Covington & Burling
|Covington & Burling LLP|
|Headquarters||1201 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C., United States
|No. of offices||10 total (5 international)|
|No. of attorneys||772 (2009)|
|Major practice areas||General practice|
|Founder||J. Harry Covington and Edward B. Burling|
|Company type||Limited liability partnership|
Covington & Burling LLP is an international law firm with offices in Beijing, Brussels, London, New York, San Francisco, Seoul, Shanghai, Silicon Valley, San Diego, and Washington, DC. The firm advises multinational corporations on significant transactional, litigation, regulatory, and public policy matters. Covington & Burling LLP consistently ranks among the top 20 on The American Lawyer’s "A-List", based on financial performance, pro bono activity, associate satisfaction, and diversity. The firm has an overall prestige ranking of 11 by Vault, and is the 6th most selective law firm in the United States.
- 1 Accolades and Rankings
- 2 History
- 3 Clients
- 4 Controversial Clients
- 5 Pro bono
- 6 Current and former attorneys
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Accolades and Rankings
According to Vault's 2012 law firm rankings, Covington & Burling is the most prestigious law firm in Washington, D.C., the #11 most prestigious law firm in the United States, and the #6 most selective law firm in the United States. The firm has appeared on The American Lawyer's "A-List" consecutively for the past three years. The firm was also ranked #2 (tie) on the 2007 Schiltz 100, a ranking that inversely correlates profits per partner and firm prestige.
In 1988, Covington opened a London office, followed by a Brussels office in 1990. In 1999, Covington merged with a 60-lawyer New York firm called Howard, Smith & Levin and also opened its first West Coast office in San Francisco. In 2008, Covington entered into a strategic alliance with Institution Quraysh for Law & Policy (iQ), a Qatar-based transnational law firm and think-tank, for the joint provision of legal and consulting services in the Middle East. As of mid-2009, both firms share the same London office premises.
Major companies that have been represented by attorneys of the firm include: Apple, Bank of America, the original Big East Conference (becoming the American Athletic Conference in July 2013), Bunge, Deere & Company, Eastman Kodak Company, Eli Lilly, General Electric Company, Giorgio Armani, IBM Corporation, Harley-Davidson, match.com, Microsoft Corporation, Morgan Stanley, NASCAR, National Basketball Association, National Football League, Procter & Gamble, and Verizon.
Commonwealth of Australia
According to press reports and filings with the U.S. Department of Justice under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, Covington & Burling assisted the government of Australia in pursuing the legislation to create a new visa category reserved exclusively for nationals of Australia following the enactment of the U.S.-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The Covington team included Stuart Eizenstat, Martin Gold, Roderick DeArment, David Marchick, Elizabeth Letchworth, Les Carnegie, and Brian Smith. On November 20, 2012, the LegalTimes reported that the Embassy of South Korea had hired Covington & Burling to advise on a similar visa for Korea. Covington of counsel Brian Smith and senior international policy adviser Alan Larson reportedly lead the matter, assisted by senior counsel Martin Gold and associate Jonathan Wakely.
Creekstone Farms Quality Beef
In April 2004, the Washington DC newspaper The Hill reported: "Creekstone Farms Quality Beef, which has been battling the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get permission to test its cattle for mad cow disease, has hired Covington & Burling to help it make its case."
At the time, Creekstone was one of two U.S. beef producers who were seeking to resume exports to Japan, South Korea and other countries by testing every head of cattle they processed for mad cow disease.
In 2003, Halliburton hired the firm to lobby Washington on behalf of its KBR Government Operations division, the same division being pummeled by the media, the Pentagon and Congress for its handling of Iraq contracts. Covington & Burling was paid $520,000 to handle "inquiries concerning company's construction and service contracts in Iraq," the firm said in a filing.
According to the filing, Covington & Burling listed the following people as lobbyists for Halliburton/KBR: Roderick A. DeArment, who was chief of staff to now-retired Sen. Bob Dole (R-KS); Martin B. Gold, former counsel to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN); Stuart E. Eizenstat, U.S. ambassador to the European Union during the Clinton administration; Alan A. Pemberton, coordinator of the firm's government contracts practice; David M. Marchick, who served in various posts in the Clinton administration; Jack L. Schenendorf; Peter Flanagan; Jennifer Plitsch; Benjamin J. Razi; and Allegra Lane.
Halliburton's lobbying expenses are disclosed in documents submitted under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, which requires congressional and executive branch lobbyists to disclose their lobbying activities twice per year. Each year the information is disclosed at the Senate Office of Public Records.
