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the '70s

Robert Russel, JD ’56, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was honored with a judicial building in his name in honor of his 20 years of service as district attorney. Russel was a recognized leader in fields such as homicide trials, child abuse, welfare fraud, child support, and juvenile crime. Russel now is retired after 47 years of practicing law.

the '70s

Jeremy Sachs, JD ’68, in 2002 retired from a 30-year career in international business and corporate legal practice. This year, he will receive his master’s degree in Judaic studies from the University of Connecticut. Sachs is looking forward to a new career as a translator, interpreter, and commercial writer.

the '80s

Richard A. Killworth, JD ’70, LLM ’72, was recognized as a leader in the field of intellectual property law by Chambers USA’s America’s Leading Lawyers for Business in June. Killworth is a partner with Dinsmore & Shohl in Dayton, Ohio. Formerly a patent examiner with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Killworth also clerked for two years in what is now the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In addition to practicing for more than 30 years, Killworth has taught at Ohio State University College of Law, and the University of Dayton and the University of Miami law schools. Killworth has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since its inception.

In Irvine, Calif., Gary Lane, LLM ’70, serves as general counsel to the Khoshbin Companies, which handle commercial real estate investments throughout the United States. Lane has served as dean at both Abraham Lincoln University Law School and California Pacific School of Law and was a law professor at Pepperdine University and law schools in Delaware and Oklahoma. Lane’s practice has focused on representing major hospitals, including Santa Monica Medical Center and California Medical Center, Los Angeles. His specialties are business, contracts, and regulatory practice. “Having graduated from five universities, I enjoyed GW Law the most and found the students to be the most conscientious about studying to advance their careers,” Lane writes.

Maine Gov. John Baldacci appointed Eliot H. Stanley, JD ’72, to a three-year term on the Maine Regulatory Fairness Board, which considers complaints from small business owners on adverse effects of state or federal regulatory actions. Since 2005, Stanley has also been recognized in Who’s Who in America. He also was a member of the Brookings Institution’s seminar on national security. The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights honored Stanley with a distinguished service award for his work on Boston school desegregation from 1975-06. Stanley resides in Portland, Maine.

At the request of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, David Day, JD ’74, was chosen by the State Department as its special adviser and principal speaker on Vietnam on controversial topics including corruption, bribery, and business ethics. In May and June, Day—as a representative of the U.S. private sector—conducted a series of meetings between U.S. and Vietnamese government officials on these topics to eventually develop initiatives to improve the business climate for American and other foreign investors in Vietnam. In 1997, Day was instrumental with brokering the creation of the first public discussions on economic normalization among several ambassadors and ministers that led to the initial MFN (Bilateral Trade Agreement) draft between the United States and Vietnam. Day resides in Honolulu, where he practices law and often as an international mediator and arbitrator throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

Steven L. Cantor, JD ’75, was recognized as one of the Top 100 private client attorney wealth advisers by Citywealth Magazine. The magazine held a special event for honorees in London. Cantor, who is managing partner in the international tax and estate planning law firm of Cantor & Webb in Miami, also was included in the 2006 edition of Best Lawyers in America.

Renowned construction litigator and government contracts attorney Larry D. Harris, JD ’75, joined the Washington office of Greenberg Traurig in July. He is a member of the firm’s construction litigation and government contracts practices. Harris has extensive experience with areas including contract negotiation and dispute resolution and contractor and owner representation. Harris serves as a mediator and is on the American Arbitration Association’s national construction panel. Harris also has been named one of the top construction lawyers in Washington by Chambers since 2003. Harris is active with the GW Law Alumni Association and the Black Law Alumni Association. He is vice chair of the Board of Trustees of Norwood School in Bethesda, Md.

In May, Earle O’Donnell, JD ’75, was listed as one of the top 10 attorneys in the field of energy law by Legal Times. He was also named as a leading individual in electrical energy in Washington by Chambers USA 2005. O’Donnell serves on the board of the nonprofit Alliance to Save Energy and is a partner with Dewey Ballantine.

