Jennifer Keller was up against it. At the client's insistence, she parachuted into the long-running litigation over ownership of the multibillion-dollar Bratz dolls just weeks before the case was schedule for its second trial (the first having ended in a debacle for that client, MGA Entertainment Inc.) She faced barely contained hostility from the company's longtime counsel and a grueling trial schedule.
"I just figured that the best thing I could do was to immediately show my colleagues what a good trial lawyer I am," Keller told the NLJ's Amanda Bronstad.
Keller showed them, all right. The jury awarded MGA $88.5 million for trade secrets theft by its business rival, Mattel Inc.
That was precisely the blend of skill and moxie we looked for in assembling this year's edition of Winning, our annual survey of the nation's best litigators.
We asked our readers to nominate trial attorneys with at least one significant win at jury or bench trial within the past 18 months and have a track record of success over many years. We supplemented these submissions with our own research. The criteria for a "significant win" included substantial damages at stake, establishment of an important precedent being altered or unfriendly jurisdictions overcome.
We settled on 14 attorneys, including Keller. You'll find dissections of their winning strategies in these pages. — Michael Moline
FOUR CASE STUDIES IN UNDERMINING WITNESSES
The plaintiffs built their arguments on their credibility, so naturally the defense went on the attack.
JUANITA BROOKS | FISH & RICHARDSON
IP defense made simple: Draw them a picture
Illustrations and animations undermined a competitor's challenge to a dialysis machine.
NLJ VIDEO : Interview with Juanita Brooks.
ROBERT DAVIS | MAYER BROWN
Client decided to become a wage-and-hour role model
Quicken Loans hopes its trial victory encourages other companies to fight overtime claims.
MARCOS DANIEL JIMENEZ | KASOWITZ, BENSON, TORRES & FRIEDMAN
Will the real Mr. Rescue please stand up?
By taking on the state of Florida, a former prosecutor may have inspired companies to fight back.
JENNIFER KELLER | KELLER RACKAUCKAS
Last-minute substitute triumphed in Bratz trial
Her co-counsel shunned her at first, but she won them over and then won the case.
NLJ VIDEO : Interview with Jennifer Keller.
ANDREW LEBLANC AND ALAN STONE | MILBANK, TWEED, HADLEY & MCCLOY
A bankruptcy even a baseball fan could love
Litigation team ensured the Texas Rangers' lenders weren't left standing.
NLJ VIDEO : Interview with Andrew LeBlanc.
ANDREW MCGAAN | KIRKLAND & ELLIS
In defending tobacco companies, less was more
Litigator helps defeat hospitals' bid to recover $4 billion for treating smoking-related illnesses.
ROMAN SILBERFELD | ROBINS, KAPLAN, MILLER & CIRESI
How can a phenomenal show make no money?
Case shone a spotlight on dodgy accounting used to hide profits in the entertainment industry.
ROBERT STARK | BROWN RUDNICK
No quick exit for auto parts manufacturer
By slowing things down and forcing an auction, 'St. Jude's lawyer' won big bucks for his clients.
REID WEINGARTEN | STEPTOE & JOHNSON LLP
Taking risks and prevailing for a beleaguered lawyer
Defender secured a rare directed acquittal for GlaxoSmithKline in-house counsel.