21. Thomas Green (Sidley Austin). Green can’t seem to stay out of the courtroom. In 2009 he handled two civil trials, one for Tyson Foods, the other for Cinergy (now owned by Duke Energy). He also defended then-governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá of Puerto Rico this year against corruption charges related to the handling of campaign money; after just a few hours of deliberation, the jury found Green’s client not guilty on all counts.
The verdict was a reflection of the veteran trial lawyer’s judgment. The prosecutors, he says, left “gaping holes in their case,” which Green suspected they hoped to fill by cross-examining his witnesses or through rebuttal. So he decided not to put on any defense at all. The prosecution called some 30 witnesses. Green didn’t call a single one. It was a gutsy move—and his client got off.
Green’s instincts have been sharpened by years of high-profile trial work. At 68, he has had pieces of many of Washington’s most significant battles, including Watergate, Whitewater, and Iran-Contra.
22. Carolyn Lamm (White & Case). It’s a wonder Lamm ever finds time to sleep. In one recent week, she was in DC, New York, Dallas, Vermont, Boston, and Paris. For Lamm—one of the country’s top international arbitration lawyers—travel has always been part of the job. Now that she’s also president of the American Bar Association, her travel schedule is even heavier. Still, she says she loves her work—so much that she was willing to fly to Paris for three hours on a recent Sunday to meet with a client—and it shows in the results.
Since she started in international law in 1980, Lamm has represented lots of sovereign states in disputes, among them Indonesia, the Philippines, Bulgaria, and Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Petroleum. She recently won an arbitration for the Philippine government before the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, convincing it to dismiss a case arising from an alleged treaty violation between the Philippines and the German transport company Fraport. She’s also preparing for an argument in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in which she will represent Saudi Aramco in a case relating to the regulation and production of crude oil.
23. Thomas Goldstein (Akin Gump). When he was a fourth-year lawyer, Goldstein decided he was going to be a Supreme Court advocate. He quit his job at the litigation firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner and started his own firm out of his home. He had never argued in front of the high court—or any court. The move has paid off in a big way.
At 39, Goldstein is now one of the nation’s premier high-court lawyers. He cochairs Akin Gump’s litigation and Supreme Court practices and runs SCOTUSBlog, a popular high-court site that gets an average of 15,000 unique visitors a day. He found his first two Supreme Court cases by studying circuit-level splits and other indicators of cases potentially destined for the court. He offered his services pro bono in those matters, so the clients had little to lose.
To date, Goldstein has argued 21 times at the Supreme Court. A notable victory came last term in Cone v. Bell, in which Goldstein convinced the justices to overturn a death sentence they had twice previously upheld.
24. Michael St. Patrick Baxter (Covington & Burling). If there’s one practice area that has flourished as the economy slowed, it’s bankruptcy work. Baxter has played key roles in the most significant restructurings of the past year. He represented Union Pacific Railroad in both the Chrysler and General Motors bankruptcies. The largest transportation company in the nation, Union Pacific had contracts with both automakers, whose cars were often shipped by rail. Baxter, trained in both Canadian and US law, just wrapped up the GM negotiations and successfully got Union Pacific’s contracts transferred to the newly restructured Chrysler. He also represented Mitsubishi Motors, which had contracts with Chrysler, in the proceedings.
Just as the auto-industry work has eased up, Baxter has been called into another high-profile matter: A New Jersey bankruptcy judge picked him in October as the Chapter 11 examiner investigating Donald Trump’s reorganization plan for Trump Entertainment Resorts.
25. Denyse Sabagh (Duane Morris). Sabagh’s peers describe her as the immigration lawyer who can do it all. She handles the full spectrum of immigration work, including advising large health-care, technology, and engineering corporations on employment-immigration matters, helping individuals come to the United States, representing people in deportation hearings, and sorting through post-9/11 national-security-related immigration issues.
Sabagh currently represents clients alleged to have connections to the Holy Land Foundation, which federal prosecutors charged with funneling money to Islamic terrorist organizations. After the September 11 terrorist attacks, she handled a number of deportation cases for Arab immigrants resulting from tightened visa requirements. Among them was Zaid Safdar, then-president of the student body at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies. In the Pakistan native’s deportation proceedings, with the courtroom full of his professors and fellow students, Sabagh prevailed and Safdar stayed in the United States.