- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The phones started ringing at the Pennsylvania Avenue law firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP weeks ago.

The clients weren’t looking for their attorneys. They wanted to know the status of their tickets to watch the inauguration parade tomorrow.

“We actually had people calling us saying, ‘Are you having your parade-watching party?’ ” said managing partner Joseph P. Markoski.

“We have people coming from overseas to attend our party,” he said. “For them, it’s a piece of American history.”

The law firm’s prime viewing spot along the parade route offers it a unique chance to show a little hospitality to friends, family members and Washington VIPs, who rub elbows at the buffet table while avoiding the hard bleachers and winter chill outside.

“I think anyone who has an office on Pennsylvania Avenue would be silly not to be doing this,” Mr. Markoski said.

For the last inaugural, heavyweight Republican lobbying shop Barbour Griffith & Rogers LLC (BGR) hosted a star-studded event with comedian Drew Carey, Kelsey Grammer and wife Camille, Hall of Famer Johnny Bench, singer Meat Loaf, and actresses Dana Delaney and Bo Derek.

This year, BGR partner Greg Stevens said he reached out to the Creative Coalition to bring more talent to Washington for the inaugural. The coalition is a social and political advocacy group for the entertainment industry.

“Our party is the most talked-about event” among parade-watching get-togethers, he said.

This year, BGR expects 700 guests at its wood-paneled Pennsylvania Avenue offices, including actors Dennis Hopper, Robert Duvall, Joe Pantoliano, Matthew Modine, Tony Goldwyn and Dixie Carter.

Blue-chip law firms such as Miller & Chevalier and Kirkland & Ellis LLP vie for guests from Capitol Hill and the White House, offering clients a chance to socialize with people they ordinarily wouldn’t meet.

Fur coats are draped over desks, liquor flows freely, and the sizable catering, flower and booze bills are tax deductible.

“Sure. It’s business. A promotional expense,” said Wright H. Andrews, whose law firm Butera & Andrews expects to host several hundred guests tomorrow for lunch. “And it’s part of the Washington scene.”

Large-screen televisions will be set up in conference rooms, where guests can drink bloody marys while watching the swearing-in ceremony.

Mr. Andrews said “a lot of people party hop” up and down the parade route, and the guests are mostly bipartisan. “I find it a celebratory time, regardless of who wins.”

This year, with tighter security measures, guests are being asked to bring their invitations and to provide a photo identification to enter the buildings.

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