Evan Tager has established himself as one of the great marathon runners in the federal appellate system.

In AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in April 2011 that the Federal Arbitration Act pre-empted a California state law prohibiting contracts from disallowing class actions.

Tager had been hired in 2002 by Cingular Wireless — the predecessor company to AT&T Mobility — to help create an incentives-based customer arbitration process aimed at reducing the number of class actions the company had to fight. In a 2006 suit, California couple Vincent and Liza Concepcion sued AT&T Mobility over a provision in their phone contract. Their suit became a class action, which caused AT&T to argue for dismissal on the grounds that the couple had agreed through their contract to arbitrate, rather than sue as part of a class case.

Despite several reverses along the way, Tager and the Mayer Brown team never lost confidence that Concepcion would reach the Supreme Court. They even took the unusual move of filing a particular brief in a similar case that essentially asked the Court to wait for the issues they would present in Concepcion. It worked, and Tager continues to work with Mayer Brown’s appellate team to defend the landmark ruling in the lower courts.

Tager said partners in Mayer Brown’s appellate practice are unusual in that they tackle initial drafts in many cases and he took pride in doing the initial writing in Concepcion: “After all that time and energy, we wanted it to be perfect. I figured everyone was going to get a chance to comment on it, but I wrote it.”

J.R. Nunn, assistant general counsel for CSX Transportation Inc., describes Tager this way: “In response to a particularly bad trial outcome years ago, we selected Evan to lead our appellate team. His reputation was that of a master strategist and communicator, with top-tier analytical skills and a unique ability to simplify the complex and make sense of confusion. I learned he is that and more. Evan brings a value set and open-mindedness that allow him to become a trusted business partner and is eager to align his interests with the client’s.”