One might lament the constant high-stakes litigation that roils our world, but one cannot help marvel at the extraordinary quality of the professionals who do the litigating. Last month’s annual American Lawyer “Litigator of the Year” awards certainly underscores the variety of their skills and the decisive impact of their work.
Congratulations to grand prize winner Neal Katyal of the Washington, DC office of Hogan Lovells who has surpassed Thurgood Marshall as the minority lawyers with the most U.S. Supreme Court arguments. Katyal won the historic case for Bristol Meyers Squibb that limits forum-shopping in mass torts cases, shielded Wells Fargo from Fair Housing Actions by local governments, and beat the Trump travel ban on two occasions.
The seven other lawyers named by AmLaw are equally deserving of mention. Karen Dunn has proved there’s more to Boies Schiller Flexner than perennial star David Boies as Dunn has become one of the tech industry’s litigators of choice. “Melveny & Myers'” Dan Petrocelli has been garnering these kinds of honorifics for years, last year adding Donald Trump to his list of illustrious entertainment industry clients.
Brad Karp of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison is the financial industry litigator sine qua non, racking up must-wins for Citigroup and Chase last year. No litigator list is complete without someone from Kirkland & Ellis; trial lawyer extraordinaire James Hurst is that firm’s current honoree. Dechert’s Alexander Levander distinguished himself last year in the Takata airbag fracas and proved to be a go-to defender in FCPA cases.
Joshua Rosenkranz of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe is a SCOTUS winner from outside the Beltway, with signal victories last year in the Second Circuit on behalf of Microsoft and Bank of America. Davis Polk & Wardwell’s James Rouhandeh is a lawyer’s lawyer; last year he got the imperiled Texas attorney immunity doctrine upheld in the Fifth Circuit.
Great litigators are like baseball players. For every nine Hall of Famers on the field, nine more are waiting in the dugout.