The 50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America
The 50 Most Influential Women in America
Linda L. Addison55, Fulbright & Jaworski, Houston
Author of the leading guide to Texas evidence rules, Addison maintains a national practice on behalf of some of the country's biggest companies. She represented the former directed trustee of Enron's 401(k) plan in the largest ERISA class action in U.S. history and negotiated a $37.5 million settlement in a case that sought more than $1 billion in damages. She obtained a $4.2 million jury verdict on behalf of Mars Inc. in a pet food patent infringement case against Heinz and Del Monte, forcing them to pull a range of products off the shelves. She sued to kill Texas' "blue law," making it possible for Texans to shop on Sunday. And the state's U.S. senators come to her for advice about nominations for federal judges.
Image: Shelley Eades
Cristina C. Arguedas53, Arguedas, Cassman & Headley, Berkeley, Calif.
Known for killer cross-examinations, Arguedas has represented high-profile clients as a criminal defense attorney for 20 years in actions alleging public corruption, securities fraud, sex crimes and intellectual property theft. Her influence is often felt behind the scenes, where she is known for her early, aggressive investigations on behalf of clients and her ability to talk prosecutors out of filing charges; her biggest victories may be the ones no one hears about. She serves on a committee to advise Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., on federal judicial nominees. She was named to an advisory counsel for San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris and serves on the board of Northern California's Innocence Project. Later this year she will represent a KPMG employee in a phony tax shelters case in federal court in New York. And she has represented former general counsel of Apple Corp. and Hewlett-Packard in options backdating investigations.
Martha W. Barnett59, Holland & Knight, Tallahassee, Fla.
Barnett specializes in public policy, administrative and governmental law, and lobbies on behalf of business and governments on issues ranging from taxation to technology. Her regulatory representations include insurance, airlines, education, telecommunications and procurement. She has served on commissions that overhauled Florida's constitution and its tax and budget-writing structure, and led the state's commission that oversees the ethics of government leaders. She led the state lobbying effort that culminated in legislation in 1994 that paid $2 million in compensation to the survivors of the Rosewood, Fla., massacre. A former president of the American Bar Association, she was the first woman to chair its House of Delegates. Barnett was the first woman lawyer hired by Holland & Knight, and now serves as chair of the firm's directors committee.
Charlene Barshefsky57, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
Barshefsky is best known as the architect and chief negotiator of the deal that brought China into the World Trade Organization, opening that country's economy to the world market. She was instrumental in normalizing U.S.-Vietnamese relations through trade. As WilmerHale's senior international partner, she spends much of her time in China and Vietnam. Barshefsky served as U.S. trade representative from 1997 to 2001, and now focuses her private practice on international business transactions, the structuring and negotiation of commercial agreements and the removal of trade and regulatory impediments to export or investment in markets throughout Asia, Europe and Latin America. Her 25-year legal career has encompassed international litigation, commercial negotiations, investment and regulatory advice, and dispute resolution. She has written and lectured extensively both in the United States and abroad.
Ann Beeson43, American Civil Liberties Union
After 12 years with the American Civil Liberties Union, most recently as associate director, Beeson will join George Soros' Open Society Institute in June as director of U.S. programs. Beeson spearheaded groundbreaking initiatives to stop the erosion of civil liberties in the name of national security. She led a challenge before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to the government's expanded surveillance powers under the USA Patriot Act. In ACLU v. NSA, the ACLU has asked the court to find the National Security Agency's program unconstitutional and a violation of federal law. In her new job, Beeson will focus on civil liberties, the reform of criminal justice laws and bringing democracy to marginalized people.
Candace K. Beinecke60, Hughes Hubbard & Reed, New York
Beinecke broke new ground in 1999, when Hughes Hubbard & Reed became one of the first major New York law firms to elect a woman to lead it. A corporate attorney, she is a pioneer in bringing the expertise of women lawyers into the boardroom. Beinecke was appointed independent board chair for First Eagle Funds, a public group of four mutual funds with about $40 billion in assets, making her one of the few women at that level in the mutual fund industry. She serves on the boards of Alstrom, a French transport and power company, Rockefeller Financial Services and Rockefeller & Co. She holds leadership positions with nonprofit organizations including the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation and the Yale Law School Center for the Study of Corporate Law.
