6. J. Warren Gorrell Jr. (Hogan & Hartson). Gorrell has achieved what countless other lawyers have failed to: He’s built a successful New York–style corporate practice in Washington, proving that the city can be home to more than just white-collar defenders and regulatory lawyers. Not only that, but as chairman of Hogan & Hartson he has helped transform the homegrown Washington firm into a global powerhouse with offices in China, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, and Switzerland. And it looks as if he intends to expand the firm further. Though Gorrell won’t comment on the matter, Hogan is in talks to merge with United Kingdom–based Lovells. Such a union would turn Hogan into one of the ten largest law firms in the world, with revenues close to $2 billion.
The Kentucky native is the rare firm chairman who maintains an active law practice while managing the firm. Though corporate transactional work has slowed since the credit crisis, Gorrell handled several major mergers and acquisitions before the downturn. In one of the biggest real-estate deals ever, he represented Archstone-Smith in its $22-billion acquisition by Tishman Speyer and Lehman Brothers in 2007. More recently, he has focused on initial public offerings and capital-markets transactions. This fall, he completed a $250-million IPO for the real-estate and private-equity behemoth Colony Financial.
7. Robert Barnett (Williams & Connolly). Sarah Palin and Barack Obama agree on at least one thing—they both chose Bob Barnett to negotiate their book deals. Barnett reportedly secured Palin $11 million for her recently released memoir. The former Alaska governor is just the latest among a host of politicians, government officials, foreign dignitaries, journalists, and other celebrity authors to rely on Barnett. Among his clients: Bill and Hillary Clinton, Dick and Lynne Cheney, George W. Bush, and the late Tim Russert.
Barnett has helped Democratic presidential and vice-presidential candidates with debate preparation in eight election cycles. Most recently, he coached Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primaries. His personal leanings clearly don’t get in the way of doing business with people on the other end of the political spectrum. If only Congress could be as bipartisan.
8. Richard Wiley (Wiley Rein). Wiley is the undisputed dean of the communications bar. The former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has been out of government since 1977, yet he’s still known around town as the unofficial sixth commissioner of the FCC. His influence extends into nearly every American household. He spent nine years as head of the FCC committee that helped develop high-definition television, so if you enjoy watching the big game in HD, you have him to thank. He was also a key player in the nationwide switch to digital TV in June, helping many broadcasters navigate the changes.
Wiley represented Verizon in its $28-billion acquisition of the regional wireless carrier Alltel, which closed in January and made Verizon the nation’s biggest wireless carrier. The previous year, he was regulatory counsel for Sirius in the company’s acquisition of XM Satellite Radio, which was worth upward of $3 billion.
9. Reid Weingarten (Steptoe & Johnson). The walls of Weingarten’s Connecticut Avenue office are covered in newspaper clippings, courtroom renderings of his trials, and a replica of a murder weapon from one of his cases. The lively decor is a testament to Weingarten’s career representing politicians, celebrities, CEOs, and other high-profile figures facing criminal investigations.
Though he’s known as a preeminent Washington white-collar defender, it’s not hard to tell that Weingarten is from around New York City. You can hear it in his voice and sense it in his attitude. He loves to go to trial and can work wonders in front of a jury.
Weingarten made headlines recently when he was retained to join the legal team of fugitive film director Roman Polanski, who pleaded guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1978. California congresswoman Jane Harman sought Weingarten’s help earlier this year when it looked as though she was the target of a Justice Department probe. Weingarten is also defending former Arizona congressman Rick Renzi, indicted for abusing his office to profit from a land deal.
10. Maureen Mahoney (Latham & Watkins). Earlier this year, Mahoney—one of the nation’s foremost Supreme Court lawyers—announced she was heading toward partial retirement. But don’t count her out. She still plans to maintain an active practice, and besides, in the legal industry “partial retirement” often means a 50-hour work week.
One reason she intends to bill fewer hours is that she’ll begin teaching an undergraduate course on the Supreme Court at Georgetown University in 2010. Talk about learning from the best in the business.
Mahoney, who says she wanted to be a lawyer from the time she was eight years old, has argued 22 times before the justices—and chalked up 20 wins, including two victories last term in environmental cases, Burlington Northern v. United States and Entergy v. Riverkeeper.