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Who are the brightest young litigating lights in California or at California-based law firms? And what makes them stand out among the pack? The American Lawyer magazine (an ALM publication affiliated with The Recorder) recently identified 50 lawyers across the country, all of them under the age of 45, who have already made their marks in the profession. The magazine’s writers and editors culled through hundreds of names, refining their choices after discussions with senior law firm partners as well as government and public interest lawyers. What follows are brief sketches of those on the 50-under-45 list who either practice in California or in out-of-state offices of California-based firms. If you’d like to see who’s on the complete nationwide list of rising stars, you’ll find it online at www.americanlawyer.com.
Sean Berkowitz Latham & Watkins As a director of the government’s Enron Task Force, Berkowitz was the lead prosecutor at the 2006 trial of Jeffrey Skilling and Kenneth Lay. He joined the task force in December 2003, after five years as an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago, where his best-known cases included obtaining the indictment of notorious Chicago podiatrist Ronald Mikos for the murder of a federal witness and successfully prosecuting six officers of a now-defunct cable products company for fraud. In November 2006 Berkowitz joined the Chicago office of Latham & Watkins as a partner. He says he has already begun work on a few matters and is set to go on a speaking tour.
K. Lee Blalack O’Melveny & Myers Blalack, former chief counsel to the Senate’s permanent subcommittee on investigations, has guided a parade of high-profile clients through a world of trouble as a partner in O’Melveny’s Washington, D.C., office. In congressional probes he has represented former Hewlett-Packard Co. General Counsel Ann Baskins, former Senate Majority Leader William Frist and the pharmaceutical company ImClone Systems Inc. in an investigation related to its drug Erbitux. In the criminal realm he represented disgraced former congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham. In civil litigation he was lead defense counsel for Humana Inc., in a class action brought by doctors. Before he became a lawyer, Blalack served in the Marines and fought in the Persian Gulf War.
Jan Dodd Kaye Scholer In 2004, with nearly 1,000 cases pending against pharmaceutical companies that sold products containing the decongestant PPA, Dodd and colleague Aton Arbisser won a key defense verdict for their client Novartis AG in the first PPA cases to go to trial. The Los Angeles-based Dodd subsequently won a second PPA trial, helping to swing the advantage in the litigation to the drug companies. Her clients from Novartis call Dodd, a former journalist, a bold trial strategist and a great communicator with both judges and juries. Her other clients include Warner-Lambert Co., Pfizer Inc., Shell Oil Co. and Sempra Energy. She has worked on the Rezulin, Norplant, breast implant and latex glove mass torts. In 1996 Dodd cold-called an in-house lawyer at Shell Oil Co. She’d heard that Shell was looking for a lawyer to handle a civil case in which a young woman had been abducted from a Shell gas station, taken to a deserted area, raped and shot in the head. A serial killer was responsible but the victim sued Shell for negligence, asserting the security at the site was inadequate. Dodd had heard that the company wasn’t happy with its lawyer and was looking for a replacement. Dodd asked the in-house lawyer for a meeting and flew to Chicago that day. “Before I left, though, I called a friend to ask if he knew of someone who was an expert on appropriate security for a site like that,” Dodd says. “The friend contacted this former FBI agent who set up the original profiling databanks. His area was serial killers. I had the information faxed to me at the hotel, grabbed it and brought it to the dinner.” The first thing the general counsel asked was: “Have you thought about experts?” Dodd pulled the expert’s resume from her purse. The in-house lawyer’s response: “You’re hired.” The case took a week. “At the end,” says Dodd, “the plaintiffs begged for us to settle.”
