After leaving government, Dinh founded Bancroft Associates, a for-profit think tank and consulting firm. His attorney wife, Jennifer, works with him. Should movement conservatives continue to wield influence in the White House for another eight years, Dinh would be a logical choice to follow John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the US Supreme Court. His personal story of courage and persistence would be a hard one for liberal Democrats to defeat.
6. Jim Tanner, 37. When University of North Carolina star basketball player Marvin Williams set out to find an agent, Williams & Connolly’s Jim Tanner was one of only two that coach Roy Williams would allow into his Chapel Hill office. Not long after, Tanner and Williams signed an agency agreement.
Sports stars and coaches like this brilliant and personable athlete whose work ethic once led to a top-30 ranking in state juniors tennis and admission to UNC as a prestigious Morehead Scholar.
After law school at the University of Chicago, Tanner interviewed with Lon Babby, a sports-and-entertainment lawyer at Williams & Connolly who had signed a promising client named Grant Hill and begun one of the nation’s most successful sports practices. Tanner became Babby’s closest associate and helped him sign such premier athletes as University of Tennessee star Chamique Holdsclaw.
Tanner says being a relatively young partner has its benefits in the sports industry. That doesn’t mean he’s eager to challenge a client to a game of one-on-one. Although former WNBA All-Star Holdsclaw has thrown down the gauntlet, Tanner declines the offer—he doesn’t want a rolled ankle on either competitor’s part to hamper his business.
Tanner and his wife, Alison, live in Springfield with Evan, eight, and Lauren, five. Taking the kids to Wizards games is a nice perk of being an agent. And while Evan can name every starting-five in the NBA, Tanner says Lauren has other things on her mind, like the Verizon Center chicken fingers.
7. Alan Fisch, 40. By 35, Alan Fisch was one of the youngest partners ever at litigation powerhouse Howrey. After winning a $62.3-million jury verdict in a patent case in Richmond against Microsoft, Fisch became one of the hottest properties in town and was lured away by Kaye Scholer, a New York–based firm.
Fisch is an example of one of corporate legal work’s hottest trends: a computer-science-trained nerd who speaks the lingo of high-tech clients. Fisch went to Tulane Law School before coming to Washington to work for the US Patent and Trademark Office, an employer many lawyers never escape.
After 21 months with the government, Fisch was scooped up by Howrey to litigate software-patent cases. Although he didn’t look the part in his casual wardrobe, Fisch surprised his partners by becoming one of Washington’s top young rainmakers, putting together a client portfolio worth more than $5 million in annual billings. Among his clients are Costco Wholesale, General Dynamics, Juniper Networks, SPX, and Venetian Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
For the Carl Icahn–owned Stratosphere Hotel, Fisch won an important battle against casino behemoth Harrah’s Entertainment, protecting Stratosphere’s slot-card program from a Harrah’s infringement claim. For Venetian, Fisch has knocked down numerous Web-site operators attempting to cash in by stealing the Venetian trademark for online-gambling sites.
Fisch not only does patent-infringement work for wholesaler Costco but often can be found filling his cart there on Saturday morning.
8. Kevin M. Downey, 39. Kevin Downey’s courtroom gravitas and confident demeanor make him seem nothing like a neophyte. “Phenomenal” is the description from those who have seen him in court. At Williams & Connolly, a firm known for its high-powered litigators, Downey isn’t destined for greatness. He is already there.
While many peers his age struggle to attract that first big case, Downey is already plotting strategy for former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines, whose stewardship has come under a cloud because of accounting and bonus-payment questions. In addition to actions by federal regulators, Raines is the subject of complex shareholder suits in which Downey is managing the defense. Another major piece of work is his role as outside counsel for the law firm Greenberg Traurig, the former employer of fallen lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
The son of Irish immigrants, Downey grew up in Pittsburgh and is deeply involved here in one of Williams & Connolly’s pro bono projects, the Thurgood Marshall Academy, a five-year-old public charter school in Ward 8 that serves 320 students.
9. Kevin J. Martin, 39. He is not the youngest chair of the Federal Communications Commission. His predecessor, Michael Powell—Colin Powell’s son—was just 37 when named to the post. Powell’s youth was mistaken by staff and fellow commissioners for inexperience. Martin has few such critics. He has proven himself a consensus builder in an organization split down the middle by party.
Martin joined the staff of the FCC in 1997 at age 30 and in 2001 was named a commissioner. Admirers say he studied Powell’s missteps and learned from them. Articles have noted that while Powell complained about indecency on network television, Martin has been more effective in levying fines against local stations that run smutty episodes of TV shows.
Martin has been credited with being one of the few government officials prepared for Hurricane Katrina. The FCC made sure phones and broadcast service continued during the emergency. His competence and conservatism have led some to believe that a stint as governor of the Tarheel State looms in Martin’s future.
10. Christopher R. “Casey” Cooper, 39. Cooper was born into one of the most prominent black families in Mobile, Alabama. His father co-owned an insurance and funeral-home business. Casey’s aunt is Peggy Cooper Cafritz, a doyenne of Washington society and head of the DC school board.
Cooper shares the reserve that comes from wealth. He graduated from Yale and went to Stanford law school, where he was president of its law review.
He came to Washington to clerk for then–chief judge on the US Circuit Court of Appeals, Abner Mikva, then worked for deputy attorney general Jamie Gorelick, whom he had met while a summer associate at Gorelick’s law firm. At Justice he worked on a task force investigating church burnings in his home state. He returned to Miller Cassidy, now Baker Botts, in 1997 as an associate, working closely with star white-collar lawyer William Jeffress while dating Jeffress’s daughter, assistant US Attorney Amy Jeffress. They are now married.
Cooper has represented the royal family of Saudi Arabia in suits stemming from the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. He currently represents Michael Scanlon, a lobbyist alleged to have attempted improper influence of members of Congress.
Bill Jeffress, one of the attorneys for indicted White House aide Scooter Libby, is one of the best-known criminal-defense attorneys in Washington. His partner and son-in-law is said to be more than capable of filling his shoes one day.
11. Wayne Cohen, 39. Cohen tried his first case at 25. By age 26 he had joined and quit a large law firm. He won his first million-dollar case at 28. At 37 he was elected president of the Washington chapter of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America. He recently finalized a deal to buy the Moroccan Embassy on Jefferson Place. After a $3-million renovation, the former embassy will be Cohen’s firm’s headquarters.
Cohen grew his business by advertising heavily on cable television, but he has picked his cases well enough to have a steady stream of winners. He is now an attorney of choice when it comes to suing government agencies in cases such as the incident in which middle-school students were strip-searched on a field trip to the DC jail. His roster of cases reads like the front page of the Post’s Metro section.
Cohen has been known to direct some of his legal strategy from his golf cart at Avenel, where he plays to a seven handicap. He is an Avenel resident with his lawyer wife, Jill, a former television reporter; their three children; and Otto, a 100-pound Newfoundland puppy.