When former solicitor general Paul Clement left King & Spalding for the much smaller Washington firm Bancroft, firm founder Viet Dinh joked that Clement had brought the "entire high-profile docket" of the nation's hot-button cases with him. On that list: challenging the new health care law and defending the Defense of Marriage Act as well as Arizona's tough immigration law. Dinh said some modest hiring increases would be needed at the 11-lawyer firm.
One of those new hires was announced today, bringing Cravath, Swaine & Moore associate Steve Potenza to Bancroft, where he'll divide time between New York and Washington. Potenza, an associate for seven years at Cravath in New York, is a litigator specializing in complex civil cases.
Potenza, 36, was Dinh's student and research assistant when Dinh taught at Georgetown University Law Center before joining the Bush Administration in 2001. The two have stayed in touch ever since, said Potenza in an interview today. "We've always talked about careers," Potenza said. The discussions turned more serious in the spring, and the offer from Dinh to be counsel at Bancroft came after Clement joined in late April.
"It's a very exciting place to be right now," said Potenza. He isn't working yet on the hot-button docket, Clement said: "Steve is terrific and definitely part of the build-up, though at the moment we have him fully occupied doing matters other than DOMA and health care." Potenza said he is mainly working with client R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on the long-running "Engle" litigation brought by Florida smokers.