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WASHINGTON � Before oral argument, Maureen Mahoney ritualistically eats a chocolate frosted doughnut for luck and energy. But meticulous preparation, consummate skill and an intense desire to win, more than luck and a sugar rush, have propelled this appellate advocate and Latham & Watkins partner to the top of her field. In the 2006-2007 Supreme Court term, Mahoney argued more cases than any other lawyer in private practice. The four cases tested her versatility in a range of difficult legal areas, including patent law, First Amendment, whistleblowing and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. [See related article.] Mahoney, who heads Latham’s appellate and constitutional practice groups, walked away with three victories, bumping her overall high court record to 18 arguments and only two losses. In the past year, she has also taken on the appeal of convicted former Qwest Communications International Inc. chief executive Joseph Nacchio, and convinced a federal appellate court to reverse a lower-court decision denying bail to Nacchio. For Mahoney, 53, the past year was outstanding not because of appellate victories, she said: “The main thing is the feeling that I had become a leader in my field and that I have been working towards that for many years.” A graduate of the University of Chicago Law School and a clerk to the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, Mahoney honed her appellate skills in what is considered the best little law firm in the nation � the Office of the Solicitor General of the United States. She was appointed deputy solicitor general by President George H.W. Bush in 1991 and argued eight cases there, winning seven. In 1992, Bush nominated her to a district court judgeship, but her nomination died with the election that year of Bill Clinton. Mahoney returned to the firm where she had begun her private-practice career in 1980 � Latham � to head up the appellate and constitutional practices. Controversial clients Although most of her clients are large corporations, such as Union Pacific Corp., E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. and Rockwell International, she has not shied away from institutional, sometimes controversial, clients. She defended the affirmative action admissions plan of the University of Michigan Law School before the Supreme Court and secured a 5-4 victory in 2003 from a court increasingly hostile to affirmative action. In 2005, she rocketed to newspaper front pages with her successful Supreme Court argument to reverse the conviction of Arthur Andersen, which in 2002 was found guilty of obstruction of justice in the Enron Corp. investigation. “We went out and interviewed a number of top Supreme Court attorneys,” recalled Kerry Miller of the Arthur Andersen legal group. “Not to malign anyone else, Maureen stood out for us because she just exudes credibility. She inspires confidence. She’s all substance, not bluster.” Mahoney’s review of a case record is both “meticulous and imaginative,” said Christopher Koenigs of Denver’s Sherman & Howard, who worked with her on the Rockwell whistleblower case last term. “She has an extraordinarily keen sense of the facts and legal arguments that will resonate with the Supreme Court,” he said, adding, “She is down to earth and easy to work with.” Besides being “one of the smartest lawyers” in the country as well as “modest and self-effacing,” Latham colleague J. Scott Ballenger said, “There’s just not a lazy bone in her body. She grabs onto problems and makes them her own and worries them until she finds a way to win. She also just will never give up; she just always finds a way to win.” Mahoney will argue a closely watched patent case before the Supreme Court in January, but the appeal of Nacchio’s insider-trading conviction, she said, is one of the most challenging cases of her career. “I have an intense desire to win every case and sometimes they are worth billions, but I’ve never had a case where I felt more personal responsibility for the outcome. Where someone’s personal liberty is at stake, you feel you have to get everything right.”

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