Susan Foreman Jordan, JD ’76, was named a “Super Lawyer” by Law & Politics magazine and Philadelphia Magazine for 2006. Jordan is a partner with Fox Rothschild’s Pittsburgh office and specializes in employee benefits law, tax law, and trusts and estates. She has also been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America 2005-2006, Pennsylvania Law Weekly, and The Legal Intelligencer.

With 25 years of experience in labor and employment law litigation on behalf of companies in state and federal courts, Bradd N. Siegel, JD ’77, is ranked as the number one employment attorney in Central Ohio by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business. He serves as co-editor for Ohio Employment Law Letter. In 1999, Siegel was elected a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He has also been recognized by The Best Lawyers in America, Law & Politics, and Cincinnati Magazine.

Richard L. Byrne, JD ’78, has been named a 2006 Pennsylvania Super lawyer for his expertise as a patent attorney in The Webb Law Firm. The firm is based in Pittsburgh and concentrates exclusively in intellectual property law. Byrne also ranked among The Best Lawyers in America this year. After graduating from GW Law, Byrne clerked and served as technical adviser to the Hon. Jack R. Miller, associate judge of what is now the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He is the author of numerous articles on IP topics; is a former president of the Pittsburgh IP Law Association; and is admitted to the Supreme Court.

Honolulu attorney Marvin Dang, JD ’78, was appointed to the ABA’s 13-member Coalition for Justice in September. The coalition’s goal is to help restore public confidence in the justice system by developing a broad-based network of organizations that will support and participate in justice system improvements at the state and local levels. Dang has practiced in Hawaii for 28 years and is the managing member of the Law Offices of Marvin S.C. Dang. Dang also received the Annual Small Firm Practitioner Merit Award from the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division of the ABA at its annual convention in Honolulu in August.

Special counsel on air quality for the Houston City Attorney Paulette Wolfson, JD ’78, recently coauthored an article in the State Bar of Texas’ Environmental Law Journal. The article, “Watch Out for the City: Local Government Can Enforce,” explains the role of municipality under Texas environmental law

the '90s

Dana Dembrow, JD ’80, was appointed as a judge of the Maryland State Board of Contract Appeals by Gov. Robert L. Ehrilich Jr. He was sworn in on July 19. Dembrow practices in Sykesville, Md.

In August, Charles A. Berardesco, JD ’83, was promoted to vice president, associate general counsel, chief compliance officer, and corporate secretary of Constellation Energy, a Fortune 200 company based in Baltimore. Berardesco also is active in community and charitable organizations and serves as chair of the Woodbourne Center, a child care agency. He also is chair of the church council of Foundry United Methodist Church and a member of the board of directors of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. Berardesco lives in Washington with his partner, Jeffrey Thurston.

Specializing in employment law and commercial litigation matters, Jonathan F. Bloom, JD ’85, was named a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for 2006 by Philadelphia Magazine. He is a partner with Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young in Philadelphia and serves as chairman of the firm’s employment and labor department.

Jimmy Horowitz, JD ’86, was promoted to co-president of production and executive vice president of Universal Pictures. He oversees all non-creative aspects of production from inception to delivery. Horowitz also assumes overall responsibility for Universal’s growing original and adapted theatrical stage production business around the world. Horowitz joined the studio in 1992, and most recently served as executive vice president of business and legal affairs. Prior to joining Universal, Horowitz served as counsel for the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.

Specializing in civil and criminal antitrust matters, Bernard Nigro, JD ’86, is now a partner at the Washington office of Willkie Farr & Gallagher. He previously served as deputy director of the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Competition. Nigro resides in McLean, Va.

Elizabeth I. Hack, JD ’88, was elected to partner of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal in Washington. She practices in the litigation and business regulation group, specializing in civil litigation involving civil rights discrimination and heath care fraud and abuse. Hack represents clients in the pharmaceutical and health systems industries in federal and state court litigation, government investigations and compliance matters involving government drug price reporting, FDA drug importation, and Americans with Disabilities Acts public access issues.

