11. Robert Bauer (Perkins Coie). Bob Bauer has the most powerful client in the world: President Barack Obama. He was general counsel to Obama’s campaign and remains the President’s personal lawyer. That means he handles Obama’s financial-disclosure records, tax returns, and any other legal matters that involve the President’s personal dealings. During the transition, Bauer was a favorite pick for White House counsel, though he believes he’s making his best contribution to the administration by remaining a private lawyer. He’s also general counsel to the Democratic National Committee.
Bauer was often on the front lines of the 2008 presidential campaign. He led voter-protection efforts and helped sort out campaign-finance issues. During the primaries, he made headlines when he broke in on a conference call between reporters and Howard Wolfson—then spokesman for the Hillary Clinton campaign—to demand that Clinton’s camp “stop attacking the caucus process.”
12. William McLucas (WilmerHale). If the Securities and Exchange Commission starts asking questions—as it’s doing with a lot of companies these days—there’s no one better to have on your side than McLucas, the current leader of WilmerHale’s securities department and the longest-serving SEC enforcement director in the agency’s history. He has some serious war stories: During the Enron and WorldCom meltdowns, McLucas led the internal investigations into both companies.
More recently, he represented General Electric in an accounting-fraud case that settled with the SEC in August, and he navigated a high-profile options-dating investigation for UnitedHealth Group. The DC Council brought McLucas in pro bono to review the city’s internal controls following the 2007 theft of $50 million by former employees in the Office of Tax and Revenue.
13. Robert Bennett (Hogan & Hartson). This Brooklyn-born amateur boxer turned Washington white-collar defender shocked the legal world this year when he left Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom for Hogan & Hartson. Bennett published his memoir in 2008—a move often construed as a precursor to retirement. But his jump to Hogan after nearly 20 years at Skadden was a signal that he’s far from slowing down.
Aside from his legal prowess, Bennett’s media savvy has made him a first choice for high-profile figures who need to defuse a scandal. Then–presidential candidate John McCain enlisted Bennett’s help in debunking a New York Times story last year about McCain’s alleged inappropriate relationship with lobbyist Vicki Iseman. Leading up to its publication, Bennett was the intermediary between McCain and the Times, and when the story broke, Bennett took to the air, calling it “a hatchet job” during a Today-showinterview.
The Iseman story had nowhere near the magnitude of other messes Bennett has dealt with. He defended Bill Clinton during the Paula Jones case, stopped a criminal prosecution of the accounting firm KPMG, and represented then–New York Times reporter Judith Miller in the Valerie Plame case.
14. Patrick Regan (Regan Zambri & Long). No personal-injury lawyer in Washington has a better reputation. Plaintiff lawyers and civil-defense attorneys alike praise him for his skill in the courtroom. His most recent trial was in DC Superior Court for a former Arnold & Porter partner who Regan argues sustained career-ending brain damage during a stay at George Washington University Hospital.
In October, Regan also won more than $5 million for the family of a man and his son killed by a drunk driver in Frederick County. Now Regan is handling a number of cases against Metro, including one on behalf of the six children of a woman killed in June’s Red Line collision.
15. Jamie Gorelick (WilmerHale). Gorelick believes that “a good litigator can do anything.” She’s referring to the many litigators she’s observed since becoming one herself in 1975, but her own practice proves she might be right. The former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration now fills multiple roles at her firm. She’s a partner in the regulatory-and-government-affairs and litigation departments, chair of the defense, national-security, and government-contracts practice, and chair of the public-policy practice.
Gorelick focuses on many of the hottest issues of the day. In her national-security practice, she represents clients before the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which monitors the security implications of foreign transactions. She’s helping the financial firm Lazard navigate regulatory reform at the Treasury Department, the SEC, and the Federal Reserve, and she’s representing Citigroup in connection with congressional inquiries into its compensation practices.