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October 4, 2010 6:50 PM

TARP Ends and Treasury Hires 13 Firms to Run What Remains

Posted by Brian Baxter

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) officially expired on October 3, but 13 law firms led by Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft have been awarded government legal services contracts by the Treasury Department to compete for certain projects. The amount the firms can collectively earn from TARP-related work is capped at nearly $100 million, according to sibling publication The National Law Journal.

The NLJ reports that Cadwalader has done the bulk of TARP's legal work since Congress enacted the $700 billion economic rescue plan in October 2008. Cadwalader has pulled in more than $13 million since TARP was created and the firm stands to earn even more as a result of the latest contract awarded to the firm by Treasury, The NLJ reports.

Treasury's authority to make new TARP expenditures expired on October 3, but many TARP programs, such as those supporting the housing market, will continue. The NLJ reports that in August, Treasury authorized an omnibus legal services contract that allows the agency to spend up to $99.8 million on private law firms over the next five years.

Other firms awarded such contracts include: Alston & Bird; Chicago's Fox, Hefter, Swibel, Levin & Carroll; Haynes and Boone; Hughes Hubbard & Reed; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Perkins Coie; Seyfarth Shaw; Potomac, Md.-based Shulman Rogers Gandal Pordy & Ecker; and Venable.

According to The NLJ, two other firms, Newark-based Love and Long and Sullivan Cove Reign Enterprises JV of Washington, were chosen under TARP's small business set-aside requirement. Each of the contracts has a guaranteed minimum value of $50,000.

The NLJ notes that with more than 2,000 in-house lawyers on staff, Treasury would qualify as the nation's fourth-largest law firm. The decision to hire new outside counsel comes at a time when the Congressional Oversight Panel (COP), a TARP watchdog, has criticized Treasury for excessive secrecy in hiring outside counsel, as well as potential conflicts of interest involving certain firms.

The Am Law Daily reported two weeks ago that Cadwalader had come under fire from a COP panel for refusing to testify at a public hearing on Capitol Hill addressing the conflicts of interest issue. The NLJ reports that Treasury arranged for the COP panel to interview Cadwalader lawyers--led by litigation cochair Louis Solomon, special counsel Douglas Mintz, and conflict specialist John Kruse--last week.

Former COP chair Elizabeth Warren, a former Cadwalader summer associate, resigned earlier this month to head the Obama administration's new consumer protection bureau. On Monday, outgoing Sen. Ted Kaufman of Delaware was selected to replace Warren as TARP's new top cop.

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