State's new water lawyer will make $855 an hour

That's a 10 percent discount off the $950 an hour normally billed by premier litigator Seth Waxman, Bert Brantley, a spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue, said Friday.

Early this week, Perdue named Waxman to be lead lawyer for Georgia's appeal of a July ruling by a federal judge who found it is illegal for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to draw water from Lake Lanier to meet metro Atlanta's needs.

"I consider it an honor to represent Georgia in this critically important matter," Waxman said Friday. Waxman served as U.S. solicitor general during the Clinton administration from 1997 through January 2001.

He replaced Paul Clement, a King & Spalding attorney who withdrew from the case because of a possible conflict of interest. Clement was counsel of record for the Corps of Engineers -- another party in the water litigation -- when he served as U.S. solicitor general for President George W. Bush. Clement would likely have earned a rate comparable to Waxman's, Brantley said.

Waxman now chairs the appellate and U.S. Supreme Court practice group for the Washington law firm Wilmer Hale.

His reputation appears to make him ideally suited to handle what could be one of the most consequential cases in Georgia history. Waxman was recently named a 2010 "Bet-The-Company Litigator of the Year” by Best Lawyers, the oldest peer-review referral guide in the legal profession.

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