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Big Guns: Washington’s Top 30 Lawyers (2007)
Comments () | Published December 1, 2007
Just two months later, Bruce was back in court, having skipped summer vacation, to win a total acquittal on bribery and corruption counts for Blake Esherick, an associate of indicted Washington developer Douglas Jemal’s. College students owe her a debt as well. Bruce’s legal maneuverings on behalf of a GW student forced the DC government to stop giving criminal citations to underage campus drinkers.

9. Michele A. Roberts (Akin Gump). As a young girl growing up in the Bronx, Roberts was dragged by her mother to courtrooms to watch trials. It was a form of entertainment at the time, but it sowed the seeds of interest in a woman who has become one of the finest trial lawyers in Washington.

After nearly two decades of working court appointments and representing common criminals, Roberts’s talent for persuading juries began paying off. She is now a partner at Akin Gump, where her clients wear suits and she draws an average of nearly $1 million a year. Roberts already has three major trials scheduled for 2008, including one in which she will defend Valero Energy Corporation in a wrongful-death action.

10. Robert B. Barnett (Williams & Connolly). A case could be made that this courtly Illinois native, now 61, is just about the most influential figure in town. In addition to negotiating memoir deals for the rich and famous—including former Fed chair Alan Greenspan, former British prime minister Tony Blair, second lady Lynne Cheney, and both Clintons—Barnett arranges and negotiates business deals and employment agreements for dozens of government figures and fellow lawyers.

If knowledge is power, Barnett knows more about what people are making and thinking than anyone else in Washington. His bipartisan practice is a legal marvel, and one that would not have succeeded were he not a man of discretion and judgment—which, when you get down to it, is what you really want in a lawyer.
11. Reid H. Weingarten (Steptoe & Johnson). Along with Brendan Sullivan, Weingarten has been the go-to guy for criminal defendants during the last decade. A former trial attorney for the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section, Weingarten soaks up the facts of a case and synthesizes them for a jury as if by magic.

No lawyer has greater command or is quicker on his feet during cross-examination than Weingarten—skills he demonstrated by winning a near-total acquittal for Washington developer Douglas Jemal, whose situation appeared dire when he was indicted on charges of bribery, conspiracy, and defrauding the DC government.

12. Earl Silbert (DLA Piper). Washington has a host of top criminal lawyers who started in the late 1960s in the US Attorney’s office—Robert Bennett and Sidley Austin’s Thomas Green are among the most prominent. But ask whom they admire most, and the name that surfaces is Earl J. Silbert, whose two decades at the Justice Department included five years as US Attorney for the District of Columbia.

Silbert was an original prosecutor in the Watergate case and played a key role in bringing the Nixon administration’s wrongdoing to light, much to the discomfort of his Nixon-appointed bosses. Now 71, Silbert is still much in demand. Recently he has been seen giving advice to Chiquita Banana executives in jeopardy for allegedly paying bribes to “terrorist” militia groups in Colombia.

13. William McLucas
(WilmerHale). When a corporate board and a CEO come to loggerheads, Bill McLucas often winds up between them. Last year Lucas’s internal investigation of United HealthCare Corporations’s William McGuire led to the ouster of the one-time golden boy of one of Wall Street’s hot companies.
McLucas, a former director of enforcement at the Securities and Exchange Commission, is almost always the lawyer of choice for a business or corporate board with an SEC problem. Among clients who have sought his help are then-senator Bill Frist, who was investigated by the SEC on suspicion of insider trading in HCA, which his family founded. The investigation was closed with no action taken.

14. Peter D. Greenspun (Greenspun, Shapiro, Davis & Leary). Greenspun represents defendants with some of the most hopeless cases, as when a judge picked him to represent convicted sniper John Muhammad. But win-loss records can be deceiving. Few lawyers understand the psychology of juries better than this savvy 54-year-old graduate of George Mason University School of Law. While his defeats are sometimes front-page news, Greenspun’s victories are impressive given the nature of his clientele.

Along with his talented friend and now partner, Jonathan Shapiro, he has won freedom for alleged drug pushers, pornographers, and murderers.

15. Robert C. Bonsib (Marcus & Bon sib). If Peter Greenspun is the best “blue-collar” criminal-defense lawyer in Virginia, many believe that accolade in Maryland belongs to Bob Bonsib. A one-time prosecutor, Bonsib won freedom for an FBI agent charged with covering up a police-dog attack on a homeless man.


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Posted at 12:00 AM/ET, 12/01/2007 RSS | Print | Permalink | Articles