For Perkins Coie, the announcement that its own Robert Bauer had been named to replace Gregory Craig as White House counsel meant the firm needed to find someone else to chair its political law practice group. Enter Marc Elias.
Elias, who has been a partner at the firm since 2001, will take over Bauer's role as chair of the firm's political law practice when Craig's resignation becomes official on Jan. 3.
While at Perkins Coie, Bauer, who has served as President Barack Obama’s personal lawyer since 2005, turned its political law practice into one of the most highly regarded in the field. The practice boasts an impressive list of clients, including the Democratic Senatorial and Congressional Campaign committees, and the Democratic National Committee. The firm also advises numerous congressional candidates, non-profit organizations and political action committees on compliance issues related to campaign finance laws, lobbying disclosure rules, and legislative and executive branch ethics codes. The practice comprises 10 lawyers and nine non-lawyer compliance specialists.
Elias said he and Bauer have already begun transitioning leadership responsibilities. “One of the great things Bob did was to ensure clients had relationships with all of the other lawyers in the practice,” Elias said in an interview last night. “We have already started talking to clients, making sure they are informed of what is going on and ensuring that their needs are being met.” He added that he doesn’t expect Bauer’s departure to affect the practice’s client portfolio.
Elias grabbed headlines earlier this year when he served as lead counsel for now-Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) during the recount dispute launched by former Sen. Norm Coleman. Elias argued and won a unanimous ruling from the Minnesota Supreme Court which affirmed that Franken had received the highest number of votes. “It was an unbelievable experience,” Elias said. “I spent six months in Minnesota during the course of the litigation. As much fun as Minnesota is, it’s very nice to be back in Washington.” (Click here for The NLJ’s Q&A with Elias after the Minnesota Supreme Court’s ruling.)
Elias’s past clients also include the Kerry-Edwards presidential campaign in 2004 and Chris Dodd for President during the 2008 primary campaign. More recently, Elias represented New Jersey Gov. John Corzine during his unsuccessful bid for reelection.
Elias said Perkins Coie’s political law practice is already gearing up for the 2010 midterm elections. “I’m excited to take over as chair of the practice,” Elias said. “It’s been growing a lot in recent years as our client base has grown, and it’ll be exciting to continue providing them with high-quality service.”