Fannie Mae promoted Juliana Schulte O’Reilly, JD ’89, to vice president and general counsel. She represents the company before the Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Previously, she was director and managing associate general counsel of Fannie Mae’s legal department, providing advice and counseling on similar matters. O’Reilly joined Fannie Mae in 1999 after serving as partner in the financial services group at Venable in Washington. She also serves as the vice chair of the American Bar Association’s Banking Law Committee.

the '00s

Gary J. Lieberman, JD ’90, joined the national law firm of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge in its Boston—Federal Street office. He serves as counsel in the litigation management department. Lieberman’s litigation expertise lies in federal and state employment and labor laws, including discrimination, retaliation, discipline, wrongful discharge, contract disputes, and collective bargaining matters.

A named partner with Smith, Strong & Schlesinger in Washington, Maria Strong, JD ’90, practices copyright and international trade law. She provides legal counseling and policy advocacy for clients in the audiovisual, publishing, software, recording, and 3-commerce industries, in both international and domestic arenas. Strong resides in Silver Spring, Md.

A resident of Fairfax, Va., Cherie L. Halyard, JD ’92, joined the Office of the Commissioner of Revenue in Arlington, Va., as deputy commissioner of revenue. She provides legal counsel to the commissioner of revenue, who is the tax assessing officer for Arlington County for personal property, business property and licenses, as well as custodial taxes such as restaurant tax and transient occupancy tax.

Specializing in intellectual property counseling and patent prosecution, John Phillips, JD ’92, was named managing principal of Fish & Richardson’s San Diego office. His areas of expertise are Internet-related technologies, computer software, and communications and electronics.

R. Scott Beach, JD ’93, was selected as a winner in the Fairfield County, Connecticut, 2006 “40 under 40” competition. The award recognizes young business professionals who have demonstrated talent for leadership, measurable success in their chosen field, and outstanding promise. Beach is a partner in Day, Berry & Howard’s Greenwich office and serves as chair of the firm’s emerging companies and venture finance practice. A recognition ceremony for the award recipients was held in Stamford, Conn., on June 1. Beach serves on the board of directors of the Connecticut Venture Group and serves as co-chair of the business law committee of the Fairfield County Bar Association. He and his wife, Emery, and their three children reside in Redding, Conn.

In his fifth and latest book, Killing Our Oceans: Dealing with the Mass Extinction of Marine Life (Greenwood/Praeger, 2006), author John Kunich, LLM ’93, argues that human activity is causing the first mass extinction in 65 million years. In June, the book was featured on Meg Jordan’s internationally syndicated radio program on the Global Health Network. The book also has received widespread media coverage. Kunich is an associate professor of law at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va. He resides in Charlotte, N.C.

Steve LaForte, BA ’86, JD ’93, is a member of the Seattle-based Nathanson Group. He practices in the areas of real estate, corporate finance, and healthcare, focusing on representing clients on transactional matters on a national basis with the long-term care and senior housing industries. LaForte lives in Seattle with his wife, Laura, and their three children.

Greenbaum, Rowe, Smith & Davis named Peter D. Crawford Jr., JD ’95, a partner of the firm. He is a member of the firm’s tax, trusts, and estates department. He concentrates on estate planning, wills and trusts, estate administration, and tax-exempt organizations. He has represented many of New Jersey’s major banks in the administration of trusts and estates. Crawford also is a member of the historical advisory commission of Upper Makefield Township in Bucks County, Penn. Crawford is admitted to practice in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

Marci Rose Levine, JD ’95, was promoted to partner in Sonnenschein’s Washington office. She is a member of the firm’s Health Care Group and focuses her practice on corporate and transactional matters. Levine has extensive experience representing a broad range of health care organizations, including hospitals and health systems, physician practices, managed care organizations, and pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers. She also provides counsel to private equity firms, venture capitalists, and other organizations in the financial services sector that are invested in the health care industry.

Previously an assistant United States attorney in Washington, Chad Sarchio, JD ’95, joined the Drug Enforcement Administration’s International Law Section as a senior attorney. In December 2005, he and his wife, Christina Guerola Sarchio, JD ’95, welcomed their second child, Raquel. The family resides in Alexandria, Va.

Musa L. Eubanks, JD ’96, joined the Atlanta office of Hall Booth Smith & Slover as a senior associate.

