Updated 4:08 p.m.
John Burlingame wears several hats. He is not only the managing partner of Squire Sanders' Washington and northern Virginia offices, but he also maintains a robust practice.
Burlingame joined Squire Sanders in August 1995 and for the last three years has served as the head of both offices. At the firm's Washington digs, there are no corner offices, only corner conference rooms. Each office comes a certain amount of transparency – the walls and doors are made of glass.
Legal Times chatted with Burlingame February 19 to discuss the relationship between the two offices he manages, office space and his passion for long-distance running.
What is the relationship between the northern Virginia and Washington offices?
Burlingame: It's a very close relationship. For example, we have monthly partner meetings. Those are joint meetings that I chair. We will often have attorneys from northern Virginia come downtown for that. The ones that can't will participate by video. I try to be out in northern Virginia for roughly half of the meetings each year. When I'm out in the northern Virginia office I will frequently see some of my colleagues from D.C. working out there. Similarly, virtually every day there is at least one attorney from our northern Viriginia office who is working here in the D.C. office on business.
In terms of the close working relationship, that is influenced by the fact that our chairman lives in Great Falls and spends a lot of time in our northern Virginia office (which is located in Tysons Corner, Va.).
What are the differences and similarities between the two offices?
The northern Virginia office tends to revolve around traditional business models. There is a lot of government services work that is done in both the corporate groups and government contracting. We also have a number of intellectual property attorneys. Our firm's global real estate practice leader is based in our northern Virginia office as well.
Here in the D.C. office, it tends to be more regulatory focused, although not exclusively. We have a number of different practices that fall within the regulated industries – antitrust, aviation, telecommunications, energy, healthcare. We do public finance work. A lot of the bond work on behalf of the D.C. government, we are involved in that. Litigation as well. It's a more eclectic group of attorneys here in D.C.
Trade is a good example of the practice overlap. Our trade lawyers will work hand in glove with our government services attorneys…I've worked with virtually every practice group in the firm. That includes my colleagues in northern Virginia. Our white collar attorneys here in D.C. they have worked closely with our northern Virginia government relations and corporate partners on major internal investigations and a qui tam matter locally.
From the office and the firm standpoint, there is an increased strategic focus on D.C. and northern Virginia on expansion in practice areas that are driven on a global basis. As we have grown internationally, it has benefited us locally.
When did the firm move to its current office?
August of 2011 is when we planted the flag at 19th and M Street. We were at 1201 Pennsylvania for about 30 years. We had a 15-year lease and then that was renewed shortly after I joined the firm. Then the second 15-year lease was coming to its end and we evaluated all our options and are delighted with the way this turned out.
What considerations did the firm take into account when looking for a new space?
Price was a big one. We wanted very favorable rent. To the extent that we looked into new space, we wanted significant tenant improvement dollars. The financial package was a big incentive. The fact that this building was Platinum LEED certified helped. The price fit, but then the added benefits of a building like this made the decision easier.
With this flexible space, are there plans for growth?
It gives a lot more flexibility and yes, there are plans for growth. We continue to look for opportunities to grow and we're particularly interested in practices that can benefit from our international footprint. Anyone from the government enforcement arena, whether it's on the criminal side or civil side enforcement, clients want to sit down and hear from somebody who has sat in the prosecutor's seat. That government enforcement experience is something that clients value.
You look globally at what's happening and you see more and more coordinated activities with government enforcement officials. Take the antitrust arena. An antitrust investigation in the E.U. will very likely trigger a corresponding investigation here in the U.S. We represented a Korean company that was raided by the Korean tax authorities. The U.S. tax authorities raised the U.S. subsidiary. Joe Walker was heavily involved in spearheading that investigation and interfacing with both the Korean and U.S. prosecutors.
How do you enjoy spending your free time?
I tend to go through phases. I've done a lot of running. I've run in two ultramarathons. The ones I've done have been 50-mile runs. It's a long day out on the trail. I had run a bunch of marathons as well. My goal now is to run a 100-mile trail run.
How do you prepare yourself mentally for that challenge?
Don't quit. Keep plugging along and don't quit. A friend of mine had run a couple of ultras, and he said, 'John, if you can run a marathon, you can run 50 miles.' I wasn't so sure about that. Before I ran my first 50, the longest I had run was a marathon. I kept telling myself during the tough parts don't stop. You have to zone out and go to your happy place.
This is part of a series of Q&A sessions Legal Times is conducting with D.C.-based law firm managing partners. Photo by The National Law Journal's Diego M. Radzinschi.