Each time we select 40 lawyers under age 40 we think have distinguished themselves, the faces look younger. It’s an illusion, of course, the result of hyperopia brought about by the advancing years of those doing the choosing. But what’s real is that 40 is still a good age for a lawyer to be, since it’s roughly the point when experience has done its job and he or she is equipped to ascend to the next level.

The point of this editorial exercise is to spot attorneys who have made that leap early, by proven expertise in practice areas, by acceptance of important management roles at their firms, by rain-making ability and by strong community involvement and volunteerism — all of which make up the stuff of future leaders of the profession.