SES Americom, a satellite operator located in Princeton, N.J., promoted Aaron Shourie, JD ’96, to vice president and corporate counsel. He now resides in Moorestown, N.J., with his wife, Teresa, and two children, Bishan and Maya.

Yale Law School reappointed Todd Bussert, JD ’97, as a visiting lecturer for the 2006-07 academic year. Bussert resides in New Haven, Conn.

Nicholas P. Crowell, JD ’98, was elevated to partner in the litigation practice of Sidley Austin in New York. He focuses on complex securities and commercial litigation matters. While at GW Law, Crowell was editor-in-chief of The George Washington Journal of International Law and Economics.

In the Philadelphia office of Reed Smith, Reetu Dandora, JD ’98, was elected a partner. She has been with the firm since 1998. Dandora resides in Philadelphia.

Karen (Lowy) Tinsky, JD ’98, returned to Washington from Miami Beach, Fla., in August. She is associate general counsel with Booz Allen Hamilton. Tinsky and her husband, Craig, live in Dupont Circle with their two children, Ezra and Elle.

In August, Tobi “T.C.” Clinton, JD ’99, founded the Clinton Firm Professional Corporation, which handles a wide variety of legal matters, including personal injury, real estate, and criminal and family law. The firm also has extensive experience prosecuting patents, copyrights, and trademarks. The firm is located in Vallejo, Calif. Prior to founding the firm, Clinton spent seven years in private practice. Also in August, Clinton became a licensed California real estate broker.

In October, Michael Whalen, JD ’99, became a partner with Goodwin Proctor in Washington. He concentrates on business law and financial services, regularly advising banks, bank holding companies, broker-dealers, mortgage companies, and other financial institutions on a range of transactional and regulatory matters. He has extensive experience in mortgage lending, credit card, and deposit account matters.

the '00s

Roberto Diaz-Luong, JD ’01, joined the Seattle office of Preston Gates & Ellis in its tax, trusts, and estates practice. He has extensive experience in international and corporate tax issues. He advises clients on outbound and inbound investments, domestic and international tax planning, partnership formations, corporate reorganizations, and other matters.

Miami-based IP firm Feldman Gale named Richard Guerra, JD ’03, an associate in October. Guerra focuses on commercial litigation and IP litigation. Most recently, he worked with Fowler Rodriguez & Chalos. Guerra is a member of the Florida Bar and the Miami-Dade County Bar Association. He is admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and is registered to practice before U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He resides in Coconut Grove, Fla.

The Hon. Anibal Acevedo-Vila, governor of Puerto Rico, appointed Joel A. Montalvo, LLM ’03, a special assistant. Previously, Montalvo worked on Capitol Hill as legislative assistant to the resident commissioner from Puerto Rico, advising on immigration, trade, agriculture, small business, and welfare issues. He has also written articles in a variety of publications, including Foreign Affairs Custom Anthology and the PCUPR Law Journal.

After completing a clerkship for the Hon. Jacques L. Wiener Jr., of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Court of New Orleans, James Cobb, JD ’05, joined the litigation practice of Ropes & Gray in Boston.

Harry J. Gutman, JD ’06, joined Dinsmore & Shohl in the firm’s litigation department. He focuses on IP law for the Cincinnati office.

On Risks and Ethics

There was a difficult stretch a few years ago at Duke Energy, a Fortune 500 company that played a small part in the California energy crisis. But it has emerged with its reputation restored, and Martha Wyrsch, JD ’86, played an important role in its comeback. As general counsel for Duke Energy, Wyrsch made legal decisions that were both ethical and financially sound during that recovery period. Now, she’s the president of one of the company’s major subsidiaries, Duke Energy Gas Transmission.

When she first started at GW Law, Wyrsch wasn’t dreaming of becoming a corporate attorney, much less a top-level executive. But she has always taken daring leaps.

