Anthony Pierce first arrived at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld as a summer associate in 1986. A year later he joined the firm fulltime, and he's remained ever since. Pierce, who's led the Washington office since 2008, focuses on commercial litigation, intellectual property, employment and internal investigations.
Legal Times sat down with Pierce to talk about the end of the government shutdown, the role of the Washington office in Akin’s overall structure and any immediate plans for growth.
Legal Times: What effect, if any, did the 16-day federal shutdown have on the business of the firm?
Anthony Pierce: The month in which it was shut down hasn't closed yet so I can't tell you in terms of numbers, but anecdotally I have not seen any major shift. We'll know when the numbers come out. I did sense from all the notices from my cases that the courts were about to really be hurt by this. From a litigation practice, there would have been a material effect. The cases would have kept going, but if you can't get rulings on motions or if you could not get into court for a hearing or a trial got delayed, that would be a problem. But that did not happen.
LT: How does Akin's Washington office fit with the rest of the firm?
Pierce: If you think about the business community—from the perspective of our clients and where the government intersects with the business community [litigation, policy, lobbying work and regulatory]—that is the role this office serves. That is why both clients and our partners in other offices who need those kind of services come to our Washington office.
LT: What sets Akin's lobbying practice apart from others in Washington?
Pierce: I think our policy people all come to their issues first from a legal standpoint. Their understanding of the substantive legal impact that a given policy has distinguishes them from many lobbyists that are only into relationships. Having said that, we have a lot of relationships on both sides of the aisle. What I think is unique about our folks is that they understand the legal implications and can explain a particular policy consideration with the backing of a strong substantive legal understanding. They are also helped by all the other practitioners in the firm. For example, if my partner Hank Terhune needs to talk about an energy issue on the Hill, he has a former FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) commissioner, folks from the [Department of Energy] and the FERC general counsel's office to talk to and help understand that issue.
LT: What is the growth plan for Akin's largest office?
Pierce: We will grow if it makes sense to grow. I think we'll always be on par with our competitors. The one thing to realize is that [what drives] the overall legal industry is the work. I would say work in the legal industry is flat to slightly up. That is what drives growth. If you see more economic activity, you will again see growth in firms such as ours.
LT: What are your thoughts on the recent Cooley / Dow Lohnes merger?
Pierce: I do think you'll see more consolidations like that. I think firms that feel like they need to be on a broader footprint are going to be seeking those.
LT: What keeps you busy outside of the practice of law?
Pierce: I have three wonderful daughters who are wonderful students and wonderful soccer players. I am in many respects a classic soccer dad. And I golf. I am the secretary of the [Greater Washington] Board of Trade. I have an abiding interest in the growth of the D.C. business community.
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.