A series of links with former US President Bill Clinton has serendipitously led to a new alliance between the Washington DC-based Cov-ington & Burling and international strategic advisory group Kissinger Mc-Larty Associates (KMA).
Although founded by former Secretary of State and staunch Republican Henry Kissinger, the majority of KMA is a cabal of Clintonites.
With a payroll which reads like a who’s who of Washing-ton’s political elite, KMA houses previous White House heavyweights, such as Clin-ton’s former chief of staff Thomas ‘Mack’ McLarty, Nelson Cunning-ham, special adviser to Clinton for Latin American Affairs, and the administration’s Deputy US Trade Representative Richard Fisher.
The formal alliance with Covington signals the culmination of 12 months work between the firm and KMA.
Describing the purpose of the link, Cunningham, speaking exclusively to The Lawyer, said due to a self-imposed rule that KMA does not lobby the US government, the 80-year-old law firm would be better placed to fill that role on behalf of both public service and private sector clients.
Completing the jigsaw, KMA will provide the same service for clients throughout Asia, the Pacific Rim and the Americas.
Covington’s presence in both London and Brussels will also broaden KMA’s reach, since the US-based group has offices in only New York and Washington.
As part of the deal, Fisher and Cunningham will act as senior advisers to Covington.
In turn, KMA will gain as senior advisers Covington of counsel David Marchick and the high-profile Stuart Eizenstat, head of the law firm’s international practice and himself no stranger to the cut and thrust of 1,600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Former President Jimmy Carter’s Chief Domestic Policy Adviser, Eizenstat was also Deputy Treasury Secretary in the final years of the Clinton administration.
Although there is cross-pollination between Coving-ton and KMA, all advisers will continue to be remunerated by their respective firms.
The alliance will see Eizenstat reunited with Fisher, who worked in the Treasury Department of Jimmy Carter’s White House.
But it seems that past ties between Covington and KMA run even deeper.
In keeping with the accepted US practice that law firms can make political donations, Covington is recorded as giving $33,200 (£20,000) to one or more of Clinton’s campaigns.
Also Charles Ruff, a white collar crime expert and partner at Covington, who passed away in 2000, was appointed as White House counsel in 1997 as the Whitewater investigations raged, defending President Clinton during his impeachment trial.
Ruff gained prominence when he became special prosecutor investigating the Watergate break-in and cover-up. He also investigated Gerald Ford in relation to allegations of illegal campaign contributions, although no evidence was found against the then president.
Both Covington and KMA are looking forward to building future contacts and winning new business. Cunningham said: “The world of Washington, like any other capital, can be a small one.”