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Husch Blackwell adds six attorneys to government compliance group

Husch Blackwell has added six news attorneys its Government Compliance and Investigations team.

Catherine Hanaway, former U.S. Attorney and former speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives, will lead the group.

Cynthia Cordes, a federal prosecutor for the Western District of Missouri who specializes in human trafficking cases, will join Husch’s Kansas City office as a partner on Sept. 30.

The other members of the group are Jeff Jensen and Matthew Schelp, both from St. Louis-based Jensen Bartlett & Schelp, who are joining as partners; Matt Diehr, also from Jensen Bartlett & Schelp, who is joining as an associate; and Lisa Ottolini, who worked with Hanaway at Ashcroft Hanaway in Clayton and will be a senior counsel at Husch. All but Cordes began their new jobs on Tuesday.

The addition of the six brings the number of attorneys who will work solely on government compliance and investigations up to nine, the law firm said in a press release.

The practice area is an expanding one, and CEO Greg Smith said the firm plans to continue to add to the group.

“Government investigations and compliance … is a pretty significant focus across the country at both a federal and a state investigative level,” Smith said in a telephone interview. It isn’t a partisan issue — just a fact that new layers of federal and state regulation in the health care and financial services industries require “constant work to advise companies on compliance with those regulations,” he said.

Hanaway said the group will focus on white-collar criminal defense, internal investigations and compliance with federal regulations.

“The current administration in Washington is very aggressively targeting corporations for the enforcement of the full menu of regulatory limitations on their abilities to do business,” Hanaway said in a telephone interview. “And as a result lots of companies need assistance navigating this more troubled regulatory environment.”

Hanaway, a Republican, served as speaker of the state House from 2003 until 2005. She then served four years as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. In 2009, Hanaway joined the Ashcroft Law Firm, partnering with former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.

She described the Ashcroft firm as tailored to do national and international work and as one created to perform crisis legal service. While Husch can provide that kind of legal help during crises, it can also help clients with transactions, succession planning or any of the “full range of legal services,” she said. In addition, at Husch she will be able to focus on the Midwest and the South, where she said she has the greatest understanding of the legal markets, clients and courts.

As a partner at Ashcroft Hanaway, the lawyer commanded hourly rates of $793 in 2012 doing complex civil litigation and white-collar criminal defense. The rate was the highest for a Missouri attorney among those in Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s Billing Rates section.

The move to Husch does not mean Hanaway won’t run for governor, she said. “Serious-minded people” are encouraging her to run, and Hanaway said she is considering that advice.

Hanaway earned her law degree from The Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America in 1990 and began her legal career at Peper, Martin, Jensen, Maichel & Hetlage, a predecessor firm to Husch Blackwell.

Cordes graduated from the University of Notre Dame Law School in 2004 and became an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri. While in law school, Cordes was a summer associate at Blackwell Sanders Peper Martin.

“I think the firm is trying to put together a really dynamic and strong team,” she said in a telephone interview. “So they have approached people with different backgrounds but [who] will still be able to contribute to a strong government investigations, white collar practice group.”

Cordes is the head of a multiagency task force on human trafficking, leading more than 20 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and more than 60 nongovernment victim service providers. She has prosecuted more human trafficking cases than any Assistant U.S. Attorney in the country, according to the law firm press release. She said in an email that she prosecuted more than 50 defendants in human trafficking cases — “more if you include child exploitation.”

She said the connections she developed with federal agencies — such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the State Department —will help the firm develop an international focus.

“Having contacts and relationships in Washington, D.C., and locally is going to be something that will help,” Cordes said.

Jensen began his career as a certified public accountant for PricewaterhouseCoopers. In 1998, 10 years after receiving his undergraduate degree, Jensen graduated from Saint Louis University School of Law. He served as an FBI agent from 1989 until 1999 and then as a federal prosecutor for the Eastern District of Missouri until 2009. In 2006, Hanaway named him Executive U.S. Attorney. Most recently, Jensen practiced with Jensen Bartlett & Schelp and as senior adviser to the Ashcroft Law Firm.

Schelp graduated from the University of Missouri School of Law in 1996, then served three years of active duty in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps and later joined Husch & Eppenberger. He also served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri, where he was the securities fraud coordinator and the deputy health care fraud coordinator. Most recently, he practiced with Jensen Bartlett & Schelp and as senior adviser to the Ashcroft Law Firm.

Ottolini left Ashcroft Hanaway to join Husch. After graduating from Washington University School of Law in 1990, she joined Peper, Martin, Jensen, Maichel & Hetlage. She worked in private practice, served as psychotherapist with Lutheran Family and Children Services of Missouri and served as director of external affairs for Washington University School of Law.

Diehr had worked for Jensen Bartlett & Schelp since November 2010. Prior to joining the Jensen firm, Diehr handled commercial litigation, personal injury matters and contractual disputes, according to the Jensen website. He is licensed to practice in the Missouri and Illinois state courts and the federal courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Missouri. He graduated from Saint Louis University School of Law in 2009.