October 23, 2002

Venable Creates Multidisciplinary Practice Group Dedicated to Homeland Security

5 min

New group to navigate complex matrix of regulatory, legal and legislative issues tied to domestic defense; Representing companies within aviation, airport screening, identity verification and biotechnology

Washington, D.C. (October 23, 2002)
– The Washington, DC law firm of Venable LLP has formed a new Homeland Security practice group. The group will provide clients with a broad array of focused professional services to address the new requirements and liabilities -- as well as potential opportunities -- associated with numerous homeland security initiatives that have emerged since the September 11 attacks. The group, which harnesses several legal and legislative policy practices into a single unit, is believed to be the first of its kind for a national law firm.

James L. Shea, Managing Partner of Venable, said the firm’s decision to establish the group reflects the "new reality" that businesses nationally are facing in the aftermath of September 11. "Homeland security affects the flow of goods and services in a way that we are only beginning to understand," said Mr. Shea. He further noted that industries as diverse as financial services and biotechnology have been subjected to an entirely new set of rules.

"The legal and regulatory challenges imposed by domestic security concerns impact so many industries -- manufacturing, transportation, financial services, import/export, energy, agriculture and health care," Mr. Shea added. "Our new group will serve as a clearinghouse for proposed or newly enacted legislation and regulations, and provide a resource center for clients across various industries. The legal and economic costs related to security issues can be enormous, and companies are at risk for increased liability due to lax security or noncompliance."

Venable's new Homeland Security group draws attorneys from banking and financial services, business transactions, corporate finance and securities, energy, environment, transportation, FDA and other regulatory areas, government contracts, intellectual property, international trade, labor and immigration, and litigation.

Venable partners Michael Ferrell and John Pavlick have been tapped to lead the new practice. Mr. Pavlick, who advises companies that work with federal and state government agencies, is a leading government contracts lawyer who has worked on federal and state contract transactions totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. Mr. Ferrell, who leads Venable's Legislative Practice Group, worked for more than a decade on Capitol Hill. He has spent more than 25 years in the legislative and political process, and served as a chief lobbyist for a national trade association.

"Our whole concept of national security has, up until now, been extraterritorial," said Mr. Pavlick. "Since September 11, we’ve seen the telescope turn dramatically inward across our nation, which caused a dramatic shift in the business landscape. Our group not only focuses on helping clients stay abreast of major legislative developments in homeland security but also on helping businesses learn to live and operate under a new set of rules and regulations, which are certain to have a huge impact on how business will be conducted going forward."

Mr. Ferrell noted that homeland defense extends beyond efforts to create a new cabinet-level department. "It is almost immaterial whether Congress eventually creates a new Department of Homeland Security," he said. "What is certain is that the government is committed to securing our borders and protecting citizens in an unprecedented way and that here will be a significant number of proposals advanced to accomplish those twin objectives."

Mr. Ferrell added that over two dozen pieces of legislation have already been sent to the President, and new bills continue to flow through Congress at a steady clip. In addition to enacted bills on air and border security, upcoming legislation includes the Port and Maritime Security Act, the Chemical Security Act and Pipeline Safety Improvement Act, among other new legislation relating to shipping containers, terrorism insurance and transportation.

Already, Venable’s Homeland group has been working with a number of companies in connection with security-related matters. Among them include:

  • a provider of technology used to screen and select airport security personnel for the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) during the transition to a federal workforce;
  • a bioscience company seeking vaccine contracts with the federal government;
  • a leading manufacturer of bomb detection equipment; a company seeking to create a centralized database network from more than 60 federal and state agencies to authenticate a person’s identity;
  • a major pipeline company interested in upgrading its environmental compliance system to accommodate additional security;
  • several emerging security-related firms in gaining access to government funds, securing government contracts, furthering relationships with federal agencies, and dealing with regulatory hurdles;
  • major defense contractors already actively involved in homeland security;
  • an aviation passenger security screening company in efforts to press Congress to restore the liability cap for eligible firms that are subject to claims arising out of the September 11 attacks.

Mr. Shea noted that while much of the current focus is on legislative initiatives, the group will have a broad mandate. "Our fundamental goal will be to provide clients with the kind of integrated, practical and legal advice that will better equip them to operate under a new set of rules and regulations," he said.

A full description of the practice and its members can be found on Venable’s Web site (www.venable.com). Let us know if you would like more information on the firm’s new Homeland Security practice.

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.