Coming out of small-town Wyoming, her original plan was to graduate from the University of Wyoming (in 1980) and go straight to law school. But Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), a family friend, convinced Wyrsch to come to D.C. and join his staff as a legislative assistant. After a few years of working for Simpson—during which time she met and married Gerry Wyrsch, BA ’81, who also worked on Capitol Hill—Wyrsch chose to stay in Washington and attend GW Law.

“Being in Washington was scary, exhilarating, and intellectually stimulating. You can do anything there,” Wyrsch says.

Sorting through the intricacies of tort law in the Jacob Burns Law Library with a study group she remains close to today, hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and going to Orioles games with her husband are among Wyrsch’s favorite memories of GW Law.

“I was struck by how diverse the culture was at school and in D.C., and the countryside around D.C. is so lush,” says Wyrsch, who now is a member of GW Law’s Board of Advisors.

Wyrsch says her GW Law experience emphasized the importance of ethics, and also connected her with jobs in the nation’s capital. One of her favorite professors was Joel Seligman, who steered her toward an internship with the Securities and Exchange Commission during her third year.

After graduation, Wyrsch returned to the West to become an associate attorney for Davis, Graham & Stubbs in Denver. In 1991, she was hired by one the firm’s clients, KN Energy, where she eventually became the company’s vice president, secretary, and general counsel. KN Energy grew from around $900 million in assets to $9 billion in assets while Wyrsch was there, and when the company was expanding through large and small acquisitions, she was often in the thick of the dealings. This is what led Duke Energy to recruit and hire her in 1999 as a senior vice president, general counsel, and secretary for Duke Energy Field Services.

At Duke Energy, Wyrsch is greatly aided by the consideration of proper ethics in part instilled in her by her GW Law education. She says one of the most difficult tasks of her career was helping to guide the company through the turbulent years of corporate scandals.

“Helping to manage a company through a downturn in trust of corporations was challenging. I learned a lot about how important it is to run a company with ethics,” Wyrsch says. “This company came through intact.”

Wyrsch also played an important role in Duke Energy’s $8.5 billion acquisition of Westcoast Energy in 2002, and she has received a number of promotions in a relatively short period of time. In 2004, she was named group vice president, general counsel, and secretary—responsible for the company’s legal affairs and compliance activities, as well as audit, security, business continuity, ethics, and insurance. Now, she’s president of Duke Energy Gas Transmission.

She will add “CEO” to her title when Duke Energy Gas Transmission separates on Jan. 1 from parent Duke Energy to become a standalone company. She will continue to lead the new company’s natural gas operations that include about 17,500 miles of transmission pipeline and 250 billion cubic feet of storage capacity in the United States and Canada. The company also has natural gas gathering, processing, and distribution assets and natural gas liquids operations that are among the largest in Canada.

Wyrsch believes that, in viewing her path to success, there are some identifiable lessons for young lawyers and law students interested in corporate law to gain. She would advise them to place a premium on ethical practices, to balance work and external interests, and of course, never to be afraid to take some risks.

Dan Williams

Making Time for What Matters

Even by hectic Washington standards, Marc L. Fleischaker, JD ’71, is a very busy man.

Claire Dugan

As chairman of Arent Fox for more than a decade, Fleischaker has mastered balancing numerous client and administrative duties—and also has managed to carve out time for pro bono commitments, governing board obligations, and personal time with his family.

“When you get to do a lot of different things, it makes for a much more interesting practice,” Fleischaker says. “Arent Fox has always allowed me to work on various interests and has helped me satisfy that itch.”

His 35-year practice with the firm has included work in diverse fields including litigation, antitrust, environmental law, corporate law, and intellectual property. In 2004, Washingtonian named him a “Top Environmental Lawyer.” Much of his recent concentration has been representing trade associations, where he represents clients in such diverse industries as college stores, credit counseling organizations, wood products, automotive parts, and grain. This practice area is part of Arent Fox’s non-profit initiative. His law firm boasts one of the largest practices in the country that represents trade associations, museums, foundations, and other non-profit organizations.

Fleischaker came to Arent Fox immediately upon graduating from GW Law. He also holds a bachelor of science degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance and Commerce, from which he graduated in 1967.

