Those were such happy times and not so long ago….
A funny thing happened on the way to this year’s 500. The world changed.
The legal establishment bet in a big way on business as usual under the next lawyer-president, this one a woman.
And then comes the part where he’s breaking her heart….
This year’s 500 reflects the turmoil and uncertainty of the past year, wrapped around the lawyers and judges who define our rights, our property and our futures. We welcome new U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch to the guide, where he stands alongside one of his supporters, noted D.C. appellate lawyer extraordinaire Neal Katyal of Hogan Lovells. We watched Katyal and Williams & Connolly’s Kannon Shanmugam square off at the Supreme Court last spring, in the first argument there led on both sides by minority lawyers. And among the most active questioners was the real-world justice, Sonia Sotomayor, whose street smarts of what really happens in a trial court illuminated the otherwise esoteric proceedings.
At one point, Chief Justice John Roberts commented to Shanmugam that his position was “pretty lawyerly.”
Without missing a beat, the appellate impresario replied, “Why thank you, Mr. Chief Justice.”
And thus is the 500, lawyerly to a fault, packed with 34 percent amazing women lawyers; 15 percent minority lawyers; and a resurgent public interest force. The ACLU may very well be the law firm of the year, and are represented here by six of their finest. Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP is redefining activism in the age of social media where rights are being challenged in ways not seen since the birth of her organization. And academics, activists, and private lawyers alike are aligned to protect our rights, in court, at the border, wherever human rights and dignity are threatened.
We can’t forget or look away from the groundswell that got us here, and the plight of individuals who feel powerless and abandoned. Plaintiff lawyers are a powerful army for the injured, and we are proud of their representation on this year’s 500, as every year, including Tom Demetrio of Chicago’s Corboy & Demetrio, whose representation of an airline passenger has become a plaintive wail of folks who have had enough.
It’s our hope to reflect the moment of the nation’s lawyering, and this is a difficult one. Judges are being dismissed by our President in inappropriate and terrible ways. And yet, no matter how we got to this crucible of a moment, we must recognize it and work through it together.
That’s what lawyers do. Welcome to the Lawdragon 500, 2017 edition.