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Leading Government Contracts Group Joins Covington

May 1, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC, May 1, 2015 — Covington is significantly expanding its government contracts practice with 20 lawyers from one of the nation’s top government contracts groups, including its former chair and leaders in contractor tort liability, bid protests, procurement fraud, trade secrets and employment.

The group of five partners and 15 other lawyers from McKenna, Long & Aldridge expands and deepens Covington’s capabilities across a range of government contracts matters. Frederic Levy, until recently the chair of McKenna’s government contracts practice, will serve as co-chair of Covington’s government contracts group with Alan Pemberton and Jennifer Plitsch.

These additions double the size of Covington’s government contracts group and place it among the nation’s largest. The work of the new lawyers runs the gamut from contract formation to bid protests to claims and internal investigations to tort litigation to False Claims Act litigation. Chambers has consistently ranked McKenna’s government contracts practice in its highest band, and the group that joined Covington includes most of that firm’s Chambers-rated lawyers in government contracts.

“This group presents us with an opportunity to combine forces with some of the finest and most deeply established government contracts practitioners in the country,” said Timothy Hester, chair of Covington’s management committee. “Their aerospace and defense industry focus fits squarely with the strengths of our industry-facing model designed to address complex, multidisciplinary problems involving counseling, litigation, government regulation and public policy.”

“The new group dovetails with many of our leading practice areas,” said Mr. Hester, citing litigation, investigations, products liability, trade controls, international contracting, M&A, insurance recovery, employment, anti-corruption, cybersecurity, SAFETY Act and data privacy.

Mr. Levy said his group was drawn to Covington because of the many strengths of its wide array of regulatory, enforcement, and other practice offerings.

“We are excited to join Covington, which stands out because of its collaborative culture and superb reputation across a broad range of practices that will allow us to expand our services in response to client needs,” said Mr. Levy, who is one of the nation’s top lawyers in procurement fraud, suspension and debarment matters. “Our group saw this as a great opportunity to be part of a firm that has dynamic practices that can add great value for our base of clients.”

“Our new government contracts colleagues add strength to our government contracts practice in key areas—aerospace and defense, product liability, bid protest, employment and white collar criminal defense,” Ms. Plitsch said. “Adding a group of this magnitude allows Covington to provide sophisticated advice on the entire range of government contracts matters for clients across a number of important industries.”

The partners and senior lawyers joining the firm are:

Ray Biagini (partner): A Chambers-ranked government contracts lawyer, former co-vice chair of McKenna and a leader of its product liability defense practice, Mr. Biagini has risen to national prominence in a number of high-profile tort cases. He defended commercial and government contractors in major oil spill litigation, in the Cell Phone Radiation Hazards and “Fen-Phen” litigation, and “war crimes” allegations filed against manufacturers of military weapons systems sold to Israel. He is also recognized for his expertise in defending aerospace and defense clients in mass tort and “contractors-on-the-battlefield” litigation. His cases have established legal principles that protect defense contractors from tort liability arising out of combatant scenarios. He has successfully advocated for legal principles at the federal appellate level that protect defense contractors from tort liability arising out of combatant scenarios. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mr. Biagini helped conceptualize and author the core provisions of the U.S. SAFETY Act, a federal statute that protects companies that sell and deploy anti-terror technologies from enterprise-threatening lawsuits arising out of acts of terrorism.

Jason “Jay” Carey (partner): Previously the leader of McKenna’s bid protest practice, Mr. Carey is recognized by Chambers as one of the nation’s leading government contracts lawyers. He has represented government contractors in bid protests before the Government Accountability Office and the Court of Federal Claims. His clients include aerospace and defense clients, as well as corporations in the biotech, healthcare, IT and telecom arenas. He has prosecuted and defended more than 80 protests covering a wide range of procurements, including an $11 billion aerospace and defense contract.

Dan Johnson (partner): Mr. Johnson represents government contractors and other entities in trade secret, employment and other litigation matters. For the past 25 years, he has represented contractors in multimillion dollar litigation involving the alleged theft of data or the movement of key employees from one contractor to another. These have resulted in many bench and jury verdicts in favor of his clients. He also helps government contractors and other clients resolve many other employment issues. He was recognized by The Washington Business Journal as a “Top Washington Lawyer” in employment law. Mr. Johnson also has extensive experience litigating complex disputes and has successfully represented government contractors and other clients in multi-million dollar prime-sub disputes.