Sheila Birnbaum67, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, New York
Dubbed "Queen of Torts," Birnbaum has a practice that is focused on litigating and mediating complex mass tort claims. She successfully mediated claims brought by families of 9/11 victims against airlines and security companies. She won a ruling that the government violated the rights of former KPMG partners by pressuring the firm not to pay their legal fees. On behalf of State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., Birnbaum is negotiating with the Mississippi government and the plaintiffs' bar to resolve thousands of Hurricane Katrina-related insurance claims.
Franci J. Blassberg53, Debevoise & Plimpton, New York
With 25 years of experience in negotiating complex transactions, Blassberg is widely recognized as a leading practitioner in mergers and acquisitions and private equity. She is co-chair of the firm's 200-lawyer private equity group and a member of the firm's management committee. She has played a role in numerous complex transactions, including an investment consortium's acquisition of Hertz in a $15 billion leveraged buyout from Ford Motor Co. She represented a committee of the board of UnitedGlobalCom in its $3.5 billion acquisition by Liberty Media International. She represents Clayton, Dubilier & Rice one of the Hertz investors in its $5.5 billion going-private acquisition of ServiceMaster. A significant part of her practice involves international transactions.
Pamela A. Bresnahan52, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, Washington
An expert litigator who specializes in professional liability defense and coverage, Bresnahan chairs her firm's litigation practice in Washington and Alexandria, Va. She advises lawyers and law firms on management and discipline matters; serves as coverage and litigation counsel for insurers; and was chosen by the ABA as lead investigator in the nomination of U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. She serves as delegate-at-large in the ABA House of Delegates, has vetted judicial nominees in Maryland and served as adjunct professor at the University of San Diego School of Law.
Tina Brozman54, Bingham McCutchen
The former chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York now leads a team of Bingham McCutchen attorneys who helped the court-appointed trustee untangle the complex Refco Capital Markets LLC bankruptcy while simultaneously undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer. Brozman and her team stepped into a lengthy court battle involving multiple parties. After 10 weeks of working with nearly 30 lawyers, a deal was hammered out. "We were dealing with novel circumstances and had to be creative," said Brozman, who has represented agent banks in major workout and Chapter 11 assignments for companies including Ponderosa Pine, Ultimate Electronics, FiberMark, Footstar and Republic Engineered Products. Other substantial creditor representations involved Adelphia Communications, Enron and Washington Group.
Elizabeth J. Cabraser54, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, San Francisco
A litigator who juggles complex mass tort and securities class actions as well as human rights and defective products cases, Cabraser has more than 25 years' experience in complex litigation. She has served as court-appointed lead counsel or co-lead in nearly 80 multidistrict and state class actions. She has helped negotiate precedent-setting settlements in matters including the Exxon Valdez oil spill, silicone breast implants, Phen-Fen diet drugs, Holocaust reparations and multistate tobacco litigation. Cabraser represents plaintiffs in a class action arising from Salmonella-tainted peanut butter, and is preparing for trial in a class action on behalf of 440,000 Ford Explorer owners in California. She has leadership roles in the Guidant defibrillators MDL litigation, plus Vioxx and Bextra/Celebrex cases. She has also published several scholarly pieces.
Leslie R. Caldwell49, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, New York
CALDWELL has spearheaded the growth of Morgan Lewis' corporate investigations and white-collar practice, which she co-chairs, since joining the firm in 2004. Formerly the first director of the Justice Department's Enron task force and a 17-year federal prosecutor, Caldwell was among the first to use RICO to target violent, nontraditional, criminal organizations, such as inner city drug gangs, as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, N.Y. These days she represents Fortune 500 companies and other securities issuers, audit committees, board members and executives accused by the government of white-collar crime, securities or other regulatory violations. Caldwell serves on the ethics committee of the board of directors of the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Dale M. Cendali48, O'Melveny & Myers, New York
Cendali chairs O'Melveny & Myers' New York intellectual property and technology practice and is co-chair of the firm's electronic discovery and document-retention practice. She argued Dastar v. Twentieth Century Fox before the U.S. Supreme Court and was the IP law expert in Moseley v. V. Secret Catalogue, a key precedent on trademark dilution. Later, she helped rewrite the federal dilution statute. Her practice focuses on copyright, trademark, patent and trade secrets law, as well as defamation, false advertising and privacy. Her cases have dealt with intellectual property law related to the Harry Potter books, MySpace, the X-Files and Bratz Dolls. She served as co-chair of the Intellectual Property Committee of the ABA's Litigation Section.
