You might say Manisha Sheth has the best of both worlds — she’s a partner at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan (where profits per partner last year were an eye-popping $3.62 million) and she gets to stand up in court representing the U.S. government. A former federal prosecutor, Sheth is part of a team representing the Federal Housing Finance Agency in suits against 18 of the largest financial institutions in the world for selling subpar mortgage-backed securities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. She’s in charge of the cases against Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. and Barclays PLC, and is also working on the suits against Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.
“It’s a privilege and an honor to represent the United States, and a tremendous responsibility,” she said. “It’s more than just being a persuasive and rigorous advocate, but also doing the right thing for the public. It’s taxpayer money we’re talking about.”
After graduating from Georgetown University Law Center, Sheth, 37, began her career clerking for U.S. District Judge William Pauley in the Southern District of New York in 1998-1999, then worked at Davis Polk & Wardwell as an associate. In 2003, she moved to the Criminal Division of the U.S. attorney’s office in Philadelphia, focusing on white-collar cases. During her five years in the office, she won all but one of her trials.
She joined Quinn Emanuel in 2008, drawn by its mix of plaintiffs’ and defense-side work, and the focus on being in court. “When we take a case, we start thinking of trial on day one,” she said. Sheth is also a lead attorney in another large case involving residential mortgage-backed securities, suing Countrywide Financial Corp. and Bank of America Corp. on behalf of MBIA Insurance Corp. In her free time, Sheth is a private pilot. “The views are outstanding at 3,000 feet,” she said. — Jenna Greene