These are the lawyers who’ve defined a decade.

For our annual Most Influential Lawyers special report, the editors of The National Law Journal have selected 40 attorneys in a dozen key legal areas whose work between Jan. 1, 2000, and Dec. 31, 2009, was so consequential that it helped to push the profession, an industry or a practice area substantially forward.

The lawyers were selected through our staff’s reporting, as well as from more than 100 nominations submitted by the legal community. Associate Editor Leigh Jones valiantly spearheaded the effort, sifting through mounds of material to help us come to our difficult, final decisions. NLJ reporters Tresa Baldas, Amanda Bronstad, Jenna Greene, David Ingram, Jeff Jeffrey, Andy Jones, Carrie Levine, Sheri Qualters, Mike Scarcella, Karen Sloan and Jordan Weissmann contributed to this report.

The list spans law firms, academia, government and advocacy groups, but, consciously subtracts a few obvious categories: Members of the Supreme Court and attorneys general, for instance, are generally influential by definition, and they are not included here.

Instead, we have focused upon lawyers in the following specific practices: antitrust; appellate; bankruptcy; civil rights; corporate; energy and environmental; in-house; intellectual property; labor and employment; legal education; litigation; and regulatory. In other words, we’re primarily focusing on hard-working lawyers who’ve been in the trenches on big deals or major litigation or who have been pioneering at in-house positions or the nation’s law schools.

This week’s edition isn’t the last word on our Most Influential list. During the next several weeks, we will produce video profiles of some of our selections for And we’ll be honoring all of the attorneys on this year’s list at The National Law Journal‘s annual dinner, which is slated for June 15 at The Gotham in New York City. We hope that you’ll join us.

In the meantime, think of this special report as a road map for those of you who aspire to most influential status in the decade ahead. The lawyers featured here point the way.

— David Brown, editor in chief

♦ Kevin Arquit, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett
♦ William Baer, Arnold & Porter
♦ Joe Sims, Jones Day

♦ Thomas Goldstein, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer
& Feld
♦ Maureen Mahoney, Latham & Watkins
♦ Carter Phillips, Sidley Austin

♦ Corinne Ball, Jones Day
♦ John “Jack” Butler Jr./Jay Goffman, Skadden,
Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom  Watch video
♦ Harvey Miller, Weil, Gotshal & Manges
♦ James Sprayregen, Kirkland & Ellis

♦ Neal Katyal, Principal Deputy Solicitor General
♦ John Payton, NAACP Legal Defense Fund 
 Watch video
♦ Paul Smith, Jenner & Block/Ruth Harlow, 

♦ H. Rodgin Cohen, Sullivan & Cromwell
  Watch video
♦ Edward Herlihy, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz
♦ Jeffrey Rosen, Debevoise & Plimpton 

♦ C. Mark Baker, Fulbright & Jaworski
♦ Edwin Feo, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy
♦ Robert Wyman, Latham & Watkins

♦ Mark Chandler, Cisco Systems Inc.
♦ Roderick Palmore, General Mills Inc.
♦ Thomas Sager, E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
  Watch video

♦ Morgan Chu, Irell & Manella
♦ Donald Dunner, Finnegan, Henderson,
 Farabow,  Garrett & Dunner
♦ Russell Frackman, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp

♦ Nancy Abell, Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker
♦ Paul Salvatore, Proskauer Rose
♦ Joseph Sellers, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll

♦ Lawrence Lessig, Harvard Law School
♦ David Van Zandt, Northwestern University
 School of Law
♦ Elizabeth Warren, Harvard Law School

♦ Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney’s Office,
 Northern  District of Illinois
♦ Mark Lanier, the Lanier Law Firm
♦ Brendan Sullivan Jr., Williams & Connolly
♦ Theodore Wells Jr., Paul, Weiss, Rifkind,
 Wharton & Garrison

♦ Charlene Barshefsky,
 Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
♦ Giovanni Prezioso, Cleary Gottlieb Steen
 & Hamilton
♦ Richard Wiley, Wiley Rein