Jerry K. Clements53, Locke Liddell & Sapp, Austin, Texas
Clements is poised to lead a 700-attorney firm, presuming Locke Liddell's recently announced merger with Chicago's Lord, Bissell & Brook goes through. The litigator was lead trial counsel in a case that resulted in an oft-cited Texas Supreme Court decision limiting class action litigation in the state, as well as in a key case limiting franchise tax litigation. Clements has represented major clients including Microsoft Corp., ConocoPhillips and Peavey Electronics in litigation nationwide. She negotiated the return to the firm of former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and landed Mark Siegel, a well-known Democratic strategist and lobbyist, for the Washington office.
Image: Mark Adams
Lori G. Cohen42, Greenberg Traurig, Atlanta
Cohen is co-chair of her firm's litigation group and chairs the pharmaceutical and medical devices litigation group. She has tried more than 48 cases to defense verdicts and is viewed as a trailblazer for women lawyers in the pharmaceutical and medical devices fields. She has successfully represented pharmaceutical companies, doctors and managed care entities. Cohen was selected by Medtronic, a Fortune 500 provider of medical technology, as national counsel for one of its largest litigation cases, involving nearly 2,000 plaintiffs. She was involved in mass tort actions against Ephedra, Thimersosal and Zyprexa. She edits three national publications in her field and is involved with organizations, including the International Association of Defense Counsel and the Product Liability Advisory Council.
Robin L. Cohen46, Dickstein Shapiro, New York
Cohen is managing partner of her firm's New York office, a partner in its insurance coverage group and a member of the compensation committee. As one of a limited number of female managing partners, Cohen is an advocate for other female attorneys. She has 20 years of experience representing corporate policyholders and has recovered more than $1 billion in disputed policy claims for her clients. In January, she won trebel damages for ABT Building Products Corp. in a bad-faith claims suit against a Pittsburgh insurer. She has built the firm's New York office to comprise more than 100 attorneys.
Cindy Cohn43, Electronic Frontier Foundation, San Francisco
Legal director and general counsel for the nonprofit foundation, which defends free speech, privacy and civil liberties, Cohn is coordinating a national class action alleging that telecommunications carriers violated customer privacy by cooperating with government surveillance. She advises individuals and nonprofits on legal issues stemming from online protest activities and oversees litigation strategy for cases around the country involving electronic voting machine irregularities and security. She became involved with EFF in 1995, when it asked her to serve as lead attorney in a successful challenge to U.S. export restrictions on cryptography. The 1999 victory helped prompt the federal government to ease restrictions on exporting the technology.
Image: Ian Wagreich
Robin S. Conrad52, National Chamber Litigation Center, Washington
Conrad has devoted her career to building the National Chamber Litigation Center, the public policy law firm of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, into a litigation powerhouse. She has expanded the center's litigation portfolio to include a wide range of cases critical to U.S. business, stepping up its U.S. Supreme Court practice to shape the law on punitive damages, class actions, federal pre-emption of inconsistent state laws and securities litigation. Conrad has filed amicus briefs in all of the leading punitive damages cases before the high court. The moot court program she founded prepares top attorneys for argument before the court. Conrad's voice is often the first to comment in the press on rulings and legal trends.
Deborah W. Denno54 Fordham University School of Law, New York
First electrocution, now lethal injection Denno's research was widely cited in case law over the constitution-ality of the former, generally discredited method of execution, and now it's undermining the replacement protocol. Her seminal analysis of the various states' death procedures has been cited by the 6th and 9th circuits and numerous lower courts, and helped persuade South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds to stay an execution in August 2006. Two amicus curiae briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court last year referenced her work. Denno, who has taught at Fordham since 1991, often serves as an expert witness.
