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Then a college classmate who worked in the U.S. Attorney's office in D.C. called and suggested he apply for a job there. Adelman thought it might be a good fit, since his model in law school had been Tony Amsterdam L'60, professor of criminal law and a man Adelman describes to this day as his "shining light." Inspired by knowledge that Amsterdam himself had served in Washington's U.S. Attorney's office and written a book on criminal procedure based largely on D.C. cases after clerking for U. S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, Adelman interviewed for the job, was offered one and instantly signed on.

From having "no idea what I wanted to do about practicing law when I got out of law school" to a happenstance opportunity to be a prosecutor, Adelman had found his calling. "I never thought I'd be a prosecutor, but once I got into it, I just loved it." After nearly 20 years as a federal prosecutor, longer than most spend, Adelman joined the D. C. office of Pittsburgh-based Kirkpatrick & Lockhart in 1987. While Adelman was at the Kirkpatrick firm, he was appointed by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr as Senior Counsel to direct the investigation of White House travel office firings ("Travelgate"), a post Adelman held for several months during 1996 until it turned out that his firm had a potential conflict of interest because clients it represented might have been involved in matters Starr's office was probing.
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