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First, a few words about what this is not. The 10 lawyers whose stories are featured here were not chosen because they are the best or most successful in the country. We would be hard-pressed to define these terms, much less choose lawyers who qualify. The attorneys recognized here have been successfully trying cases for years, and each had at least one big win over the past 15 months. The articles are less profiles of the lawyers than stories of how they won their big cases. The cases themselves varied dramatically. A murder trial in Texas lasted two weeks, while a patent infringement suit in New York ran for seven months. In spite of this diversity, a few common threads can be teased from these texts. MASTERS AT BREVITY These attorneys are all masters at simplifying complex information into a form that is easily digested. Not only is this a more effective way of communicating, but it can also shorten trials: a surefire formula for winning jurors’ hearts and minds. When one of our winners told jurors who had just been forced to endure five weeks of listening to the government’s case that his defense would take only two days, they literally smiled and broke into applause. These lawyers are also adept at raising doubts about their opponents even as they establish their own credibility. They know when to personalize a case, and how much, and they know when to step aside and let the evidence speak for itself. Two of our litigators won civil bench trials and seven won jury trials — five civil, two criminal. One attorney — Eric MacLeish — didn’t even try a case. He was recognized for securing court orders and deposing a defendant. But not just any court orders and not just any defendant. The court orders forced the Roman Catholic Church’s Boston Archdiocese to release 45,000 pages of documents detailing how it handled complaints that priests had sexually abused children. The defendant was Cardinal Bernard Law. Sometimes very big cases can turn on very small details, and these usually make for dramatic stories. Errol Taylor had one such case. Taylor won a bench trial involving patent infringement claims on an extremely profitable drug. The case turned, in part, on flight times listed on an airline ticket. Barry Ostrager also had a case with a lot at stake. He won a $370 million bench trial for J.P. Morgan Chase over a loan guarantee. One small detail that benefited his case was a CEO’s nine-day ski trip to Colorado. Some lawyers found that they were able to score points by attacking their adversaries. Phil Beck, our only repeat winner (he was first featured in 1997), pulled out a surprising victory in the first Baycol trial by, among other things, goading his opponent. Ted Grossman scored an equally impressive defense win in a California tobacco case, and he also attacked the credibility of his counterpart. One reason the result of Grossman’s trial surprised many was that it came after the remarkable success of plaintiffs’ lawyer Michael Piuze, who is featured after his second successive multibillion-dollar verdict against Philip Morris. Piuze’s one complaint is that so few plaintiffs’ lawyers seem willing to follow his lead. Houston prosecutor Kelly Siegler faced the difficult task of trying a murder case that had been tried twice before. On top of that, the defendant had never been in trouble with the law and his father was a well-respected local defense lawyer. In the other criminal case, Tom Green defended Tyson Foods against charges that it had violated immigration laws in recruiting employees. Three Tyson executives had pleaded guilty before trial, and an eye-popping nine-figure forfeiture was at stake. Jerry McDevitt defended World Wrestling Federation Entertainment against claims by a wrestler that she was sexually harassed and subjected to a hostile work environment. McDevit’s challenge was to demolish the plaintiff’s credibility without diminishing the importance of the laws that protect women with legitimate complaints. Finally, Bruce Fagel, a plaintiffs’ medical malpractice lawyer, revealed that the secret of his success has less to do with his medical degree than the collaboration of his wife. Her job includes sitting next to him during his trials and telling him when he’s talking over the jurors’ heads. FINAL CAVEATS We began with a caveat; we will end with three more. Some of the verdicts featured here have been modified by trial judges or appeals courts — or may yet be in the future. Though each story focuses on one lawyer, all of the lawyers featured were quick to credit the colleagues who made their wins possible. And, as happens so often in the writing of history, the versions that are recorded are largely the ones told by the winners.

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