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Mayor's new lawyer needs to join D.C. Bar

On Thursday, a personnel shuffle prompted by the departure of Office of Risk Management Director Kelly Valentine promoted Kai Blissett, a longtime policy aide to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, to become his interim general counsel.

But before Blissett can start work as the top attorney for the Executive Office of the Mayor, she has one bit of business to attend to: She needs to join the District of Columbia Bar.

Blissett, a 2006 graduate of Howard Law School, was admitted as a member of the Maryland bar is 2007. A bio provided by the mayor's office says she's served as a staffer in the Office of Policy and Legislative Affairs since that year; it does not mention any experience practicing law. Before attending law school, Blissett worked as a high-school math teacher in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Under D.C. Bar rules, because Blissett hasn't yet been barred elsewhere for five years, she must present qualifying scores on the Multistate Bar Examination and the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination to join without having to re-take the exams.

"She is D.C. Bar eligible and is waiting on review and approval of her [application], which has been submitted," mayoral spokesperson Mafara Hobson said in an e-mail.

Fenty has previously shown an affinity for attorneys without traditional legal expertise. Shortly after Fenty won election as mayor in 2006, his pick for attorney general, Linda Singer, came under criticism for not being a D.C. Bar member. In fact, she hadn't practiced law in years, having been a founder of the Appleseed network of policy nonprofits.

The scope of the general counsel's duties has expanded and contracted over the course of the Fenty administration -- it expanded when longtime friend Peter Nickles took the job upon Fenty's inauguration, carving out for himself a broad role in executive operations; it contracted when Nickles left the post to replace Singer, taking most of those responsibilities with him to the attorney general's office.

Nickles' successor and Blissett's predecessor, Andrew "Chip" Richardson, had kept a low profile since take the G.C. job -- reviewing rulemakings and Freedom of Information Act appeals, among other tasks. He briefly came to the fore due to his role in the controversial donation of an ambulance and fire truck to the Dominican Republic. Richardson now replaces Valentine as interim Risk Management director.

By Mike DeBonis  |  July 2, 2010; 5:03 PM ET
Categories:  Adrian Fenty , The District  | Tags: Adrian Fenty, Chip Richardson, Kai Blissett, Peter Nickles, attorney general, general counsel  
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Next: DeMorning DeBonis: July 6, 2010


i hope you save the late friday foolishness for monday morning recaps.

It isn't unheard of to be barred in MD and not DC. But until she has been admitted in DC, she should not be allowed to serve in that job.

Posted by: mamaspearl | July 2, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

reaching, reaching, reaching... phoooey. nothing there.

Posted by: secochran | July 3, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Here we go again, another unqualified person getting a big job with the "New Jack City" administration.

Posted by: fivetogo | July 6, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

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