Fred Levy (partner): Mr. Levy focuses on the resolution of complex compliance and ethics issues. Chambers recognizes him as a leading lawyer in the field, and he has successfully represented numerous high-profile corporations and individuals under investigation by the government in civil and criminal matters, including False Claims Act cases, and in suspension and debarment proceedings to ensure their continued eligibility to participate in federal programs. He also has conducted numerous internal investigations on behalf of corporate clients, particularly in the areas of procurement fraud and export controls, often involving sensitive personnel or fiduciary matters, and has advised corporations in voluntary or mandatory disclosures to a variety of federal agencies. Mr. Levy counsels clients on government contract performance issues and litigates contract disputes before the boards and courts. He is the former co-chair of both the Debarment and Suspension and the Procurement Fraud committees of the ABA Public Contract Law Section, was the co-chair of the ABA Task Force on Mandatory Disclosure, is a principal editor of Guide to the Mandatory Disclosure Rule and a contributing author and is editor of the “Practitioner's Guide to Suspension and Debarment and of Healthcare Exclusions: A Comprehensive Guide.”

Michael Scheininger (partner): As the former chair of McKenna’s white collar criminal defense practice, Mr. Scheininger’s practice focuses on the defense of business crimes and civil fraud, particularly procurement-related civil false claims (qui tam) and criminal fraud involving government contractors. He served as trial counsel for a Fortune 50 aerospace company in a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging defective pricing. He was the lead lawyer representing a space technologies company in joint criminal and civil fraud investigations alleging overcharging the government.

Herb Fenster: Considered a dean of the government contracts bar, Mr. Fenster was with McKenna for 55 years. He has played a key role in legal and regulatory developments relating to the negotiation, award and termination of multibillion dollar weapons programs, research and development programs, and stability operations and expeditionary support contracts. An authority on government contracting and administrative law, Mr. Fenster has lectured and testified multiple times on government finance and accounting issues from both industry and government perspectives, and he serves as general counsel for the National Defense University Foundation.

E. Sanderson (“Sandy”) Hoe: A prominent member of the government contracts bar who was with McKenna for 42 years, Mr. Hoe has been recognized by The Washington Business Journal as a top government contracts lawyer. He works in all areas of government contracting and specializes in privatization and third-party financing of government contracts. He also has helped foreign governments, including Iraq, Liberia and Afghanistan, build their government procurement capabilities.

Bob Matthews: Mr. Matthews has focused on environmental issues affecting government contractors and has served as lead litigation counsel to a large defense contractor in ongoing claims by 250 plaintiffs alleging exposure to emissions from burn pits during deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Other government contract lawyers who will join the firm as of counsel:

Kurt Hamrock: Mr. Hamrock is a government contracts litigator who represents both military and civilian contractors in tort litigation across the country. He has broad government contracts-related capabilities and experience in counseling, investigations and claims.

Dan Russell: A government contracts litigator who has substantial experience in “contractor-on-the-battlefield” tort litigation and other private tort litigation involving national security issues. Mr. Russell has also litigated contract disputes before the Court of Federal Claims and the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals. He has broad litigation and appellate experience in the areas of environmental torts, False Claims Act matters and other federal agency litigation.

Jason Workmaster: Recognized by Law360 as a government contracts “Rising Star” this year, Mr. Workmaster focuses his practice on government contracts-related litigation, including FCA matters, contract disputes and bid protests.

To be joining as special counsel:

J. Hunter Bennett: Mr. Bennett is a former Justice Department trial attorney. He has substantial experience defending the United States against bid protests in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and he now focuses his practice on the representation of contractors in bid protests.

Justin Ganderson: Mr. Ganderson focuses on the preparation of claims against the government and the litigation of government contracts disputes before various tribunals. He also advises clients on the negotiation and performance of utility privatization and other contracts.

The new additions also include associates Alex Sarria, Luke Meier, John Sorrenti, Kevin Barnett, Terra White Fulham, Felicia Quentzel and Patrick Stanton.

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