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Thomas Green, a partner in the D.C. office of Sidley Austin, passes the “desert island test,” says former Sen. Donald Riegle Jr. (D-Mich.). “If you were stranded on an island in the middle of the ocean with Tom, you wouldn’t lay awake at night watching your half of the coconut,” explains Riegle, now chairman of the government relations department at APCO Worldwide. “He’s a truly honorable guy, someone who you can trust with your life.” Riegle and Green became acquainted under adverse conditions, during the 1980s savings and loan crisis in which Riegle and four of his Senate colleagues, the so-called Keating Five, were investigated on possible ethics violations. But Riegle was never charged. Green, 65, meets a lot of people under adverse conditions. Currently, he’s representing clients in the Jack Abramoff lobbying and Valerie Plame leak investigations. But then, it seems, whenever scandal strikes Washington, Green is counseling one of the people or corporate entities at the center of the dust-up. He has guided his clients through Watergate, Iran-Contra, the Keating Five, Whitewater, and other lesser flaps � such as the State Department examination of then-candidate Bill Clinton’s passport records and the allegations that Clinton’s 2001 pardons were influenced by bribes. Green has a reputation as a brawler when it comes to defending his clients’ interests, but in a manner that juries and judges find both calming and compelling. Perhaps we should credit his military experience: A former U.S. Army captain and artillery battery commander, Green was attached to the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam. As a young attorney, Green benefited from what James Neal, a famed Nashville attorney best known for his role in prosecuting Watergate, calls the most important factor in shaping a great career: luck. As a 31-year-old lawyer, Green went to trial in defense of Watergate figure Robert Mardian when an elder member of his firm fell ill. Green won � on appeal. Perhaps the best recent victory for Green came in 2003, when a jury found for Tyson Foods in a 36-count case charging it with conspiracy to smuggle illegal aliens into the country to work in the company’s poultry-processing plants. The judge dismissed 24 counts, and the jury returned not-guilty verdicts on the remaining charges. “This was one of the biggest legal issues I can recall in my career,” says David Van Bebber, chief legal counsel for Tyson. “It was a bet-the-company case, and we had to have a solid win” to protect the company’s reputation, preserve the brand, and maintain morale among Tyson’s 110,000 employees. “Tom has a wonderful manner in the courtroom,” adds Van Bebber, who nonetheless says that Green’s efforts before a case ever gets to trial may be even more important than what happens in front of a jury. “He knows what cases are worth, and he makes an investment in his client and helps manage them to the right result. He’s not merely a mouthpiece.” Green estimates that 70 percent of the clients who hire him walk away with a resolution that doesn’t involve going to trial. One high-profile case falling into that category would be Green’s defense of former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Wen Ho Lee. Hounded by federal investigators on a variety of shifting espionage charges, Lee ultimately pleaded guilty to a single count in a 58-count indictment in September 2000 and was freed after 278 days in solitary confinement. Next up for Green: the defense of Cynergy in another bet-the-company case, the first in a series of Clean Air Act prosecutions taking aim at utilities operating coal-fired energy plants.

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