Deborah L. Feinstein46, Arnold & Porter, Washington
Feinstein is an antitrust lawyer who focuses on mergers and acquisitions before the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department. She has advised clients in virtually all sectors of the economy, and has developed special expertise in the retail, food, consumer products, health care, chemicals and automotive parts industries. Last year, she was one of Arnold & Porter's main attorneys representing Boston Scientific Corp. in its $27 billion acquisition of Guidant Corp. She represented Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. in gaining state and federal approval of its merger with AMC Entertainment Inc. She served as lead partner in two major M&A transactions before her 40th birthday Philip Morris and Kraft in their $18.9 billion acquisition of Nabisco Holdings Corp.; and The Kroger Co. in its $13.5 billion merger with Fred Meyer Inc.
Alice Fisher40, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington
From overseeing investigations of corporate boards and terrorist cells as deputy assistant attorney general from 2001 to 2003, to her appointment in 2005 to head the Justice Department's Criminal Division, Fisher has been at the center of some of the most dramatic legal cases of the Bush administration. She spent two years, from 2003 to 2005, as a litigation attorney with Latham & Watkins, specializing in white-collar defense and international investigations. She launched her government career as deputy special counsel to the U.S. Senate committee investigating Whitewater Development Co. in 1995, during the Clinton administration. In 1996, she joined Latham & Watkins and became managing partner of the Washington office. There, she handled complex litigation, including serving as counsel to hospital operator HCA Inc. during a complex, six-year investigation of civil and criminal cases.
Image: John Swanda
Jayne E. Fleming42, Reed Smith, Oakland, Calif.
Fleming leads her firm's human rights team, one she built herself. An associate, she has made a career of representing refugees facing deportation and others in pro bono asylum and immigration cases involving gender-based violence and torture. A decision she obtained on behalf of Reina Garcia-Martinez was the first U.S. case to recognize that the Guatemalan military's systematic rape of women during its civil war constituted political persecution. The ruling, which could affect thousands around the world, brought U.S. law and immigration practice in line with a United Nations war crimes tribunal, which defined rape as a crime against humanity in 2001. Fleming, listed as a complex litigation and land use practitioner with the firm's appellate department, has seven active refugee cases, including gender-based violence cases involving women from Honduras, Congo and Albania and torture cases involving clients from Russia and Syria.
Deborah A. Garza50, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington
A skilled antitrust lawyer, Garza worked with New York's Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson until her recent appointment as deputy assistant attorney general for regulatory matters for the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. She chaired the Antitrust Modernization Commission, a bipartisan panel created by Congress to offer advice on antitrust laws and policy. She acted as antitrust counsel in high-profile mergers including AT&T's acquisition of BellSouth, ConocoPhillips' $35.6 billion acquisition of Burlington Resources Inc., Northrop Grumman's $522.7 million acquisition of cybersecurity company Essex Corp., and MGM Mirage's purchase of the Mandalay Resort Group. A specialist in transportation, energy, telecommunications and high-tech industries, she was counsel to US Airways in its unsuccessful $9.8 billion bid for Delta Air Lines. She previously served in the Justice Department from 1984 to 1985 and 1988 to 1989.
Marcia L. Goldstein54, Weil, Gotshal & Manges, New York
Goldstein is co-chair of her firm's insolvency and restructuring practice. For 30 years, she has advised clients on debt restructuring, corporate crisis management and corporate governance. She was lead counsel for the $41 billion bankruptcy of WorldCom Inc., and helped the company confirm its reorganization plan within 17 months. Goldstein represented Atkins Nutritionals, which reorganized after five months in bankruptcy. Goldstein was lead U.S. counsel to Parmalat, Europe's largest dairy and fruit-juice company, which was $20 billion in debt and facing fraud allegations. She was special U.S. counsel to Eurotunnel and led the team that successfully obtained dismissal of the Chapter 11 cases of Galvex Trade and other affiliates while preserving their parent company's Chapter 11 case. Goldstein has a role in the fallout from the failure of subprime lenders, representing Lehman Brothers as a potential acquirer of assets in the New Century Financial Chapter 11 case. A member of her firm's management and governance committees, Goldstein also serves on the steering committee of women's affinity group, women@weil.
