Thirty-Nine Venable Attorneys Recognized By Clients and Peers as Among Best in Their Practice Areas in 2009 Chambers USA Rankings

Privacy group wins Award for Excellence; Commercial Litigation, Healthcare, Employee Benefits, Corporate M&A, Labor & Employment, Real Estate groups recognized among top-tier practices

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WASHINGTON/BALTIMORE (July 16, 2009) – Venable LLP attorneys continue to elicit accolades from their peers and clients – 39 attorneys at the firm were named among the best in their fields in the seventh annual Chambers USA survey covering America’s leading business lawyers.

In the recently-released Chambers directory for 2009, six Venable practice groups – Corporate/M&A, Labor & Employment, Real Estate, General Commercial Litigation, Healthcare, and Employee Benefits – were ranked in the top tier for Maryland and numerous others were recognized for outstanding work in Washington, DC and Virginia. 

On the national level, the firm’s Privacy and Data Security group was the overall winner of the 2009 Chambers USA Award for Excellence, chosen from more than 20 leading privacy and data security practices around the country. Venable’s REIT, Government Contracts and Financial Services Regulatory groups also performed strongly in this year’s national rankings.

Of the 39 Venable attorneys on the Chambers roster of the country’s leading lawyers, 13 were ranked at the very top of the profession in their areas of practice. Two were honored with the designation “Senior Statesman.”

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.

“It’s a great satisfaction to once again see that our clients and colleagues recognize the outstanding work that Venable attorneys are producing in a wide range of disciplines each day,” said Venable Managing Partner Karl Racine. “The number of our attorneys singled out this year for their excellence has risen steadily since the Chambers US survey began – another sign that the quality of our work has kept pace with our national expansion.

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

In Maryland, the firm’s Commercial Litigation group “remains at the forefront of commercial litigation in the state… benefit[s] from an impressive capacity.” Known for his “presence and charisma,” Paul Strain is “well versed in sophisticated litigation.” Mr. Strain is praised for his products liability work and as “a real fighter and an utter gentleman.” James Gray is recognized for his “precision and focus.” Paul Kemp is “well regarded for his white collar crime litigation and criminal defense work.” Virginia partner William Dolan is “held in the highest esteem by market commentators.”

The Corporate/M&A practice maintained its top rank in Maryland and is among the best in Northern Virginia. Noted for its “one-stop shop service” and for “providing first-rate advice to private companies,” the corporate group is “deemed a strong competitor by its peers.” Jim Hanks, cross-listed with the REIT practice, is lauded “a good reputation for his well-established practice.” Tax partner Bryson Cook is “recognized as an active player in this arena and his in-depth experience is a source of praise.” Chair of the business transactions practice Tuck Washburn’s background in business management “provides him with a unique point of view on his clients’ business needs.” Michael Baader’s practice “covers all aspects of corporate and M&A work.” Clients also noted Virginia corporate partner Thomas France, who is praised for his work on private offerings of equity and debt securities, as well as his work with special-purpose acquisition companies. Virginia partner Joseph Schmelter is “highly praised” for “his remarkable ability to put together lean, efficient teams.”

The top-tier Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation team is recognized for “raising its profile in labor and employment,” and for “providing businesses-focused advice as well as in-depth knowledge of benefits and compensation issues.” Partner Barbara Schlaff, who advises a wide-range of clients, is “known for her quality work and deep experience, as well as her knowledge of compensation issues.”

Another top-tier practice, Labor and Employment, is described as a “group of talented lawyers with a broad range of expertise.” Robert Ames is noted for his robust practice, and serving as a “skilled negotiator, respected by both employers and peers.” “Diligent and through” Jeffrey Ayres “impresses clients with the quality of his work and his intelligence.” Ronald Taylor is considered a “leading expert on health and safety issues.” Todd Horn, an “excellent employment litigator,” received raves from his peers, who noted that “he doesn’t get distracted in court: he sticks to the point at all times.” In the firm’s Vienna, Virginia, office, which is cited as a “popular destination for many clients,” David Smith is recognized as a “straight-shooting labor and union lawyer.” Gregory Ossi received “glowing endorsements from the market.”

