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Watch any television or movie depiction of a trial, and the tide always turns after some dramatic moment in court. An attorney tears apart an opposing witness. New evidence becomes available at the last moment. An opening or closing leaves a juror in tears. The outcome of the trial often seems more a matter of luck than of talent or technique or effort. But in reality, luck has little to do with the results. Serendipitous events do happen, but the attorneys who win most consistently create their own opportunities and are so prepared that they can seize on the slightest miscue by the other side. As legendary Brooklyn Dodger baseball executive Branch Rickey once put it, “Luck is the residue of design.” Trials are won or lost in pretrial preparation. The battle goes not to the attorney who is most theatrical or fortunate, but to the one who has best marshalled the evidence, created a coherent theme, and made an engaging, credible presentation. And the telling moments are usually crafted long before they’re sprung on witnesses or jurors. NLJ’S ANNUAL SELECTION Every year The National Law Journalselects and profiles 10 trial attorneys who for years have exhibited the ability to outprepare opponents, create those telling moments, and persuade jurors to their viewpoint. The NLJprofiles concentrate on how each attorney handles a suit, from the moment he or she is hired, through discovery and each step of the trial, citing a recent win as an example. All the litigators profiled this year have long been recognized by colleagues and clients as among the nation’s best. The cases they describe include some of the biggest trials of the past 18 months. David Boies of Armonk, N.Y.’s Boies, Schiller & Flexner, for example, was lead counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice in the federal antitrust action against Microsoft Corp. He won a resounding victory that could lead to a breakup of the company. Thomas R. Kline, of Philadelphia’s Kline & Specter won a $51 million jury verdict for a boy whose foot was severed by a Philadelphia subway station escalator. The case led to the dismissals of numerous subway system executives and promises to fix all broken escalators. Karen Gievers of Tallahassee, Fla. won a $4.4 million verdict against the Florida state foster care system on behalf of two girls who had been bounced around and abused in foster care for more than 13 years. The verdict may be a precursor to judgments in other states, where attorneys are increasingly filing litigation against foster care agencies. In several cases, the losers were also among the nation’s most successful trial attorneys. Judson Graves of Atlanta’s Alston & Bird, for instance, won a medical malpractice verdict against famed plaintiffs’ lawyers Don C. Keenan of that city’s Keenan Law Firm, and Jim M. Perdue Sr. and Jim M. Perdue Jr. of Houston’s The Perdue Law Firm. William C. Slusser of Houston’s Slusser & Frost won a patent defense judgment against noted intellectual property specialist Harry Roper of Chicago’s Roper & Quigg. The cases vary — from plaintiffs’ wins in personal injury, medical malpractice, and agency negligence to defense wins in white-collar crime, medical malpractice, products liability, and patent infringement. The size of the law firms varies as well — from Gievers, who works in a one-lawyer shop, to Robert C. Weber, defense attorney for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in the tobacco litigation, who practices at the 1,300-plus-lawyer firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue. Some of the winning attorneys are specialists. Graves, for instance, represents only defendants, primarily in medical malpractice. Kline represents only plaintiffs, and Donald M. RŽ, of Los Angeles’ Law Offices of Donald M. R�, represents only defendants, in criminal matters. Others have tried a wide variety of cases. Dennis C. Sweet III of Jackson, Miss.’ Langston, Sweet & Freese started as a public defender in Washington, D.C., and still handles some criminal defense work, along with his thriving civil practice. Kathleen T. Zellner of Naperville, Ill.’s Zellner & Associates was one of the top criminal defense lawyers in Illinois before recently switching to civil litigation, representing plaintiffs. Whatever the specialty, the type of case, or the size of the law firm, however, each of the attorneys profiled this year is devoted to thorough pretrial preparation — even when called in at the last minute to try a case. Boies, for instance, read more than 3,000 documents in the days before trial — working day and night — to master the material before giving his opening statement. Richard Warren Mithoff of Houston’s Mithoff & Jacks left no stone unturned or lead unfollowed when developing a medical malpractice action arising out of botched back surgery. He and his investigators did a computer search of prior lawsuits against the surgeon involved and even tracked down the doctor’s former girlfriends and wives to find relevant information. Graves spent weeks learning the medicine involved in his case, so he could translate it for jurors. Each of the profiles covers only one attorney, but few worked alone. Mithoff’s co-counsel was his partner Tommy Jacks. Weber, in his defense of R.J. Reynolds, was accompanied by numerous other attorneys for the tobacco industry. Sweet, who won a $150 million products liability verdict in a Fen-Phen case, was co-lead trial counsel with Michael Gallagher of Houston’s Gallagher, Lewis, Downey & Kim. It should be noted that these are the views of the trials by the winning attorneys. And for five of the cases, which are on appeal or in post-trial motions, the final outcome has not yet been determined. But for now, here are war stories as told by the victors. Back to 10 Wins: Profiles of Successful U.S. Trial Attorneys

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