Covington & Burling also served as corporate affairs consultants to the Philip Morris group of companies, according to a 1993 internal budget review document which indicated the firm was paid $280,000 to "serve as general counsel to the Consumer Products Company Tort Coalition, agree the legal objectives with member company litigators, draft legislation and amendments, prepare lobby papers and testimony for legislative committees and administer the coalition's budget".
During the $280 billion U.S. federal lawsuit against big tobacco, Covington & Burling partner John Rupp, a former lawyer with the industry-funded Tobacco Institute, testified that "the industry sought out scientists and paid them to make an 'objective appraisal' of whether secondhand smoke was harmful to non-smokers, a move they hoped would dispel the 'extreme views' of some anti-smoking activists." He "said the scientists, who came from prestigious institutions such as Georgetown University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, did not consider themselves to be working 'on behalf' of cigarette makers even though they were being paid by the industry." Rupp said, "We were paying them to share their views in forums where they would be usefully presented," according to Reuters.
Southern Peru Copper Corporation
According to a September 2003 press release from the firm, Covington & Burling successfully argued on behalf of the Southern Peru Copper Corporation to drop a lawsuit brought against it under the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA) by Peruvian citizens charging the copper company with polluting communities and causing health problems. ATCA has been used to address serious human rights violations in places like Burma and East Timor. In their release, Covington & Burling decried the "aggressive, expansionist plaintiffs' litigation" under ATCA.
Chiquita International Brands
Partner Eric Holder in 2007 defended Chiquita International Brands against lawsuits brought by relatives of people slain by terrorists and paramilitia belonging to the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia, which Chiquita paid for protection. Holder had previously helped Chiquita negotiate a felony plea bargain, accepted by U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, in a criminal prosecution by the federal government for one count of supporting a designated terrorist organization. The plea involved a fine of $25 million USD, also entailing 5 years probation. Chiquita became the first major U.S. corporation to be convicted of financing terrorism. After the settlement, U.S. Assistant Attorney Jonathan Malis said the $1.7 million in payments "fueled violence" and "paid for weapons and ammunition to kill innocent people." Holder stressed that Chiquita had asked the Department of Justice in 2003 if the payments should be stopped.
Xe Services (formerly Blackwater Worldwide)
In April 2010, The Hill newspaper reported that Xe Services, formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide, hired Covington & Burling to lobby on “government contracts,” according to a lobbying disclosure filing. According to the Hill, "[t]his is the first lobbying contract Blackwater has had since early 2009, when it terminated contracts with several different firms." The lobbying report listed the following Covington personnel engaged by Xe: Stuart Eizenstat, a former Treasury deputy secretary during the Clinton administration; Brian Smith, an ex-Clinton White House aide; former Congressman Michael Barnes (D-Md.); Martin Gold, a former floor adviser to ex-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.); and William Wichterman, a former White House aide in the George W. Bush administration.
David Samson serves as the Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) and is a partner and founding member of the law firm Wolff & Samson. In January 2014, it was revealed that Samson was the direct supervisor of Bill Baroni, who resigned from the PANYNJ in December, 2013 for his role in creating a traffic hazard in Fort Lee, New Jersey. This fueled speculation that Samson was involved in the scandal known as Bridgegate. Official e-mails sent from Samson to other Port Authority officials sharply criticized Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Joseph Foye's order to re-open the two closed toll lanes on the George Washington Bridge, accusing the latter of "stirring up trouble." Samson has been summoned to appear before the New Jersey Legislature on the matter and has engaged the firm as part of his legal team.
Covington’s pro bono work focuses on providing legal services to economically disadvantaged individuals and families in local communities. Attorneys at the firm participate in a six-month rotation program and work at each of three DC-based legal service organizations: Neighborhood Legal Services Program, the Children’s Law Center and Bread for the City.
Covington's pro bono work includes representation in such landmark cases as Buckley v. Valeo, Griffin v. Illinois, and Korematsu v. United States. However, the firm's pro bono program encompasses a range of areas, including freedom of expression and religion; civil rights and civil liberties; gay rights; family law; education; landlord/tenant; homelessness; employment; criminal and court-appointed cases; police misconduct; environmental law; fairness in government procurements and grants; intellectual property; non-profit incorporation and tax.