Daralyn Durie Keker & Van Nest Durie made a big splash in 2002 when she second-seated John Keker in the successful defense of biotech giant Genentech against a $300 million claim that it had infringed Chiron Corp.’s patent on cancer antibodies. Durie then turned the Genentech win into a string of first-chair cases. She is now lead counsel for Comcast Cable Communications, Google and Netflix in intellectual property litigation that ranges from patent infringement to unfair competition. Durie’s most recent win came in November 2006, when she staved off a $2.2 billion patent infringement claim against Comcast by Caritas Technologies Inc. that had threatened to shut down Comcast’s Internet phone service. Durie was only supposed to have a limited role in the Genentech case. Keker was running the case and Durie was assigned to analyze damages five months before the trial date. But Keker kept giving her more duties, ultimately asking Durie to handle three key witnesses at trial. “Daralyn was insistent about getting as much trial experience as she could, and she sacrificed to do it,” says Keker. “She will almost always say yes even though she is swamped.” One of the witnesses Durie cross-examined at trial was a Chiron scientist who had scribbled notes in the margins of a patent application that supported Genentech’s view of the case. But Durie knew the notes would only be admitted as evidence if she could use them to impeach the scientist’s credibility. So she needed to elicit contradictory testimony from him on the stand. “When I stood up,” Durie says, “there was a lot of objecting” by opposing counsel Harold McElhinny, a partner at Morrison & Foerster. “It was very contentious.” In the end the notes were admitted. McElhinny came up to Durie and said, “Good cross.”
Jeffrey Fisher Davis Wright Tremaine Stanford Law School As a fourth-year associate at Seattle’s Davis Wright in 2004, Fisher went from relative obscurity to two U.S. Supreme Court victories in one term. Both cases dramatically affected the criminal justice system. In Blakely v. Washington, the court ruled that the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial also applies to sentencing guidelines. And in Crawford v. Washington, the justices forbade the use of a recorded statement from a witness who couldn’t be cross-examined. In 2006 Fisher � a University of Michigan Law School graduate and a former clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens � argued four more cases before the high court and joined the Stanford Law School faculty. In addition to teaching, Fisher is co-director of Stanford’s Supreme Court Litigation Clinic
John Hueston Irell & Manella Hueston, a member of the Enron Task Force as a Los Angeles assistant U.S. attorney, led the prosecution of Kenneth Lay, conducting the cross-examination of the former chief executive officer as well as the examination of Andrew Fastow, Enron’s onetime chief financial officer. The Enron case capped a 12-year Department of Justice career for Hueston, who previously prosecuted U.S. Army Col. Richard Moran in a defense contractor fraud case and Tony Minh Nguyen in a criminal trademark infringement case. Hueston, a Yale University Law School graduate, won every case he tried as a prosecutor. A hot commodity on the hiring market last summer, Hueston has recently been making the beauty contest rounds for Irell.
Mark Lemley Keker & Van Nest Stanford Law School A leading scholar on intellectual property law who has published more than 70 articles and six books, Lemley is routinely cited in court cases and called upon to testify before Congress. He has also been involved in some of the highest-profile IP cases, most notably advising the U.S. Department of Justice in its antitrust suit against Microsoft Corp. and representing Metabolite Laboratories Inc. before the U.S. Supreme Court. Lemley’s client list as of counsel at Keker is a high-tech Who’s Who: Google, YouTube, Intel, Comcast, TiVo and Genentech, among others. He recently represented Internet Services in the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. The Boalt Hall graduate joined the Stanford faculty in 2004.
Jenny Martinez Stanford Law School In 2004 Martinez argued Rumsfeld v. Padilla, one of the most important terrorism cases to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in the wake of Sept. 11. Martinez represented terrorist suspect and U.S. citizen Jose Padilla, whom she argued was denied his constitutional rights when he was detained for more than two years without a hearing or access to counsel. The high court dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds but the Bush administration removed Padilla’s “enemy combatant” status and transferred him to federal custody. A former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and a former associate at Jenner & Block, Martinez came to Stanford in 2003. She will assist Padilla’s trial counsel when he is tried in federal district court in Miami.
