NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The National Law Journal® today announced the selection of litigator and high-profile defense attorney Theodore V. Wells Jr as its 2006 “Lawyer of the Year.” Wells, who is preparing to defend I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby in a trial scheduled for Jan. 16, is co-chairman of the litigation department at New York’s Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. The newspaper also named Neal K. Katyal and Carter G. Phillips as this year’s runners-up. Katyal was chosen for his successful handling of Salim Hamdan's U.S. Supreme Court challenge to President Bush's order establishing military commissions to try enemy combatants. Phillips was named for his performance in an extraordinary six arguments before the high court last term. Profiles of all three lawyers headline the year-end December 18th issue of The National Law Journal, available today, and are also online at www.nlj.com.
The Libby case, which centers on the former vice presidential aide’s alleged role in the leak of a CIA officer’s identity to the press, is just one high-profile matter that consumed Wells in 2006. He also obtained a mistrial for the former chairman of the nation’s biggest pharmaceutical distributor in one of the largest securities fraud cases in history and helped negotiate a unique deferred-prosecution agreement in the federal case against investment banker Frank Quattrone. As counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, he helped defend racial integration education programs in two separate ongoing cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006. Wells’ other clients in the court room spotlight this year included Exxon Mobil Corp and Philip Morris USA.
“Wells has consistently been one of the top go-to litigators in the country the last few years, but this last year he’s really raised the bar with his string of accomplishments,” said Rex Bossert, editor in chief of The National Law Journal.
Katyal, a Georgetown University Law Center professor, made his first high court appearance in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld. The justices' ruling last June in has been described by one constitutional law scholar as “perhaps the most important separation-of-powers decision ever." The court held in a 5-3 vote that the military commissions violated military and international law. While he downplays his part in this landmark legal battle by generously sharing credit with current and retired military lawyers, a phalanx of loyal Georgetown and Yale Law School law students, numerous law firms willing to help despite an unsympathetic client and many of the nation's top legal academics, he is widely acknowledged to have played a central role in the challenge.
In 2006, Phillips, managing partner of Sidley Austin's Washington office, became the “go-to” attorney for corporations seeking Supreme Court relief, further elevating his stature within the small, but highly skilled, Supreme Court bar. He persuaded the Supreme Court justices to adopt eBay’s view of a major patent infringement challenge last term, and also argued cases involving the Fair Labor Standards Act; the definition of "enterprise" in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act; due process in tax sale notices; price discrimination under the Robinson-Patman Act; and retaliation under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. While not all of his efforts resulted in success for his clients, his credibility with the Court, based on 53 appearances there, continued to increase.
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