Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
If there’s a model international lawyer, the kind of attorney who excels at jetting to Beijing and Brussels on complex corporate matters, Charlene Barshefsky has a strong claim on the title.
Since joining Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in 2001, Barshefsky, 59, has carved out a role as one the profession’s top Asia hands. It helps that she spent the five years before joining the firm as the U.S. trade representative, negotiating trade deals, including landmark pacts with China and Vietnam.
Barshefsky’s client list is rich with global conglomerates who want her advice on navigating foreign regulatory regimes. She represents The Boeing Co. in its dispute with Airbus SAS at the World Trade Organization. She said she is representing Google Inc. on “Internet freedom-related issues” (though Barshef­sky said she was not involved in the company’s latest decision regarding content in China). Foreign governments seek her counsel on developing industry and global corporations court her for their boards, including Intel, American Express, Estee Lauder and Starwood Hotels. (“I’ve stayed in every hotel there is in the world. I’m kind of an expert in practice.”)
Barshefsky said she gets calls from members of Congress, including several who sit on the powerful House Ways and Means and Senate Finance panels, “asking for my advice on different bills, different approaches, different ideas.” She serves on the board of the Council on Foreign Relations and on a committee that advises the USTR and the Indian trade minister. The work means Barshefsky spends a lot of her time on the road, going from client meetings to speeches to corporate boardrooms.
“I have a lot of capacity,” she said. “I’m the kind of person that is interested in the world, and in business, and in policy. And I just make it work.”
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton
When Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamil­ton partner Giovanni Prezioso joined the U.S. Securities and Exchange Com­mis­sion as general counsel in May 2002, the wave of corporate scandals had just begun to crest. Less than three months later, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and Prezioso, 52, found himself with the formidable job of overseeing implementation of the new law. “I was there for the [bill's] signing,” he recalled, “and then it was off to the races.” His team faced 24 rulemaking and study deadlines that laid out the enforcement and regulatory provisions of the act — the biggest change to U.S. securities laws since the Great Depression. “We worked backwards, like you do with a deal,” Prezioso said. “We got all the rulemakings and studies done on time, and each won unanimous approval by the [SEC] commissioners, with a 5-0 vote.”
During his nearly four-year tenure at the SEC, Prezioso and his 120-lawyer office also provided legal advice to the commission on more than 2,000 enforcement matters. He made his mark by revitalizing the office’s amicus program, filing briefs in a range of cases. “I tried to pick issues where there was a consensus among the commissioners,” he said. When Prezioso left the SEC in 2006, then-chairman Christopher Cox said, “When the next chapter of the SEC’s history is written, Giovanni Prezioso will rightfully occupy a prominent place.”
He returned to Cleary, the firm he joined straight out of Harvard Law School in 1982. Since then, he’s been a go-to lawyer for clients including The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Citigroup Inc. Along with partner Lewis Liman, Prezioso has also been heavily involved in advising Bank of America Corp. on its settlement with the SEC in the infamous case before New York federal Judge Jed Rakoff.
Richard Wiley helped put a high-definition digital television set in your living room. It’s true that his tenure on the Federal Communications Commission ended more than 30 years ago — technically. But Wiley, 75, has had a finger in just about every major communications deal this past decade.
That includes his work on digital television. He chaired a federal advisory committee to develop a new standard for television sets, a pro bono effort that lasted nine years and paid off when new television sets hit retail stores this decade. Now, he watches his beloved baseball on his own high-definition set — when he’s not studying up on the FCC’s new broadband plan.
He also helped Verizon Com­muni­ca­tions diversify into video and cable, represented Verizon and AT&T in mergers, represented Sirius Satellite Radio Inc. before the FCC on its merger with XM Satellite Radio Holdings Inc. and represents JPMorgan Chase & Co. in connection with the bankruptcy of Tribune Co. In addition, he’s worked with newspapers and broadcasters in an ongoing push to relax restrictions on cross-ownership in the media industry (restrictions he helped write while with the FCC).
Wiley Rein, the firm he founded in 1983 and where he still serves as managing partner, has, according to Wiley, the largest communications practice in the country. In the past, he’s headed industry groups such as the Federal Communications Bar Association, and he’s still an active speaker. “I’ve known just about everyone in the (communications) bar,” Wiley said. “It’s a little bit of a fraternity, and I’m pleased to be part of that.”