The firm’s recent pro bono matters include:
- Preparing an amicus brief on behalf of a number of social scientists in the Cook v. Rumsfeld case challenging the military’s don't ask, don't tell policy
- Filing an amicus brief in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) in support of the Planned Parenthood challenge of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003
- Supporting the District of Columbia in District of Columbia v. Heller which argues that the District's ban on the possession of handguns and its storage provisions for other firearms in the home is not implicated by the Second Amendment
- Primary pro bono counsel for TeachAIDS, a nonprofit which has developed a new method for global HIV/AIDS prevention education
Representation of Guantanamo Bay inmates
Attorneys at Covington & Burling have been Guantanamo Bay attorneys for Ahmed al-Ghailani fifteen Yemenis, one Pakistani, and one Algerian being held at Guantanamo Bay. The firm obtained favorable rulings that detainees have rights under the Fifth Amendment and the Geneva Conventions. The court ruled in March 2005 that the government could not transfer detainees from Guantanamo Bay to foreign custody without first giving the prisoners a chance to challenge the move in court.
According to The American Lawyer's annual pro bono survey, Covington lawyers spent 3,022 hours on Guantánamo litigation in 2007, "the firm's largest pro bono project that year". Lawyers from the firm who have become administration officials have been advised by ethics officials to recuse themselves in matters involving detainees represented by their former firms, but not from policy issues where they were not personally and substantially involved. Lanny Breuer is one of those who has had to recuse on from some matters since leaving the firm for a government position. Covington also co-authored one of three petitioners' briefs filed in Boumediene v. Bush, "and was responsible for several detainee victories" in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. "At least one high-ranking appointee played a key role in advancing detainees' rights," but they did not participate in litigation over the Guantanamo Bay prison itself.
Pro bono accolades
- The American Lawyer "Pro Bono Report", ranked No. 1 in its annual Pro Bono Survey (2006).
- The American Lawyer "Pro Bono Report", ranked No. 1 seven out of the last 12 years.
- DC Bar Association, Thurgood Marshall Award for commitment to excellence in the fields of civil rights and individual liberties (2006).
- Human Rights Campaign, "Ally for Justice" award for providing outstanding legal guidance to the HRC (2006).
Current and former attorneys
- Dean Acheson
- Peter Bogaert
- John R. Bolton
- Kit Bond
- Michael Boudin
- Lanny Breuer
- Bobby Burchfield
- Edward B. Burling
- Abram Chayes
- Michael Chertoff
- W. Graham Claytor, Jr.
- J. Harry Covington
- Joan Donoghue
- Stuart E. Eizenstat
- Adrian S. Fisher
- Roger Fisher
- Jack L. Goldsmith
- Lewis Grossman
- Timothy C. Hester
- Donald Hiss
- Eric Holder
- Philip K. Howard
- Nicholas Johnson
- Michael Karlan
- Richard F. Kingham
- Harold Hongju Koh
- Eugene Ludwig
- Burke Marshall
- David E. McGiffert
- Alfred H. Moses
- Dawn Clark Netsch
- David Remes
- Clayton R. Roush
- Chuck Ruff
- Cameron Stracher
- Paul Tagliabue
- Paul Warnke
- Togo D. West, Jr.
- Robert Eric Wone
- Yale Kamisar
- Law Firm Chaos (March 2009). "Reaction to Financial Crisis". Retrieved 2011-10-30.
- Press release of June 30, 2014
-  findarticles.com
- McMurphy, Brett (March 7, 2013). "Big East eyes new league name". ESPN.com. Retrieved March 8, 2013.
- Covington & Burling LLP | Representative Clients
- Legacy Tobacco Documents Library: CORPORATE AFFAIRS CORPORATE COST REVIEW (wqq02a00)
- Reuters http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=domesticNews&storyID=6634262
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- Johnson, Carrie (November 19, 2008). "Holder is top pick for attorney general". Denver Post.
- Gary Emerling (2008-01-05). "Fenty arms self with new lawyer to defend gun ban". Washington Times.
- Covington & Burling partner takes on defense of Guantanamo death penalty case May 29, 2008 The AmLaw Daily
- Public Service Activities 2007
- Joe Palazzolo Some Justice Department Lawyers Have Gitmo Conflicts March 02, 2009 Legal Times
- Covington & Burling LLP Website
- Chambers Global Profile
- National Law Review Profile
- Vault Profile
- Neighborhood Legal Services Program
- Children's Law Center
- Bread for the City
- Human Rights Campaign
- Senate Office of Public Records
- Peter Kaplan, "Tobacco Lawyer Denies Deception on Secondhand Smoke
- Philip Morris, "Corporate Affairs: corporate cost review
- The Bottom Line,The Hill, May 4, 2004,"