Cecilia Gonzalez51, Howrey, Washington
An influential intellectual property attorney, Gonzalez has represented more than 50 patent clients before the U.S. International Trade Commission involving claims that competitors were importing infringing goods. The fights involved optics, semiconductors, telephone equipment, recombinant gene therapy, pharmaceuticals, computer disc drives and software. She co-chairs Howrey's IP practice group, which in 2006 was responsible for 40% of total revenue. In the past year she has been involved in a dispute concerning six patents between Amgen and Roche involving recombinant human erythropoietin hormone. It is currently on appeal. She has represented Qualcomm in a dispute with Nokia concerning six mobile phone patents and wireless technology, and Caterpillar Inc. in a trademark dispute. Gonzalez was born in Venezuela and has been recognized as a leader among Hispanic attorneys nationally.
Jamie Gorelick57, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, Washington
Gorelick leads WilmerHale's national security and public policy and strategy groups. She serves on the boards of United Technologies Corp., Schlumberger Ltd., the MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Urban Institute and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. Her insight on the intersection of law and policy has been sought by chief executives and boards at Pfizer, British Petroleum, Verizon Communications Inc., JPMorganChase and Alcatel-Lucent, among others. A former U.S. deputy attorney general, Gorelick was appointed to the 9/11 Commission and has worked to implement the commission's recommendations through the 9/11 Discourse Project. The Center for Strategic and International Studies asked Gorelick to work with former high-ranking state, defense, and other national security personnel in its Study of the Embassy of the Future.
Patricia M. Hynes65, Allen & Overy, New York
Hynes serves as a senior counsel at Allen & Overy, which she joined in 2006 after leaving Milberg Weiss & Bershad. She is credited with saving New York's Legal Aid Society, the nation's oldest and largest provider of free legal services to the poor. The society was at risk for bankruptcy before Hynes took over as board chair and helped raise more than $20 million to all but eliminate its debt. She served as chair of the ABA's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary (2000-2001) and as a member of the ABA's Commission on the 21st Century Judiciary (2002-2003). She is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.
Image: Kathleen Dooher
Elena Kagan47, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Mass.
Since Kagan took over as the school's first woman dean in July 2003, the school has refocused its attention on public service. The school launched a strategic plan that includes expanding the loan-repayment program for alumni in low-paying public service jobs, a summer job funding guarantee and a requirement that all Harvard Law students commit to pro bono work. Kagan's commitment to public service is based in large part on her own work in the public sector, including service in the Clinton administration. She was associate counsel to the president and then top domestic policy adviser.
Image: Jeff Connell
Anastasia D. Kelly57, American International Group, New York
These days, "Stasia" Kelly is running the law shop and overseeing regulatory and compliance efforts at American International Group, an insurer with operations in more than 130 countries. She joined AIG in September 2006. Known for helping leading companies with serious problems, Kelly previously served as general counsel at MCI Inc., where she cleaned up the mess after predecessor WorldCom Inc.'s financial scandal, and prepared the way for MCI's merger with Verizon. Before that, Kelly was general counsel at Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Fannie Mae. Earlier, she spent 10 years at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, where she became a partner and specialized in corporate and securities law. Kelly is a trustee at Trinity College, a member of the advisory council of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars and a member of the board of directors of Equal Justice Works.
Andrea Kramer52, McDermott, Will & Emery, Chicago
Kramer is a tax partner at McDermott Will's Chicago office, where she takes the lead on tax services for the financial products, trading and derivatives group. She's a co-chair of the energy services group and is active in the gender diversity and management committees. For the past 20 years, Kramer has, at the invitation of the Internal Revenue Service, led workshops for the agency's financial products specialists on the taxation of derivative transactions. An adjunct professor at the Northwestern University School of Law, she has published three editions of the leading treatise, Financial Products: Taxation, Regulation and Design, a work she updates annually.
Carolyn B. Lamm58, White & Case, Washington
Lamm's reputation as a successful international arbitration and commercial litigation attorney landed her an appointment by President Clinton to the U.S. Panel of Arbitrators for International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a collection of the country's best arbitrators who are called upon in international arbitrations. From the panel, she was selected to arbitrate in ADF v. U.S., a case filed by a Canadian investor under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement. She was appointed by the government of Uzbekistan to the Uzbek Panel of Arbitrators for ICSID. Lamm has represented nations across the globe, including Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Sweden and Switzerland, in international trade deals. Among the most significant is her representation of the government of Philippines in Fraport v. Philippines and PIATCO v. Philippines, involving the alleged nullification of a concession contract and expropriation of an international air terminal. Lamm is a former chair of the ABA's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, and she led the committee in reviewing White House nominations for district and appellate court judges.
