Middle Atlantic Focus - Law Firms Building An Investment Management And Government Relations Presence In Washington, DC

Sunday, May 1, 2005 - 01:00

Editor: Mr. Stadulis, would you give our readers some idea of your background and career?

Stadulis: I grew up in upstate New York in the Catskill Mountains. I attended Boston College for both my undergraduate and law degrees. After law school, I worked for four years at the SEC's Division of Investment Management, where I handled interpretive matters relating to the federal securities laws as they apply to investment advisers and investment companies. From the SEC I went on to Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, where I worked for nine years handling interpretive issues in the securities area. I have been at Stradley Ronon for the past three years, where, in addition to the investment and securities work that I have done throughout my career, I am in charge of the firm's Washington, DC office. I am also an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where I teach an advanced course on investment management regulation.

Editor: What attracted you to Stradley Ronon?

Stadulis: I had been interested in the firm since I was at the SEC. They possessed, and continue to have, one of the largest investment management and fund practices in the country. The firm also has a group of very fine people, many of whom I have known over the years. Stradley Ronon provided an opportunity to practice at the very highest level while developing the expertise that goes with a big firm operation, but at the same time it had a small office feel. That combination - the highest quality of practice and a very personable group of people working in a collegial atmosphere - is what attracted me to the firm. In addition, I was conscious of the fact that Stradley Ronon provided these top-of-the-line services at rates that were very competitive compared to those of many of the larger firms. That, too, was an incentive for me to join in light of the fact that the future of the law business, I believe, is in providing high caliber services at a reasonable cost.

Editor: Please describe your practice. How has it evolved over the course of your career?

Stadulis: As an investment management attorney, Irepresent investment companies, advisers, broker-dealers, transfer agents and other financial service providers on complex regulatory matters. My particular focus is oninterpretive issues that require close interaction with the SEC, the NASD and other government regulators. Over the years I have evolved from an apprentice attorney just learning his trade to one who supervises others, and I have been very fortunate in having been able to learn from some very knowledgeable people in the investment management industry.I would like to be able to pass along what I have learned to the attorneys who are just beginning their careers.

Editor: You mentioned your teaching and writing. How does this activity connect to your practice?

Stadulis: I would not teach or write if I did not find these activities deeply rewarding. Teaching takes a great deal of time, but it is as much about learning as it is about teaching. I learn from my Georgetown students, from the younger attorneys in the firm whom I supervise, and from the people I meet at the conferences and seminars where I am speaking. Lecturing and writing force me to stay abreast of the latest developments in my area of expertise. It has great value, and that is recognized, and encouraged, at Stradley Ronon.

Editor: Can you share with us the factors that went into Stradley Ronon's decision to open an office in Washington?

Stadulis: The office was opened in December 1998. The principal reason was to expand our investment management practice from Philadelphia into the DC area. The latter, of course, offers the advantage of direct contact with the SEC and a variety of other federal regulators. Another factor in opening the office concerns attorney recruiting, both for the Washington office and for Philadelphia.

At present, the Washington, DC office has seven full-time attorneys. In addition, attorneys in our government relations group in Philadelphia spend a considerable amount of time here working on consulting and business development efforts. Also, we are in the process of reviewing the credentials of several potential lateral partners. This is a very busy operation.

Editor: Is there a particular focus to the office? Are there disciplines and practice groups that are showcased for the Washington, DC market?

Stadulis: The current focus of our Washington office is investment management and, predictably, government relations. On the investment management side, we recently added a new associate, and we are always in the market for talented people in this area. We are in the process of looking for a lateral investment management partner, and particularly for someone with significant SEC enforcement experience, to augment our group. Securities enforcement is an important practice area for the firm, and our Washington office extends the strong platform of services we can offer clients. On our government relations side, we constitute a resource for the entire firm, so we have our government and public affairs colleagues from other offices coming through constantly. The Washington presence of our government relations group will help us in recruiting for this practice as well.

Editor: How does the Washington office connect to the firm's other offices? Are you able to call upon the resources of other offices - expertise and personnel - in staffing your projects?

Stadulis: The Washington office is fully integrated into the firm. Stradley Ronon has done an outstanding job in integrating all of its offices into a unitary operation. I spend a great deal of time in Philadelphia, as do all of our people in Washington, and people from Philadelphia and our other offices in Harrisburg and Malvern, Pennsylvania; Cherry Hill, New Jersey; and Wilmington, Delaware are here on a regular basis. In light of that connection, drawing upon the resources of the firm, wherever they may reside, is an easy proposition.

Editor: Where does the firm propose to take the Washington operation? Is there a plan for strategic growth?

Stadulis: The current plan is to broaden and deepen the investment management group. The investment management world is divided into a variety of practice areas, including fund registration, counseling clients and investment advisers, broker-dealer matters, and so on. Our plan is to expand the breadth and depth of that work. Another focus concerns the expansion of our government relations practice. In addition, the securities enforcement group is committed to building a strong practice anchored in Washington. Over time we will seek out other practice areas that complement what is already in place, either here in Washington or elsewhere in the firm.

Editor: Please tell us about Washington as a place to live and work. How do you "pitch" the city when you are attempting to bring in recent law graduates or young lateral hires from elsewhere?

Stadulis: Washington, DC sells itself. It is a wonderful place to live and a great place to raise a family. So far as professional life is concerned, it is one of the best places in the country to practice at the very top of the profession and on cutting-edge legal issues. We do not have a problem in getting people to locate to Washington. So far as where we go to look for talent, the federal government is an excellent source of good, and experienced, lawyers in a variety of areas. If we are looking for an SEC enforcement background, in all probability we are going to look at the SEC first. With respect to investment management, we are probably going to seek out an attorney at the SEC or in private practice here in Washington.

There is no sense within the firm that in order to move up the ladder an attorney needs to be in Philadelphia. This is a firm that has been around since the 1920s, and it possesses an institutional confidence in its branch offices and in the people who work there. This is one firm, and people who are successful in their practices are not more so, or less so, because of where they reside.

Editor: What about the future? What would you like Stradley Ronon's Washington presence to look like in, say, five years?

Stadulis: Over the next five years I would like to see the office expand in size considerably. Having said that, I would rather have 10 outstanding people who support the firm's culture and values than 50 who do not and who, accordingly, are not happy with where they are. We are cautious in how we go about building this office. We are going to take our time and do things in the right way. We propose to expand the firm's presence in Washington by building teams of practitioners rather than through the acquisition of individual stars. I think we have made an excellent start in the investment management, securities litigation and government relations areas, and I have every expectation that we will be able to develop capabilities in complementary practice areas as well as in areas that are not represented at the moment but where a client demand arises.

Please email the interviewee at lstadulis@stradley.com with questions about this interview.