“GW Law was good to me,” Fleischaker says. He said the Law School was accommodating to him when he took a semester’s leave to fulfill his National Guard duties. He worked in small local firms while attending GW Law. He fondly recalls his law school years, especially working on The George Washington Law Review. “I got to meet many bright people as a student at GW Law,” he says.

By 1978, Fleischaker was a partner at Arent Fox. Shortly thereafter, in the early 1980s, he was counsel for a class-action discrimination lawsuit against the Library of Congress. “We represented all the female and black professionals,” Fleischaker says. “At that time, there was a glass ceiling that limited their advancement at that agency.” In 1996, Fleischaker was named chairman of the firm.

In addition to his active legal practice, Fleischaker chairs the firm’s executive committee, focusing on strategic planning and partner recruitment. He also devotes considerable time to pro bono and public interest activities, for which Arent Fox has a long tradition of support and commitment.

Fleischaker is the lead attorney representing a group of women farmers in a pending discrimination case against the Department of Agriculture. Arent Fox also provides pro bono counsel to Washington’s Whitman-Walker Clinic, the Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Legal Aid Society. The firm has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to pro bono work and for years has allowed attorneys to receive billable credit for pro bono hours. Arent Fox awards annual diversity scholarships to law students and also adopted a local elementary school to which both attorneys and staff have dedicated thousands of volunteer hours. The firm was named one of the “Best Places to Work in Greater Washington” by the Washington Business Journal in 2006.

“If you work hard, value excellence in your client activities, and are profitable, you can do other things,” Fleischaker says. “Pro bono work is very important to us here at Arent Fox. We believe it is vital to be part of the communities where we live and to give back to those communities and their people.”

Fleischaker’s community is Washington, and one can immediately see from a flood of governance board activities just how dedicated he is making the nation’s capital a better place. He serves on the executive committee of the Council for Court Excellence, which works to improve the administration of justice in the local and federal courts and related agencies. In addition, he is currently a member of the board of directors and executive committees for both the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. Previously, he served as co-chair for both organizations. Fleischaker was honored for his work at the 2003 National Lawyers’ Committee gala and again this year when he was awarded the Washington Committee’s 2006 Wiley Branton Award for his civil rights advocacy.

The Appleseed Foundation is yet another organization that benefits from having Fleischaker on its board. He has spent the past two years as co-chair of Appleseed, one of the country’s largest legal pro bono network organizations, whose work includes studies evaluating responses to the Hurricane Katrina crisis and major initiatives to gain full voting rights for the citizens of the District of Columbia.

Additionally, Fleischaker dedicates time as a member of the Economic Club of Washington, the American Society of Association Executives, the Law Firm Pro Bono Project Advisory Committee, and the Federal City Council, an organization of about 200 civic leaders whose goal is to work as a catalyst for progress in Washington.

“There’s a networking aspect, but it’s also an opportunity for those who are fortunate enough to give back,” Fleischaker says.

Fleischaker enjoys spending time with his wife, Phyllis, and their two adult daughters—one of whom lives in New York and works in the publishing industry, and one who followed her father into a career in the law. Fleischaker also is an avid runner who has completed several marathons, enjoys the occasional game of golf, and has published more than 30 articles in legal journals. Fleischaker has found that there is plenty of time to go around, as long as one spends it wisely.

—Claire Duggan


By Steven A. Lerman, JD ’72

Editor’s note: Eight days after suffering a heart attack in May, Steven Lerman, JD ’72, wrote a personal account of the experience (a condensed version of which is presented here), hoping it will resonate with fellow alumni and attorneys. As general counsel of CBS radio and managing partner of Leventhal Senter & Lerman PLLC in Washington, Lerman is used to stress, which his doctors cited as a contributing factor to his heart attack, caused by a blood clot.

Unfortunately, Lerman reports, “Lawyers are used to stress and become inured to its effects, so much so that we may not notice its impact on our physical well-being.” Especially today, with technology making instantaneous communication possible, and expected, “we are practicing law at warp speed. Stress goes with the territory.”

Lerman’s prescription is to maintain healthy habits and to undergo regular stress checks. For an unedited version of his story, please contact him at If, after reading his story, “I can scare one lawyer into taking an aspirin a day, it will have been worth it.”

