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It's a good thing to rise to the top of one's practice specialty—but creating your practice specialty is even better. That's what these ten lawyers did. Sullivan & Cromwell's H. Rodgin Cohen spent his career advising banks—a sedate practice, until the 2008 financial crisis made him the key man to advise financial institutions on the brink. Weil, Gotshal & Manges's Harvey Miller and Patton Boggs's Thomas Boggs, meanwhile, took practices that had been the purview of boutiques—bankruptcy and lobbying, respectively—and successfully transplanted into the large-firm environment. (Covington & Burling's Charles Ruff and Davis Polk & Wardwell's Robert Fiske Jr. did the same thing with white-collar defense.) The M&A world has been especially prone to innovation. The sixties saw the risky embrace of the hostile takeover as a business strategy by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom's Joseph Flom. Twenty years later, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz's Martin Lipton developed the poison pill defense, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett's Richard Beattie and Kirkland & Ellis's Jack Levin laid the legal foundations for the private equity industry.
H. RODGIN COHEN Sullivan & Cromwell New York A BANKER'S LAWYER Facing collapse, the financial services industry turned to a trusted veteran.
HARVEY MILLER Weil, Gotshal & Manges New York MAKING DEBT PAY Turning bankruptcy work into a must-have for big firms.

JOSEPH FLOM Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom New York GOING HOSTILE Skadden's embrace of the unsolicited takeover paid off handsomely.
THOMAS BOGGS JR. Patton Boggs Washington, D.C. POLITICAL ANIMAL Putting lobbying work on the big-firm agenda.

ROBERT FISKE

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