Very few attorneys get to argue a federal case with global importance in front of C-SPAN cameras. Marwa Elzankaly, 35, did that back in 2008 when pursuing an appeal on behalf of Rahinah Ibrahim, a Stanford University graduate student from Indonesia who found herself on the federal “no-fly” list.
Government lawyers had argued that federal judges had no jurisdiction over the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration based on a federal statute. But Elzankaly argued before the 9th Circuit that because the particular agency that actually compiles the list — the Terrorist Screening Center — was part of the FBI, not the TSA, it was not covered by that law. A segment of the arguments was later broadcast on C-SPAN. Her argument prevailed, and the 9th Circuit agreed to allow federal trial judges to adjudicate the makeup of the no-fly list. Elzankaly and other McManis attorneys are continuing to work on Ibrahim’s efforts to clear her name. That case made Elzankaly a national expert on the no-fly list and how to fight such challenges.
Elzankaly, born in Egypt and fluent in Arabic, is a partner at McManis Faulkner in San Jose, Calif., focusing on business litigation, including antitrust, trademark, copyright, trade secrets, breach of contract, unfair competition, malicious prosecution and employment issues.
She came to the United States when she was seven with her family, and by 11 knew she wanted to be a lawyer. “I wanted to be able to work within the system and help others do the same.” A 1999 graduate of Santa Clara University School of Law, Elzankaly saw herself headed for transactional law. But when she arrived at McManis, she fell in love with litigation. “The work I do requires me to learn constantly and be creative with every case.” — Lisa Holton