Network Firm News

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Lawyer's Lawyer, Laura Ariane Miller (Nixon Peabody, DC)
Jonathan Groner -- Legal Times -- 06-16-2003

Miller, who has been with the D.C. office of Nixon Peabody and a predecessor firm for 10 years, has represented plenty of lawyers in trouble with bar counsel or a prosecutor's office — often in matters that never become public because no formal actions are taken against her clients.

This specialty developed when she successfully represented Winston Tsai, a Bethesda immigration lawyer, in a four-day trial in 1995. Tsai was indicted on 32 felony counts in federal court in Alexandria, Va., including aiding and abetting marriage fraud and harboring illegal aliens. The indictment stemmed from his representation of seven couples in their attempts to gain permanent U.S. residency.

Miller got nine counts dropped, and a jury acquitted Tsai of the remaining 23.

"Representing lawyers is very interesting and difficult," says Miller, 49. "This was an especially interesting case because what the prosecutor was challenging was the substance of the legal advice that my client was giving."

Miller has had other high-profile cases as well. While working for top defense attorney Plato Cacheris in the early 1990s, she represented David McCloud, chief of staff to then-Sen. Charles Robb (D-Va.) in a highly publicized flap over the secret taping of a phone call by then-Lt. Gov. Douglas Wilder. McCloud ended up pleading guilty to a minor offense.

Miller draws praise for her discretion and behind-the-scenes advice, as well as for her trial skills.

"Laurie's representation has been invaluable. I believe Laurie has preserved my clients' reputation and . . . saved them hundreds of thousands of dollars," says the general counsel of a New York hospital who asked not to be named.

Before going to Yale Law School and clerking for Supreme Court Justice Byron White, Miller was deputy commissioner of the U.S. Administration for Children, Youth, and Families, a major unit in the Department of Health and Human Services. Her next job involved directing the fund raising for the Filene Center at Wolf Trap.

She spent four years learning litigation skills from the legendary Cacheris.

"When a client is in trouble, nothing is more important to them than the matter that they are consulting me about. It could mean their employment, their family relationships," says Miller. "The most important thing is for the client to feel that it is as important to their lawyer as it is to them."

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