Among the more time-honored (and certain) traditions of Presidential power-shifts is the evacuation en masse of Washington insiders from posts of public service back into the folds of private practice. As one administration gives way to another, previous palace insiders flee the occupying army for the comfort – and paychecks – of consultancies, lobbying firms, government contractors, and law firms.
Three of the most recent to jump ship have come from the decks of national security and have landed at some of D.C’s, and the nation’s, most powerful law firms.
Ben Powell, former general counsel to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is Wilmer Hale’s newest acquisition, having finished terms as counsel to three successive heads of the ODNI (John Negroponte, Mike McConnell, and President Obama’s choice Dennis Blair). The ODNI oversees the 17 American intelligence agencies. Mr. Powell, while general counsel there, was most responsible for an update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, bringing it in-line with new technology and providing immunity for private contractors working on FISA matters for the government. Then-senators Obama and Pelosi both voted in favor of the amendments. At Wilmer Hale, Mr. Powell’s practice will include representation of defense, security, and IT clients.
A couple blocks away, Michael Edney is joining forces with Gibson Dunn after a four year stint as principal legal advisor with the Office of Legal Council, advising mainly the National Security Council. Mr. Edney will work as a litigator with Gibson Dunn.
McGuire Woods’s newest commodity is Pat Rowan, who brings with him 18 years of experience at the Department of Justice. Mr. Rowan will work with the firm’s private security clients, having spent his final years with the DOJ’s National Security division, a newly-minted unit which supports the Attorney General’s office and, among other things, prosecutes terrorists.