Roberta Liebenberg57, Fine Kaplan & Black, Philadelphia
Liebenberg is a member of the ABA's Standing Committee on the Judiciary, which helps vet aspiring federal judges. Recognized for her plaintiffs' work in antitrust actions, she's been known to help out a defendant on occasion witness her work for Southwest Airlines in a case involving access to Dallas' Love Field. She lectures and publishes widely on gender bias law, and served on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Justice System. The state, federal and local committees on which she has served are too legion to name here.
Maureen Mahoney52, Latham & Watkins, Washington
Arguing her first case before the U.S. Supreme Court when she was 34 years old, Mahoney has gone on to a stellar career in high court advocacy. The justices selected her in 1988 to argue Mackey v. Lanier Collection Agency & Service Inc.; she argued and filed a brief as amicus curiae supporting the position that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act does not forbid an employer from garnishing welfare benefits from employees, even if the purpose is to collect judgments against plan participants. Since then, she has argued 18 cases before the high court, winning 16, including the famous Grutter v. Bollinger, in which she successfully defended the University of Michigan Law School's affirmative action policy. She has represented a range of clients, including the U.S. House of Representatives, Union Pacific Railroad Co. and the government of Saudi Arabia.
Terri L. Mascherin47, Jenner & Block, Chicago
By day a contract and corporate transactions litigator and partner on her firm's management committee, Mascherin has dedicated much of her career to pro bono cases, particularly representing indigent clients on death row. To cite one example, she successfully defended former Illinois Governor George Ryan's commutations of death sentences in Illinois. No slouch with paying clients, she has first-chaired jury and bench trials, argued appeals in state and federal court and arbitrated both domestic and international disputes. Last year, for example, she won $100 million in arbitration and declaratory relief for Honeywell International Inc. over the breach of a petrochemical supply agreement. She was lead counsel for WorldCom Inc. in several actions under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
Karen J. Mathis56, McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, Denver
American Bar Association President Karen Mathis is the third woman to hold the office. She is a business, commercial and estate-planning lawyer whose practice includes litigation, probate, receiverships and real estate. She has represented national financial institutions, leasing companies and credit card issuers. She has handled business, corporate, estate and trust planning issues for high net worth individual clients. As ABA president, she has undertaken defense of attorney-client privilege, the right to effective legal counsel and the right against self-incrimination. She is a frequent lecturer on subjects as diverse as violence in the workplace and the Resolution Trust Corp.
Nina Matis59, Katten Muchin Rosenman, Chicago
One of the world's top real estate lawyers, Matis is co-chair of her firm's real estate practice and general counsel to iStar Financial Inc. She concentrates on partnership law and commercial real estate development and acquisition, and has generated more than $10 million in client billings for her firm for five consecutive years. She routinely handles transactions valued in excess of $500 million, and some exceeding $1 billion. She is lead counsel in iStar Financial's pending acquisition of Fremont Investment & Loan's commercial loan and lending business. She counseled iStar and its partners in the $1.17 billion acquisition of nearly 1 million acres of timber land from International Paper Co. and was lead counsel for New York-based Blackacre Capital Management in the sale of tens of thousands of housing units.
Donna Melby56, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, Los Angeles
A leading jury trial advocate and defense litigator, Melby focuses on prevention and litigation of class actions, business disputes and high-profile employment-related cases. She chairs the Los Angeles arm of her firm's employment department, often stepping into high-stakes cases headed to jury trials. Melby is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and is the only woman elected national president of the American Board of Trial Advocates, an invitation-only organization. In her work for the board, she has led rallies to support judges facing retribution for unpopular rulings. They include California Superior Court Judge Loren McMaster, targeted for recall for upholding a law granting domestic-partner rights for same-sex couples; and Florida Circuit Court Judge George Greer, who authorized removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. Melby founded the Seventh Amendment Summit, a meeting of judges, lawyers, professors, lawmakers and others to explore ways to support the jury system. She is a co-creator of the Journalist Law School.
