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Arnold & Porter's Government Contracts Practice Named a Law360 'Practice Group of the Year' for Fifth Time

December 18, 2020

The consistently exceptional work of Arnold & Porter's Government Contracts practice was again recognized as a Law360 "Practice Group of the Year." The Government Contracts practice's efforts in working on COVID-19 vaccine contracts and its successful defense of Fluor Corporation were just a few highlights of the last year that landed the group on Law360's 2020 list.

Arnold & Porter's Government Contracts group boasts a deep bench of attorneys, many with government experience, that allows the firm to "cover the full waterfront of government contracts," Government Contracts practice chair Craig Holman told Law360.

Having attorneys who have experience inside the government "gives the firm's attorneys an insider's understanding of how the government views the contracting process and what agencies' concerns might be," partner Charles Blanchard said to Law360.

"It's understanding what is a concern on the other side of the table ... or what's driving them—both the pressures they're getting from Congress, which you may not understand if you're not there, and then understanding how [the Department of Defense] and the services are organized," Blanchard said in the profile. "Who are the decision-makers, who needs to be involved in the conversation, and understanding what kinds of issues are important to them," he said.

Law360 highlighted the firm's work in "a number of coronavirus-related deals" Arnold & Porter worked on this year, including representing AstraZeneca in its funding agreements with the federal government. Holman said the Government Contracts group consistently works on important matters, but the COVID-19 work was "profoundly important" and "it would be hard for me to think of anything we've done that would be as important from a societal perspective as our work in the COVID space."

Aside from the COVID-19 work, the practice also successfully represented Fluor Corp. in a case that has far-reaching ramifications for government contractors making mandatory disclosures to the US government.

After an internal investigation revealed a high-ranking employee had an undisclosed conflict of interest, Fluor terminated the employee and disclosed the potential wrongdoing to the government. The former employee then sued Fluor alleging wrongful termination and sought copies of Fluor's internal investigation files. The district court largely granted the request, concluding that the disclosure had waived privilege.

In a rare ruling, the Fourth Circuit granted Arnold & Porter's emergency request for mandamus relief. The Court held the district court had used a "manifestly incorrect" standard in holding Fluor had waived privilege, and mandamus relief was warranted because the order was "particularly injurious" where "Fluor acted pursuant to a regulatory scheme mandating disclosure of potential wrongdoing."

Partner Craig Margolis, lead counsel on the matter, told Law360 that if the court had ruled the other way, "it would have upended the settled understanding of the risks of mandatory disclosures, affecting the disproportionately large number of federal contractors who are headquartered in Maryland and Virginia in order to be close to federal agencies in DC."

» Read the full Law360 profile (subscription required).