Darren Robbins Lerach Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins Robbins is one of the top litigators at the plaintiffs’ firm he helped found in 2003, achieving roughly $800 million in recoveries for his institutional investor clients over the past three years as either lead or co-lead plaintiffs counsel. Building on talents honed as a former tax and finance associate at O’Melveny & Myers, the San Diego-based Robbins has made his name identifying � and challenging on behalf of plaintiffs � fast-moving corporate transactions. During his tenure on the firm’s executive committee and as head of the mergers and acquisition practice, Lerach Coughlin has won a role in litigation involving six of the largest corporate privatizations. A graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law, Robbins is also part of the team in the Enron class action.
E. Joshua Rosenkranz Heller Ehrman Before joining Heller Ehrman in 2003, Rosenkranz was founding director of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. In eight years at the public interest firm he oversaw more than 50 appellate cases, including three at the U.S. Supreme Court. Rosenkranz wrote briefs for Sens. John McCain and Russell Feingold in defense of their campaign finance reform legislation, which the Brennan Center had a hand in drafting. The legislation was upheld by the court in 2003. “That was the perfect arc of what we wanted the Brennan Center to be doing,” says Rosenkranz. “Generating new ideas and getting them passed and defending them in litigation.” Since entering private practice in Heller’s New York office, Rosenkranz has worked on six Supreme Court cases, handling oral arguments in three of them. His clients include Qualcomm, Visa International and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in an appeal involving jurisdiction in a malpractice case. Rosenkranz had already founded two nonprofit appellate practices when he joined Heller’s nascent appeals and strategy group. In 1988, after clerking for then D.C. Circuit Judge Antonin Scalia and Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Rosenkranz co-founded the Office of the Appellate Defender, a New York-based nonprofit that handles appeals for indigent defendants. In 1995 he established the Brennan Center for Justice, a public interest firm that works to reform democratic institutions through litigation and public policy. It was during the campaign finance case, says Rosenkranz, that he realized he wanted to litigate full time. “I didn’t want to go to a firm that already [marketed] a premier appellate practice,” he says, “but a firm where I could have a role in building that practice.” Heller, which wanted to expand its Supreme Court practice beyond its two appellate partners, was a good fit. “Bringing Josh in was a move to build that group and build in New York,” says M. Patricia Thayer, who co-chairs Heller’s intellectual property litigation practice group.
Eugene Scalia Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher When he returned to Gibson, Dunn’s Washington office in 2003, Scalia leveraged his experience as top lawyer in the U.S. Department of Labor into two busy practices: employment litigation and administrative law. In both, he has won cases of national significance. He persuaded a Maryland federal court judge to overturn a state law requiring very large companies to provide health benefits. And he twice overturned an SEC rule requiring mutual funds to add independent directors to their boards. Scalia, the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, is also known for his defense of companies under Sarbanes-Oxley whistle-blower provisions and has recently been hired by Ford Motor Co. to handle a series of age discrimination suits.
David Schindler Latham & Watkins Schindler’s defense of Tenet HealthCare Systems in back-to-back trials in 2004 and 2005 resulted in hung juries both times � which his client believes paved the way for Tenet’s ultimate $900 million settlement of multiple federal Medicaid fraud investigations. A former assistant U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, Schindler is currently involved in seven stock option backdating cases and two Foreign Corrupt Practices Act cases involving Chinese companies. The Los Angeles-based lawyer has represented more than 100 companies in internal and government investigations, including Mattel over allegations of campaign finance violations and Perot Systems over allegations of gaming the California energy market.
Charles Verhoeven Quinn Emanuel In Verhoeven’s biggest case, his client, Bancorp Services, won twice. Bancorp alleged theft of trade secrets and patent infringement against Hartford Life Insurance Co. Before trial the district court ruled Bancorp’s patent invalid, but in 2002 Verhoeven won a $118 million verdict on the other claims. The parties settled the case for $80 million � and then the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals reinstated Bancorp’s patent. Also in 2002 Verhoeven, a partner who leads Quinn Emanuel’s San Francisco office, won a jury award of $9 million for Tegic Communications in its patent infringement suit against Zi Corp. And in 2006 he won a defense verdict for RealNetworks in a $200 million patent infringement suit brought by Ethos Technologies.

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