Patricia Menendez Cambo40, Greenberg Traurig, Miami
After six years at Greenberg Traurig's international division specializing in privatization and mergers, Menendez Cambo took a leave of absence in 2000 to serve as chief U.S. legal counsel for Telefonica S.A., a Latin American telecom giant; during her two years there, she shepherded two intricate megadeals: the $1.36 billion purchase of Pegaso Telecomunicaciones S.A. and a $1 billion purchase of Motorola Inc.'s Mexican assets. Back at Greenberg Traurig as head of the international group, she was primary counsel to a consortium of investors, including Restco Iberoamericana Ltd., in the $700 million purchase of 1,600 McDonald's restaurants in 18 Latin American countries and the Caribbean. She represents and advises foreign banks, financial conglomerates, airlines and telecommunications carriers and was named by the World Economic Forum as one of 250 young global leaders.
Laura Ariane Miller53, Nixon Peabody, Washington
Chair of her firm's governmental investigations and white-collar defense practice in Washington, Miller certainly is in the center of things. One client is U.S. Representative Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., who is under investigation over a land deal. Miller represents more than a dozen AOL executives and employees in investigations of alleged securities and financial reporting fraud. Last year, Miller secured a presidential pardon for Anthony Franchi, convicted on federal criminal tax charges. Miller served on the ABA's Justice Kennedy Commission, which reviewed the nation's criminal justice system. She was one of 10 lawyers selected to train Sudanese lawyers for proceedings in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands. Miller, a former clerk for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Byron R. White, is involved with numerous organizations, including service on the Governing Council of the ABA's Litigation Section.
Kathleen Flynn Peterson52, Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi, Minneapolis
Peterson was a registered nurse before she launched her legal career litigating medical malpractice cases. A quarter-century later, she has chaired her firm's medical malpractice and personal injury sections. She serves on the executive committee of the American Association of Justice and will become its president in July. She is zealous about her responsibility to mentor women entering the legal profession. "It is my responsibility to mentor women lawyers, to encourage them to pursue a career in trial practice and to help them develop trial advocacy skills to better serve their clients," she said.
Bettina B. Plevan61, Proskauer Rose, New York
Plevan last year completed a stint as president of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, where she pushed for diversity and to create an expectation that each of the 23,000 members would focus most of their pro bono work on people of limited means. That done, she resumed her duties as co-chair of Proskauer's international labor and employment practice and as head of an initiative to intensify the firm's efforts to serve clients. Her clients include some of the country's biggest companies, including Bristol-Myers Squibb. She served as president of the Federal Bar Council and as chair of the 2d Circuit Conference. She has also served on the board of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, and on the panel that advises U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on judicial nominees.
Patricia Lee Refo48, Snell & Wilmer, Phoenix, Ariz.
As chair of the ABA's Litigation Section in 2003 and 2004, Refo oversaw the first comprehensive attempt to analyze declining numbers of federal jury trials, which culminated in a symposium styled "The Vanishing Trial." This led to the creation of the American Jury Project, which developed Principles for Juries and Jury Trials approved by the House of Delegates in February 2005. The 7th Circuit embraced a number of these principles in a year-long pilot project, and the 9th Circuit recently adopted many of them for use in its courts. In March, the Oklahoma Supreme Court revised the state's pattern jury instructions in line with the ABA's principles. As for her day job, Refo practices complex commercial litigation. She is involved in an internal investigation relating to alleged stock options backdating at a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Rachel Robbins56, NYSE Euronext, New York
Since Robbins joined the New York Stock Exchange (now NYSE Euronext) six months ago, she has focused most of her energy on the merger with Euronext, which occurred on April 4. Robbins is working to build the company's legal and compliance teams, a task with which she is familiar. As former general counsel for JP Morgan, she built the bank's securities legal and compliance departments in the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America. She was part of a team leading JP Morgan's transition from a commercial bank to an investment bank. She made sure that the departments advised and supported the new businesses, and worked with the industry, regulators and Congress to reform laws so as to accommodate changing capital markets. Robbins served as chair of the American Bankers Association Securities Association, working with regulators and legislators in Washington to reform the Glass-Steagall Act.
Kelli L. Sager47, Davis Wright Tremaine, Los Angeles
Sager is a champion of free speech for the media, representing such clients as the Los Angeles Times, Paramount Pictures Corp., Conde Nast Publications and the New York Times. She has a string of big First Amendment victories to her credit. In MGM v. Grokster, Sager, as co-counsel, secured a U.S. Supreme Court copyright ruling that knocked the leading music file-sharing network off the Internet. She represented a group of media outlets in Marriage of Burkle, which successfully challenged a California state law that would have permitted the automatic sealing of records in the divorce case of supermarket magnate Ron Burkle. And, for better or worse, she represented the media companies that won camera access to the O.J. Simpson murder trial.
