Rudy Giuliani, having cast off his presidential ambitions for the moment, is targeting a new goal: creating a name for his law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, in the appellate practice area.
In addition to hiring appellate litigators J. Brett Busby and Jeffrey Oldham in Houston in March, the firm will draw on the promotional strength of Giuliani in New York. Practice group leader Warren Harris in Houston will round out the core team.
New York managing partner Daniel Connolly and partners Marc L. Mukasey, the son of Attorney General Michael Mukasey, and Kenneth A. Caruso are among the dozen other firm lawyers who will contribute their skills to the team.
"The appellate practice has always been something of great interest to me," said Giuliani, who honed his appellate skills in various Justice Department positions in Washington and in the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, where he held the top post, before becoming the mayor of New York in 1993.
EMERGING APPELLATE PRACTICES
The effort by Bracewell & Giuliani, which has its biggest office in Houston, falls in line with the emergence of large appellate practices in Houston, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco and Los Angeles during the past 20 years, said Richard Lazarus, a Georgetown University Law Center professor who is also faculty director of the school's Supreme Court Institute in Washington.
While that observation applies more to firms focused on Supreme Court appellate work, the best firms before the highest court tend to be dominant overall in appellate work, he said.
Firms in Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Houston have led the way in building appellate practices, but New York firms have focused on higher-dollar litigation work at the pretrial and trial levels, Lazarus said.
Bracewell & Giuliani, which has about 500 attorneys, including 200 litigators, will have to contend with dominant players in the industry that include Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr; Sidley Austin; Latham & Watkins; Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher of Los Angeles; Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans, & Figel of Washington; and Mayer Brown of Chicago, Lazarus said.
Bracewell & Giuliani is "not a firm that would come off of my lips as an appellate firm," Lazarus said.
Bracewell & Giuliani's Busby and Oldham expect to work closely with the firm's New York and Washington offices on appellate issues, said Busby, who has argued before the Supreme Court and has worked on dozens of federal and state appellate cases. Both of the attorneys, who were at Mayer Brown until March, clerked for Supreme Court justices.
Team leader Harris has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, the Texas Supreme Court and various state and federal courts.
The firm points to Harris' February victory before the Texas Supreme Court in a case in which an insurance policyholder client prevailed over Lloyd's of London in a contract dispute, as the most recent evidence of the firm's ability in the appellate area. Lloyd's, London v. Frank's Casing Crew & Rental Tools Inc., No. 02-0730.
Connolly worked for the New York mayor's office when Giuliani held the post and handled appellate work then, after starting his legal career as a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's office. Mukasey and Caruso have been freed up from other litigation work on which they were focused and will be able to contribute more time to building the appellate practice, Giuliani said.
Giuliani may argue one or two appellate cases each year, but mainly will help to promote the practice area to clients, he said. He's looking to build the practice just as he's helped expand the firm's presence in New York to 52 lawyers in the three years since he joined the firm and opened the office. The firm will be asking existing clients to give it a chance to prove itself in the area, Giuliani said.
"We realize it will take a little while to develop the same name" that it has in other areas, Giuliani said.