joseph Block, and also by Peggy Strand, “one of the best wetlands lawyers in the country.”
  • The Construction team in Virginia was lauded for its “sophisticated understanding of the applicable law and realities of the industry.”  The group handles numerous large infrastructure and environmental mediation projects relating most notably to bridges, dams and highways. “Top go-to lawyer for serious litigation,” Wayne Lalle was recognized as “affable, intelligent and responsive to the needs of his client.”

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.