Louise Sams49, Turner Broadcasting System, Atlanta
Sams has something to say about what turns up on TV. She is executive vice president and general counsel at Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and president of Turner Broadcasting System International. She is the company's highest-ranking female official and serves on a seven-member executive council. She leads a staff of about 80 lawyers in Atlanta; Los Angeles; London; Hong Kong; and Sydney, Australia, managing entertainment, animation, sports and corporate legal issues. She oversees the company's entertainment networks in various international regions utilizing 40 different languages. She guided the launch of CNN Headline News in Latin America.
Kathleen Sullivan51, Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, Redwood Shores, Calif.
A nationally respected constitutional scholar, Sullivan completed five years as dean of Stanford Law School before joining Quinn Emanuel as of counsel in 2005 to establish its national appellate practice. She has argued four cases in the U.S. Supreme Court and more than 40 appeals in regional federal appellate courts. Sullivan last year won an en banc ruling by the 9th Circuit upholding a school's right to admit native Hawaiian students ahead of others. As founding director of Stanford's Constitutional Law Center, she worked with students on amicus briefs challenging warrantless wiretapping cases in the 6th and 9th circuits, and in WRTL v. FEC, testing the nation's campaign finance law. While at Stanford, she raised more than $100 million in gifts and instituted a law clinic for the poor in nearby communities.
Image: Roberto Westbrook
Patricia M. Wald78, Washington
A legal pioneer, Wald has remained active in a variety of international forums since retiring as chief judge of the D.C. Circuit eight years ago. She sits on the board of directors of the Justice Initiative, an arm of George Soros' Open Society Institute that promotes human rights and helps developing countries build legal institutions. Wald sits on a subcommittee advising and monitoring the tribunals trying Khmer Rouge figures in the Cambodia genocide and ousted dictator Charles Taylor in Sierra Leone. She is helping to design national courts to take over from similar tribunals in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. She sits on the board of the American Constitution Society; is co-chair of DLA Piper's international pro bono initiative, New Perimeter; and sits on ABA task forces on presidential signing statements and reintegration of prisoners in society. Her resume also includes stints in the U.S. Department of Justice during the Carter administration, as a judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and on the U.S. commission that investigated pre-Iraq war intelligence failures.
Elizabeth Warren57, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Mass.
Harvard Law Professor Warren is on the ramparts demanding change in the fees and penalties that credit card companies impose on consumers. Testifying in January before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Warren said that millions of credit card holders "find themselves caught in a snare from which they cannot escape." She testified that the industry has found a "sweet spot" with customers who have to pay late fees and high interest rates. Warren focuses her scholarship on bankruptcy and commercial law policy, financially distressed companies and the working poor.
Mary Jo White59, Debevoise & Plimpton, New York
The tough-as-nails former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, White is the only woman to have held that post. She moved to white-collar defense at Debevoise & Plimpton in 2002, and now chairs the firm's 225-lawyer litigation department. White successfully prosecuted some of the biggest national and international cases in the country. She secured convictions of those responsible for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998. In private practice, specializing in internal investigations and corporate defense, she represents Siemens A.G.'s audit committee in a worldwide investigation of potentially corrupt payments to government officials. She represented HCA Inc. in a Justice Department and SEC probe of former Senate Majority Leader William Frist.
Anne Marie Whittemore61, McGuireWoods, Richmond, Va.
Whittemore is a commercial litigator at the trial and appellate levels. She is a permanent member of the 4th Circuit Judicial Council, which influences the education and business worlds. Her work touches on general corporate, securities, environmental and constitutional matters. She counsels clients on corporate governance and has herself served on the boards of numerous public companies. Virginia's chief justice picked Whittemore to chair the Commission on Virginia Courts in the 21st Century, created to revamp the state's justice system.
See photos of the Sep. 10 dinner at the Rainbow Room honoring the NLJ's 50 Most influential Women and the Sep. 17 closing-bell ceremony at the NASDAQ market site.
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