Uh oh. It’s coming in waves, feels really weird. Only a bad dream? No, it’s still coming, getting worse. I have to sit up. I am sweating. A lot, and everywhere; my face, chest, even my hands. Everything is spinning. Bad soft shell crabs at dinner? Too much Pinot Noir? No. It’s my chest. I am feeling a squeezing sensation in my whole upper body, can’t breathe. An elephant on your chest, that’s what people say it feels like. It does. Must be a heart attack.

“What’s wrong?” Charla asks, light sleeper that she is. I am sitting on the side of the bed, moaning a little. Then I try, like a fool, to stand up, immediately keeling over onto my nightstand. Charla pushes me back on the bed and immediately calls 911

I am starting to think I have “bought the big one,” thinking about Charla, the kids, the office, next week’s schedule. But now the EMTs are here. Jennifer, a strong EMT with freckles, totally in charge, says “hang in there.” I am really cold. The van, which has no shocks, proceeds toward Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md.

On ER, there are tons of people in the emergency room 24 hours a day. Well, I have a news flash—at 3 a.m. on a Sunday, it is not exactly a beehive of activity. So everyone is now crowded around my gurney. They give me heparin and morphine for the pain, which immediately makes me nauseous, and suddenly there go the soft shell crabs, overboard. I am whimpering, trying to keep the expletives to a minimum since there are so many well-intentioned people hovering over me.

A nurse, Grace, is rather methodically shaving all the hair off parts of my body, hooking me up to monitors and IVs; and Yuri Daychak, a young doctor who no doubt has been roused from a deep sleep but does not show it, says it is great I got here so quickly and then explains the procedure—he’s going to perform a coronary angioplasty.

“This is going to hurt even though I gave you some local anesthetic,” he says as he inserts a catheter into the femoral artery, entering through the groin area. As advertised, it hurts like hell, but everything is relative and the elephant is hurting a lot worse than poking a hole into my leg. He threads the catheter up to the heart and says he will “light me up,” which he does with dye and an X-ray. I am now watching my heart on the screen, almost with detachment, but for the overweight, ever-present elephant.

Daychak now inflates a tiny balloon at the tip of the catheter which pushes against the artery wall, says “abracadabra,” and suddenly I see the X-ray light up with my artery. It looks like a tree, and blood is flowing to the heart again. I am feeling much better. It’s working. I am going to live. The elephant has left the room.

As for the post-game analysis: I have no heart disease in my family; I work out regularly and have done so for 25 years; I eat pretty carefully. (I did have an addiction to Haagen-Dazs—so sue me—but I have gone cold turkey.)

I had no symptoms. In fact, the day of the attack, I worked out, played a round of golf, and felt terrific. No shortness of breath, no dizziness, no tingling. However, lulled into a false sense of security because of all the aforementioned good news, I have not had a stress test in at least seven years.

So that is my story, the morals of which are: eat your fruits and vegetables, hold the cream cheese on the bagel, easy on the ice cream and the red meat, get regular vigorous exercise, keep the workload manageable, get a good night’s sleep, and don’t worry so much. (Easier said than done, I know.) Also, get a regular checkup, get a stress test even if your doctor does not recommend it and you have to pay for it yourself, take a coated aspirin every day, and get on the statins if you are even in the ballpark of a cholesterol problem. And lastly, if you suspect anything even in the realm of possibility of a heart attack, call 911.

Oh, and by the way, I am a lawyer, not a doctor, so ignore the paragraph above except for the advice about calling the ambulance—on that score I actually know what the heck I am talking about. It could be the last chance you have to save your life.

Carpe diem.

In Memoriam

Helen Bowers Geist, JD ’32
June 4, 2006
New York, N.Y.

Dee W. Pincock, JD ’45
May 16, 2006
Roanoke, Va.

Burton Bridgens, JD ’65
July 7, 2006
Falls Church, Va.

And What About You?

Please write and tell us about your career accomplishments and personal milestones. (If you’ve changed your name since you attended GW, please include your former name.) Send your news and a photo you can spare to:

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