Dwight Patterson Alumna/Alumnus of the Year
Lawyer - Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; Potomac, MD
In 1976, Mitch journeyed from the East coast to NAU to study Criminalistics and to play “small man” (JV) basketball. The JV program at NAU was discontinued so he confined his basketball “talents” to intramural leagues. Criminalistics, at the time, was an extended major of Police Science and Chemistry. He was a cadet in the NAU Air Force ROTC; in 1979, Mitch was named Core Cadet Commander. He graduated in 1980 with Phi Kappa Phi distinction and as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force Reserves. Active duty was postponed while attending the Columbia School of Law, Catholic University of America.
His four year active duty commitment was served primarily in the European Theater (after having been trained by Lindsay Graham, now U.S Senator and Minority Leader) as the chief prosecutor for eight United States Air Force bases in England. Mitch was responsible for all felony trials throughout the European circuit, conducting numerous jury trials, including capital offenses. When honorably discharged, he joined Robert S. Bennett, in the defense practice of white collar crime.
In 1990, Mitch accompanied Bennett to merge with the large and prestigious Washington firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP (sixth largest law firm in the US). For over 20 years, Mitch has represented corporations and individuals under indictments handed down from federal and state grand juries. He handled many high profile national and international cases involving health care fraud, procurement fraud and violations of federal and state conflict of interest, before criminal, civil, administrative and congressional proceedings.
Mitch is known as an expert in the defense of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and currently heads the firm’s Washington, D.C. Government Enforcement Defense Group and the Criminal and Civil Litigation practice. He has represented Boeing, DeVry, Amerigroup Corp, Koch Industries, BCCI, Clark Clifford, Robert Altman and former President Bill Clinton. It should be noted that Mitch also mentors and coaches young attorneys for the Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office in their appellate practice.
His scientific educational background has assisted him in developing particular expertise in qui tam actions (where a private individual who assists in a prosecution can receive all or part of any penalty). He has been named in Chambers USA; America’s Leading Lawyers for Business, and Best Lawyers in America. He has earned the title of Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers. Mitch is married to Carrie Hail Ettinger, a 1985 NAU Dental Hygiene graduate, and lives in Potomac, Maryland.
They have two daughters Jessica (23) and Sara (19).
Mitch was nominated for this award by former NAU professor Jerry Ladhoff. Mitch tells us "Mr. Ladhoff is the reason I graduated from NAU. During Christmas break of my sophomore year, my mother passed away unexpectedly. As a result, I planned to transfer to the University of Maryland to be near my father and family. Mr. Ladhoff counseled me, helped me to have longer vision and to consider the value of the criminalistics program offered at NAU. He helped me to overcome my emotions and make an informed judgment as to whether it made sense to stay at NAU. NAU was blessed to have a professor and advisor as gifted and caring as Mr. Ladhoff. He treated his students with great respect and showered us with care and guidance. The fact that I was even considered for this award is a testament to Mr. Ladhoff's continuing support for his students."