Jenner & Block

Highly Regarded Government Contracts Lawyers D. Joe Smith, Gregory Petkoff and Matthew Haws Join Jenner & Block in Washington, DC; Smith Will Chair Government Contracts Practice

WASHINGTON, DC, April 25, 2016 – Jenner & Block is pleased to announce that three partners have joined the firm’s Government Contracts Practice in Washington, DC.  D. Joe Smith, a veteran government contracts lawyer and former business executive, has rejoined the firm as chair of the Government Contracts Practice.  Gregory H. Petkoff, a former Air Force attorney and an experienced bid protest lawyer, and Matthew Haws, a government contracts lawyer and thought leader on contract law, have also joined.

Messrs. Smith, Petkoff and Haws have extensive experience representing large and small businesses and institutions in government contracts litigation, investigations and bid protests.  With more than 40 years of experience, Mr. Smith has been lead counsel for a wide range of defense contractors in both the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals (ASBCA) and the Court of Federal Claims as well as in numerous federal district courts.  He has also been involved in some of the largest transactions in the defense industry.  Mr. Petkoff, a three-decade practitioner, has recorded more than 200 reported decisions in bid protests and has resolved major claims against the government using alternative dispute resolution processes in both the government and private practice.  Mr. Haws advises contractors working through complex issues, including Inspector General investigations, False Claims Act (FCA) filings and suspension/debarment proceedings. 

Under the leadership of Mr. Smith, who served as a Jenner & Block government contracts partner from 1990 to 1998 and most recently with Smith Pachter McWhorter PLC, the Government Contracts platform will continue to serve the firm’s clients in the defense and aerospace sectors as well as aggressively pursue government contracts work with federal civilian agencies and the healthcare sector, among others.  The practice will turn to leverage the firm’s significant capabilities to advise clients on cybersecurity, as new cyber regulations affect government contractors.  

“We are strongly committed to our national Government Contracts Practice,” said Jenner & Block Managing Partner Terrence J. Truax.  “Serving our clients is our number one priority.  Joe, Greg and Matt will enhance our ability to provide sophisticated legal counsel to clients across the government contracts landscape.  Joe’s broad-based industry experience as outside counsel, in-house counsel and a business executive fits well with our clients’ increasing needs for the highest levels of strategic counsel.  Joe is a proven leader and the right person to lead and grow this practice.”

The addition of Messrs. Smith, Petkoff and Haws strengthens the firm’s capabilities to deliver excellence to industry clients across the litigation and transactional spectrum. 

Partner Craig C. Martin, Chair of the firm’s Litigation Department, said:  “The arrival of Joe, Greg and Matt enhances our ability to represent clients in bid protests, cost accounting and other areas of government contracting disputes.” 

Partner Joseph P. Gromacki, Chair of the firm’s Transactional Department, said:  “This group augments our ability to handle a wide range of government contracts transactions on behalf of our clients.”

In addition to his decades of experience as a litigator and transactional lawyer in the government contracts space, Mr. Smith has served as general counsel and CEO of two start-up biotechnology companies.  His understanding of business pressures and goals helps him provide practical and useful advice to clients.  In the area of cost allowability and Cost Accounting Standards (CAS), Mr. Smith has defended contractors against cost disallowances and allegations of CAS noncompliance, including the proper treatment of pension costs, insurance costs and compensation costs as well as continuing costs associated with divested business units.  He has also represented numerous corporate clients facing allegations of fraud, waste and abuse, including several whistleblower actions under the FCA and threatened debarments.  In transactions, he has represented both divesting companies and acquiring companies. 

Mr. Petkoff practiced government contracts law at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (WilmerHale) since 2011, where he pursued and defended major bid protests and advised companies concerning government contract compliance.  He regularly advises companies on pricing and rights in technical data and software contracts as well as multiple award schedule contracts.  He has successfully litigated contract claims at the ASBCA and regularly represented companies appearing before agency debarment officials.  Before moving into the private sector, he practiced government contracts law for more than three decades with the US Air Force, including 17 years in the General Counsel’s Office at the Pentagon.  He provided legal advice on planning and executing major defense acquisition programs.  For 13 years, he led the team that defended Air Force bid protests and for four years was a member of the Defense Acquisition Regulatory Council, where he drafted federal and Defense Department acquisition regulations.  Mr. Petkoff has an active Top Secret (TS/SCI) security clearance. 

Mr. Haws has represented clients in a full range of government contracts matters, including complex claims against the government, disputes between contractors and subcontractors, internal investigations and mandatory disclosures, government contract intellectual property disputes, and interactions with the government related to allowability and allocation of costs.  He spent two years seconded in-house at the legal departments of two of the most significant government contractors in the world.  In addition, Mr. Haws has served in numerous leadership roles in the American Bar Association’s Public Contract Law Section, including as chair of the International Procurement Committee, liaison of the Section of International Law to the Public Contract Law Section, and as a member of the Section's Strategic Planning Committee.  He has also served as the bar association’s representative to the UNCITRAL Working Group on Procurement, and was a member of the Service Contracting Best Practices Task Force.  Mr. Haws joins the firm from WilmerHale.

“We are excited that Joe, Greg and Matt are joining us to help lead the Government Contracts Practice, a core practice area for the firm and the DC office,” said Partner Samuel L. Feder, managing partner of Jenner & Block's Washington, DC office, which is home to about 90 lawyers.  “We continue to grow our broad-based capabilities in Washington across several practices, including complex commercial litigation; investigations and monitorships; communications; government controversies; content, media and entertainment; privacy and cybersecurity; SEC enforcement; and insurance.”

Mr. Smith said: “I am very pleased to be coming home to Jenner & Block with the opportunity to lead the Government Contracts Practice.  With Greg, Matt and the rest of our Government Contracts team, we will continue to serve our clients’ most challenging litigation and transactional needs.”

In 1974, Mr. Smith received his J.D. from Yale Law School as well as an M.A. in political science from Yale University.  He graduated magna cum laude from Anderson College in 1970 with a B.S. degree.  Mr. Petkoff received a J.D. from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1976 and a B.A. from Georgetown University in 1973.  Mr. Haws received his J.D. from George Washington University in 2002; he graduated cum laude from the University of Florida with a B.A. in history and political science in 1998.