Venable’s top-tier Healthcare group is praised for its depth, which enables it to “offer an all-encompassing service in transactional, regulatory and litigious matters.” Cited for her “client-focused approach” and “problem-solving abilities,” Connie Baker uses both of these skills to “great effect in peer reviews and before state licensing boards.” Peter Parvis is noted for being “instrumental” in the $300 million redevelopment and expansion of Anne Arundel Health Systems and the negation and implementation of two strategic alliance agreements for Johns Hopkins HealthCare.

The full-service Real Estate group, ranked top-tier in Maryland and cited in both the DC and Virginia rankings, is hailed as a “nationally esteemed group.” In the Maryland office, practice co-chair Kevin Shepherd, “considered one of the best local real estate lawyers,” is hailed by peers as “an invaluable asset for the group.” Fellow attorneys noted that his “writing skills and knowledge of the law are unsurpassed.”  Jim Wright is noted for his three decades of industry experience and a practice focused on complex transactions. Senior Statesman Russell Reno is cited for representing real estate developers, homebuilders and lenders on a wide range of issues. In the Washington office, Philip Horowitz is praised as a skilled negotiator while Senior Statesman Stefan Tucker is hailed for his wealth advisory work advising a “wide range of clients on real estate tax matters.” Robert Gottlieb is noted as “hard-working, pragmatic and logical,” winning praise for his “wonderful ability to disarm the other side in negotiations.”  In Virginia, Jay Yurow draws compliments for his experience in complex real estate asset sales.  Henry Brandenstein wins plaudits for his “strong reputation” in representing both borrowers and lenders.  Former Virginia Secretary of Transportation John Milliken is hailed as “the preeminent attorney for complex land use work in Arlington County.” Erika Byrd is noted for having a “great reputation” and “well-rounded expertise.”

Venable’s Environmental Criminal Defense group enjoys a reputation, Chambers notes, “that few can match.” Practice co-chairs Judson Starr, described as “superb,” and Joseph Block are praised for handling two of the nation’s biggest environmental civil and criminal proceedings. Peggy Strand is acknowledged for her knowledge of wetlands and endangered species issues. Douglas Green is regarded as “one of those all-around lawyers who is skilled at an awful lot of things.” The environmental group also was noticed for the recent addition of Michael Davis, who “has added a transactional dimension to the practice.”

In addition to winning the Chambers Award for Excellence, the Privacy and Data Security group is hailed as one that “operates at the cutting edge of privacy law.” Emilio Cividanes and Stuart Ingis “form a dynamic partnership and have vast experience of advising on data protection matters.”

The Construction group in Virginia “punches above its weight due to its thorough knowledge and appreciation of the rules, regulations and costs related to construction.” The practice’s “driving force,” Wayne Lalle, is hailed as a “calm and rational attorney who excels in negotiations.”

Venable’s national Financial Services “multitalented” team handles a “diverse” array or banking related services.  Practice Chair Ronald Glancz, noted for his illustrious career, is cited by a peer as a “great lawyer, who I am happy to lose instructions to.”

The “respected” full-service Government Contracts practice is hailed as a “strong option” one that is noted for its “effective accomplishments of client’s objectives.” Group chair Thomas Madden, a “prominent and powerful advocate,” is “widely respected for his vast experience in government procurement matters.”

Venable’s REIT practice is “the most dominant firm for Maryland REIT counsel” – “If you have it on a REIT transaction; you know you are in a great spot.” Jim Hanks is called “the greatest Maryland law expert there is,” who enjoys a “strong reputation for local corporate law advice to both public and private REITS.” Sharon Kroupa, noted for being “never afraid to take a firm line,” is praised for her comprehensive understanding of many different facets of corporate law.”


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.